The Albanian Media Institute, a SEENPM member, organized a study trip for five Serbian journalists and editors to Tirana on March 8-10, 2016. The trip, supported by the US Embassy, is part of an exchange initiative between Albanian and Serbian journalists. Within the same initiative a group of Albanian journalists visited Belgrade in January 2016.
During their visit to Tirana, the Serbian journalists had several meetings with journalists, representatives of civil society, business, parliament and politicians. The exchange was aimed at improving the knowledge of both countries, expanding the contacts between media professionals and improving reporting on neighbors in the region.
Serbian journalists in Tirana met, among others, with representatives from civil society: Gledis Gjipali, director of European Movement of Albania, Albert Rakipi, director of the Albanian Institute for International Studies, and Kujtim Cashku, director of Film Academy Marubi. The meetings with civil society focused on the perception on the relation between the two countries, on the Kosovo issue, and on identifying ways of improving knowledge on each other and fostering a more constructive public debate.
The journalists also met with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Majlinda Bregu, Head of Parliamentary Commission on European Integration. These meetings addressed concrete ongoing initiatives between the two countries, the official position on several matters was discussed, as well as future plans in the framework of regional cooperation.
During a roundtable organized on March 9, the Albanian and Serbian journalists discussed the problems in each country and the common challenges media and journalists face. David Muniz, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy showed his appreciation of the initiative, describing the Serbia-Albania relationship as “one of the bright spots in the region in the last few years.” The roundtable discussion focused on specific nature of media coverage in Albania and Serbia, ethical and hate speech problems, the systemic difficulties with media in both countries, and freedom and professionalism of journalists.