Region: Kosovo

PCi’s Second Annual Media Award Launched

Press conference, a number of people gathered to watch the launch

In a first-time hybrid event, PCi publicly launched the 2nd annual Media Award for multi-ethnic coexistence in Kosovo and Serbia at a press conference which was simultaneously held in Belgrade and in Pristina. Members of the two juries (the award is awarded for media content in both Albanian and Serbian language) and some of last year’s Award winners spoke about the significance of the award.

A Jury member for Serbian language, Jelena Obućina, said that the Award is an excellent incentive for both journalists and media to pay more attention to stories about ordinary life and peaceful coexistence. Her Albanian language colleague, Violeta Oroshi, agreed from Pristina, adding an invitation to journalists to tell the positive stories which do exist, but rarely find their way into media space. 

Filip Švarm, the Editor in chief of the Belgrade weekly VREME, the media which won the first prize last year, said that “in a time which is burdened with dark news, it is so important to show life and cooperation between nations”. 

Ardiana Thaçi, the winner of 1st prize in audiovisual format in Albanian, said that “it is the duty of majority language media to report on the lives of minorities”, as she did in her award-winning piece.  

Through the Media Award, PCi aims to promote and reward media content from Kosovo and Serbia that explores themes related to the co-existence of communities, with the ultimate goal to contribute to the narrowing of the present divisive narratives.

The call for entries is open for stories published between January 1st and December the 31st 2022 and the first prize in both categories (audio/visual and written format) is € 2,000 Euro. For detailed information about how to apply, please click on the Terms of Reference below, available in English, Serbian, and Albanian languages.

To apply, please click on the following link: https://forms.gle/3XWBbGFMMJqBtiw47.

The application deadline is 31st December 2022

Press conference, a number of people gathered to watch the launch

PCi’s Media Award in Kosovo and Serbia: Call for applications is open

Award Ceremony Media Award 2021 Serbia

Peaceful Change initiative is delighted to announce that for the second year running, we are inviting journalists, editors, media representatives, and others, to share with us their stories on multi-ethnic coexistence in Kosovo and Serbia. The original idea for the Award came as a result of a series of Media Consultation Dialogues which have brought together well over a hundred most relevant journalists, editors and media experts from both Kosovo and Serbia to discuss how to improve the media scene, especially when reporting about each other’s communities.

For the year 2022, PCi has doubled the first prize in both categories (audio/visual and written format) to € 2,000 Euro and looks forward to receiving even more entries this year. We have every reason to believe that this will become a traditional annual award.

The call for entries is open until December the 31st 2022 and the entries will be evaluated by a professional jury which will select the winning stories and media outlets, since the winners in both categories also win an award for the media where they were originally published.

For detailed information about how to apply, please click on the Terms of Reference below, available in English, Serbian and Albanian languages.

Stories published between the 1st of January 2022 and the 31st of December 2022 are eligible for the Media Award. To apply, please click on the following link: https://forms.gle/3XWBbGFMMJqBtiw47.

The application deadline is 31st December 2022

Award Ceremony Media Award 2021 Serbia

Civil society in Kosovo and Serbia call for the rule of law to be respected in Deçan/Dečani

Civil society organisations from Kosovo and Serbia have come together to condemn a recent statement by the mayor of Deçan/Dečani, Bashkim Ramosaj, vowing that the decision of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo on Deçan/Dečane Monastery’s land ownership will never be implemented. The signatories to the statement call for the rule of law to be upheld.

Civil society in Kosovo and Serbia call for the rule of law to be respected in Deçan/Dečani

We, the undersigned, are concerned by the negative and lasting consequences of the recent statement by the mayor of Deçan/Dečani, Bashkim Ramosaj, vowing that the decision of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo on Deçan/Dečane Monastery’s land ownership will never be implemented.

All judgments of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo should be upheld. The constitution provides important guarantees to all Kosovo’s citizens, yet such guarantees only have real meaning if court decisions are implemented by physical and legal entities throughout Kosovo.

A failure to implement legal judgments only leads to uncertainty for all Kosovo’s citizens, and only serves to undermine faith and trust in the rule of law in Kosovo.

