EU Awards Presented for Best Investigative Journalism in North Macedonia

Winning stories tackled tragic fate of Balkan lynx, pandemic profiteers and over-employment in a government ministry.

The EU Awards for Investigative Journalism in 2021 for North Macedonia were presented on Wednesday at the Aleksandar Palace Hotel in Skopje.

“Investigative journalism is of great importance because it contributes to the protection of the public interest and demands accountability from those in power,” Julian Vasalo, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in Skopje, said at the ceremony.

“Journalism as a profession has a responsible task to inform the public in an objective manner and at the same time to express the variety of viewpoints that appear in public and of course to demands accountability,” he added.

“Brave journalists are those who investigate in a brave manner and put questions that other do not dare to ask and in that way make their societies better,” he continued.

The jury, comprising jury head Marina Kostova and jury members Tamara Chausidis and Milica Saric, had a challenge evaluating the 13 shortlisted applications.

“While deciding, we were guided by given criteria that assess the relevance of the stories, their quality, originality and professional journalistic integrity,” Kostova said.

According to Kostova, the stories of the finalists are valuable documents that will stay as a resource for further investigations in their fields, but also pointed out that all the stories are independent journalistic efforts financed mainly by donations and not mainstream media.

First prize went to the young journalists of Radio MOF, comprising Jasmina Jakimova, Bojan Sasevski, Daniel Evrosimoski and Emilija Petreska, for their investigative story, “Following the Balkan Lynx’s Footsteps – an Investigative Story in Two Sequels”, which the jury called a product of outstanding research.

“It is disappointing that even after more than a year since we published the story, the institutions did not react to the discovery we literally gave them on a plate. What kind of future do we have in mind if we continue to destroy eco-systems, to destroy the living environment of the Balkan lynx and the natural heritage we have, and, by that, destroy ourselves,” Petreska from Radio MOF said.

She used the opportunity to send another “appeal to the institutions and the public not to allow the Balkan lynx to stay only on the five denar coin, but to preserve it in the mountains”.

Second prize went to the team from Investigative Reporting Lab – Macedonia, for a series of investigations into the medical equipment business in the wake of the pandemic, “Pandemic profiteering – The Other Side of the Covid-19 Story”.

“These investigations are a product of the whole team of IRL. I hope that this story will touch those in competence and that it changes something,” Aleksandra Denkovska from IRL said, after receiving the award.

Her colleague, David Ilievski, said the biggest prize for any investigative story is for it to contribute to significant change, but added: “Unfortunately, not a single one of these investigations brought the institutions to the point of doing something.”

Third prize went to, “Only 44 work, while 1,410 people receive salary”, an investigative series about the work of a government ministry, by Kristina Ozimec and Vlatko Stojanovski.

“This is first award for Pina, a small media house that works on investigative stories. It is also important that the story was produced in cooperation with other organizations like Samo prasaj and the Institute of communication Studies and that with small resources we succeeded in producing independent journalism,” Ozimec said.

Her colleague Stojanovski added that the story was dedicated to the Ministry of Political Systems and the way it functioned.

“The ministry served as a recruiting centre for employing staff for whom professionalism was not important, only their ethnic background, and which cost the state 100 million euros. I hope that we have contributed to resolving one problem,” Stojanovski said.

The EU awards have the overall goal of celebrating and promoting the outstanding achievements of investigative journalists from the Western Balkan countries and Turkey, as well as improving the visibility of quality investigative journalism in these countries among the public.

The award for investigative journalism is awarded through the EU-funded project “Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey” in 2019, 2020, 2021 in the EU candidate and potential candidate countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, for investigative stories published between 2018 and 2020.


EU Awards Three Best Investigative Stories From Albania

Three investigative stories on Tuesday were awarded the EU Award for Investigative Journalism, as the best stories from Albania in 2020.

Journalists Ljuljeta Progni, Geri Emiri, Anila Hoxha and Esmeralda Keta were selected from many colleagues as this year’s winners for their stories about abuse of workers’ rights in Albania, corruption in construction and wrongdoings behind the curtain of the pandemic.

The jury, consisting of jury head Albana Kasapi, a renowned journalist and BBC producer, Idro Seferi, a Deutsche Welle and Swiss TV correspondent, and Elira Canga, a journalist working in media development, had a hard task in choosing the three top stories.

Opening the ceremony, the director of BIRN Hub, Marija Ristic, stressed the importance of awards like this in recognizing journalists who work hard to deliver pieces of real public importance.

The head of the Political Section of the European Union Delegation in Albania, Alexis Hupin, spoke about investigative journalism as a mechanism to challenge governments and authority and make them more transparent and accountable.

Hupin, head of jury Kasapi, and jury member Seferi then presented the awards to the winners.

The first prize went to Luljeta Progni for her video, “Oil Slaves”, which focuses on the human stories of Albanian oil workers fighting for their rights and professional status.

The feature-length video investigation captures the human dimension of this struggle, which is often sidelined in the local media, drawing attention to the phenomenon through backstories and the narrative of protagonists.

“Oil Slaves” covers hunger strikes, protests and struggles of Albanian oil workers for unpaid wages and benefits and the mismanagement of the industry by the Albanian authorities through shady privatizations, which eventually led to its collapse. The report is based on interviews with workers and representatives of unions in the oil industry.

Geri Emiri took second prize for a Story of Exceptional Quality for a series of investigative stories into the 2019 earthquake in Albania and the shoddy conductions of buildings in the port of Durres, which brought about their collapse and left many victims.

The stories have a public-interest angle and include a thorough investigation done though human sources and documents, interviews and other investigative techniques into the causes behind the collapse of so many building during the quake.

