BIRN Macedonia Trainees Complete “Success Stories” Workshop

Eight
young journalists from print and broadcast media in Macedonia attended a workshop
organised by the Office of Public Affairs of the US Embassy and BIRN Macedonia,
aimed at encouraging media to include more features and positive stories in
their output.

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The
one-week training session, held the week beginning November 20, included
lectures, held by Professor Silcock and BIRN Director for Macedonia, Ana
Petruseva, and practical work.

As a
result of the training, the journalists produced three television and five
print stories, which were presented at the end of the workshop. They ranged
from a story on a civic initiative providing a playground for the young in Skopje, a man who lost
his job and went on to become a successful farmer, to a famous acting family
which takes care of stray dogs.

Some
of the stories have already been published while others will be published in
the next week in the media where the journalists work: the dailies Dnevnik,
Vest and Vreme; A1 TV, Channel 5 TV and ALSAT-M TV; the state news agency MIA;
the economic web portal Total; and the weekly Capital. The stories will also be
published on the BIRN Macedonia home page.

At
the end of the workshop, the US Embassy in Skopje awarded a Certificate of Completion to
each of the trainees.

“Life in Kosovo” Debates Kosovo Returnees

The subject of people returning to their former
homes will feature in this week’s Life in Kosovo TV debate show to be broadcast
on Friday, 24 November 2006,
at 20.30, on Kosovo public television, RTK.

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The
programme will examine a number of issues, including where the returnee process
has been most successful; whether people are sufficiently motivated to return
to Kosovo; and if the resolution of Kosovo’s status will result in more
returns.

Panelists
in the debate are: Frode Mauring, head of United Nations Developing
Program-UNDP; Dragana Zivkovic, director of the return department in the
Ministry of Return; Dardan Gashi, head of the technical group for the return; Nazmi
Fejza, deputy minister on the Ministry of Return; and Fatmir Sheholli,
spokesman of the Ministry of Return.

Mauring
says the number of people interested in returning is on the rise and the
resolution of final status talks will bolster the process.

Among
the studio audience, there will be ten returnees from the different ethnic
groups in Kosovo who will talk about their personal experiences.

BIRN Macedonia Organises Training Workshop

BIRN Macedonia has selected eight trainees for a one-week workshop, organised by the Office of Public Affairs of the US Embassy and BIRN Macedonia on the theme of “Success Stories”. The training aims to encourage print and broadcast media to feature more interesting stories in their output.

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The trainees are young working journalists from the dailies Dnevnik, Vest and Vreme; the broadcasters A1 TV, Channel 5 TV and ALSAT-M TV; the state news agency MIA, economic web portal Total and the weekly Kapital.

The training will be held between November 20 and 24 at the BIRN Macedonia office in Skopje. In addition to lecturing the trainees, the chief trainer, Professor Bill Silcock, from the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and Ana Petruseva, BIRN country director, will help them prepare stories over course of the session. In advance of the workshop, the journalists were taken to Kumanovo to prepare stories that will be discussed at the event.

BIRN Interview with Holbrooke Broadcast on BHTV

Bosnian television BHTV’s leading current affairs programme, Javna Tajna (Public Secret), broadcast BIRN’s interview with the former US Balkan envoy Richard Holbrooke on November 16.

In the interview, Holbrooke said that Kosovo’s independence was inevitable this year or next and that Serbia’s obstructive tactics, such as the adoption of a constitution that restates Serbia’s claim on Kosovo, won’t delay the inevitable.

Holbrooke said Serbia will have no choice but to accept the loss of Kosovo. He said the Serbian leadership faces a historic responsibility to face up to reality, but expressed scepticism about this happening soon.

The chief architect of Bosnia’s Dayton peace agreement rejected once again allegations about a US administration deal with Bosnian Serb wartime leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic that is said to have allowed him to walk away free in exchange for quitting public life. Holbrooke called for the arrest of all fugitive war crimes suspects.

“Life in Kosovo” Debate Second Mobile Telephone Operator in Kosovo

The "Life in Kosovo" TV
debate discussed the tender for the second mobile phone operator in Kosovo.

The first tender for a second operator in
December 2005 did not succeed, and now preparations are being made for a second
contest, which is expected to be held in January.

The BIRN-organised debate examined how
Kosovo will benefit from a second mobile operator; how the tender will be
organised; what is being done to ensure that it won’t fail as the first one
did; and who is likely to apply.