We urge all those holding elected office to refrain from giving statements which only serve to undermine confidence in the rule of law.

Signatories

  1. Aktiv
  2. Civic initiatives (Gradjanske inicijative)
  3. Center for Peace and Tolerance
  4. Democracy + (D+)
  5. Forum for Development and Multiethnic Collaboration (FDMC)
  6. Gorazdevac Media Group
  7. Jelena Lončar, Academic, University of Belgrade
  8. Kosovo Law Institute
  9. Media Center Caglavica
  10. New Social Initiative (NSI)
  11. NGO Be Active 16, Presevo
  12. The Future, Bujanovac
  13. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
  14. Vjollca Krasniqi, Academic, University of Pristina
  15. YIHR Serbia
  16. YIHR Kosovo
  17. YUCOM
  18. Valon Arifi, Civic activist

CSOs condemn hate speech against Albanians by Serbia’s Interior Minister, Aleksandar Vulin

Civil society organisations in Kosovo and Serbia have come together to condemn the use of hate speech targeting Albanians by Serbia’s interior minister, Aleksandar Vulin.

We, the undersigned civil society organizations from Kosovo and Serbia, strongly condemn the offensive and derogatory language by Serbia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Aleksandar Vulin, against Albanians. We urge the Serbian government, respectively the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, to react and condemn the use of such hate speech by Minister Vulin and appeal against the use of the word ‘Šiptar’.

On May 20th 2022 Minister Vulin used the word ‘Šiptar’ repeatedly to refer to Albanians, and his statement to the media has since been published on the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia. In 2018 the Serbian judiciary found the word ‘Šiptar’ to be offensive and it was labeled as hate speech. Despite this, Minister Vulin has actively and consistently used the word when referring to the Albanians, and continues to do so without any consequence to his public position. Public officials who use hate language have no place in government.  

Hate speech undermines the diffusion of European values in our societies, including the normative framework on human rights, rule of law, and the functioning of a democratic and tolerant society. Additionally, when hate speech is used by senior government officials freely, to target a particular ethnic-group, it can have devastating consequences, as it fosters discrimination, ethno-political radicalization and potentially leads to violence. The rhetoric used by Minister Vulin in his speech is the same rhetoric media and officials used during the nineties to dehumanize the Albanian population and foster maltreatment, human rights abuses, and ultimately war crimes in Kosovo.

The use of hate speech by senior government officials, such as the case with Minister Vulin, emboldens those in our societies who work against peace and the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and ultimately against a European future for all countries in our region.   

Signatories

  1. Aktiv
  2. The Balkan Forum
  3. Balkans Policy Research Group (BPRG)
  4. Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCBP)
  5. Civic Initiatives
  6. Center for Peace and Tolerance (CPT)
  7. Democracy Plus (D+)
  8. Foundation BFPE For a Responsible Society
  9. The Human Rights Council – Bujanovac
  10. InTER
  11. Jelena Lončar, Academic, University of Belgrade
  12. Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (QKSS)
  13. Kosova Democratic Institute (KDI)
  14. Kosovo Law Institute (KLI)
  15. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  16. New Social Initiative (NSI), Mitrovica
  17. Rahim Salihi, Civil Society Activist, Bujanovac
  18. Valon Arifi, Civil Society Activist
  19. Vjollca Krasniqi, Academic, University of Pristina
  20. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
  21. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia (YIHR Serbia) 
  22. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo (YIHR KS)

PCi recognises the work of Kosovo journalists reporting on multi-ethnic co-existence

PCi’s Media Award for showcasing multi-ethnic co-existence in Kosovo were handed out on 3 March 2022 in Pristina to journalists and media who participated in the category of Albanian language media content.

The Media Award was created as a follow-up activity initiated by PCi’s Media Consultation Dialogues, which constitute the backbone of media work in PCi’s Balkans programme. They bring together media professionals from Kosovo and Serbia to analyse problems and seek solutions to improve the quality of reporting and to battle divisive narratives. A repeated conclusion of these discussions was that there is a lack of stories about ordinary life, about living together, about peaceful multi-ethnic coexistence, both in Kosovo and Serbia. The media picture that Albanians and Serbs get about one another from Kosovar and Serbian media is almost exclusively bleak, black and white – and rich with divisive narratives.

