The worldwide phenomena of fake news and disinformation have plagued Western Balkan countries, like others, in recent years. Kosovo has been no exception. There has been a surge there of fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 parliamentary elections as well as about the EU-mediated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.
In the context of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, media outlets in both countries have spread misinformation. In Kosovo, statements from Serbian politicians or other media outlets are often presented to readers as insults against Kosovo, either for political purposes or as a means to boost engagement. In Serbia, media campaigns to delegitimize Kosovo’s statehood and undermine its governance capabilities and relations with the EU are widespread.
The EU-mediated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue on normalization of relations has now been in stalemate for months. The sides are yet to come to a comprehensive and binding agreement – a prospect that does not seem within reach. The process of the dialogue has been accompanied by a lack of transparency from both governments, which has contributed to the limited level of information among citizens about the process and its outcomes. Meanwhile, relations on the ground between Albanians and Serbians in Kosovo, as well as between the two countries, have not improved significantly.
It is concerning that the youth are also burdened by the impact of conflict memories. This is fueled by antagonistic conflict narratives provided in two parallel education systems and limited cross-community interactions at all levels. In the meantime, young boys and girls from both communities face similar challenges, including a lack of education, job opportunities, as well as poor economic conditions.
Given these common challenges, it is important to establish platforms for cross-community interactions. These would allow representatives from all communities, particularly Albanians and Serbians, to exchange views on grievances and build reconciliation through imagining different futures. Kosovo today needs new and creative solutions, to effectively address protracted economic, social and political problems and to shape an inclusive narrative about shared priorities for the future.
In the framework of the proposed project, BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova (I/KS) will provide a space for dialogue, elicit joint solutions to joint problems and feature good practices through the publication of articles and broadcasting of stories that bring together citizens from different ethnic communities in Kosovo to discuss the key challenges they face.
The project will feature community experiences in tackling issues ranging from economics, politics and security to current affairs, and will involve a segment in the programmes hosting decision makers to address the issues and solutions raised by community leaders and participants during the debates.
The project further aims to fight fake news and disinformation by promoting adherence to the media Code of Ethics and raising awareness about the mechanisms available to address these phenomena – while also publishing fact-checking articles and news articles on identifying and debunking fake news and disinformation on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, inter-ethnic relations, vulnerable communities and other related topics.
Lastly, the project aims to provide the youth of Kosovo from different ethnic backgrounds with the tools they need to fight fake news and disinformation through training opportunities offered within the framework of the Summer School.
Embassy of Switzerland in Kosovo
Objective 1: contribute to improving inter-ethnic relations through facilitating communication and providing a platform to voice the challenges faced by all communities, as well as positive examples;
Objective 2: increase public awareness of fake news and disinformation among citizens from different ethnic backgrounds in Kosovo, especially among the young.
- Raise public discussion through three (3) TV debates by Kosovo MPs on the level of implementation of the Law on the Use of Languages, Law on Protection from Discrimination and Law on Local Self-Government;
- Broadcast ten (10) TV programmes on inter-municipal and inter-sectoral cooperation, to promote good practices through solution-driven journalism;
- Raise awareness and promote positive examples through seven (7) TV programmes of stories of all community members, in particular Albanian and Serbian communities living in Kosovo;
- Promote the importance of self-regulatory and regulatory bodies efforts in fighting disinformation and fake news through two (2) TV debates;
- Draft five (5) position papers with the Press Council of Kosovo on the Code of Ethics and organise working meetings with members of the Council to discuss and address findings;
- Publish eighty (80) fact-checking articles on KALLXO.com’s Krypometër (Truth-o-meter) section on implementation of the dialogue process;
- Publish twenty (20) short news articles on identifying and debunking fake news and disinformation, as well as stories relating to inter-ethnic relations, on the KALLXO.com platform;
- Organise a summer school on the topic of anti-disinformation with young people from different ethnic communities in Kosovo;
- Provide internship and mentorship opportunities to five (5) university students to report on topics related to inter-ethnic relations and disinformation;
- Organise exchange of experiences and best practices with partners organisations from Georgia/other countries.
- Members of all ethnic communities in Kosovo, particularly Albanians and Serbs;
- Youth from different ethnic backgrounds;
- Citizens of Kosovo.
Press Council of Kosova, TV Mreza Network and Gracanica Online