15.11.2017 - UNESCO Office in Brussels

UNESCO and the European Commission open the European Federation of Journalists' event on the state of journalism in South East Europe and Turkey

UNESCO’s Programme Specialist for Communication and Information, Ms. Tarja Turtia, together with Mr. Andris Kesteris, Principal Advisor on Civil Society and Media, DG NEAR, European Commission, jointly opened a European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) event on the 14th of November 2017 in Brussels.

The event, ‘’How to improve the precarious state of journalism in South East Europe and Turkey”, took place at the Press Club Brussels, in the framework of the joint UNESCO and EU funded project Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey, which seeks to strengthen freedom of expression, access to information, free, independent and pluralistic media in the region.

The project aims, in particular to improve the internal governance of media organizations based on the commitment of media owners and editors to respect clearly defined professional and labour standards. The project has enabled the Labour Rights Expert Group (LAREG) of the EFJ to transform into LAREG + by welcoming representatives from South East Europe and Turkey, providing a unique platform for exchange of best practices between EU and EU candidate countries on journalists' working conditions.

Moderated by Mr. Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, the event brought together speakers from journalists’ associations and trade union representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia Turkey and Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244) to discuss journalists’ labour conditions. The discussion highlighted some of the common problems faced by journalists throughout the region, including poor wages, unavailability of recognisable contracts, absence or silencing of trade unions and a general lack of professional solidarity in the sector.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Tarja Turtia stressed that many of the challenges faced by South East Europe countries are indeed global challenges, and that building trust in the media is key to ensuring freedom of expression, so that citizens can be informed in a timely and objective manner. As part of UNESCO’s ongoing work to increase trust in media in the region, Ms. Turtia reiterated the necessity for freedom, independence and pluralism in the media, as examined in UNESCO’s 2017/18 Global Report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development to be published in December 2017.

Recommendations of experts and participants of the event included the need for increased legal support to journalists and their associations on the implementation of labour laws, increased regional dialogue and exchange of experiences on labour rights issues, and regional public campaign.

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