By establishing an annual Media Award, PCi wanted to incentivize, promote, and reward media content from Kosovo and Serbia that explore themes related to the co-existence of communities. The Media Award Call for Application was launched last spring. The Call for Application can be accessed here.

Further to the Belgrade event which awarded media content in the Serbian language, the Award Ceremony for contributions in Albanian was held in Pristina on 3 March. The award jury was made up of three distinguished Kosovo journalists, Brikenda Rexhepi from Koha Television, Gentiana Begolli from the national broadcaster Radio Television of Kosovo, and Ismet Hajdari, from Agence France-Presse (AFP) Kosovo Bureau.

The first prize in the audio-visual category was awarded to Ardiana Thaçi for her story “Heshtja qe vrau” (The silence that killed), which can be accessed here. In the written category, the first prize went to Fitim Gashi on “Të pastrehët e pandemisë” (The Homeless of the Pandemic).

 The jury members emphasised the importance of an award which motivates journalists in divided societies. They noted that “This is the only award of this kind in the entire region. It encourages journalists to present the reality between communities which is vital for a healthy social coexistence, without anger and hatred.”

Russian aggression against Ukraine raises profound concerns in the Western Balkans

PCi hereby presents in full a joint statement issued by civil society organisations and activists from Serbia and Kosovo condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Joint statement by the CSOs from Kosovo and Serbia on the potential consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the Western Balkans.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has negatively impacted the international rules-based order. The Western Balkans is especially vulnerable to global developments which put at risk international law, democracy, and human rights.

We, the representatives of civil society organizations from Kosovo and Serbia, condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and call upon our governments to align with the European Union’s stance.

Furthermore, we urge the EU and its member states to change the paradigm of enlargement to ensure a practical and proactive approach to the European perspective of the Western Balkans. We also call on the wider international community to support our region in order to secure sustainable peace and security.  

The consequences of such breaches of international law could be extremely destabilising for our post conflict region. In view of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, this is a defining moment in history; one that calls for a prompt response from our governments and the international community to uphold respect for the rule of law, international law, solidarity, and human rights in the Western Balkans.

The current situation reiterates the importance of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia for securing sustainable peace, prosperity, and the well-being of all citizens. It offers an opportunity to reflect upon and re-design the dialogue process beyond the notion of constructive ambiguity towards an inclusive process that would lead to a legally binding and long-lasting agreement. Urgent action is needed from the EU to push for and support substantial reforms – particularly where the rule of law is concerned – in order to accelerate the EU integration of the Western Balkans. 

Civil society in Kosovo and Serbia has actively engaged in peacebuilding processes over the years, representing community voices and the daily concerns of citizens which are largely overshadowed by mainstream politics. During this time of crisis, we ask the international community to support us in condemning divisive rhetoric, authoritarian politics, and populist and nationalist discourses which serve to silence critical voices and generate fear and distrust among communities. 

Aiming to reduce the spread of disinformation that may lead to possible escalation of conflict, we also call upon media representatives to fully commit to impartial and unbiased reporting.

Signatories:

  1. Aktiv
  2. Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC), Mitrovica
  3. Balkans Policy Research Group (BPRG)
  4. Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCBP)
  5. Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Balkans (CisBalk)
  6. Center for Peace and Tolerance (CPT), Gracanica
  7. Centre for Regionalism
  8. Civic Initiatives
  9. Democracy Plus (D+)
  10. Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society (BFPE)
  11. Igor Novaković, Analyst, Belgrade
  12. Institute for Territorial Economic Development (InTER)
  13. Institute for European Affairs (IEA)
  14. Institute for Serbian and Albanian Coexistence
  15. Jelena Lončar, Academic, University of Belgrade 
  16. Kosovo Center for Security Studi (KCSS)
  17. Kosovo Law Institute (KLI)
  18. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  19. Milan Antonijević, Lawyer
  20. New Social initiative (NSI), Mitrovica
  21. Peer Educators Network (PEN), Prishtinë
  22. Rahim Salihi, civil society activist, Bujanovac.
  23. Radio KIM Media Group
  24. The Balkan Forum
  25. Valon Arifi, civil society activist
  26. Vjollca Krasniqi, Academic, University of Pristina
  27. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
  28. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia
  29. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo

 

PCi gives annual awards to journalists and media for stories on multi-ethnic coexistence in Kosovo and Serbia

In PCi organised Media Consultation dialogues (the backbone of media work in our Balkans programme) which bring together media professionals from Kosovo and Serbia to analyse the media scene, one thing has persistently popped up as an issue – the lack of stories about ordinary life, about living together, about peaceful coexistence. The media picture that Albanians and Serbs get about one another from Kosovar and Serbian media is almost exclusively bleak, black and white and full of divisive narratives.

