Marija Vasilevska

Marija joined the BIRN team in September 2022 as a Project Manager for Business Development.

She is based in Skopje, North Macedonia, working on projects under the program Capacity Building and Strengthening of Independent Media. Marija also works on designing BIRN’s business development strategy including project scoping, business case development, project plan construction, resource definition and successful execution. She also plans and contributes towards the designing of projects.

Marija brings more than 15 years of working experience in the NGO sector, nationally, regionally and and internationally. Her extensive working experience includes coordination and projection of actions in the fields of media, education and human rights. She is passionate about developing projects and programmes that comprise innovative approaches, different stakeholders and digitalization focused on ensuring a long-term impact in society. Marija is also highly experienced in monitoring and evaluation and quality assurance in higher education.

Her previous working experience includes working as a Project Manager in Blink 42-21, as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist in a USAID-funded project and working in a production house in various positions, including being a journalist. She has also worked with UN Women, the Regional Cooperation Council, the European Students Union, and other international organisations, in different capacities.

Marija holds a Master’s in finance and financial Law and a Bachelor’s degree in law obtained from Justinian Primus – Skopje. Currently, she is a PhD student at University American College–Skopje, focusing her research on the quality of education in relation to macroeconomic development.

Miloš Ćirić

Milos is BIRN’s long-time collaborator and author of BIRN’s flagship publication Balkan Insight. Over the last 15 years, he worked in various capacities with numerous regional CSOs and independent media outlets as a writer, journalist, educator, media and human rights activist.

Milos joined BIRN Hub in 2022 first as Lead Researcher and then shortly after took the role of BIRN’s Digital Rights Programme Manager. Milos is responsible for designing and implementing BIRN Digital Rights Programme which includes, but is not limited to, overseeing the production of reports and analyses dealing with the health of the digital ecosystem and the use of advanced technologies, capacity-building efforts for journalists, and civil society members and oversee grant implementation of local partners. He is also responsible for managing the growing number of projects within BIRN’s Digital Rights Programme and its growing network of associates, researchers, and experts.

Milos holds a Master of Arts in Media Studies gained at The New School University, New York City, where he also worked as a research associate and part-time faculty/teaching fellow. He also holds a Master Manager in Culture and Media degree from UNESCO’s MA program Cultural Policy and Management at Université Lyon 2, France, and the University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. He received his BA degree in International Relations at the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Belgrade.

Vuk Tesija

Vuk Tesija joined BIRN Hub in February 2023 as a correspondent from Croatia.

He is based in Osijek, Zagreb and Hvar, trying to cover all relevant news and processes in Croatia. Previously he worked as a correspondent for the Deutsche Welle, an editor in the daily Glas Slavonije, a journalist at CIN Sarajevo, a correspondent for the daily Jutarnji List, and occasionally worked with a dozen other media. He wrote his first articles on a typewriter more than 25 years ago.

Along with his native Croatian, he speaks English, Macedonian and some Russian.

Emily Hoyle

Emily joined BIRN Hub in October 2022 as a Programme Manager and is based primarily between the UK and BIRN Hub’s Sarajevo office.

Her responsibilities include Network coordination and capacity building, institutional grant management and business development. Previously, she worked as a senior Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Executive for a strategic communications and research firm in London, applying mixed methods research approaches to the implementation and evaluation of a variety of programmes with a focus on strengthening media and media literacy in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Emily holds a Joint MA(Hons) in Comparative Literature and Modern History at the University of St Andrews (including a year abroad at Koç University), and an MPhil in Islamic Studies and History from the University of Oxford.

Alongside her native English, she speaks intermediate Farsi, basic Turkish and is currently studying BCMS.

Vaska Cvetanoska Panova

Vaska joined BIRN Hub in September 2022 as a Development and Monitoring Officer. She is based in BIRN Hub’s Skopje office, providing support to regional operations. Her main responsibilities include leading and coordinating fundraising activities and designing project proposals for BIRN programmes. Responsible for developing and implementing the MEL activities, and quality control of programme/project progress reporting.

She has been working in the NGO sector in the Western Balkans for more than 13 years and has extensive experience in Project Cycle Management, Grant Management and Monitoring and Evaluation.

She worked at Metamorphosis Foundation from Skopje North Macedonia as MEL and Public Outreach Specialist and was responsible for the development of the organisational MEL system and quality assurance of project implementation, administration and reporting of grantees from the Western Balkans.

Working in the NGO sector she also gained valuable experience in social inclusion of marginalized communities, advocacy and lobbying and community engagement.

She studied dentistry at Sts Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje. After graduation, while looking for a job, she decided to fill her time by doing something worthy. So she became a Red Cross volunteer and later on became a part of the North Macedonia Red Cross HQ staff, working as a National Health Coordinator.

Along with her native Macedonian, she speaks English and other regional languages (Serbian, Bulgarian, and Croatian).