The first story in the series, “Albanian Quake Probe Hones in on Sub-Standard Concrete”, reveals that below-strength concrete was used in a number of buildings that collapsed in Durres during the earthquake and killed 23 people.

The second, “Durres Leaning Towers; Residents Face off with Developers Over Construction Quality”, reveals that many apartment towers damaged in the 2019 Durres quake had substandard construction work.

The third story, “Albania’s War on ‘Fear Mongers’ Leaves Rights Activists Uneasy”, brings insight into the story of the Albanian police who investigated journalists and citizens for allegedly “spreading panic” after the quake and in the coronavirus pandemic, with a chilling effect on media and freedom of speech.

The fourth piece,”Cacophony of Structural Tests Leaves People Made Homeless by Quake in Limbo”, investigates the conflict between the residents of buildings damaged by the quake in Durres and Construction Institute and its evaluation of the severity of damages.

Finally, “Structural Interventions Turned Flats Into Death Traps” , reveals how illegal construction led to the collapse of several buddings in Durres during the quake.

Journalists Anila Hoxha and Esmeralda Keta won third prize for their story:  “Albanian Govt Accused of Manipulating Pandemic Aid Data”, a thorough investigation into the support given to poor families in the pandemic and the response of the state administration in this field.

The investigation was the result of a professional, fact-based effort by the two journalists to shed light on the phenomenon of aid abuse. Their investigation revealed that although Albania’s government took credit for putting food on the tables of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic, the figures it touted do not tell the whole story.

Platform B: Power Dynamics in Media: Why Don’t We Have More Women in Top Management Positions?

Together with our partners, BIRN is continuing its series of online and offline events aimed to amplify the voices of strong and credible individuals and organisations in the region that promote the core values of democracy, such as civic engagement, independent institutions, transparency, and rule of law.

As a primarily media organisation, we want to open space and provide a platform to discuss and reshape our alliances in light of the challenges facing democracies in South-East and Central Europe.

This effort comes at a critical time when the region is seeing several troubling trends: centralized power, reduced transparency, assaults on media, politicized judiciaries, unchecked corruption, online violations, and social polarization – all amidst heightened geopolitical tensions and deep divisions in Europe.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Platform B event series will be organised in accordance with all relevant health measures. As the situation improves, we hope to be able to host some of the events in BIRN spaces in Sarajevo and Belgrade, and elsewhere in the region.

Platform B will be an opportunity for individuals and groups to meet monthly on selected topics.

Next event: Power Dynamics in Media: Why Don’t We Have More Women in Top Management Positions?

Date: September 14, 2021 (Tuesday)
Time: 10am-12pm, CET

The majority of journalists in Balkan countries are women, but rarely do they have the chance to break the glass ceiling and take positions at a managerial level. Additionally, research conducted as a part of the regional Media for All project shows that higher representation of women in the media sector does not affect editorial policies, gender sensitivity, pay inequalities, or workers’ rights. The research instead shows that “as is the case with all sectors and industries considered feminized or dominated by women, it has contributed to the lowering of the salaries in the media sector.”

The online public debate ‘Power Dynamics in Media: Why Don’t We Have More Women in Top Management Positions?’ will be the first in a series of discussions focusing on different kinds of discrimination, as well as the abuses faced by female media professionals in the region, including sexual and digital violence against women. The aim of the debate is to shed light on this important issue and to try to pinpoint a potential for change, learning from the experience of women at leadership positions in the media.

Experts from Balkan countries will take part in this discussion:
Biljana Petkovska, Director of the Macedonia Institute for Media, North Macedonia
Marijana Bojanić, CEO at Vijesti, Montenegro
Beti Njuma, Journalist at Ora News, Albania
Ivana Pavlovic, Editor of Nova Ekonomija, Serbia

The debate will be moderated by Jeta Xharra, Country Director of BIRN office in Kosovo.

This event is organised as a part of the regional “Media for All” project.
More information and registration.

Upcoming events from September until November:
#metoo in Journalism: When Will Balkan Journalists Speak Up?
Digital Violence and Female Journalists

More information will follow soon.

EU Awards for Investigative Journalism Announced in Kosovo

The three best investigative stories in Kosovo published in 2020 were awarded in Pristina on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Six journalists who received the awards exposed important information about illegal gambling, violation of anti-monopoly rules and fraud with college accreditations and degrees.

The awards were presented by the EU Special Representative to Kosovo, Ambassador Tomas Szuyong who noted that a free media and independent journalism is essential for any democratic society, and by Xhelal Neziri, the Head of Jury who made a summary of the jury decision and commented on the relevance of all awarded stories, noting how “investigative journalists have been a great contribution to the democracy of this country, because transparency is the foundation of a functioning democratic state”.

This year’s jury consisted of Neziri, as Head of Jury and jury members Edis Agani and Mustafa Canka.

Jeta Xharra and Visar Prebreza came in first place for the best investigative story, “Unclean energy: A Kosovar who owned the sun”, about a Kosovo businessman who stands behind six companies registered in Malta, reaping millions of euros from the sale of solar energy – in violation of anti-monopoly rules.

The BIRN investigation found out that Blerim Devolli receives incentives to produce more than half of the total solar energy used in Kosovo. The six-month investigation uncovered hidden companies, owned by a single person, through which solar energy is produced, and resulted in the country’s Anti-Corruption Agency opening an investigation based on BIRN’s inquiries.

Xharra, in her acceptance speech, emphasized the importance of those in government as well as citizens with integrity being willing to fight corruption and wrongdoing.

