In VHA on Friday our guests were Jovan Cirilov, President of JDP (Yugoslavian THeatre of Drama), and Petar Lukovic, a journalist of the newspaper "Nasa Borba". The discussion was about the role of media in the current situation and the media blockade and of ways to overcome it.

In relation to the accusation coming from "New York Times" journalists, that giving performances in the theaters in Belgrade during the protest is a sign of loyalty and support to the regime (and that the theatre managers are in touch with Mira Markovic), representatives from all theatres in Belgrade shall write a letter of protest. Mr. Cirilov says that the stopping of all performances is not the solution. "Actors support the independent Student Protest but stopping all performances would be the same as if all actors stopped to write or all painters stopped to paint. That would be an attack on the freedom of an artist to express himself. The giving of performances and reading the declaration of the Student Protest lifts the critical awareness in people.."

Mr. Lukovic emphasized that foreign media have never been oriented towards events in Belgrade and Serbia as much as they are now. There are few negative reports, mainly about nationalistic motives in the protests held by students and citizens. The quality of the reports made by foreign journalists depends on their knowledge on events in Serbia, its distant and near history. They alone have to estimate the significance of an event, but it is questionable how competent they can be in achieving this if they are unfamiliar with the people they are reporting about. While media abroad give information on a variety of interests our press is controlled by the goverment which does not abide to the policy which says that the authors of a newspaper cannot carry out its distribution. Independent newspapers have difficulties in distribution because an independent distribution network does not exist. After all, the printing of newspapers here is very expensive. All this inhibits the penetration of a newspaper into the province. The blockade of media has caused a division among citizens which can have an undesirable outcome.

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