Balkan Insight Commercialises from January 2008

From October 2007 Balkan Insight – the most comprehensive online news service on Balkan political, economic and social affairs – will be available on a new web portal that offers new possibilities for our readers and customers: more political and business news and analysis; comments by high profile decision and opinion makers; investigations and interviews; lifestyle and feature articles across the Balkans.

The new website will contain all you need to know on the latest developments in the Balkans:

– Weekly political analysis from nine countries

– Business Insight: Investments and Balkan business trends

– Investigative reports

– Coverage of human rights

– War crimes reporting

– Reforms and transition process analysis

– In brief: Latest news throughout the day.

The content of the website will be free for readers and republication until January 2008 when certain sections of the website will be available by subscription only.

Institutions and individuals interested to subscribe please contact Tatjana Kovacevic at [email protected]

Life in Kosovo Discusses Upcoming Election

This Friday’s Life in Kosovo show will go live and tackle one of the most talked about issues in Kosovo – holding elections before final status is resolved.

The programme will address the following questions. Does Kosovo need municipal and parliamentary elections now when its political status is about to be defined? Who is in favour and who is against elections? Will elections distract Kosovo’s population from the final status issue? Do municipal assemblies have legitimacy? Is the Unity Team going to break up after pre-status elections?

Jeta Xharra, BIRN Kosovo Director, will moderate the show with panellists from a range of Kosovo political parties.

The BIRN-organised TV debate is broadcast on Kosovo’s public TV station, RTK, every Friday from 20:15.

Advanced Journalism Training in Kosovo

The BIRN Serbia team organized an advanced journalism training session for local Serbs, Montenegrin and Bosniak journalists in Kosovo. The training was held from June 29 to July 1, in northern Mitrovica, as part of BIRN’s ongoing Minority Training and Reporting project.

The group comprised journalists who, having completed primary level training, have become regular BIRN contributors from Kosovo. In addition, two journalists were trained for the first time in news analyses and feature writing. They will begin work with other colleagues on articles dealing with issues concerning minority communities in Kosovo.

The training was delivered by Aleksandar Vasovic, BIRN Serbia editor, and Tim Judah, British journalist and expert on the Balkans. Over three days, Vasovic led a discussion on the differences in approach to reporting on Kosovo by journalists in the disputed territory, Belgrade and abroad, and looked at different ways of making a local story interesting and understandable to international readers.

Judah then held an editorial session with journalists; talking about how to put events in wider context, give local stories a broader perspective, about sources in the international community and new topics emerging in Kosovo.

Special attention was devoted to the question of ethical dilemmas raised by trainees, such as a reluctance to tackle topics that are not in the interest of their communities and the boundaries of professionalism.

Both Vasovic and Judah participated in a session devoted to outlining stories that will be published in August in a special edition of Balkan Insight.

The British Embassy in Belgrade and National Endowment for Democracy, NED, sponsored the event as part of a three-year journalism-training project.

Life in Kosovo Assesses The Hague Tribunal

This week’s Life in Kosovo show will feature a debate on the Hague tribunal and the war crimes judicial process.

The main issues to be raised in the discussion will include what Kosovo
institutions and society have done regarding the collection of evidence
of war crimes in Kosovo; whether the tribunal is serving political
interests as some think it is; and will examine if Balkan countries’
demands for war crimes justice have been met.


The panel discussion will comprise:

– Olga Kavran, spokeswoman for the chief UN war crimes prosecutor for
the former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte;
– Nerma Jelacic, BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina director;
– Hysni Berisha, Association of Suhareka Families;
– Teki Bokshi, counselor;
– Sami Kastrati, Hague tribunal correspondent;
– Blerim Xhemajli, journalist from the daily newspaper Koha Ditore, who
has reported on Hague affairs.

Life in Kosovo is broadcast every Friday on RTK, starting at 20:15.

BIRN Moderates Bosnia’s Population Loses Presentation

Nerma Jelacic, BIRN BiH director, has moderated the June 21 presentation and discussion of the population losses in Bosnia and Herzegovina war.

The project, also known as Bosnia’s Book of the Dead, was presented by the Research and Documentation Centre in Sarajevo, four years after its work began.

The day-long event in Sarajevo attracted leading representatives of non-governmental organisations, civil society, victims groups, international community and local political parties.

Jelacic moderated the discussion of the possible future use of the database.

Speakers included Zeljko Komsic, member of BiH Presidency, and council of ministers chair Nikola Spiric, as well as academics, demographic experts and representatives of the state prosecutor’s office.

BIRN BiH Speaks at NATO Rose Roth Conference

Nerma Jelacic, BIRN BiH director, has spoken of the
political and security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina at NATO
Parliamentary Assembly’s regional conference in Dubrovnik.

The seminar, which is co-organised by the Croatian Parliament, gathered political representatives and experts from South-East Europe for a discussion on the integration of the region into NATO.

During three days of discussions situations in Croatia, Albania and Macedonia were explored as well as those in Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia.

