Ten years of STYRIA in Montenegro: fighting for an independent and free press

Assaults, threats and mafia methods; for a long time, critical reporting on the government in Montenegro has been dangerous. So it is rather remarkable that the daily newspaper Vijesti (English: “News”) was one of the few remaining independent media in the country never to give up its mission; to uncover abuse, scheming and scandals and to fight courageously for the freedom of the press in this young state by the Adriatic Sea. Director and publisher Željko Ivanović, for instance, narrowly escaped an assault only thanks to a stroke of luck.

For 10 years now, STYRIA has held a 25 per cent share in the media group, which has existed for 20 years; a fact that was recently celebrated in Podgorica. “In the past ten to fifteen years and under enormous pressure, Vijesti fought to defend its editorial independence”, were the words of commendation for our colleagues from Montenegro from STYRIA manager Klaus Schweighofer who is responsible for this portfolio. During his visit to the capital of this Balkan state, which is comparable to Tyrol in size, the political sphere has now also reacted positively. Together with Ivanović, Schweighofer was invited to meet the new Prime Minister Duško Marković, who is the first head of government to make a clear commitment to Vijesti and critical journalism. Schweighofer: “A meeting from which to draw courage.”

Official Montenegrin representatives were in almost full attendance at the evening’s anniversary event, with vice-chancellor and Minister of Justice Zoran Pažin amongst them. Once more, Schweighofer referred to the importance of STYRIA’s share in Vijesti: “Independence and freedom of speech as well as journalistic freedom are part of our foundations and mission. So we see our investment as support for Vijesti journalists and as a contribution to the democratic process in the region.”