The second EU-Western Balkans Media Days conference is taking place in the Macedonian capital city of Skopje.
During the Grand Panel on ‘Media freedom as key element of the EU accession process’, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn noted that “there were 11 cases of physical attacks on journalists in the Western Balkan countries this year alone, which is totally unacceptable”.
“The irresolute attitude of those in charge of finding and convicting perpetrators creates a terrifying atmosphere of impunity, impacting heavily on free and independent reporting. Media freedom cannot exist without an independent and functioning judiciary. Journalists need to be protected against attacks in order to do the job”, said Hahn.
“In all the country reports, we clearly state that there will be no accession without safeguarding media freedom and grating journalists working environments free from intimidation and pressure”, he added.
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir reminded that the media freedom was among the basic human rights, and that the society had to make sure that journalists were safe and protected while doing their job.
Launched in 2017 by the European Commission, the EU-Western Balkans Media Days aim to ensure that media freedom remains a priority while tackling the complexity of pressing political, economic and social issues the region experience at present.
This year’s event puts a strong focus on the young generation of journalists and the needs in the context of their professional development.
The conference brought together some 300 media professionals, experts and policymakers from the Western Balkans and the EU to discuss challenges and propose forward-looking ideas for an independent, sustainable and professional journalism in the Western Balkans.