Telekom CEO says promoting European values, experts disagree

Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP/N1/Ilustracija

The CEO of the state-controlled Telekom Serbia Vladimir Lucic said that the company promotes European values.

“You can’t say that we aren’t promoting true European values,” Lucic said adding that Telekom is “partners with the European Investment Bank”.

European Parliament members disagree. Several MEPs filed amendments to a report on Serbia, saying that Telekom Serbia mocks European sanctions against Russia and broadcasts Moscow’s propaganda. Experts that N1 spoke to said that the European Union is turning a blind eye because of other priorities.

Belgrade Arts University media production Professor Ana Martinioli said that the EU will tolerate Telekom’s behavior as long as it tolerates whatever Serbia does which is not in line with European policies on Ukraine and Russia. “I think that another detail in the EU’s attitude toward Serbia since it obviously has other priorities and is not focused on our attitude towards Russia,” she said.

Retired university political sciences Professor Rade Veljanovski said that the EU is expecting solutions to political problems. “Europe is not reacting fiercely because it is expecting to finally resolve some big political problems, primarily in relation to Serbia and Kosovo and implement the Franco-German, that is the European plan,” he said.

Commenting calls to sanction Telekom because it airs Russian channels banned in Europe, Martinioli said that the Serbian authorities have not adopted any sanctions package which means that there is no obligation to do this. “On the other hand, it is probably thinking about what the public likes. The offer of Russian channels probably gives it a comparative advantage on the market,” she said.

Veljanovski said that threatening or imposing measures including a ban on broadcasting is not censorship. “That is a realistic possibility in implementing regulatory measures which are completely legitimate. When dealing with aggressive war policy propaganda, you have to intervene regardless of whose media it is, ours, Russia’s or someone else’s,” he said.

Russian media are still available to Telekom subscribers.