The second award, for a story of exceptional quality, went to Besa Kalaja and Besnik Boletini whose article “Victims of private colleges” addressed the manipulation that has been done for years and is still being done by private colleges in Kosovo.

Their research found that thousands of students have completed their studies and graduated from private colleges, but have not legally graduated because the colleges did not obtain all the right accreditation or get registered at the Ministry of Education. Due to this, many students lost their right to scholarships abroad.

Finally, a story about illegal gambling in a village of Karaçeva by Kreshnik Gashi and Adelina Ahmeti won third prize as a story of exceptional quality.

After the adoption of a law that made gambling illegal in Kosovo, received information that gambling was being conducted illegally in different locations. This information revealed that a neighbourhood had been set up in the village of Karaçeva where facilities functioned as casinos.

In cooperation with the team, prosecutor Rozelida Manastiri started an investigation which lasted about 14 months. The series, “Crime in Karaçeva 1&2”, involved several months of investigation resulting in the capture and arrest of more than 50 people in connection with the Karaçeva case.

The EU Award for Investigative Journalism is presented annually in six Western Balkan countries and Turkey for exceptional investigations published in the previous year.

EU Special Representative to Kosovo/ Ambassador Tomáš Szunyog
Head of Jury: Xhelal Neziri
1st place winners: Jeta Xharra and Visar Prebreza
2nd place winners: Besa Kalaja and Besnik Boletini
3rd place winners: Adelina Ahmeti and Kreshnik Gashi

Digital Rights Falter amid Political and Social Unrest

BIRN and SHARE Foundation identified more than 800 cases of digital rights violations in Southeast and Central Europe, including restrictions of freedom of speech, privacy breaches and disinformation.

In the period from August 2019 until December 2020, BIRN and the SHARE Foundation were gathering information on digital rights violations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Hungary, Romania and Serbia, and our monitoring shows violations of digital rights continued at an alarming rate in all six countries.

As all six held elections during this period – local, general and/or presidential – our findings raise serious concerns about how the digital arena has been effectively hijacked to propagate fake news, hate-fuelled conspiracy theories and misinformation in support of offline efforts to sabotage democratic processes.

Just when people needed factually-correct information and governments needed close scrutiny to ensure high standards in public life, cyberattacks were launched against state bodies and the public were overwhelmed with false information and discriminatory content designed to manipulate voting and/or stoke hatred of particular groups.

Governments, on the other hand, used the pandemic to curb freedom of expression, abused health data, while many public institutions failed to meet standards of free and open internet.

During this period, BIRN and the SHARE Foundation verified more than 800 violations of digital rights including efforts to prevent valid freedom of speech (trolling of media and general public engaged in fair reporting and comment, for example) and at the other end of the scale, efforts to overwhelm users with false information and racist/discriminatory content– usually for financial or political gain.

Most online violations we monitored were under the category of pressures because of expression and activities (375) while the fewest violations monitored were classified as holding intermediaries liable (0).

Action was taken in just 21 per cent of cases, which usually entailed – depending on the type of violation – removing articles or deleting posts and/or comments by the general public and public sector organisations. During the COVID-19 crisis, we saw a rise in arrests of citizens accused of causing panic by publishing fake news on social media. Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina were leading in this trend. Legal action, including arrests, penalties or other court action, was taken in less than 0.5 per cent of all monitored cases.

It is important to note that just as some violations included attempts to stifle free speech and frustrate freedom of expression through publishing falsehoods, not all legal actions launched to apparently hold intermediaries liable were legitimate attempts to protect freedom of speech. Some were cynical attempts against the public interest to block the publication of proven facts.

All these violations have contributed to an atmosphere dominated by fear and hatred with already vulnerable communities – such as LGBT+, groups identifying as female, migrants, particular ethnic groups – becoming subjected to worse and more frequent abuse, leaving them ever more isolated from support networks.

Those guilty of using the digital space to undermine democracy, intimidate others from publishing the truth or to spread malicious falsehoods operate with impunity, not least because there is no meaningful sense in the region of what constitutes digital rights – never mind the desire to or means to protect those rights.

Our report is the first effort on the regional level to map current challenges in the digital sphere and aims to fill in the gaps in the research. We took an interdisciplinary approach and looked at the problems from the legal, political, tech and societal angle, as an attempt to show that the problems and solutions to these violations should also be holistic and overarching. We also want to highlight these issues, as the lack of awareness of digital rights violations within society further undermines democracy, not only in times of crisis.

We don’t see the internet only as open and transparent but also see digital evolution as a set of mechanisms and tools that have great potential to serve the needs of people, and let’s not forget that internet access has proved indispensable in times of crisis such as in the COVID-19 pandemic.

We hope this report will serve not just for stock taking but be understood as a map showing what and how to further advance our rights, and also as an invitation to everyone to join forces in making our digital world healthy, too.

Marija Ristic is regional director of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. Danilo Krivokapic is director of SHARE Foundation.

Report “Digital Rights Falter amid Political and Social Unrest” can be downloaded here.

As part of our Platform B, we are also hosting a discussion with policy makers, journalists and civil society members around digital rights in the Southeast Europe. Register here.

EU Awards for 2021 Announced in Turkey

Murat Ağırel, Hale Gönültaş, Volkan Nakiboğlu and Fevzi Kızılkoyun are the winners of this year’s EU Awards for Investigative Journalism, given for stories published in 2020 in Turkey.

This year’s winning investigations exposed a variety of malpractices in Turkey,  ranging from the mishandling of public funds to the infamous ties between a drug baron and a chief of police.

A total of 53 applicants submitted their stories uncovering wrongdoings and shedding light on issues of importance to the public.

Apart from the three stories that were given awards, two other stories received special recognition from the juries.

