Gordana Igric, BIRN regional director, introduced the goals of the programme and pointed towards her personal experience with transitional justice issues. “I was a war reporter in the Balkans in the 1990s and I experienced many of the problems we are talking about now first-hand. So this project is personally very close to me and my past,” said Igric.
Anisa Suceska-Vekic, the director of BIRN Bosnia and manager of the Transitional Justice project, explained that the idea behind the project was to create a regional initiative of all BIRN offices and correspondents across the region that would participate in tackling post-war issues.
The presentation of the project was followed by a discussion among the participants. Ljubica Markovic noted that the project was very useful for BETA, given that the news agency is unable to follow war crimes and similar issues on a regular basis, mainly due to a lack of financial and human resources.
She also said that when BETA covers issues concerning war crimes or victims of war in their articles it “always prompts strong reactions among the public”.
“Even I sometimes find myself thinking that we have had enough of all these wars and their consequences. But things have to be told in their entirety in order to move on,” Markovic added.
Jasna Sarcevic-Jankovic, from the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor in Serbia emphasised a general lack of interest of the younger generations in war crimes.
The project’s coordinator, Jessie Hronesova, said that the project’s aims were to reach beyond reporting on war crime trials. “We aim to show the large scale of problems any transitional country is going through, which is not only the transition from wars but also from communism.”
Ivan Jovanovic and Jelena Stevancevic, legal advisors on war crimes of the OSCE Mission to Serbia have emphasised how important it is to organize regional initiatives that bring people of various backgrounds together and in this way foster mutual understanding and fight prejudice. “I congratulate you on launching such a project that has a regional dimension,” Jovanovic said.
Balkan Transitional Justice is a two-year multi-media project funded by the European Commission and Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, bringing daily news and analyses in English and the regional languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Macedonian.
The project’s website was official launched as part of Balkan Insight on March 5, 2012.
A radio programme will be launched in early May and a series of documentary films will follow in fall 2012.