To counter such narratives, last spring PCi launched an annual award for the best stories about interethnic coexistence in Albanian and in Serbian language and in two categories – audio/visual and written submissions. The award ceremony for the best stories in Serbian was held on February 28th in Belgrade’s Media centre. The Albanian language awards ceremony will be held on Thursday the 3rd of March.  

The jury consisted of three of the most prominent and distinguished Serbian journalists, Jelena Obućina from Newsmax Adria, Tamara Skrozza from the news agency FoNet and Milivoje Mihajlović who works for the public service broadcaster, RTS.

The first prize in the audio and video format was awarded to Zorica Krstić Vorgučić from Radio KIM for her TV story “Why is it important to speak the language of our neighbours”. Thanking the jury and PCi, Ms. Krstić Vorgučić said that it is impossible to escape the fact that Serbs and Albanians are distanced from each other and that they live parallel lives. “Language is important for changes to happen and most Serbs do not speak Albanian. There are some new initiatives, some new language courses and I hope that things will change for the better”.

The first prize for the written format went to Jelena Jorgačević, a reporter from the Belgrade weekly newsmagazine “Vreme” for her story “Encounters on Destroyed Bridges”. “We need to  inform the public about what is going on and things are far from perfect. But we, journalists, do not have to be pyromaniacs and fan the flames of hatred”, said Jelena as she received the award.

The jury members emphasised that in divided societies, journalists can do much more to improve inter-ethnic relations. Tamara Skrozza said that “the importance of the awarded stories lies in the fact that they go way beyond daily news reporting and deal with real life which is always much more complex and even beautiful than daily news make it appear to be.”

Kosovo-Serbia: Addressing COVID-19 – allowing local voices to be heard

PCi works to amplify local voices, especially those of marginalised groups, in support of equitable development. We worked with our partners Aktiv, Civic Initiatives and Peer Educators Network to ensure non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo are better aware of – and able to advocate for – municipal services to which they are entitled.

In response to COVID-19, PCi worked with Aktiv to create a ‘Rapid Response Crisis Group’ (RRCG) to ensure that non-majority communities in Kosovo were receiving equitable access to information that sought to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

In this first of the video stories which will be produced by all three partners, Aktiv sheds more light on the efforts of the RRCG to ensure equitable access to information. Click here for the film with English subtitles

Improving access to mental health information in Kosovo

PCi are working with partners, among others, to ensure non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo have better access to information on COVID-19. The goal of the ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development – ALVED’ project is to strengthen the capacity of citizens in Kosovo and Serbia to advocate for an effective and equitable distribution of public services and for a greater inclusion of non-majority communities in local decision making.

The project is funded by the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund of the United Kingdom (CSSF) and implemented by a network of five organisations, including our partner Peer Educators Network (PEN) from Kosovo, who actively work to bring social change through community work led by youth. With their first video-cast published as part of ALVED, PEN is providing information about the effects of the pandemic on mental health, as well as some advice on how to cope with this situation. The video is available in English, Albanian and Serbian language, and was shared across social media by a network of organisations working with diverse groups in Kosovo, including non-majority communities.

PCi’s partner NGO Aktiv advocating for Language Rights in Kosovo

As part of the ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development – ALVED’ project, PCi’s partner organisation Aktiv produced a video-cast that discusses language rights in Kosovo. The video-cast analyses how the pandemic crisis has shed light on weak institutions unable to provide a timely translation of information into Serbian at key moments, leaving members of the Serb and other non-majority communities in Kosovo at a disadvantage. The video is available in Serbian, Albanian and English language.