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.

BIRN BiH Launches War Crimes Guide and Court Reporters’ Association

BIRN BiH and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung are to bring together media representatives
and judicial officials for a presentation and discussion on media and war
crimes trials at a special event on January 30.

The Sarajevo meeting will launch the projects planned by BIRN BiH and KAS
for 2006 in the field of reporting war crimes proceedings at the Court of
BiH; promote the publications ‘BIRN’s Guide to the War Crimes Chamber’
and ‘KAS’s Role of the media in dealing with the past’; and
announce the formation of a new Court Reporters’ Association, relating specifically
to the Court of BiH.

"The aim of this body will be to secure better working conditions for
journalists covering the young court, but also to act as a filter through
which the court can communicate its concerns with a large number of media
in Bosnia," Nerma Jelacic, BIRN BiH director said.

Additionally, BIRN will present its Justice in BiH project for 2006, which
includes the creation of a specialised information service on the Court
of BiH, as well as activities with the civil society sector throughout BiH
and the diaspora.

For more information, contact BIRN BiH country director Nerma Jelacic.

Norway to Fund BIRN Regional Project in 2006

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has generously provided BIRN with funding to support its regional training, reporting and debate activities in 2006.

The significant grant will also help BIRN to implement its sustainability strategies, thus providing welcome support for the BIRN Network’s activities beyond the end of this year.

The support of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry to the Balkan Programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting during 2004 and 2005 was central in the evolution and launch of BIRN as an independent local civil society initiative.

For more information on how to get involved in supporting or participating in BIRN’s projects, contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.

Balkan premiere of BIRN documentary film in Belgrade

The documentary “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” premiered in the Balkans on Wednesday, January 25 in Dvorana Kulturnog Centra Cinema in Belgrade.

Serbian journalists, civil society representatives and foreign diplomats attended the screening.

The film received significant media coverage. Serbia’s national television station, RTS TV, B92, Pink TV, Deutsche Welle and Serbia’s leading independent TV studios, VIN and Mreza covered the event.

Newspapers including Evropa, Danas, Reporter and Nedeljni Telegraf also wrote pieces on the film.

Following the premiere, BIRN Serbia and Montenegro received many requests for further screenings of the documentary at other conferences and events.

VIN journalist Olivera Stojanovic said “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” gave a new perspective to an issue that has become too familiar. “Although Kosovo is daily topic, this film gives a totally new approach to it and makes you think, above all, how much we really know about us and our neighbours, about tolerance and nationalism,” she said.

After screenings in Sofia, Skopje, Pristina and Sarajevo, the documentary film will be made available for public broadcast on all major TV stations in the region.

Public broadcast of the documentary in Serbia can be expected in the second part of February.

“Does anyone have a plan?” at The Red House in Sofia

A dedicated group of journalists and intellectuals attended the premiere of the documentary film “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” at the Red House in Sofia on Friday night.

The turnout showed the depth of Bulgarian interest in the political dilemma of Kosovo.

Star TV host Georgi Koritarov moderated a question-and-answer session after excerpts from the film were shown. Gordana Igric, development and editorial director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, Jeta Xarra of BIRN-Kosovo, award winning director Lode Desmet and Albena Shkodrova of BIRN-Bulgaria answered questions from the public.

“I want to thank the creators of this film,” said political analyst Deyan Kyuranov. “This is one of the very few documentaries I have seen that is really not tailored to please the international community. In this particular case [of Kosovo], it is very important that we hear the message of the people”.

The Bulgarian Telegraph Agency, national, international and regional radio-stations, and other press organizations covered the event.

bTV will broadcast a shortened version of “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” in early February. Other media and public-interest organizations are also expected to screen the documentary.

“Does Anyone Have a Plan” Premieres in Skopje, Macedonia

More than 400 guests attended the Skopje premiere of the documentary film “Does Anyone Have a Plan” at the Cinema Millennium on Monday, January 30.

Guests included the Austrian, British, Dutch, Swiss and US ambassadors, diplomats from dozen embassies as well as politicians, officials, editors, journalists, representatives from international organizations, including EUPAT, NATO, OSCE and ICRC.

“The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network has managed to achieve something that the media in the region have failed to accomplish – to give a realistic picture of the reasons and the consequences of the disintegration of Yugoslavia which started and is ending with the Kosovo problem,” said Liljana Jakovleska, editor of Macedonian National Radio.

Thammy Evans, political advisor at NATO headquarters, also applauded the documentary. “A very well presented film, a very interesting use of putting side-by-side the questions of everyday people and presenting them to politicians in power,” Evans said. “A timely exposure of the different views out there and how we need to move with a dialogue of all the stakeholders.”

Chanel 5 TV and A1 TV carried extensive reports on the event while Ana Petruseva was a guest in the main A1TV news. All major papers carried reports, including Weekly Forum .

“The film was well received by the audience and send off with an applause. It is interesting that the film manages to maintain its objectivity.” wrote Suncica Unevska in Utrinski Vesnik.

Balkan premiere of BIRN documentary in Belgrade

The documentary, Does Anyone Have a Plan?, premiered in the Balkans on January 25 in Dvorana Kulturnog Centra Cinema in Belgrade.

Serbian journalists, civil society representatives and foreign diplomats attended the screening.

The film received significant media coverage. Serbia’s national television station, RTS TV, B92, Pink TV, Deutsche Welle and Serbia’s leading independent TV studios, VIN and Mreza covered the event.

Newspapers including Evropa, Danas, Reporter and Nedeljni Telegraf also wrote pieces on the film.
Following the premiere, BIRN Serbia and Montenegro received many requests for further screenings of the documentary at other conferences and events.

VIN journalist Olivera Stojanovic said “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” gave a new perspective to an issue that has become too familiar. “Although Kosovo is daily topic, this film gives a totally new approach to it and makes you think, above all, how much we really know about us and our neighbours, about tolerance and nationalism,” she said. After screenings in Sofia, Skopje, Pristina and Sarajevo, the documentary film will be made available for public broadcast on all major TV stations in the region.

Public broadcast of the documentary in Serbia can be expected in the second half of February, beginning with RTS on February 15.

For more information, contact BIRN BiH Director Dragana Nikolic-Solomon.