At the awards ceremony on June 29, the head of EU Delegation in Turkey, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, highlighted the importance of investigative journalism and of ensuring the safety of reporters.

“In the wake of the attack against an AFP photo-journalist, I state that according to EU values, violence against journalists cannot be tolerated. We are in need of journalism in this age of global disinformation,” Meyer-Landrut told the ceremony in Ankara.

The first prize went to journalist Murat Ağırel, whose series of stories featured how public funds are being misspent in a variety of areas such as health and education. Articles unearthed unlawful purchases and expenses as well as possible money-laundering.

Journalists Hale Gönültaş and Volkan Nakiboğlu got second prize for their stories Iranian Border: Between Bullets and Wolves, which exposed the inhumane conditions that immigrants face on the Iranian border as well as the cruelty of human traffickers.

Third prize was awarded to Fevzi Kızılkoyun for the story Prestigious Baron: Official Car Issued to Turkish Escobar,  which explained how a drug trafficker violated the curfew during the pandemic with the help of a chief of police.

“Today we are here to honour our colleagues who practise this profession by doing it justice. Journalism requires dedication, first and foremost to the public, then to the truth, knowledge, and objectivity,” said Yusuf Kanli, vice-president of the Association of Journalists.

Special recognition jury prizes went to the Hazal Ocak for the story Leak in the Bosphorus – Garden Rented for Only 258 Liras a Month, which showed how public spaces are being taken by top government officials. Ocak’s stories have been banned on the grounds that she has been “interfering with the fight against coronavirus” and she is facing 14 years in prison at an ongoing trial.

Another special recognition prize was awarded to İsa Örken for the story 14 Days as a Seasonal Worker, about the hardship faced by seasonal workers, their poor working conditions and how they try to get by on low salaries. Örken went undercover and worked alongside seasonal workers, documenting their working conditions.

The EU Award for Investigative Journalism is presented annually in six Western Balkan countries and Turkey for exceptional investigations published in the previous year.

Head of EU Delegation in Turkey, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut
President of the Association of Journalists, Nazmi Bilgin
Vice President of the Association of Journalist & Head of the Jury, Yusuf Kanli
First place prize: Murat Ağırel
Second place prize (co-authors): Hale Gönültaş and Volkan Nakiboğlu
Third place prize: Fevzi Kızılkoyun
Hazal Ocak
İsa Örken

Europeanization of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda team holds Renewable Energy Policy in Kosovo conference

On June 28, BIRN Kosovo, in partnership with CEE Bankwatch, the ERA Group and TV Mreža, held the Renewable Energy Policy in Kosovo conference, which was organised as part of Green Energy Days 2021.

The conference was moderated by Executive Director of BIRN Kosovo Jeta Xharra and featured a host of guest speakers including: Pippa Gallop, an Energy Advisor on South East Europe for CEE Bankwatch, Jeta Statovci MP, the First Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Economy, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and Trade, Ymer Fejzullahu, Head of the Department for Tariffs and Fees at the Energy Regulatory Office, Besiana Berisha, a senior official at the Division of Renewable Energy, Efficiency and Cogeneration at the Energy Department of the Ministry of Economy, Dajana Berisha, a co-founder of the Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development (KOSID), and Trim Tërnava, the CEO of Jaha Solar Panel and a renewable energy consultant.

Topics addressed at the conference mostly focused on current renewable energy policy in Kosovo, as well as the country’s slow progress towards developing a greener energy sector. The Panelists provided insights on the impact of the energy sector both on the environment and on the well-being of the citizens of Kosovo, as well as recommendations on future policies that will help integrate renewably sourced energy into Kosovo’s energy supply.

At the end of the panel discussion, the audience was given the opportunity to address their concerns by asking questions and participating in the discussion.

Photo: BIRN

This conference was organized as part of Green Energy Days 2021, an event hosted as part of the Europeanization of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda project, which is funded by the European Union Office in Kosovo. Green Energy Days will take place until 7 July, 2021.

Tim na projektu Evropeizacija kosovske agende za zaštitu životne sredine“ održava lokalnu konferenciju o Politici obnovljivih izvora energije na Kosovu”

Dana 28. juna, BIRN Kosovo, je u partnerstvu sa CEE Bankwatch, ERA Group i TV Mrežom održao lokalnu konferenciju o  „Politici obnovljivih izvora energije na Kosovu”, kao deo „Dana zelene energije 2021”, aktivnosti realizovane u sklopu projekta koji finansira EU pod nazivom „Evropeizacija kosovske agende za zaštitu životne sredine“.

Photo: BIRN

Konferenciju je vodila Jeta Džara – izvršna direktorka BIRN Kosovo, a ona je okupila paneliste Pippa Gallop – savetnica za energetiku za jugoistočnu Evropu CEE Bankwatch, Jeta Statovci – poslanica i prva predsedavajuća Odbora za privredu, preduzetništvo i trgovinu, Imer Fejzulahu – šef Odeljenja za tarife i naknade pri Regulatornoj kancelariji za energetiku, Besiana Beriša – viša službenica Odseka za obnovljive izvore energije, energetsku efikasnost i koproizvodnju pri Odeljenju za energetiku Ministarstva privrede, Dajana Beriša – suosnivačica Konzorcijuma građanskog društva za održivi razvoj (KOSID) i, Trim Trnava – izvršni direktor Jaha Solar Panel i konsultant za pitanja obnovljivih izvora energije.

