N1 learns: Telekom asks EU not to mention it in Report on Serbia

Telekom EU
Foto: N1 Profimedia Dmitry Rukhlenko Panthermedia

The state-owned telecommunications operator Telekom Srbija has complained to the European Union (EU), requesting that it be dropped from the amendments to the draft Report on Serbia, shows a document exclusively obtained by N1 TV.

A group of MEPs submitted several amendments to European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia Vladimir Bilcik’s draft Report on Serbia, asking that the case of Telekom Srbija be included in the European Commission’s report in a negative context.

In one of the amendments, Telekom is mentioned as instrument of the ruling party for increasing its influence on the media market in Serbia, and, in another, this state-owned telecommunications company is criticized for enabling the transmission of the Russia Today (RT) channel.

In an amendment that refers to corruption and organized crime, MEPs requested that Telekom be included in the report along with the cases of Krusik, Jovanjica and Savamala, and that relevant bodies be urged to investigate these cases.

In its response to this amendment that N1 TV had access to, Telekom defended itself by saying that it has not been established by any public authority or court that it ever took part in any activities related to corruption and organized crime. However, it failed to say when and if any public authority or court ever investigated potential corruption in this company.

Telekom also used this opportunity to accuse the competition, claiming that it was included in the MEPs’ amendments on the basis of “completely unfounded and slanderous allegations coming from a competitor, that is, from United Group.”

The amendments were submitted by MEPs Klemen Groselj, Petras Austrevicius, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Nathalie Loiseau, Malik Azmani, Ramona Strugariu, Javier Nart, Demetris Papadakis and Tonino Picula.

In one of the amendments MEPs also asked that the text of the report on Serbia’s progress include a statement that the European Union „remains concerned about the problem of media concentration in the Telekom Srbija case“. In its response, Telekom claimed that there is no evidence that it has media concentration in any segment of the market.

MEPs also criticized in the amendments the state’s stake in Telekom, stressing that this secures the company a privileged position on the market but also affects media independence.

In the light of this, in an amendment the MEPs called on the European Commission to investigate the loan approved to Telekom by the European Investment Bank, while the telecommunications company said that this amendment “is completely unfounded and factually incorrect,” and accused United Group, without any clear arguments, of being the one abusing its dominant position.

It is unknown whether any of the amendments will be included in the text of the Report on Serbia or whether they will be omitted from the final text under the influence of Telekom.