Balkans

The region that Global Parachute delineates as the Balkans includes the countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montengero, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey.

The state of media has been particularly hampered in Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party using vague defamation laws and sweeping anti-terror statutes to rein in traditional targets such as Kurdish journalists and, now, mainstream media critics. The arrest of Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener in March this year has put press freedom in Turkey under the international spotlight. Authorities said the journalists had not been detained because of their reporting but as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged ultranationalist plot to overthrow the government known as "Ergenekon." The two journalists wrote from jail about their circumstances.

The Overseas Press Club Freedom of the Press Committee, which writes letters on behalf of journalists and a free press globally, wrote to the government of Turkey on March 10, asserting that the recent detention of journalists is based on an attempt to block reporting on two issues that the Turkish government wants to keep quiet – the activities of the PKK and the more recent Ergenekon plot of senior officers and others allegedly aiming to overthrow the government. The Committee writes, "Both are terrorist organizations and certainly subject to prosecution. But to confuse their activities with those of journalists who report and investigate their activities is wrong. These subjects should not be taboo. If journalists are intimidated or prevented from reporting on the big issues facing Turkey, then one of the main pillars of democracy collapses."

Another journalist in Turkey who has garnered attention for being imprisoned is editor Eynulla Fatullayev, who is now in solitary confinement with his health deteriorating and no medical treatment, according to CPJ research.

Turkey is not the only country with troubling press freedom in the Balkan region. Croatia’s efforts to join the European Union by 2011 did not yield major improvements in press freedom. While the E.U. said the government had made “substantial progress” on several issues — like the resolution of border disputes, the institution of refugee property rights, and improved cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia — some journalists feared the country was sliding back toward the lawless 1990s, when the ruling nationalist HDZ party suppressed independent news reporting. Police remained inconsistent in investigating attacks against journalists, several of whom faced threats after reporting on government corruption.

The identity of the Balkans is dominated by its geographical position; historically the area was known as a crossroads of various cultures. Most of the area is covered by mountain ranges running from north-west to south-east.

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