Teme obuhvaćene konferencijom uglavnom su bile usredsređene na aktuelnu politiku obnovljivih izvora energije na Kosovu i spor napredak zemlje u razvoju zelene energije. Pored toga, panelisti su se osvrnuli na uticaj energetskog sektora na životnu sredinu i blagostanje građana Kosova, kao i na preporuke o budućim politikama koje će pomoći da se obnovljivi izvori energije uvrste u kosovski energetski miks. Na kraju panel diskusije, učesnicima je data prilika da iznesu svoje zabrinutosti postavljanjem pitanja i učešćem u diskusiji.

Photo: BIRN

Ova konferencije organizovana je kao deo „Dana zelene energije 2021”, pod okriljem projekta „Evropeizacija kosovske agende za zaštitu životne sredine“. „Dani zelene energije 2021″ traju do 7. jula 2021.

U mbajt konferenca lokale “Politikat e Energjisё sё Ripёrtёritshme nё Kosovё

Mё 28 qershor, “BIRN Kosova”, nё partneritet me “CEE Bankwatch”, “ERA Group” dhe “TV Mrezha”, mbajtën konferencёn lokale “Politikat e Energjisё sё Ripёrtrishme nё Kosovё”.

Në konferencën e moderuar nga Jeta Xharra – drejtoreshё e “BIRN Kosova”, ishin të pranishëm edhe Pippa Gallop – këshilltare e Energjisë në Ballkanin Perëndimor nga “CEE Bankwatch”, Jeta Statovci – deputete në Kuvendin e Kosovës dhe zëvëndëskryetare e parë e Komisionit për Ekonomi, Industri, Ndërmarrësi dhe Tregti, Ymer Fejzullahu – udhëheqës i Departamentit për Tarifa dhe Çmime në Zyrën e Rregullatorit për Energji, Besiana Berisha – zyrtare e lartë nga Departamenti i Energjisë, Divizioni për Burime të Ripërtëritshme të Energjisë, Efiçiencës dhe Bashkëprodhimit, Dajana Berisha – bashkëthemeluese e ‘Konzorciumit për Zhvillim të Qëndrueshëm në Kosovë’ (KOSID) dhe, Trim Tërnava – CEO në ‘Jaha Solar Panel’ dhe konsulent i energjisë së ripërtëritshme.

Photo: BIRN

Temat e trajtuara në konferencën e diskutimit ishin kryesisht të fokusuara në politikat e energjisë së ripërtëritshme në Kosovë dhe zhvillimin e ngadaltë të energjisë së gjelbër. Gjithashtu, panelistët ofruan njohuritë e tyre në ndikimin e sektorit të energjisë në mjedis dhe në mirëqenien e qytetarëve të Kosovës, si dhe rekomandime për politikat e ardhshme, të cilat do të ndihmojnë në integrimin e burimeve të ripërtëritshme në energjinë e Kosovës. Në fund të diskutimit, në mes të panelistëve, të pranishmit në audience paten rastin t’i adresojnë shqetësimet e tyre duke bërë pyetje dhe duke marrë pjesë në diskutim.

Kjo konferencë u organizua si pjesë e aktivitetit “Ditët e Energjisë së Gjelbër 2021”, aktivitet brenda projektit të financuar nga Zyra e Bashkimit Evropian në Kosovë, “Evropianizimi i Agjendës Mjedisore të Kosovës”. “Ditët e Energjisë së Gjelbër”, do shtrijnë aktivitetin deri më 7 korrik 2021.

Photo: BIRN

The “Europeanization of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda” Team Invites you to join “Green Energy Days 2021”

“Green Energy Days 2021” is an initiative organized within the framework of the project “Europeanization of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda”, funded by the European Union Office in Kosovo, BIRN Kosovo, CEE Bankwatch, ERA Group and TV Mreza, running from June 28 to July 7, 2021.

The “Europeanization of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda” project supports the proactive participation of Civil Society in Kosovo, the media and environmental activists in policy reform and decision making relating to energy, the environment, and public health. Our goal is to help Kosovo to bring environmental policies closer to the EU acquis and strengthen the dialogue between our CSO’s, media, activists, and the public sector.

Our Team will utilize their expertise in implementing impactful initiatives on energy efficiency, renewable sources and environment, knowledge and compliance for the environment, to organize the “Green Energy Days 2021”, to positively influence awareness raising among citizens, decision makers, and energy and environmental policy makers.

The 10-day event includes a series of activities that will bring together local, regional and international stakeholders to talk about the environment, energy efficiency, Kosovo’s progress in approximating its legislation to the EU acquis and other pressing and related issues facing the Western Balkans.

The Green Energy Days will also bring together youth from high school and universities in two dialogue meetings with key stakeholders to raise awareness of pressing environmental issues in their communities, learn about relevant advocacy and journalistic tools and mechanisms to address their environmental concerns in a meaningful way, and the current best energy efficiency and environmental practices.

Through a local conference on June 28, local stakeholders, CSOs and activists will talk about the energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and alternatives, targets that Kosovo should meet and recommendations to take into account towards energy efficiency.

Over 30 CSOs, environmental activists and media representatives from Western Balkan countries will be brought together in an online regional conference to discuss best practices, share experiences and identify areas of cooperation on energy issues. Practices, challenges and problems faced in each of the region’s countries will be discussed in order to find common solutions and ways of addressing them, which will be detailed in recommendation papers created by participants.

On July 5, the Green Energy Days 2021 will discuss the European Green Deal targets that Kosovo aspires to, bringing local, regional and international representatives from CSOs and institutions, environmental journalists and media representatives together via a high-level, international conference. They will discuss how to achieve energy efficiency, sustainable development, and sustainable public health, as well as global best practices and challenges related to energy and the environment.

In Peja, partners will mobilize youngsters in a street action, namely a bike tour through the city, to raise awareness about environmental pollution, air pollution and the degradation that cars cause to the environment as a whole.

