[FoME] Media and Minorities in South East Europe

Marion Weisskirchen Marion.Weisskirchen at CAMECO.ORG
Mi Sep 20 11:37:01 CEST 2006

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network
of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East
Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), have
recently published "Media and Minorities in South East Europe." 
The editors of the book are Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General and
Prof. Thomas A. Bauer of the University of Vienna. As a first of its
kind, the book covers the situation of minorities and the media in:
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece,
Hungary, Republic of Macedonia - FYROM, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania,
Serbia / Kosovo, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine. SEEMO has tried
to report on both officially recognised minorities in this region and
those that do not have an official minority status in some countries. 
The book includes presentations by some minority media outlets, as well
as a contact list of selected media. There are also special reports on
the minority media of Roma and Vlachian / Aromanian in the region. Other
special reports cover the legal framework and the education of minority
media representatives. The book also gives an overview of minorities and
the media and reviews of several important international and regional
conventions, declarations, guidelines, instruments, conclusions and
recommendations regarding minorities, languages and media. 
Ursula Plassnik, Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs said in her
introduction to the new book: "The region of South East Europe, and
particularly the Western Balkans, constitutes one of the main foreign
policy priorities of the current Austrian EU Presidency. At our informal
meeting in Salzburg in March 2006 the Foreign Ministers of the EU and
the countries of the Western Balkan jointly adopted a declaration
reaffirming and strengthening the European perspective for the countries
of the Western Balkans. By doing so, we sent a strong signal of
encouragement and of joint political will to the whole region. Our
common goal is to draw the countries of the Western Balkans closer to
European structures and, thus, to our European community of values. The
Western Balkans is part of Europe's history and will be part of our
common future. In the last years the South East Europe Media
Organisation (SEEMO) has successfully built up a reputation as a key
actor of civil society, committed to promoting freedom of the press and
professional journalistic standards, and thereby contributing to the
development of democratic societies in the region."  She added: "I
therefore appreciate SEEMO's commitment to fostering mutual
understanding between majorities and minorities."
The introduction by the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Miklós
Haraszti, states: "The essence of the democracy assumes the full
inclusion and integration of all peoples into the life of the nation, no
matter what language they speak." About minority media he said: "We have
identified some key problems holding back the development of the
minority media: Minority media outlets are hardly ever economically
viable; Low training in diversity reporting; Lack of collegial
solidarity between journalists from different ethnic backgrounds. The
results of our projects have also shown that, despite all differences
that are determining the working environment of the minority media in
the different countries, the following factors have universal validity:
1. The role of public service broadcasters is still vitally important.
The private sector alone cannot guarantee per se a pluralistic media
landscape. 2. Support from the government is of crucial importance for
the survival of minority media. The practice of direct state funding
always leaves room for state control over media and should be avoided.
Following the examples of some multilingual democracies, mechanisms of
indirect support, such as tax benefits, reduced postage costs or
cross-subsidies, should be considered in order to enable minority media
to operate independently. 3. The media, both mainstream and minority,
should promote mutual understanding in multilingual societies by
reflecting the multi-ethnic and multilingual society instead of focusing
only on their own community." 

The book (800 pages), costs 40€ + 3,75€ (postage Austria),
12,50€ (postage Europe), 33,75€ (postage other countries - priority
only) and can be ordered at:

South East Europe Media Organisation
Spiegelgasse 2 / 29
A-1010 Vienna, Austria
Tel: +43 1 513 39 40
Fax: +43 1 512 90 15
e-mail: info at seemo.org 

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