UNESCO and the European Commission have signed an agreement to continue working together to improve media accountability in South East Europe. The agreement was signed at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 6 December 2012.
The signing marks the launch of a new project which will start in January 2013 and last 36-months. The European Commission will contribute 500,000 Euros to the project promoting the development of professional self-regulatory mechanism, and supporting press freedom and freedom of information.
“This project is a follow up to an already productive engagement in the promotion of freedom of expression in the region for both organizations, EU and UNESCO. It will involve press councils and media associations and it will help to strengthen self-regulatory mechanisms”, said Ingve Engström, Head of Regional Programmes Unit of the Directorate General for Enlargement of the European Commission. “The selected countries have suffered from a lack of transparency in their media sectors, often resulting in limitations in journalists’ freedom. The application of high professional standards will give media a new credibility.”
Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, said that “Improvement in media freedom and media accountability are fundamental in this region and we are really convinced that this project could help to improve the professional level of the media, as well as their transparency”.
The project will be carried out in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo (UNSCR1244) as well as Turkey, whose representatives attended the ceremony.
This project concerns both traditional and online media. It promotes self-regulation by the media, and the development of ethical codes of practice as well as awareness raising about issues of media accountability among the public. Training about Freedom of Information legislation will be provided to journalists in the different countries concerned.
Both UNESCO and the EU have declared freedom of expression to be a strategic priority in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in October 2012 to enhance cooperation between them.