An awards ceremony will end the event, awarding the best journalistic stories on the topics of energy efficiency, environmental protection, climate change and the effects of the environment on human health. This is the second and last competition of the action, which marks the end of the Green Energy Days for 2021.

Throughout the Green Energy Days 2021 event we will broadcast important public service announcements, youth promotion and awareness raising campaigns from BIRN’s youth platform, and partners televised debates and Interviews with significant stakeholders in the field of energy efficiency and clean environment in Kosovo, through the KOSID, BIRN Kosovo and TV Mreza channels and all partners’ social media pages.

Tim za „Evropeizaciju kosovske agende za zaštitu životne sredine“ vas poziva da se pridružite „Danima zelene energije 2021“.

„Dani zelene energije 2021“ je inicijativa organizovana u okviru projekta „Evropeizacija kosovske agende za zaštitu životne sredine“, koju finansiraju Kancelarija Evropske unije na Kosovu, BIRN Kosovo, CEE Bankwatch, ERA Group i TV Mreža i trajaće od 28. juna do 7. jula 2021.

Projekat „Evropeizacija kosovske agende za zaštitu životne sredine“ podržava proaktivno učešće građanskog društva na Kosovu, medija i ekoloških aktivista u reformi praktične politike i odlučivanja u vezi sa energijom, životnom sredinom i javnim zdravljem. Naš cilj je da pomognemo Kosovu da približi praktične politike o zaštiti životne sredine pravnim tekovinama EU i ojača dijalog između naših organizacija građanskog društva, medija, aktivista i javnog sektora.

Naš tim iskoristiće svoju stručnost u sprovođenju uticajnih inicijativa o energetskoj efikasnosti, obnovljivim izvorima energije i životnoj sredini, znanje i usklađenost po pitanju zaštite životne sredine da organizuje „Dane zelene energije 2021“, kako bi se pozitivno uticalo na podizanje svesti kod građana, donosilaca odluka i stvaralaca ekoloških praktičnih politika.

Desetodnevni događaj uključuje niz aktivnosti koje će okupiti lokalne, regionalne i međunarodne zainteresovane strane kako bi razgovarali o životnoj sredini, energetskoj efikasnosti, napretku Kosova u približavanju svojih propisa sa pravnim tekovinama EU i drugim hitnim i povezanim pitanjima sa kojima se suočava Zapadni Balkan.

Dani zelene energije takođe će okupiti mlade iz srednjih škola i sa univerziteta na dva sastanka za dijalog sa ključnim zainteresovanim stranama kako bi podigli svest o gorućim ekološkim pitanjima u svojim zajednicama, naučili o relevantnim zagovaračkim i novinarskim alatima i mehanizmima za smisleno rešavanje njihovih ekoloških problema  i aktuelnim najboljim praksama energetske efikasnosti i zaštite životne sredine.

Kroz lokalnu konferenciju 28. juna, lokalni akteri, organizacije građanskog društva i aktivisti govoriće o energetskoj efikasnosti, obnovljivim izvorima energije i alternativama, ciljevima koje bi Kosovo trebalo da ispuni i preporukama koje treba da se uzmu u obzir u pogledu energetske efikasnosti.

Preko 30  organizacija građanskog društva, aktivista za zaštitu životne sredine i predstavnika medija iz zemalja Zapadnog Balkana biće okupljeno na onlajn regionalnoj konferenciji  kako bi razgovarali o najboljim praksama, razmenili iskustva i identifikovali oblasti saradnje u energetskim pitanjima. Razgovaraće se o praksama, izazovima i problemima sa kojima se suočava svaka zemlja u regionu kako bi se pronašla zajednička rešenja i načini  za njihovo rešavanje što će detaljno biti objašnjeno u preporukama učesnika.

Dana 5. jula, na Danima zelene energije 2021, razgovaraće se o ciljevima koji proističu iz Evropskog zelenog sporazuma kome Kosovo teži, okupljajući lokalne, regionalne i međunarodne predstavnike organizacija građanskog društva, ekološke novinare i predstavnike medija putem međunarodne konferencije na visokom nivou. Oni će razgovarati o tome kako postići energetsku efikasnost, održivi razvoj i održivo javno zdravlje, kao i o najboljim svetskim praksama i izazovima vezanim za energiju i životnu sredinu.

Partneri u Peći mobilisaće mlade u uličnoj akciji, odnosno biciklističkoj turi kroz grad, kako bi podigli svest o zagađenju životne sredine, zagađenju vazduha i degradaciji koju automobili nanose životnoj sredini u celini.

Događaj će se završiti svečanom dodelom nagrada najboljim novinarskim pričama nagrađenim na teme energetske efikasnosti, zaštite životne sredine, klimatskih promena i efekata životne sredine na zdravlje ljudi. Ovo je drugo i poslednje takmičenje u sklopu ove akcije, kojim se obeležava završetak Dana zelene energije za 2021. godinu.

Tokom manifestacije Dani zelene energije 2021, emitovaćemo važna obaveštenja u službi javnosti, kampanje za promovisanje mladih i kampanje za  podizanje svesti sa BIRN-ove platforme za mlade i  televizijske debate i intervjue naših partnera sa značajnim akterima u oblasti energetske efikasnosti i čiste životne sredine na Kosovu preko kanala KOSID-a, BIRN Kosovo i TV Mreže i na svim stranicama na društvenim mrežama naših partnera.

