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Dr. Srdja Pavlovic
Andrei Nikolaidis - Solidarnost

 Canadian - South Slavic Cultural Society
Edmonton, Alberta
E-mail: canslav@yahoo.ca

Edmonton, AB. November 22, 2004  
  The Canadian - South Slavic Cultural Society would like to voice grave concerns of its members with regards to the questionable nature of the most recent judicial decission reached by the Montenegrin court in the case of Emir Kusturica versus Andrei Nikolaidis. We understand that Mr. Nikolaidis, who wrote and published a critical assessment of Mr. Kusturica's political loyalty and association during the early 1990s in the former Yugoslavia, was found guilty without any of his written and published statements and conclusions being disputed by the evidence to the contrary. 
  The Canadian - South Slavic Cultural Society is anything but a society of those practicing law. With this in mind, we would like to express our concerns over issues related to this particular case that fall outside of a strict legal framework. 
  Judging by the media reports about the court proceedings and the verdict reached by the judge, and considering the uncertain parameters of an existing legal framework, it would seem as if Mr. Nikolaidis's convicting and the subsequent sentencing is dubious at best. Moreover, we are again reminded that the case of Mr. Nikolaidis is one of many similar cases of journalists being convicted for publishing their critical analyses of the social and political climate in Montenegro. The number of such cases points out to the troublesome relationship between the structures of power and certain media outlets in Montenegro, and brings the issue of the freedom of expression to the forefront of any upcoming debate about the future of Montenegro.  
  In a somewhat broader context, the case of Mr. Nikolaidis could also be interpreted as yet another example of the inability and (or) unwillingness of the power structure in Montenegro to display critical attitude with regards to a more recent past of the region. Preventing open and sometimes harsh discussions about the past could serve only as an impediment to progress, and much needed reconciliation.  
 Freedom of expression is indeed a measure of democracy but only if and when the measuring tape is the quality of the press and not the number of media outlets in a given society. It is well known that quantity does not guarantee quality but could sometimes serve as a powerful mechanism in nourishing a climate of mediocricy and servitude.  
 The Candian - South Slavic Cultural Society would, therefore, like to voice its strong disagreement with the guilty verdict and sentencing of Mr. Nikolaidis, and to extend its support to the Montenegrin journalists in their endeavours to serve  the public interest by providing their readers with one of the essencial elements of democracy: unabridged and uncensored information as well as poignant and comprehensive analyses of the current state of affairs in their society.   
Dr. Srdja Pavlovic, Founder and President
Canadian - South Slavic Cultural Society
Edmonton, Alberta
E-mail: canslav@yahoo.ca

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