Diplomats Interviewed for “Life in Kosovo”

The positions of the American, Russian and French governments on Kosovo’s final status will be featured in a special edition of the BIRN-organised RTK programme “Life in Kosovo” tonight, Friday, November 10, at 20.20. The show will feature interviews BIRN Kosovo director Jetta Xharra conducted with Richard Holbrooke, the ex-US envoy to the region; and Frank Wisner, Andrei Dronov and Thierry Reynard, the current US, Russian and French envoys in Kosovo, respectively.

In the interviews, Holbrooke says that Kosovo will be an independent country and blames the Bush administration for the delays in the final status process; while Dronov insists that if there’s a decision that’s unacceptable to Belgrade, Russia will exercise its veto in the Security Council. The interviews look at Kosovo’s importance to America and Russia and whether Kosovo is important enough for the two countries to fall out over. The programme will be in English with Albanian subtitles.
For an extract of the interview with Richard Holbrooke go to: http://www.birn.eu.com/en/58/10/1609/

“Life in Kosovo” debated festivals

The second BIRN-organised RTK debate on cultural topics dealt with local festivals.

Since 1999, a number of cultural festivals have been organised, most of them traditional. Organisers’ main complaint is lack of funds.

The main points discussed in this debate were the challenges of organising festivals in Kosovo, with the main focus of discussion on financial problems.

The panelists invited to debate the topic were: Veli Bytyçi, public relations director on the ministry of culture; Aliriza Arenliu, director of the international documentary and short film festival Dokufest; Zana Krasniqi from the International students film and theatre festival SKENA UP; and Ilir Bajri, director of the Pristina jazz festival.

Arenliu insisted that the ministry of culture “doesn’t have a proper strategy for festival funding”. He said funds tend to arrive late because of the absence of a signed agreement between fundraisers and granting organisations. He added that everything gets done on the basis of trust.

Bytyçi maintained that funding delays were due to the late hand over of project proposals. But he also said that the ministry should not be seen as the sole source of funding and organisers should look to private donors.

Bajri said he was aware of the ministry’s limited budget and asked about other ways it could lend support.

Krasniqi highlighted the trouble he has persuading members of the international community to attend the SKENA UP festival, because they still have the impression that there’s conflict in Kosovo. “The key problems is to convince foreign participants to come,” she said.

The discussion moved on to the lack of public interest in cultural events, in particular plays.

Bajri blamed the low quality of plays, “I’m not enthusiastic about the theatre any more, as it doesn’t offer anything interesting.”

All panelists agreed that there were a large number of festivals in Kosovo, but their quality was uneven.

BIRN Celebrates First Anniversary

BIRN marked its first year of operation on November 9 with a reception at its Bosnia and Herzegovina office. Regional director Grodana Igric updated BIRN supporters and partners on the network’s achievements over the past twelve months.

Among the highlights she noted was BIRN’s first documentary on Kosovo’s final status and the organisation’s expansion into Croatia and Albania. BIRN Bosnia director Nerma Jelacic talked about the success of its transitional justice programme and Justice Report magazine which this week published its 35th issue.

Among those present were Jan Braatu, Norvegian ambassador to Sarajevo; Didier Chassot, Swiss deputy ambassador; representatives of the OSCE, OHR, US and UK embassy in Sarajevo; Senka Kurtovic, chief editor of the daily Oslobodjenje; Milan Trivic, director of state public service broadcasting; and Dunja Mijatovic, director for communication regulatory agency in Bosnia.

Journalists from Serbia on London Study Tour

Eight journalists from Serbia are traveling to London in mid-November to take part in a study programme focusing on reporting minority issues, which has been organised by the British Association for Central and Eastern Europe.

From November 13 – 19, the journalists will be hosted by Westminster University , Ealing Racial Equality Council, the Commission for Racial Equality, the BBC, the National Union of Journalists, the Media Diversity Institute and other institutions.

They will hear a number of presentations on the media in the UK, the ethnic make-up of Britain, Media and Islam post 7/7, reporting minorities and crime. There will be a focus on relations between media and ethnic minority groups and professional standards in reporting on such sensitive topic.

Most of the visiting journalists are BIRN Serbia contributors and members of the organisation’s minority reporting network, who’ve received training under the Minority Training and Reporting Project.

The British Association for Central and Eastern Europe is an independent organisation, financed by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which organises seminars and study visits for media, parliamentarians, NGOs aimed at promoting civil society and democracy.

BIRN Serbia is giving administrative support to the organisers of the study tour.

BIRN Doc Screened in Washington DC

The BIRN documentary “Kosovo: Does Anyone Have a Plan?” was screened at the US Institute for Peace in Washington DC on October 27.

The film was followed by a discussion led by Daniel Server, head of USIP. Gordana Igric, BIRN Regional Director, Jeta Xharra, BIRN Kosovo Director and Nerma Jelacic, BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina Director, responded to questions from the audience.

Sixty people attended the screening and subsequent discussion, which addressed subjects such as the current political climate in Kosovo and Serbia, the ongoing status talks, and possible status scenarios.

“Life in Kosovo” Celebrates First Anniversary

A year after it first went on air, the BIRN-organised "Life in Kosovo"
current affairs TV debate is now one of the most watched programmes in
the region.

The anniversary show will contain highlights of the previous shows, including the best reports, questions and answers.

BIRN will also looked back at some of the issues discussed over the last year and feature a number of follow-ups.

will include updates on subjects such as the electricity situation in
Kosovo; changes at Pristina University; and unemployment among skilled

Vjosa Musliu, a participant in the
latter debate, which was broadcast in September, said at the time that
it was impossible for her to find a job. She told the follow-up that
she has since been offered work by four companies.

The last part of the anniversary show is to be dedicated to viewers’ letters – some of the most interesting will be read out.

BIRN Documentary screened at Columbia University

The TV documentary Does Anyone Have a Plan, produced by BIRN, was screened at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University in New York on October 23.

The screening was followed by lively panel discussion in the hall packed with students and others interested in the issue of Kosovo’s final status. Gordana Igric, BIRN Regional Network director, Jeta Xharra, Kosovo BIRN director and Nerma Jelacic, Bosnia and Herzegovina BIRN director answered on subjects ranging from the impact of Serbia’s new constitution and possible consequences of the delays in resolving final status of Kosovo.

Media Im Pakt grant

Media Im Pakt has donated funds to assist BIRN in preparing for the launch of a business newsletter, which will be available to readers on a subscription basis next year. BIRN is currently identifying local journalists and commentators to contribute to the publication.

BIRN launches project in Albania

As part of efforts to widen the regional scope of its project
activities, BIRN organised two-day workshop on October 4 and 5.

A group of ten Albanian reporters attended the workshop which served as an introduction to BIRN house style and its weekly newsletter Balkan Insight.

Regional Network Director Gordana Igric gave a presentation on international journalism standards, article structure, news analysis and libel laws.

The training session concluded with a discussion of ideas for Balkan Insight articles. Stories dealing with under-reported issues in Albania were commissioned. These will be published in a special issue at the beginning of November.

During her stay in Tirana, Igric also met the editors and management of local media, including Gazeta Shqiptare, Panorama, Korieri and the Albanian Telegraph Agency. They expressed an interest in republishing Balkan Insight articles.