Nga 28 qershori deri më 7 korrik organizohen “Ditët e energjisë së gjelbër 2021”

Nga data 28 qershor deri më 7 korrik do të organizohen “Ditët e energjisë së gjelbër 2021”, një iniciativë që është pjesë e projektit “Evropianizimi i agjendës mjedisore të Kosovës”, i financuar nga Zyra e Bashkimit Evropian në Kosovë, BIRN Kosova, CEE Bankwatch, ERA Group dhe TV Mreza.

Projekti “Europianizimi i agjendës mjedisore të Kosovës” mbështet pjesëmarrjen proaktive të shoqërisë civile në Kosovë, mediave dhe aktivistëve mjedisorë në reformën e politikave dhe vendimmarrjen në lidhje me energjinë, mjedisin dhe shëndetin publik.

Qëllimi i projektit është të ndihmojë Kosovën për t’i sjellë politikat mjedisore më afër legjislacionit të BE-së dhe për të forcuar dialogun midis organizatave të shoqërisë civile, mediave, aktivistëve dhe sektorit publik.

BIRN Kosova, CEE Bankwatch, ERA Group dhe TV Mreza do të përdorin ekspertizën e tyre në zbatimin e iniciativave me ndikim në efiçencën e energjisë, burimet e ripërtërishme dhe mjedisin, njohuritë dhe pajtueshmërinë me mjedisin, për të ndikuar pozitivisht në rritjen e ndërgjegjësimit në mesin e qytetarëve, vendimmarrësve dhe krijuesve të politikave të energjisë dhe atyre mjedisore.

Ngjarja 10-ditore përfshin një sërë aktivitetesh që do të bashkojnë akterët lokalë, rajonalë dhe ndërkombëtarë për të folur rreth mjedisit, efiçencës së energjisë, progresit të Kosovës në përafrimin e legjislacionit të saj me legjislacionin e BE-së dhe çështje të tjera të ngutshme dhe të ndërlidhura me të cilat përballet Ballkani Perëndimor.

“Ditët e energjisë së gjelbër” gjithashtu do të bashkojnë të rinjtë nga shkollat e mesme dhe universitetet në dy takime dialogu me palët kryesore të interesit për të rritur ndërgjegjësimin lidhur me çështjet mjedisore të ngutshme në komunitetet e tyre, për të mësuar rreth avokimit përkatës dhe mjeteve dhe mekanizmave gazetareskë për të adresuar shqetësimet e tyre mjedisore në një mënyrë kuptimplote dhe praktikat më të mira aktuale të efiçencës së energjisë dhe mjedisit.

Përmes një konference lokale më 28 qershor akterët lokalë të interesit, organizatat e shoqërisë civile dhe aktivistët do të flasin për efiçencën e energjisë, burimet e ripërtërishme të energjisë dhe alternativat, synimet që Kosova duhet t’i përmbushë dhe rekomandimet për të marrë parasysh drejt efiçiencës së energjisë.

Mbi 30 organizata të shoqërisë civile, aktivistë mjedisorë dhe përfaqësues të mediave nga vendet e Ballkanit Perëndimor do të bashkohen në një konferencë rajonale online për të diskutuar praktikat më të mira, për të ndarë përvojat dhe për të identifikuar fushat e bashkëpunimit për çështjet e energjisë. Do të diskutohen praktikat, sfidat dhe problemet me të cilat përballen secili prej vendeve të rajonit  për të gjetur zgjidhje të përbashkëta dhe mënyra për t’i adresuar ato, të cilat do të detajohen në dokumentet e rekomandimeve të krijuara nga pjesëmarrësit.

Më 5 korrik, në “Ditët e energjisë së gjelbër 2021” do të diskutohen synimet e Marrëveshjes së Gjelbër Evropiane për të cilat aspiron Kosova, duke sjellë së bashku përfaqësuesit lokalë, rajonalë dhe ndërkombëtarë nga organizatat e shoqërisë civile dhe institucionet, gazetarët mjedisorë dhe përfaqësuesit e mediave përmes një konference ndërkombëtare të nivelit të lartë. Ata do të diskutojnë se si të arrihet efiçienca e energjisë, zhvillimi i qëndrueshëm dhe shëndeti i qëndrueshëm publik, si dhe praktikat më të mira dhe sfidat globale që lidhen me energjinë dhe mjedisin.

Në Pejë, partnerët do të mobilizojnë të rinjtë në një aksion rrugor, përkatësisht një turne me biçikleta nëpër qytet, për të rritur ndërgjegjësimin në lidhje me ndotjen e mjedisit, ndotjen e ajrit dhe degradimin që automjetet i shkaktojnë mjedisit në tërësi.

Një ceremoni çmimesh do të përfundojë ngjarjen, duke shpërblyer storjet më të mira gazetareske mbi temat e efiçiencës së energjisë, mbrojtjen e mjedisit, ndryshimin e klimës dhe efektet e mjedisit në shëndetin e njeriut.

Kjo është gara e dytë dhe e fundit e aksionit, e cila shënon fundin e “Ditëve të energjisë së gjelbër” për vitin 2021.

Gjatë ngjarjes “Ditët e energjisë së gjelbër 2021” do të transmetohen njoftime të rëndësishme të shërbimit publik, do të bëhet promovimi i të rinjve dhe fushatat e ndërgjegjësimit nga platforma rinore e BIRN-it dhe partnerët, do të ketë debate dhe intervista televizive me akterë të rëndësishëm në fushën e efiçiencës së energjisë dhe mjedisit të pastër në Kosovë, përmes KOSID, kanalet e BIRN Kosova dhe TV Mreza dhe faqet e mediave sociale të të gjithë partnerëve.

