Sarajevo, 14 October 2011 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, today called upon governments and businesses in South Eastern Europe to refrain from politicizing the media and urged journalists to enhance their co-operation and professional standards. Mijatovic was speaking in Sarajevo to journalists from across South Eastern Europe on the closing day of the OSCE’s first region-wide media conference.
The two-day event focused on major challenges to media freedom in the region, including violence against and intimidation of journalists, restrictions of independence of public service broadcasters and broadcast regulators, curbs on political and economic independence of media and improving employment conditions of journalists.
“Politicians must understand that media are not their private property. On the contrary, any democracy relies on media as a watchdog for governments and businesses,” said Mijatovic.
“This region has seen enough fragmentation and incitement to discord. The media play a leading role in promoting intercultural understanding and reconciliation in defending their own freedom.”
She stressed that that unity among media professionals is at stake and must be improved.
“The unifying aspect in this region is the drive towards further European integration. That desire comes with an obligation to meet challenging goals set by the OSCE as well as the EU to guarantee uninhibited pluralism of media and safety of journalists,” said Fletcher M. Burton, the Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Participants agreed on a conference declaration that outlined major recommendations to governments and media to support and develop free media serving the interests of their societies. They said that these conclusions could be utilized to help media achieve much needed progress in the area of press freedom.
The conference was jointly organized by the Office of the OSCE Media Freedom Representative and the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was supported by the OSCE Presence in Albania, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, the OSCE Mission to Serbia, and the OSCE Spillover Mission to Skopje.
Speakers included Peter Sorensen, the Head of EU Delegation/EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ingrid Deltenre, the Director General of the European Broadcasting Union, Veran Matic of B92, and Denis Latin of HRT and other renowned media representatives from the region.