Azem Kurtic

Azem joined BIRN in 2022 as a correspondent from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Based in Sarajevo, he reports on daily developments for Balkan Insight and the Balkan Transitional Justice programme. He covers politics, rule of law and human rights, transitional justice, corruption and organised crime, producing in-depth analysis and features combining elements of data journalism and multimedia storytelling.

He started his career in the youth newsroom at Bosnia’s public broadcaster, BHRT, where he covered a range of topics for different radio shows over the course of three years. At the same time, he was a reporter with the Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina, working on a production of a radio show on media ethics, self-regulation and media freedoms.

For five years he was part of Deutsche Welle’s Balkan Booster project, where he gained experience in mobile journalism and video storytelling, while reporting from Western Balkan countries.

For more than three years, he worked in different production companies as producer of festivals and events, documentary films and series, as well as live TV and radio programmes.

He holds a degree in physiotherapy, but has been working in media since high school. He attended various informal education programmes, such as Press Council’s School of Media Ethics, BH Journalists’ Press Academy, Media Center’s Data Journalism Camp and reporting on minorities with Sarajevo Open Centre.

He is co-author of the book From Empire to Republic; Stories from Central Europe, 100 Years After the End of the Habsburg Monarchy and several other publications.

He speaks Bosnian, English, and some German, Spanish and Albanian.


Elma Kurtović

Elma joined BIRN Hub in September 2022 as HR Officer. She is based in BIRN Hub’s Sarajevo office. Her main responsibilities is to ensure that the organisation can meet its objectives by having the workforce in place. She is involved in sourcing and planning the overall HR strategy and assist in creating and implementing HR policies and procedures.

With more than eight years of experience in the field, Elma worked in various industries. She has a proven track record in field of administration and human resources.

She is a Law graduate and in addition to her formal education, she has attended trainings and seminars related to administration and human resources to stay updated on industry’s best practices.

Along with the native BCS, she speaks English.


Gentiana Murati Kapo

Gentiana joined BIRN Hub in September 2022 as a Programme Manager for Capacity Building and Strengthening of Independent Media. She is based in BIRN Hub’s Sarajevo office. Her main responsibilities include planning and designing the programme, proactively monitoring its progress, resolving issues, and initiating appropriate corrective actions. She ensures effective quality assurance and overall integrity of the programme.

As a human rights activist with over ten years of experience in project cycle management for Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, Gentiana’s background lies in building the capacities of CSOs in the Balkan region through mentoring, particularly in project cycle management, strategic planning, fundraising, carrying out effective advocacy initiatives, organizational and financial management, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting, among others.

Before joining BIRN, Gentiana worked as a Grants Manager & Capacity Development Expert at the Kosovo Women’s Network. She managed grants throughout the region supported through the Kosovo Women’s Fund. Furthermore, she has extensive experience providing capacity development expertise to various CSOs in the Balkans.

Gentiana studied Economics at the University of Pristina. In addition to her formal education, she has attended various project cycle management and gender equality-related trainings and seminars.

Besides Bosnian and Albanian, she is fluent in English.

Amina Mahović

Amina has worked for BIRN HUB as a Project Manager since October 2022. She is based in BIRN HUB’s Sarajevo office, responsible for the smooth, uninterrupted implementation of Digital Rights projects.

Previously she worked for USAID BiH’s Monitoring and Evaluation Activity in BiH (MEASURE-BiH) as a Research Analyst. Among others, she was part of the MEASURE-BiH assessment team that conducted Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment, Diaspora Assessment, and Basic Education Assessment in 2018. As a student, she worked on several projects focused on youth employment and activism, project management and international student mobility. For many years, she was an active member of the European Youth Parliament in BiH.

She hold a Bachelor Degree in Project Management and is currently working towards a Master Degree in Marketing. Along with the native BCS, she speaks English.

Hamdi Firat Buyuk

Hamdi Firat Buyuk is a political analyst who joined BIRN in 2016 as a correspondent and he has been covering Turkey and occasionally Bosnia and Sandzak region for Balkan Insight.

Before joining BIRN, Firat worked in think tanks and media as a political analyst, journalist and editor and joined several projects on his areas of expertise. Firat’s pieces and comments on Turkey, Turkish foreign policy and the Balkans have appeared in Turkish, Balkan and international media houses including Radikal, Gazete Duvar, PolitikYol, Euronews, Aljazeera Balkans, The Economist and Foreign Policy.

His academic work includes a book chapter entitled “Partners or Security Challengers? The Implications of the Presence of Turkey, the Gulf States, and Iran in the Western Balkans” at the Peace and Security in the Balkans published by Routledge and an academic article entitled “Measuring Turkey’s contemporary influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina: myth and reality” in the Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies.

Firat holds an MSc degree in international relations from the University of Essex, England.

Firat speaks Turkish, English and Bosnian.