Media freedom suffered another serious blow today. After top Government officials Dimitar Kovacevski, Kreshnik Bekteshi and Ali Ahmeti lashed out at critical TV stations, today reporters from Republika and Pressing were denied credentials to report on the honoring of Goce Delcev tomorrow. The events at the St. Spas church in Skopje are eagerly anticipated as the celebration of the 151st anniversary of Delcev’s birth comes at a time of high tensions between Macedonia and Bulgaria. Concerns that Macedonian and Bulgarian groups could clash at the church led to a meeting of the national security council and a visit by the Bulgarian Interior Minister to Macedonia, and interest in the press is understandably high to cover the event.

But the Government press service, which issues credentials for events organized by the Government, today rejected the applications from our reporters Igor Caveski, Predrag Dimitrovski and photographer Aleksandar Ivanovski. The requests were sent on time. In response, a short message informs us that “the request is not approved” – without any explanation.

Government spokesmen Dusko Arsovski and Muhamed Hoxha have either turned off their phones or are not responding to requests for an explanation from Republika and Pressing – even though they are normally in frequent communication with us. This indicates that they are avoiding to explain their decision. In the past, Arsovski has not had issues from calling Republika editors even at late evening hours to berate journalists when he would see fit. Arsovski has also used the official Twitter account of the Government to label Republika as a “political actor”.

Emails to the spokesmen are also left unanswered. This attempt at censorship indicates that the Government wants to restrict access and visibility at this crucial political event. With selective approach toward the press accreditation requests, the Government wants to manage the public perception of how badly relations with Bulgaria have deteriorated.

We publicly call on the Government to answer us why are our journalists and photographer rejected and why won’t they be allowed to report from the St. Spas church? The Government will decide tomorrow whether it will allow Bulgarian MEP and provocateur Angel Dzhambazhki to enter the country, even though he does not miss an opportunity to insult Macedonia. Is this the Government’s way to send a message to us that we are enemies of the state? We demand an answer, why are we treated like enemies?, Republika asks the Government.