BELGRADE ─ Media workers from the EU are inquiring about the institutional integrity in the Western Balkans.

Journalists from the European Union member states are interested in the results of the fight against corruption, pressures on media and election process irregularities in Serbia. These were the main topic of discussion between the representatives of civil society from Serbia and journalists from eleven EU member states, held in Media Centre Belgrade on April 25.

The Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) Researcher and Coordinator of the regional POINTPULSE network Sasa Djordjevic stated during the meeting that public opinion polls show that majority of the citizens in the region consider that there is a high-level perception of corruption and that there is a need to include civil society in the fight against this phenomenon.

“Fight against corruption and crime in Serbia is just another media gimmick that is used by politicians before the elections. Therefore, it is not surprising that the perception of corruption is still very high, especially in the institutions that should fight it, such as police or the judiciary“, stated Djordjevic.

The BCSP’s Communication Officer Radomir Cvetkovic pointed out that there are various types and tactics of attacks directed towards civil society and their activists that publicly criticize the work of state institutions.

“Representatives of the government and pro-regime media outlets eagerly cite the analysis of civil society when they are to their benefit. But, when the results of the researchers point out the weakness of institutions or their officials, the same media or public representatives use the worst slander aimed at individuals or organizations that publicize that data”, said Cvetkovic.

The meeting was attended by the journalist from British daily The Guardian, radio ORF1 and weekly magazine Wirtschaftswoche from Germany, radio RFI from France, Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, radio RTBF from Belgium, Spanish daily paper La Vanguardia, Polish news agency and newspaper Gazeta Viborca, web portal 15min from Lithuania, Bulgarian News Agency, Croatian Vecernji list and Radio Slovenia VAL202.

From Serbia participants were Transparency Serbia, which together with BCSP and other members of coalition prEUgovor reports every six months on Serbia’s progress in Chapters 23 and 24 of the acquis, Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM, Civic Initiatives, Slavko Curuvija Foundation, Independent Journalist Association of Serbia and Independent Association of Vojvodina Journalists.

This visit was organized by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Serbia, in cooperation with European Journalism Centre within the program of Directorate-General of the European Commission for neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations (DG NEAR). During the three-day study visit, the group of 15 journalists conducted meetings with representatives of state institutions, civil and business sector.

TAGS: BelgradeCivil SocietyEuropean AccessionExternal OversightMedia and PoliceNewsSerbiaTransparency