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News Archive 1997
Silencing the Hate: Katie Marton

From: LasiewiczN@aol.com
Newsgroups: yugo.antiwar
Subject: Silencing the Hate: Katie Marton
Date: 27 Oct 1997 16:27:28

Several very interesting interviews are in the latest edition (number 11) of
the alternative magazine from Banjaluka called REPORTER.  What follows is an
interview with Katie Marton who recently toured the Balkans on behalf of the
CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists,) based in New York, where she met with
many leaders.  This article is a rare opportunity for local Serbs to
understand what might be behind the recent actions by NATO to shut down
various broadcasting venues.

Pullquote: This was not a question of freedom of speech. This was a question
of silencing one speech full of hate

Submitted by
Nalini Lasiewicz
Bosnia Briefings
Interview with Katie Marton

Katie Marton is the President for Protection of Journalists and currently
visits officials in the territory of former Yugoslavia with a goal to aid the
development of free reporting. Her childhood indicates she is not unfamiliar
with work under pressure. Her parents were arrested when she was
six-years-old,  and the process against them was, at that time glamorous, as
they were accused of being CIA agents and were sentenced to 27 years in jail.
"Just because they spread the news which was true, and did not suit the
regime", Katie Maton remembers for Reporter. That is why she and her sister
were put in a home for children of political prisoners. Luckily, two years
later, the revolution occurred and they all were freed. After that, the
possibility of their arrest arose again and one American diplomat finally
smuggled out them in a car. In her tenth year, Marton began to learn English

As she said, she always wanted to become a journalist. She has become a
journalist, and some time later she became the wife of Richard Holbrook,
special American emissary and an author of the Dayton agreement.

Q  (Reporter) According to our information, you do not like to be presented
as Richard Holbrook's wife.

A  (Mrs. Marton): Allow me to say, I am very proud of my husband and what he
managed to do with the Dayton agreement. But I was Katie Marton a for longer
time than I have been Mrs. Holbrook. That is why I do not want to give up my
name of which I am very proud. And as you mentioned Richard Holbrook, he
truly supports this campaign of independent media. He is very happy that we
both are on this mission and I bring him a full report every night of these
meetings. We are a good team.

Q  How much can your committee really do for the protection of the journalist

What we can do is limited but it can be very efficient, as we are influential
and can draw attention to very dramatic examples of media abuse. Were it,
let's say, arrests of journalists or threats against them. We can get to the
highest levels of jurisdiction, they know us and listen to what we have to
say. I have personal contacts with all the leaders in this region. This will
be my fourth meeting with President Milosevic. And we don't count the ones we
had in Dayton. I had two meetings with President Tudjman and a couple with
President Izetbegovic. This was my first meeting with President Plavsic.

Q  You mentioned a meeting with Mr. Milosevic. What did he promise during
your last meeting and how much of that did he fulfill?

Well, you know that he is not a man of his word, but that does not mean that
we should not put pressure on him. You know better that I do that it is about
his personal interest. He is extremely capable of survival, and that is his
first interest. If I continue to hope our interest will agree at some point,
than we can have results. I have no illusions of him  ever supporting
independent media, as independent media are a threat to all politicians. But
that does not mean we should cease with attempts. Even if we could move them
only one centimeter, that is our function. For a large part of my life, I
was, as all journalists are, very centered on myself, which is all right. I
always searched for a big story. This is the first time I am concerned with a
greater question than my own fame. I would like you to know that I do plan to
return to journalism. I love to write, to be a journalist.

Q  So that was the aim of your visit to Banjaluka, to move things


Q  At the press conference you mentioned the takeover of Serb Radio
Television's transmitters. Could you tell us your view of that action?

This was not a question of freedom of speech. This was a question of
silencing one speech full of hate. Simply, it was not possible for RS to go
forward, to achieve anything close to democracy when the people were daily
fed with hatred, the desire for revenge and lies. These are not people who
can hear other voices, and who can conclude - this is mad, hysterical. That
is all they have. The main source of information is constant lying, and that
had to be stopped. That should have happened much earlier. It should not have
been allowed to continue two years after the Dayton agreement.

