UNESCO welcomes the creation of a new press council in the FYR Macedonia

On 16 and 17 October 2014, over 250 participants took part in the 8th South East Europe Media Forum in Skopje, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, organized with the support of UNESCO and the European Commission.

To kick off the Forum, UNESCO set up an event with the Council of Media Ethics of Macedonia, the newest media self-regulatory body in the region established in December 2013.

The press council began the session by introducing its strategy and functions. Following, the EU Ambassador, Aivo Orav, praised the council stating that it “is a very sustainable and tangible result of the media community in the country, and has been recognized as a positive development in the latest EU Progress Report in the framework of EU accession discussions”. He continued to mention, “I hope that it will quickly become operational.”

The Council of Media Ethics has attracted large support from the international community, and ways to coordinate this support were discussed. The forthcoming challenges, including the adoption of a new code of ethics and convincing news portals to join the body were also debated.

Throughout the South East Europe Media Forum many international and regional media experts saluted the establishment of the Council of Media Ethics of Macedonia.

“UNESCO joins the European Commission in its conviction that creating an enabling environment for free, independent and pluralistic media in South East Europe requires the restoration of public confidence in the media through the support to both traditional and new media organizations. Media outlets must be strengthened to improve their internal governance and accountability, thus making them more resilient to external pressures,” said Tarja Turtia from UNESCO in her opening remarks to the conference.

During the opening of the event, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Poposki answered questions from journalists on the current media situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Journalists emphasized the challenges they face in their daily work and the current media freedom issues in the country.

The Forum featured five panel sessions tackling critical and topical media issues in the region. Panel discussions dedicated to access to information and to media accountability built on UNESCO’s commitment to the region and highlighted the achievements of UNESCO activities implemented during the last two years in the framework of the project “Media Accountability in South East”.

This event was coordinated within the framework of the UNESCO project: “Media Accountability in South East Europe”, which started in January 2013 and is funded by the European Commission. The South East Europe Media Forum was organized by the South East Europe Media Organization SEEMO in cooperation with South East European Network for professionalization of Media SEENPM, the Macedonian Institute for Media and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung organization, among others.