• 28 August 2014

    Policy Program | Roundtable Discussion with journalists from the Western Balkans – Event with Deutsche Welle

    On the fringe of the Western Balkans conference of the German Federal Government on August 28, twelve journalists from the countries of the Western Balkans met with representatives of the Deutsche Welle, German think tanks, and a member of the German Bundestag in the Aspen Institute organized by Deutsche Welle, to discuss current developments in the region. The attendees agreed that the Federal Government’s conference is an important signal of support to the countries of the region. Everyone, especially in the context of a slow EU enlargement process, welcomed this. Further, it was stressed that the countries of the Western Balkans too would have to become more active. In order to further economic development, improvements of regional cooperation were imperative, for example within the framework of the free-trade agreement CEFTA or in the energy sector, since the regional markets were too small. It was also stressed that the rule of law in those countries had to be promoted as well. Good journalistic work was considered essential for this goal. However, the present journalists remarked that they were not always able to live up to these requirements. Their reporting was often influenced by outside interests and journalists were being threatened because of their work. Furthermore, their reporting about grievances often did not lead to any consequences, since, in the name of stability, the EU and other actors continued to work with the same elites responsible for those grievances. Therefore, the journalists stressed, changes were necessary not just in the region but also outside of it.