The CDRSEE’s current affairs talk show Okruzenje, “Vicinities” in English, kicked off another season with a transformative roundtable discussion on regional cooperation of the media and a major press conference including diplomats, partner executives and editors in chief from the largest media outlets in the Balkans.
The event, held Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Belgrade, was standing-room only and brought together some of the most influential people of the region to discuss a topic that is of importance personally to the participants as well as on a broad public level. The cooperation of the media, across borders and within cities, is key to covering and exposing many of the stories that affect the region, the participants agreed. Â But doing so in an institutionalised manner remains difficult.
Specifically, Vicinities is an example of cooperation that is working, as it is broadcast on eight TV channels in seven countries during this, its third season. Journalists pointed out that individual media outlets would not have the resources to do what Vicinities does weekly during its season.
“It is not enough to have good political relations on a higher level,” said Mr. Heinz Wilhelm, Ambassador in Belgrade of the Federal Republic of Germany, one of the sponsors of the Vicinities. “It’s important to bring together the people, to achieve reconciliation in a region where many wounds are still open, maybe even bleeding. That is why we have been and keep supporting this initiative.”
The Vicinities team took the opportunity to present the show and its new season. This season the team produced 14 episodes, covering topics that range from corruption and organised crime to renewed nationalism, and traditional theatre to the debate on whether the mutually understood languages of the region are distinct or one in the same.
The panel that presented the show included the German Ambassador as well as Dr. Erhard Busek, Chairman of the CDRSEE, Ms. Hedvig Morvai, Executive Director of CDRSEE’s partner in Vicinities, the European Fund for the Balkans, Mr. Nenad Sebek, Spokesperson of another partner, the Regional Cooperation Council, and Ms. Zvezdana Kovac, Executive Director of the CDRSEE.
The Ambassadors of Croatia and Albania in Belgrade, the Counsellors of the Embassies of Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and attaches from the Embassies of Belgium, Bulgaria and Slovenia also attended the event, which was held in Mikser House, a popular restored warehouse-turned cafe in the center of Belgrade.
The panel discussion was moderated by Mr. Sebek and Ms. Kovac, the hosts of Vicinities. The discussion was lively, and often returned to the fact that personal cooperation exists among journalists, but the region is missing organised cooperation. That cooperation, however, is difficult given the commercial aspect of the media in the region and around the world.
Still, the journalists were intent on continuing to try, for their own good and the good of the region.
“Time will show that whoever wants to survive, needs cooperation,” said Vladan Micunovic, editor in chief of TV Vijesti of Montenegro.
Zarko Joksimovic, Director of TV Kosovo 2, a TV station that is just a year and a half old, said that cooperation is key to the station’s growth. “We do not want to be kept at the local level. That is why we need cooperation.”
Presenting and then participating in the discussion were the Editors in Chief of TV BiH (Sarajevo), TV Vijesti (Montenegro), TVK2 (Pristina), TV SLO (Ljubljana), and RTS (Belgrade), as well as journalists and editors from the weekly magazines Vreme (Belgrade), Dani (Sarajevo), Jutarnji list (Zagreb).