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16 OCT 2009

Forty South East European journalists agree in Sarajevo today to shape new image of the region, under RCC and OSCE auspices

RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic (second left) and leading journalist from all of South East Europe at the workshop 'Building a New South East Europe - Role and Potential of the Media', Sarajevo, BiH, 15-16 October 2009. (Photo RCC/Samir Pinjagic

RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic (second left) and leading journalist from all of South East Europe at the workshop 'Building a New South East Europe - Role and Potential of the Media', Sarajevo, BiH, 15-16 October 2009. (Photo RCC/Samir Pinjagic

SARAJEVO – Forty journalists and editors from leading South East European (SEE) media outlets agreed in Sarajevo today that the region needs the media to shape its new image, promote greater journalistic responsibility and maintenance of highest possible professional standards.

The conclusion was reached at the end of a two-day workshop 'Building a New South East Europe – Role and Potential of the Media' organized in Sarajevo by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat, with support of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The journalists and editors discussed various aspects of journalistic profession, including journalistic standards, ethics, independence, education, working conditions, and influence of new technologies on the media profession. They agreed that the media should take upon themselves a greater role in stabilizing SEE societies, as well as stimulate debate on issues related to EU institutions and the accession process.

The participants invited EU institutions to invest further efforts in communicating EU to the journalists and citizens of South East Europe so that they can better understand the impacts of the often complex EU content on the lives of citizens. Finally, it was agreed to explore the ways of organizing opportunities for journalists to develop their professional skills and expertise on EU affairs, as well as for such events to be held on a regular basis.

The RCC Secretary General Hido Biščević invited the journalists to reflect on their role in shaping the new image of the region as a place of tolerance, progress and European values.

“Holding to basic journalistic principles of accuracy, truth, integrity, balance and impartiality in informing and educating the public is one way to realizing this role; bringing European ideas closer to our people should further the culture of dialogue and tolerance. This is essential for social stability as a platform for general development of our countries, particularly after the dramatic events of recent past.”

Margaritis Schinas, Advisor to the Director General at the Directorate General for Communication of the European Commission (EC) – the institution which also supported the event – described the possibilities, tools and instruments provided by the EU information policies, and underlined the EC’s willingness to support the emerging pro-EU trend in South East Europe through the involvement of media and civil society.

Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ambassador Gary D. Robbins, drew attention to the power of the media, but also their accountability.

“There is no excuse, none, for intimidation, threats of violence or actual violence against the people who are carrying out the important work of journalism. However, it is also vital that you, the media, establish and maintain the highest professional standards within your profession.”

The speakers included Vildana Selimbegović, Editor-in-Chief of the Oslobođenje daily, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Lutfi Dervishi, journalist and media analyst, Albania; Alexandros Koronakis, Editor-in-Chief of the Brussels New Europe weekly; Sándor Orbán, Executive Director of the South East European Network for Profession­alization of Media; Đorđe Vlajić, BBC correspondent, Serbia; and Ioana Avadani, Executive Director of the Romanian Centre for Independent Journalism.

The workshop conclusions and other event documents are available HERE and the OSCE Mission (www.oscebih.org).

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