An afternoon session on June 26 was dedicated to the question of Kosovo’s final status, and featured speakers such as Agim Ceku, the prime minister of the province.

BIRN Discusses Regional Economic Cooperation

Over thirty economic experts and journalists attended a panel discussion Tuesday, June 19 on foreign investments in the Balkans, organised in Sarajevo by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

Apart from discussing the current good and bad practises in this field, the conference, under the name of “Countries of the Region: Competitors or Allies in Investments”, sought to improve dialogue between regional economic and investment experts and the media.

Five journalists from the region and five from Bosnia and Herzegovina had an opportunity to speak with leading names in the business and investment sector as well as with representatives of the country’s two stock exchanges.

The first part of the conference looked into the stock exchanges in the region and their stimulation of foreign investments.

Panelists were Almir Mirica and Darko Lakic of the Sarajevo Stock Exchange and Banja Luka Stock Exchange, respectively, Almir Begic, an investment consultant, and Ahmed Hodzic of FIMA International Investment Company.

Panelists agreed that local investors lost out during early stages of investment in listed stocks mainly due to lack of understanding and education about this field.

Mr. Begic added that currently many foreign investors in the stock exchanges are speculative investors and that the two exchanges have to work on attracting serious long-term foreign buyers.

Asked if there was any movement on the initiative to merge the two stock exchanges, Mr. Hodzic said that such issues would be out of the question for as long as political interests outweigh economic interests.

The second panel at the conference looked into regional cooperation needed for the growth of Balkan economies. Speakers included Maida Becirovic, FIPA, Haris Mesinovic, World Bank, Nermin Zukic, FIC, and Prof. Dr. Anto Domazet, Economic Institute, Economic Faculty, Sarajevo.

The discussion revealed a number of fields in which the countries of the region can cooperate, including free trade, EU accession, and the development of infrastructure.

“We should cooperate as much as possible and compete only when necessary,” said Professor Domazet.

Organisation of the conference was supported by the Foreign Investments Promotion Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, FIPA.

BIRN at Greek Seminar

Justice Report Editor Nidzara Ahmetasevic and Krenare Maloku, BIRN Kosovo Project Coordinator, are taking part in a seminar organised by the Centre for Political Research and Communications (AELIOS NGO – KPEE) in Greece.

The seminar in Delphi is intended for journalists from the Western Balkans who discuss journalistic ethics, language used in media and peace-making journalism. Lecturers include a number of prominent professors and journalists from Greece.

The group of 20 journalists from Serbia, BiH, Macedonia and Kosovo will be greeted by Dora Bakoyiannis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece.

Business Training Gets Underway

What is a hedge fund? A leverage buyout? An ‘acid test’ ratio? How do bond yields work? Does business journalism have to be dry and boring?

BIRN, in its commitment to better Balkan business journalism, helped to answer these and other questions posed by Balkan journalists at an intensive training event in Sarajevo on Sunday and Monday.

The event, supported by the British Embassy in Sarajevo, focused on fostering a culture of objective and reliable reporting on common economic issues affecting the region. Four Bosnian business journalists and five others from Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia, attended.

Of course business journalism should not be dry and boring, trainer Eric Jansson, a BIRN editor and former Balkans correspondent for the Financial Times, told participants. But reporters and editors need to work hard to make it both lively and accurate.

To lift the curtain on business in the transition economies of southeast Europe, Balkan journalists need a fuller arsenal of tools used by analysts around the world. The two days of training were focused on providing such analytical tools and putting them to use.

Roundtable events were to follow on a third and final day, with BIRN hosting panelists including noted local economists and leading figures in Bosnia’s emerging capital markets.

In a pleasant departure from economists’ standard claim that there is “no such thing as a free lunch”, BIRN saw that participants were well fed throughout.

BIRN – Justice Report in Norway

Justice Report editor Nidzara Ahmetasevic was among a hundred journalists from all over the world who participated in a recent conference on Global Inter-Media Dialogue.

Justice Report editor Nidzara Ahmetasevic was among a hundred journalists from all over the world who participated in a recent conference on Global Inter-Media Dialogue.

The conference took place in Norway from 3 to 6 June 2007, and this year’s theme was Primetime for Diversity – Journalism in a Troubled World.

Ahmetasevic was one of the speakers at the plenary session on Ethical Journalism in Hostile Environments/Troubled Times, together with colleagues from Bangladesh, Egypt and Jordan.

This is the second time that the Indonesian and Norwegian governments organised the Global Inter-Media Dialogue. The principal idea is to create a forum for leading journalists worldwide where they can start a dialogue irrespective of potential differences between them and promote freedom of speech and tolerance.

The conference hosts were Muhamma Nuh, Indonesian information and communications minister, and Jonas Gahr Store, Norway’s foreign affairs minister. Doudou Diene, UN Special Envoy for Contemporary Forms of Racism, was one of the introductory speakers.

Apart from Ahmetasevic, the list of participants included journalists from Russia, Afghanistan, China, Burma, Germany, USA, Cuba, Guatemala and Israel among others.