Kosovo Rejects Turkey's Request To Punish Journalist Over Coup Comment

By RFE/RL's Balkan Service

Kosovo has dismissed a request by Turkey to punish a prominent journalist over satirical comments he made about the failed coup attempt in Turkey.

Kosovo's Minister of Foreign Affairs Enver Hoxhaj said on July 27 that the request by the Turkish embassy in Pristina was "unacceptable."

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Balkan Service, Hoxhaj said he believed "the misunderstanding will be resolved."

As the July 15 coup attempt unfolded in Turkey, Berat Buzhala, a popular Kosovo journalist wrote on Facebook: "I invite the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo who are holidaying in Turkey to align with the army."

Buzhala, known for his satirical comments, said that "This is the most serious coup since the arrival of Facebook."

The Facebook post was signed with an emoticon with a tongue protruding, indicating the comment was a joke.

However, on July 20 the Turkish Embassy in Pristina sent a note to Kosovo's Foreign Ministry urging it to take action over against Buzhala over his comments.

There was no public reaction by Buzhala, but the Kosovo Association of Journalists denounced the embassy's request as "unacceptable" and "scandalous." The association is calling for the embassy to be closed down. 

In April, Turkey asked Berlin to take actions against a German comedian over his poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Ankara said was insulting.

Turkey has been widely criticized for restricting media freedoms in recent years.