Q  Though state television is accustomed to working for someone. Now it is
completely turned towards President Plavsic. Which means again one type of

Yes. The answer for President Plavsic is to go step-by-step. She cannot go
too fast, as she herself is not in a secure position. But, once, as she said
herself, when she is in a safer position, and when new community leadership
is in position, she will be able to go forth. Certainly, we will be
interested to see if it will really go forward. There are a lot of people who
are following that. But she has many reasons to be insecure, still. We do not
want to put maximum pressure on her, as she is an improvement compared to the
alternative which existed. This is a pretty pragmatic policy.

Q  Do you think that President Plavsic iasting solution for RS?

I do not know. I am so happy not to be a politician, I leave that to my

Q  In that case could you give us your opinion on the current state in RS as
a journalist ?

I think that I would water down everything because of what I am here if I was
to give political views. I wish for these leaders to open up to me and to
listen to what I have to say in the name of independent media. If I was to
choose, without any thinking, I can tell you that she is better than

Q  In the territory of the entire B&H journalists exist who are converts in
both state and independent media. What is your opinion of the people who were
first Communist then nationalists  and now, in the end, democrats?

They are not my favorite people, but better now than never.

Q  Who can trust them?

I would be very careful and have my eyes wide open, but I would give them a
chance. There are a lot of former Communists in Ccentral Europe who are
working quite well. In my old country Hungary, a former Ccommunist is a prime
minister and a much better one than the conservative who was in place before
him. I would be very open to anyone, to see what would they be when they
convert again, and then they should be trailed.

Q  Do people like that exist in America?

We are very fortunate in the States as we did not have dramatic changes like
that in our government. There are few journalists who were in the position in
which you are and in which I grew up. Never, let's say, have I met a
journalist who was a member of Ku Klux Klan. From my viewpoint that is TV
Pale, that is as if  the KKK would control the media back in the States.

Q  What have you talked about with Mrs. Plavsic and what has she promised? Do
you think she will keep her word?

Let's give her a chance. She is very careful, cautious. She has reason to be
cautious. She seems open, she even talked about Karadzic, speaking about a
letter in the newspapers, a letter with a friendly tone towards Karadzic. But
it suggests again that the best thing he could do for his grandchildren is to
surrender to the Hague Tribunal, and to stop behaving like a coward. She said
that she agrees with that. I think that is the only interesting thing I

Q  What is your view of those accused of war crimes?

They should all stand trial, they all must stand trial, starting with
Karadzic and Mladic. It is hard to see the future while these two are free. I
thing that they have a terrible psychological impact on the country. The fact
that they are free means that no one else is. I think that people bear an
enormous burden of collective responsibility. There are those who are honest,
those who do not deny the past, and that is not fair, that is not right. That
would be the same as Hitler and Himmler being allowed to live freely after
the Second World War while the country tried to make a recovery. That is
psychologically unacceptable. They may live in one basement in Pale, but we
know they are there, and that is not all right.

Q  Are there, in your opinion, people who deserve to be on the list apart
from those two, and against whom no warrants have been issued?

I am certain that those do exist. Judge Arbour works now on these closed
warrants and I think that it functions. She does not publish who it is any
more, they want to have a factor of surprise and they managed to arrest two.
Of course, I do not know who they are, but the list is certainly much longer
than the one which was published. What I wish to say is that my campaign is
not anti- Serb. America is not anti- Serb. I want to give a different
message. We really do have an understanding of the Serb people. We do not
want them to think that the world is against them, as that is not the case.
Especially not America.

Q  For the end of our conversation, one subjective question. What is your
opinion of "Reporter"?

It looks very professional and I like the spirit which shines out of it, and
the things which I heard about Reporter are extremely positive and so I
congratulate you and wish you even bigger success. I would like there to be
more Reporters in the RS. I hope that your circulation will increase. It, of
course, does not mean that I like everything that you write. I do not want to
put myself in any trouble, as I cannot read it, but I do have a feeling that
it is an independent and brave publication.

Reporter Digest is a shortened version of the local publication, which has
the distinction of also being the only publication in the RS which is printed
in English.  For more information on obtaining e-mail versions or
subscriptions, contact the managing editor:

Perica Vucinic, in Banjaluka at 381-78-45-731 or by e-mail to:

International organizations are distributing copies in the Federation and all
inquiries are welcomed.  The publication desires to make contacts with
writers and analysts from outside the region.

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