BELGRADE – Serbia dropped 14 places, while North Macedonia rose 14 places on the latest 2019 World Press Freedom Index, an annual review by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) which was published today.
Western Balkan countries find themselves near the middle of the 180 country-list, with Bosnia and Herzegovina being the highest ranked country in the region. It fell one place on the list and now finds itself on 63rd place.
It is followed by Kosovo on 75h place, Albania on 82nd, Serbia on 90th, North Macedonia on 95h and Montenegro on 104th place.
Serbia made the largest drop among the countries of the region – and among the highest in the world, as it fell 14 places on the list. This continues a downward trend for the country, as it was the highest ranked country in the region until 2016.
Albania also had a significant drop on the list, as it fell 7 places, and now finds itself on 82nd place.
Montenegro also dropped for one place compared to last year’s list, which puts it now in 104th place, the last among Western Balkan countries.
On the other hand, the biggest progress was made in North Macedonia. The country has risen 14 places and now ranks 95th on the list.
Minimal progress was seen in Kosovo too, as it finds itself in 75th place, three places better than the year before.
Croatia made progress as well and it rose five places taking the 64th place on the World Press Freedom Index list, just below Bosnia and Herzegovina and ahead of other Western Balkan countries.
The report states that drops in media freedom across Europe follows the erosion of the institutions under authoritarian governments. In addition, journalists in Europe are under pressure, attacked verbally or physically. There is also inflammatory rhetoric targeting journalists coming from the governing officials.
Norway, Finland and Sweden are the best ranking countries, taking the first three places, while North Korea and Turkmenistan are at the end of the list, along with Eritrea and China.
RSF states that the situation with media freedom is “good” or “quite good” in only 24% of the 180 countries which have been observed, whereas last year that number was 26%.
“Hostility towards journalists in many countries by political leaders has recently brought a lot of attacks”, notes RSF.