BIRN Network reaches out to Montenegro

As part of its project to build a truly nation-wide network of journalists,
BIRN SaM is to launch a three-month training course in Montenegro on
February 24.

This training, sponsored by the British Embassy in Belgrade as part of
three year minority journalism project, will provide a group of ten
journalists with invaluable opportunities to adopt BIRN’s professional
standards and become permanent members of its Network.

It begins with workshops led by BIRN Editorial and Development Director
Gordana Igric, BIRN Trainer-Editor Marcus Tanner and British Balkan analyst
Tim Judah, and is followed by practical assignments leading to publication
in BIRN’s Balkan Insight.

For more information on this project, contact BIRN BiH Director Dragana

Belgrade Training Day

Gordana Igric, BIRN Editorial and Development Director, held a workshop for BIRN journalists in Belgrade on January 31.

The participants, journalists from the city’s main media, received individual tuition, including pratical tips on how to develop their article ideas and structure.

Zelimir Bojovic, of Deutche Welle Radio, Vladimir Sudar, Tanjug News Agency, Voja Stevanovic from Economist magasine and Pedja Obradovic from B92 were present at the training.

Further consultations were held with Blic editor Moma Ilic regarding future cooperation and developing ideas for investigations.

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

Does Anyone Have a Plan? Premieres in Bucharest, Romania

A dedicated audience of 40 attended the Bucharest premiere of BIRN’s documentary film “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” at the Center for Independent Journalism on February 8.

Guests included the Macedonian Ambassador, diplomats from Hungary, Serbia and the US, as well as other officials, editors and journalists.

“The film was really interesting and showed the complexity of the issues related to the present situation in Kosovo”, said Tihomir Ilievski, the Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia in Romania. He also pointed out that his country is interested in a quick solution to Kosovo’s political status in the context of all the Balkan countries’ integration into the European Union.

“The documentary was very good, as it informed the general public in Romania about Kosovo in a clear way. Usually they are not well informed about the complexity of the situation there. BIRN is doing a good job in raising awareness about sensitive issues in the Balkans”, said Carmen Macavei, project manager at the Romanian Center for Independent Journalism in Bucharest.

For more information, contact BIRN Romania director Marian Chiriac.

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 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.

Does Anyone Have a Plan? was since aired on February 7 on Channel 5 TV.

For more information, contact BIRN Macedonia director Ana Petruseva.

‘Does Anyone Have a Plan?’ Premieres in Pristina, Kosovo

More than 200 people attended the Pristina premiere of the BIRN documentary Does Anyone Have a Plan? on February 10 in Kino ABC.

Guests included Kosovo’s Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi, representatives from the US, Swiss, Swedish and Finnish government offices in Kosovo, a range of local politicians and a large contingent from the media and civil society sectors.

The film was introduced by Tim Judah, the well-known British Balkan analyst and regular contributor to BIRN’s Balkan Insight publication, and Jeta Xharra, BIRN Kosovo director and a producer of this documentary.

Ivana Enzler, local representative of the Swiss foreign ministry, which supported this project, invited the audience to ‘open your eyes and ears and enjoy the challenge,’ as they watched the film.

The documentary, which delved into many issues still painful for Kosovar Albanians, was in fact received very well by its Pristina audience, which seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.

Agim Zatriqi, director of the national broadcaster, RTK, found the film very informative.
‘It’s like medicine. All medicines are bitter, but they are healthy,’ he said.

‘It was very interesting to see the comparison with other parts of former Yugoslavia, not just Kosovo,’ said Margaret Sejdiaj from the Swedish office.

Lea Nimani, a marketing consultant for IPKO, a local internet company, also considered the documentary very informative, and a real eye-opener.

UNMIK official Nicholas Guinard praised the documentary, welcoming ‘at last a very frank film, which hides no aspect.’ He believed if would ‘feed the debate in a very constructive manner.’

‘The movie’s timing is just perfect, coming out exactly as the talks intensify,’ said Muhamet Hajrullahu, a KTV journalist, finding it particularly useful in demonstrating ‘how diametrically opposite the opinions of Serbs and Albanians are.’

Alex Anderson, from the International Crisis Group, had seen the film before, and was therefore more interested in observing viewers’ responses to it.

‘The audience was good humored,’ he found.

The film was aired at 22:00 the same evening on RTK, Kosovo’s public service broadcaster.

BIRN Reviewed in Bulgarian Magazines

Bulgaria’s most popular lifestyle magazine, Zhenata dnes, (Woman Today),
features in its February edition the female members of BIRN.

The article,
entitled "7 Women Of Importance," presents BIRN, which happens
to be a
predominantly female team, tells of its successes in the Balkans and praises
BIRN’s latest documentary, Does Anyone Have a Plan?

BIRN’s website was also reviewed in two Bulgarian magazines – HighFlights
and the Inflight magazine of the national carrier Bulgaria Air.

The two
editions prized as "the best site to inform yourself
important developments on the Balkans."

Does Anyone have a plan gets Sofia premiere

BIRN’s documentary on Kosovo’s final status Does Anyone Has a Plan? was presented on January 27 at The Red House for Culture and Debates in Sofia.

Director Lode Desmet, BIRN Editor in Chief Gordana Igric and BIRN Kosovo Director joined BIRN Bulgaria director Albena Shkodrova to present the film and discuss it with the audience.

A 25-minute excerpt of the film was then broadcast on 5 February by the largest Bulgarian TV channel bTV.

BIRN BiH Launches Guidebook to Local War Crimes Court & Court Reporter’s Association

More than 70 representatives of the Court of BiH, the media and local governmental and non-governmental organizations attended the promotion in Sarajevo’s Art Gallery, which was sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, KAS.

The guidebook was produced by BIRN BiH as part of its 2005 Justice Project during which more than 30 journalists and 200 NGOs were trained and prepared to follow the work of the local War Crimes Chamber.

So far the only text on the new court, it has been given out to media and NGOs throughout the country and the region. It will soon be accessible on-line on BIRN’s website.

At the same event, BIRN and KAS, together with local journalists announced the formation of a Court Reporter’s Association, CRA. Under the guidance of BIRN and in partnership with KAS, CRA will in 2006 keep working to improve the relationship between the media and court.

BIRN BiH also presented its activities for 2006, which include creating a specialised news agency to follow trials at the Court of BiH, a series of conferences on justice and reconciliation throughout BiH, and engagement of the country’s considerable diaspora in the justice process.

For more information on BIRN BiH’s Justice projects, please contact Nerma Jelacic.