Telekom Srbija broadcasts Russian propaganda and praises cooperation with the EU
Members of the European Parliament in amendments to the report on Serbia, note that Telekom Serbia mocks European sanctions by broadcasting Putin’s propaganda. At the same time, Telekom’s CEO boasts about its cooperation with European financial institutions. At first glance, N1’s interlocutors interpret this contradictory attitude of the European Union as “turning a blind eye”, as the EU now has other priorities in Serbia.
A European operator operating in line with all European norms and values?
“We cannot say that we do not promote these true European values in any way”, said Telekom CEO Vladimir Lučić.
Or an operator that mocks the European sanctions policy against Russia?
This is also how some MEPs interpret the fact that Telekom Srbija broadcasts in the European Union banned Russian channels. But what bothers MEPs does not bother European financial institutions.
“We are de facto partners with the European Investment Bank,” Lučić adds.
At the same time, broadcasting Russian channels and partnering with European institutions is possible, as the European Union is “turning a blind eye” on Telekom and Serbia, according to N1 interlocutors.
“I think that as long as the European Union tolerates everything else that Serbia is doing that is not in line with the European policy towards the war in Ukraine and Russia, until then it will tolerate Telekom’s behaviour. So I think this is just another detail in a much broader attitude of the European Union towards Serbia, which clearly has other priorities here and is not so focused on our relationship with Russia,” believes Ana Martinioli Faculty of Drama Arts professor.
“The fact that Europe does not react more strongly is only because at this moment it expects that some major political problems will finally be solved, above all in the relation between Serbia and Kosovo, to realize the Franco-German, that is, the European plan,” said Rade Veljanovski, a retired professor of Faculty of Political Science.
Until then, the media are in the background. Those who deal with the media disagree on whether Telekom should be punished for its practice of broadcasting banned Russian channels in Europe.
“We have not adopted any sanctions package, so this provision probably cannot be seen as something that binds us in that sense. And on the other hand, it probably thinks about what the audience wants, likes. It probably achieves some comparative advantage in the market by offering Russian channels to the audience. We can discuss whether we like it or not, whether it is ethical or unethical, professional, unprofessional. Personally, I think that censorship as a kind of mechanism is not a good practice,” Martinioli added.
“If you threaten someone with some kind of action and you impose a measure on them, even to the point of cancelling the possibility of broadcasting a programme, that is not censorship. It is a realistic possibility of regulatory action, which is perfectly legitimate. When it comes to propaganda of an aggressive war policy, then there has to be an intervention, regardless of whose media it is, whether it is our media, Russian media or third-party media,” Veljanovski said.
For the time being, unsanctioned Russian media are available to Telekom users. Serbian media are also unsanctioned and, according to a recent assessment by the German public service, they go even further than the Russian media in their Russian propaganda./N1/