Business Reporting Initiative: Top Experts Join Editorial Advisory Board

A brand new BIRN project, the Business Reporting Initiative, is gathering strength, with leading analysts of Balkan business and economy joining an editorial advisory board.

Board members include Danica Popovic of the University of Belgrade and the Centre for Liberal Democratic Studies; Almir Begic, former director of the Sarajevo Stock Exchange; Natasa Srdoc-Samy, president of the Adriatic Institute, a free market think tank in Croatia; Muhamet Mustafa, head of Riinvest, Kosovo’s leading economic development think tank; and Theodor Troev, longtime Bulgaria correspondent at the Financial Times.

The board will perform a steering role when BIRN launches a new publication, presently under development, covering business and economic news.
With the future publication, BIRN aims to raise the local standard of Balkan business journalism by supporting genuinely independent reporting and employing innovative reporting methods.
Eric Jansson, a former Balkans correspondent at the Financial Times, is working with BIRN to develop the publication.

BIRN BiH director honoured in Japan

BIRN BiH director, Nerma Jelacic, was one of ten people from around the world who were named peacemakers of the year in Japan.

The honour was bestowed by Japan’s second largest daily newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, which has a circulation over 8 million readers a day.

The newspaper singled out Jelacic’s involvement in the promotion of justice and reconciliation.

Life in Kosovo on Final Status Plan

BIRN Kosovo will have a live debate tonight, February 2, at 20:30 on UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari’s plan for Kosovo, which will be revealed in Pristina at 16:00.

BIRN Kosovo will have a live debate tonight, February 2, at 20:30 on UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari’s plan for Kosovo, which will be revealed in Pristina at 16:00.

The panelists in the studio will be.

– Nexhmedin Spahiu, an analyst from Mitrovica
– Adrian Gjini, a minister and member of the final status negotiating team
– Arlinda Desku, an independent journalist
– Dardan Gashi, a member of final status negotiating team

During the programme, BIRN will also broadcast an interview with Hashim Thaci, head of opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, and member of the Team of Unity, the decision-making body mandated to deal with the UN proposal.

The programme will be the first televised analysis of the plan which will pave the way for the resolution of Kosovo’s political status in the coming months.

According to a section of the draft proposal obtained by BIRN, the UN proposal will bring Kosovo “de facto” independence, though the word does not figure explicitly in the document.

Internationally-mediated negotiations on Kosovo’s final status started in Vienna, in January 2006. After several months of meetings, Kosovo’s and Serbia’s negotiating teams failed to achieve an agreement, refusing to budge from the original negotiating positions, the former demanding full independence and the latter autonomy.

With the negotiating process close to collapse, the international community decided to have Ahtisaari draw up a proposal for Kosovo’s final political status, which is due to be presented in Belgrade and Pristina today.

AP Journalist Takes Over as BIRN Editor in Belgrade

Aleksandar Vasovic, the Bratislava-based Associated Press correspondent, has been appointed Belgrade-based BIRN editor-trainer.

Prior to his Bratislava post, Vasovic was AP correspondent in Kiev, Ukraine. Between 2004 and 2006, he covered developments there, including the so-called Orange Revolution.

Since joining AP in 1999, he has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Macedonia, the insurgency in southern Serbia, the Kosovo war and Slobodan Milosevic’s ousting and arrest, as well as other key developments in the Balkans and the rest of Europe.

Vasovic’s career began in the late 1980s with Radio Beograd. He then moved to Radio B92 in 1991, where he worked as a journalist, editor and foreign desk editor, covering the violent breakup of Yugoslavia.

He has also produced two B92 TV documentaries about the Northern Ireland peace process and the Middle East conflict.

Vasovic’s will be responsible for monitoring local and regional trends, overseeing contributors, implementing regional projects in Serbia, including the training of journalists enrolled in BIRN Serbia local projects.

Vasovic will take formally take up his post on April 1.

Life in Kosovo Focus on Returnees

RTK, Pristina
The BIRN-organised TV show Life in Kosovo on January 26 will turn its attentions on the people who have returned to live in Kosovo.

This programme aims to raise public awareness about issues related to the return and reintegration process, looking primarily at groups of ethnic minorities living in Kosovo.

The programme will include field interviews with some families that returned to live in their rebuilt homes, key stakeholders who have been involved in the process of return, representatives of local government, international organisations and also religious representatives.

The edition of the programme will be broadcast at 20:30 on Kosovo’s public television channel, RTK.

Life in Kosovo Documentary on Gender Issues

The BIRN-organised televised show Life in Kosovo will present “Whose Security?”, a documentary exploring how women in Kosovo have been affected by war and how they now perceive the notion of peace and security in their day-to-day lives.

The documentary includes interviews with Kosovo’s prime minister, head of UN Mission in Kosovo, and many female activists, politicians and citizens, attempting to reveal how the successful integration of women’s perspectives and participation into democratic society is an uphill struggle, and how international resolutions are much easier to ratify than to enforce.

BIRN Serbia Director Dragana Nikolic Solomon Takes Up OSCE Post

Dragana Nikolic Solomon, BIRN Serbia director and editor, is to take up a new
post as Chief of the Media Department at the OSCE mission in Belgrade.

Dragana moved from London to Belgrade over three years ago at a crucial time
in the development of the BIRN network in Serbia, overseeing its evolution
into an effective, high-profile organisation.

She played a leading role
in the establishment of the BIRN Serbia network of journalists, from
recruitment and training to publishing their output in BIRN’s publication
Balkan Insight.

Nikola Lazic, a journalist from South Serbia, said,
"Since I have met Dragana, two years ago, I have advanced professionally very
much, thanks to her support. New opportunities have come my way, and in that
respect working with her has been tremendously important."

BIRN Serbia
is today in a unique position of having over forty trained journalists
throughout Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro who are becoming an important part
of our information network.

With her energy and enthusiasm, Dragana was
a dynamic member of the BIRN network and her colleagues will miss her

In her farewell note, she said the experience she gained through
working in BIRN was invaluable. "I would like to thank my colleagues for
their support. Working with you, I have been given an opportunity to learn
a lot. I will continue to follow BIRN’s activities and to read
BIRN’s articles with great interest."

Vacancy for an editor/trainer at BIRN Serbia

Vacancy for an editor/trainer at BIRN Serbia


– Extensive experience in print and/or internet journalism – in particular editing – with an international news focus
– Knowledge of international standards of journalism
– Excellent knowledge of English and ability to edit in English
– Interest in investigative journalism
– Experience in training journalists is an asset

If you are interested in the post, please send your CV and
two references by 25 January 2007 to [email protected], or by post to:

Balkanska istrazivacka mreza, BIRN
Gospodar Jovanova 81/2

BIRN Romania debate on Hadareni region

A BIRN-Romania organised TV debate on the future of the multi-ethnic region
of Hadareni was broadcast on Romanian public television, TVR, on January 4.

The debate looked at development work in the central Transylvanian region,
where three people were killed, two of them ethnic Roma, in
inter-ethnic violence in 1993.

During the unrest, the homes of Roma
were set ablaze, forcing many inhabitants to flee.

Twelve residents
of Hadareni – including Roma, Hungarians and Romanians took part in the

Also present were representatives of the National Agency for
Roma, a governmental body which is now implementing a programme for
reconciliation and the improvement of social conditions in the region;
several NGOs (Freedom House Romania and the Center of Resources for Ethnic
Roma Communities); and the Local Initiative Group.