 

Panellists invited to discuss on this
topic were: Qemajl Ahmeti, minister of transport and telecommunications; Anton
Berisha, from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, ART; Etrur
Rrustemaj, head of Post and Telecommunications of Kosovo, PTK; Akan Ismajli,
director of the main internet service provider in Kosovo, IPKO net; and Fatmir
Gashi from the Dukagjini company.

 

The debate started with a field report
that included local people’s opinions about the state of the mobile phone
system, focusing mostly on service low quality and call high costs.

 

Another report, which looked at the
challenges faced by the first tender and the reasons why it failed, was shown
during the debate.

 

Ahmeti said the purpose of having a second
mobile operator in Kosovo is to have a liberal market which would lead to
competitiveness, higher quality and economic progress.

 

“The more mobile operators there are, the
lower prices we will have,” said Ahmeti

 

Rrustemaj admitted that the prices of the
mobile operator Vala 900, which has a monopoly in Kosovo, have been high due to
unreasonable operational costs.

 

Ismaili said he was optimistic that the
second tender will succeed because “this time there has been a deeper analysis
of many elements of the tender”.

 

Gashi said that all illegal operators that
have established themselves on Kosovo territory should not be allowed to
participate in the tender

 

“According to the transport and
telecommunication law, these operators are not eligible,” he said

 

All the panellists agreed that illegal
operators in Kosovo had damaged the telecommunication system here.

BIRN Journalists Spend Time at Top Magazine

Two BIRN correspondents from Montenegro, Bojana
Stanisic and Nikola Doncic, spent ten days in Belgrade, between November 3 to
14, attending an investigative journalism programme organised by the respected
weekly magazine Vreme.

This
theoretical phase of the course will be followed by two to three weeks of
research under the guidance of Aleksandar Ciric, one of the Vreme editors. All the trainees will meet again in Belgrade in December to
work on final versions of their articles with senior Vreme journalists.

The
November phase of the programme dealt with the key elements of investigative
journalism: paper trails, internet research, investigative techniques,
interviewing and sourcing and ethical issues. At the same time, Vreme
journalists spoke about assignments they’d undertaken.

Journalists
attended presentations by Aleksandar Ciric, Jovan Dulovic, Tamara Skroza, Filip
Svarm and others.

"It
was very useful to hear from our older colleagues and also establish contact
with them, which will be useful in the future," said Bijana Stanisic, a
freelance journalist from Podgorica.

The
BIRN correspondents also had an opportunity to spend time with the BIRN Serbia
team, with whom they discussed the current situation in Montenegro and Serbia, article
ideas and training needs.

It’s
the first time that BIRN journalists have attended the Vreme investigative
journalism programme, and articles they produce will be published in Vreme and
on the BIRN site.

This
visit was organised as a part of the Minority Media Training and Reporting
Project supported by the British Embassy in Belgrade.

BIRN Visit to South Serbia

BIRN held several meetings with local politicians, human rights activists, local media journalists and representatives of international organisations during a three-day visit to the South Serbia municipalities of Bujanovac, Presevo and Vranje.

The purpose of the visit was to learn more about local affairs and the most serious problems affecting people in the region, one of the poorest in the country.

The principal problems that were discussed in our meetings were the inadequacy of the government’s Coordinating Body for South Serbia; the absence of dialogue between the representatives of local ethnic communities; the lack of a Serbian government economic and political plan for the region; as well as discrimination against the ethnic Albanians in the area of the privatisation.

Most participants in the discussions pointed out that, in their view, we could not expect any substantial progress in South Serbia until after the final solution of Kosovo’s status.

BIRN Serbia country director, Dragana Nikolic Solomon, met up with the editors of the only Albanian television broadcaster in the region, TV Spektra; the editor of Albanian-language weekly, Perpsektive; the editor-in-chief of RTV Bujanovac; the chairman of the Bujanovac Human Rights Committee; the principal of the primary school Sveta Sava in Bujanovac; local Presevo politicians; the editor-in-chief of the weekly Vranjske; the editor of Vranje-based OK Radio; and Martin Brooks, OSCE South Serbia Coordinator.

The BIRN visit also included meetings with BIRN contributors Nikola Lazic, Ardita Beljulji, Ivica Stepanovic and Faruk Daliu. The discussion focused on activities conducted so far; the expansion of journalist networks and topics covered in the BIRN special edition on South Serbia.

An agreement was reached that the journalists from this region should take part in the seminar dedicated to the problems facing South Serbia to be organised in Nis.

This visit is a part of the journalist-training programme covering multinational regions in Serbia, which is implemented by BIRN Serbia with the generous support of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Belgrade and the National Endowment for Democracy, NED, the US foundation.

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.