INFORMING THE PUBLIC OF SOUTHWEST SERBIA AND THE PROCESS OF EU INTEGRATION
The Council for Inclusive Governance (CIG) organized a new session of the Regional Forum (Serbia’s municipalities of Nova Varoš, Novi Pazar, Prijepolje, Priboj, Raška, Sjenica, and Tutin). This session was the third consecutive roundtable of the Forum on the process of European integration of Serbia. The topic was the reform of the public media which started in Serbia in 2014, and it is set to be completed by July 2015. Introductory remarks at the meeting were given by Saša Mirkovi?, State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and Information; Nedim Sejdinovi?, President of the Executive Board of the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina; Dragan Dobrašinovi?, Coordinator of the Coalition for the Oversight of the Public Finances, and Dragan Kremer from the Open Society Foundation from Belgrade. The speakers informed the members of the Forum about the process of the reform and implications for regions and municipalities in Serbia, as well for the minority communities. Members of the Forum were advised to act proactively and not to wait for the end of the process but to include themselves in all of its aspects. The discussion tackled the reform of the National Radio Television of Serbia, privatization of the local electronic and printed media, and the oversight over the privatization process.
The Participants offered the following conclusions and recommendations:
- Privatization of the media is the fundamental prerequisite for the realization of the idea of creating an informed citizen, able to become involved in the process of resolving questions of public importance. In this regard, it is important that the synergy exists at the local level in order to carry out this process. The local communities need to form teams for media monitoring during the privatization process and after it;
- The Regional Forum should debate what represents the public interest in the Region at the one of the following sessions;
- The Regional Forum should try to nominate a candidate for a representative for the Supervisory Board of the Radio Television of Serbia;
- The Regional Forum should request clearer rules and procedures from the government representatives that would enable the implementation of media laws in line with the interests of the citizens and to ensure the transparency of this process, including privatization and co-financing of the media.
On May 19, the Forum worked on further formalization of its own work, proposals for possible inter-municipal projects in the region and the possible work of the Forum on issues related to Chapter 23 of the Serbia’s EU negotiation process. Several members of the Forum proposed a number of topics for future sessions: transfer of experiences on minority protection from Croatia; cooperation on environmental protection; youth policies in the region; debate and support to inclusion of Novi Pazar into cross-border cooperation between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina; issues related to human rights in general; protection of historical monuments in the region, etc. The meeting was a part of a project supported by the Open Society Foundation.
Below are detailed reports from the Forum’s sessions in Serbian.