Conference “Media in Albania in Front of the Mirror"

What is the state of affairs regarding media freedom in Albania?

These and many more issues related to media freedom were discussed during the event “Media in front of the mirror”, organized by the Albanian Helsinki Committee and hosted by AMA. The Dutch embassy tries to assist on enhancing freedom of the media through supporting independent initiatives for more open data, supporting research into indicators that measure progress in the media and training on investigative journalism.

That's why Dutch ambassador Dewi van de Weerd gave a speech during the meeting. You can find Dewi's speech here:

“Media in front of the mirror” Albanian Helsinki Committee 24/11/2017

It’s that time of year again, when governments present their yearly budgets. We have just done so in the Netherlands and our Dutch parliament asked more money to be spent on the protection of journalists worldwide. Our new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Halbe Zijlstra, approved it.

Why?

Because, Houston, we have a problem.

Some fast facts:

  • The sad news is that press freedom world wide is at a record low this year.
  • Only 1 in 7 citizens have access to free and independent media.
  • Intimidation of media continues and it leads to self censuring and worse. It silences independent voices.
  • It attacks the respect for human rights in our democracies.

We all know the Freedom House qualification for Albania: Albania is considered only partly free.

  • I regret to say that the situation in Albania is not yet in accordance with EU standards.
  • I regret that this spring a journalist here was molested.
  • I regret that intimidation of journalists happens often. A lot of shouting and scolding is not conducive for a climate of respect and freedom to speak up. People feel threatened.
  • I regret that business interests, media and politics seem unhealthily closely interlinked in this country.

Despite this situation, there is also some good news and I would like to share some ideas.

  • The good news is that some new voices could be heard this year. I find Citizens channel a new and interesting initiative that does not only publish bad news but focuses on human interest stories.
  • The good news is that Albania has clear ambitions to open negotiations with the EU. As a candidate member state it has therefore committed itself to deliver on plurality of the media landscape and the creation of an environment for journalists to feel free to do their work properly.

The Netherlands monitors Albania’s progress in this regard, as do the other member states. There is still ample room for improvement. Promoting freedom of media is and should be a fundamental principle of any democracy.

We also try to assist.

  • By supporting independent initiatives for more open data to be used by journalists and citizens.
  • By supporting research into indicators that measure progress in the media.
  • By providing training on investigative journalism.

So yes, with regard to the Albanian media, let’s look in the mirror and see what we can all do together to strengthen free press here.

I thank AHC for this initiative and AMA for hosting it.

  • Albania needs many more independent voices to speak up.
  • Its media institutions need to play their role more independently.
  • Citizens and journalists can work together more on factfinding, blogging and crowdfunding.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You may have noticed, I am wearing orange today.

Why? Because of the campaign to end violence against women.

Yes it’s that time of year again.

Only last year, Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE’s excellent former special representative on Freedom of the Media asked attention for female journalists. Because the risk for them to get harrassed, and not only with words, is always present.

I would like to close with a quote by CNN’s anchorwoman Christiane Amanpour:

 “I strongly believe that journalism is one of the noblest professions, because without an informed world and without an informed society, we are weak, we are weak!”