BIRN Bulgaria Trains Journalists on EU Integration

BIRN Bulgaria Director Albena Shkodrova was a guest speaker at a course
held in Sofia at the end of November, entitled "European Integration
of the Balkan (SEE) States and the Media".

Nine young journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia,
Moldova, Montenegro and Romania attended the training course organised by
the Centre for Independent Journalism-Sofia and Southeast European Network
for Professionalisation of the Media.

Shkodrova spoke on practical approaches to investigative journalism and
writing about European integration, drawing on BIRN’s expertise in
cross-regional investigations, in-depth analysis and reporting sensitive
intra-ethnic issues.

For more information on BIRN Bulgaria’s activities, contact Director
Albena Shkodrova.

Norway to Fund BIRN BiH Justice Project in 2006

The Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo has generously provided BIRN BiH with funding to launch the next phase of its Justice Project.

In 2006, BIRN BiH plans to produce a weekly report on local war crimes trials and facilitate wide public debate on the war crimes justice process amongst Bosnians at home and in the substantial diaspora.

For more information on how to get involved in supporting this project, contact BIRN BiH Director Nerma Jelacic.

BIRN BiH to Launch War Crimes Legal Manual

BIRN BiH will this month publish its manual on the War Crimes Chamber in Sarajevo.

The guidebook, in both Bosnian and English languages, will be distributed to media outlets and civil society groups throughout BiH as well as selected organisations in Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro.

Designed to aid journalists and NGO representatives following local war crimes trials, the book explains the statute, structure and mandate of the newly formed court, as well as legal issues, changes to the country’s criminal procedure and special provisions recently introduced for witnesses.

Publication of the guidebook will mark the end of BIRN BiH’s year-long Transitional Justice project which was kindly sponsored by the Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo. The guidebook as well as BIRN BiH’s plans for the following year will be launched at a special event in January.
For more information on BIRN BiH’s Justice Project, please contact BIRN BiH Director Nerma Jelacic.

BIRN BiH Moderates War Crimes Debate for Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

BIRN BiH director, Nerma Jelacic, moderated a two-day conference on journalists’
coverage of war crimes issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2005.

"Dealing
with the past and the media’s role" organised by the Konrad Adenauer
Stiftung took place on 5-7 December in Sarajevo. Journalists from print
and radio media from all over BiH, as well as representatives of the State
Court and Prosecution and media experts, took part in the event.

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and BIRN BiH will present the conclusions
of the conference jointly in an upcoming meeting with representatives of
the State Court and Prosecution.

For more information, contact BIRN BiH Director Nerma Jelacic.

BIRN Seeks Freelance Editors

BIRN seeks applications from English-language editors with expertise in
the Balkan region and investigative and economic reporting to form part
of its growing pool of freelancers working on Balkan Insight.

Applications are particularly encouraged from editors based in the
region, and should be sent to BIRN Editorial and Development Director
Gordana Igric.

BIRN Sustainability Plans Progress

As part of BIRN’s development strategy to achieve sustainability by generating income from some elements of its editorial output, Development and Editorial Director Gordana Igric was invited to attend a one-week business plan course organised by the Media Development Loan Fund, MDLF, from 21-26 November.

The purpose of the training was to assist Balkan-based media organisations and outlets in establishing themselves on the region’s still volatile media market.

For more information on BIRN’s editorial and sustainability strategy, contact BIRN Editorial and Development Director Gordana Igric.

BIRN Kosovo Documentary Completed

The final edit of BIRN’s documentary film on the regional context for Kosovo status negotiations is now complete.

Post-production, narration and sub-titling will be finished by the end of the month, with premier screenings scheduled for January 2006.

More information will be forthcoming on these screenings, due to take place in the countries/territories covered by the film – Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Screenings are also being organised in Brussels, London and Sofia.

The film will be broadcast by TV stations throughout the Balkans, while distribution further afield is also being arranged.

This project is supported by the Swiss Foreign Ministry. For more information, contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.

Balkan Voices: What next for Kosovo?

A documentary reflecting the concerns and hopes of Balkan citizens on the eve of crucial talks over the final status of Kosovo is to be screened at the Front Line Club in London on January 9.

Produced by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, and directed by the award-winning film-maker Lode Desmet, the 85-minute documentary – entitled Does Anyone Have A Plan? – focuses on seventeen ordinary people from Kosovo, Serbia and neighbouring countries in the run-up to the negotiations.

In the film, the subjects’ questions about the implications of the talks – which, it is hoped, will go a long way to finding a solution to the conflict between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians, and stabilising the region as a whole – are put to important local and international political figures.

The latter include EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, senior US state department official Nicholas Burns, Serbian president Boris Tadic and Kosovo premier Bajram Kosumi.

Kosovo is the last unresolved dispute in the Balkans. In the summer of 1999, Serbian troops left the entity and NATO forces moved in. Since then, it has been largely administered by the UN, although still formally part of Serbia and Montenegro.

Serbian, Kosovo Albanian and international officials are to start negotiations on the future of the region in early 2006, with the Albanians wanting independence and the Serbs prepared to concede no more than a high degree of autonomy.

The film is subtitled in English and all local languages. It will be broadcast throughout the region by leading TV stations in January and February. International distribution is also being planned.

This project was supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Political Affairs Division for Human Security.

BIRN SaM receives Freedom House grant

BIRN SaM has received a grant from Freedom House’s Democratic Transition
and Reintegration in Serbia (DTRS) programme to give a public platform to
existing NGO inititiatives in Serbia.

Running from January to April 2006, the project will see BIRN SaM commission
articles from journalists in training to become part of the BIRN network
on topics like civil control of the armed forces, domestic violence, trade
between Kosovo and Serbia, religious freedom, youth employment, gender equality,
minority rights and Roma rights.

For more details on this project contact BIRN Serbia and Montenegro director
Dragana Nikolic Solomon.

BIRN Kosovo hosts hot debate on violence against journalists

A BIRN Kosovo TV debate aired on January 18 saw police and other public officials argue vigorously with local journalists on the issue of recently increased violence against the latter.

For the first time in BIRN’s Life in Kosovo series, aired on RTK, a live audience of 40 people participated in the debate, challenging guests with questions raised by concrete cases of violence against journalists.

Panellists included Fatos Bytyci, President of the Association of Professional Journalists of Kosova, AGPK, Rekfi Morina, spokesperson for the Kosovo Police Service, KPS, Fatmire Terdevci, an investigative journalist from daily Koha Ditore, Afrim Ahmeti, head of command for the central Pristina police station, Petrit Selimi, Director of MediaWorks, and Sabit Rrustemi, spokesperson for the Gjilan municipal authorities.

For a full report on the debate, click here.

This project is supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy. For more information, contact BIRN Kosovo Director Jeta Xharra.