BIRN Launches Database of Mass Graves from Yugoslav Wars

‘Bitter Land’ is an interactive database of mass graves that aims to demonstrate the scale of the atrocities, ethnic cleansing and operations to cover up war crimes during the 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN on June 3 launched the first comprehensive, interactive database of mass graves from the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia, giving an unprecedented insight into the largest operations to cover up war crimes in Europe since World War II.

The Bitter Land database provides information in three languages (English, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and Albanian) on the location of mass graves from the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo, including the number of victims identified after exhumations, archive reports and images, plus details of related court cases, witness testimonies and other resources.

It is being launched ahead of the final verdict on June 8 in the trial of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, who stands accused of bearing responsibility for some of the crimes that led to mass graves being dug during the Bosnian conflict.

BIRN’s aim is to present factual data in order to help counter the continuing selective denial of crimes and historical revisionism about the 1990s wars.

“One of the main focuses was to create a source of fact-based information and data on one of the biggest systematic cover-ups of war crimes in recent history,” said Nejra Mulaomerovic, who created the project with BIRN’s regional director, Marija Ristic.

“The database also represents an effort to foster the memorialisation process by providing a significant number of resources and using new technologies to capture current state of these sites,” she added.

The database highlights the lack of strategic memorialisation efforts by providing drone videos and photographs of the current condition of the locations, and in some cases 3D models of the sites, many of which are neglected an unmarked, with no signs indicating that they were wartime crime scenes.

The database is designed for use by journalists, researchers, students, civil society organisations and, most importantly, for the families of war victims with limited resources to access court records, archives and information related to clandestine graves in the region.

At the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, BIRN visited and documented more than 60 mass grave locations.

Most of the gravesites in the database are in unmarked fields, illegal garbage pits, next to public roads or on the property of private companies. In some cases, the sites were hidden as new housing was built around them.

Initial research for the launch of the database was based on the 42 largest mass graves in the former Yugoslavia that yielded more than 100 bodies. In the second phase of research, BIRN will map graves that contained between 50 and 100 bodies, while the third phase will map the remaining sites.

The biggest mass grave in the region was in Serbia, at a police training centre in the Belgrade neighbourhood of Batajnica, where 744 bodies of Kosovo Albanians were found.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the biggest gravesites were discovered around the towns of Zvornik, Srebrenica and Prijedor, where the bodies of Bosniak civilians were buried. One of the biggest gravesites in Croatia was discovered near Ovcara farm, near the town of Vukovar, where 200 bodies were found.

More than 130,000 people lost their lives as a consequence of the wars in the former Yugoslavia and 40,000 went missing. So far remains of around 28,000 people have been found in more than 1,500 clandestine gravesites, while in Bosnia and Herzegovina alone, around 1,000 gravesites have been uncovered.

As sources for the database, BIRN used forensic reports from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, court testimony statements and archive satellite footage, as well as documents, research papers, testimonies and news archive footage from different sources.

BIRN also cross-referenced data from the ICTY, the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the International Commission on Missing Persons, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other organisations that were involved in the process of exhuming and identifying the victims.

The database provides a wide-ranging insight into the killings and subsequent cover-up operations – many of which remain unpunished, more than two decades later.

For more information, see the Bitter Land site.

BIRN Bosnia Journalist Awarded for Balkan Cossack Army Report

Bosnian winner of prize for reporting on issues of regional dialogue and cohesion praised for tackling topical issue of foreign influences on Balkans.

Mladen Obrenovic, a journalist with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina, BIRN BiH, has won an award for his article on the Balkan Cossack army.

The journalistic awards were given at an online ceremony during a regional conference of the Dialogue for the Future, DFF: Fostering Dialogue and Social Cohesion in, and between, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia.

This year the jury consisted of three members, Kristina Ljevak from Bosnia, Lidija Vujacic from Montenegro and Galeb Nikacevic from Serbia.

Vujacic, an anthropology professor at the University of Montenegro, said Obrenovic had explored a topical issue from the political and ideological, and broader cultural, aspect, with his feature about foreign influences and their effects.

“Under Cossack Banner, Russian Ties with Balkan Fighters Strengthened” followed a group of pro-Russian Cossacks who call themselves an army and gather veterans of the wars in Bosnia and the eastern Ukraine in Balkan countries.

Obrenovic investigated the operations of this group in the Balkans, whose central organization in Russia  has the Russian President Vladimir Putin as its honorary chair.

Obrenovic said that he worked on this story for three months, adding it was a very demanding in some areas as it involved “a very deep digging through numerous secrets and many things whose actors did not want to see discovered”.

“Now, I somehow see this as an award for my work so far,” Obrenovic said.

The journalistic award for Serbia was given to Una Sabljakovic, whose story was the on institutional invisibility of women victims of sexual violence during the past wars, who, having experienced the traumas of war, have faced secondary intimidation and stigmatization during the subsequent time of peace.

Svetlana Djokic, the award winner for Montenegro, wrote her story about the transnational problem of organised crime with a focus on trafficking in human beings.

“Dialogue for the Future, DFF: Fostering Dialogue and Social Cohesion in, and between, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia,” is a joint regional programme implemented by the UNDP, UNICEF and UNESCO with the support of the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

The initiative was launched in Bosnia in 2014 following discussions between the UN Secretary General and the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In 2015, at the Brdo-Brijuni Summit in Budva, Montenegro, the leaders of the region recognised the project and encouraged its expansion to Southeast Europe.

The joint DFF regional programme contributes to the realization of Agenda 2030 and particularly to the realization of four goals listed among the sustainable development goals; quality education; gender equality; sustainable citizens and communit and peace, justice and strong institutions.

The programme aims to offer support on the collective identification of issues affecting all citizens in the region and contributing to improved interaction and cooperation between groups.