Der Ehrenpreis wurde von Marija Ristic und Tim Judah, dem Präsidenten des BIRN-Vorstandes, stellvertretend entgegengenommen. BIRN tritt ein für Menschenrechte, Demokratie und Gerechtigkeit für die Opfer von Kriegsverbrechen in der Balkanregion. In diesem Beitrag finden Sie das Video der Online-Verleihung sowie die Rede des Laudators Wolfgang Petritsch, Botschafter a.D. und Experte mit dem Schwerpunkt Süd-Ost-Europa.
Der Link zum Video der Online-Verleihung:
Die Rede von Laudator Wolfgang Petritsch im Wortlaut:
It is a sort of homecoming for me,
since until two years ago
I served on the Board of BIRN
under the able leadership of Tim Judah, who is with us today.
So it is my special privilege, indeed, to give the Laudatio for this year’s
Press Freedom Award.
Let me first and foremost express my deep appreciation to
Reportes without Borders Austria
and its president Rubina Möhring
that they accepted, in fact enthusiastically embraced,
my proposal to give the 2020 Award to BIRN.
Well, its not that easy, because there are at least two – if not three awardees.
First, the Lifetime Award which goes to Gordana Igric.
GOCA, as her friends call her, is the founder and has been the mastermind
– the spiritus rector – of BIRN for many years, until her retirement in 2018.
The BIRN HUB which Goca helped to build and led so successfully,
is now run by Marija Ristic and she will receive this year’s Award.
And clearly, it is all the local BIRN affiliates
that are honored by this Award as well.
Let me briefly recount the relatively short – yet immensely successful – history of BIRN:
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network was established in 2004
as a network of non-governmental organisations promoting
– freedom of speech,
– human rights
– and democratic values in South-Eastern Europe.
For outsiders the – at times – slightly confusing organisational structure and the many journalistic activities
– electronic, print, social media, film –
can be a challenge at times.
It took me quite some years on the International Board of BIRN to fully grasp its idea
But this is the beauty – and in a way signifies what Tim so famously termed
In fact, BIRN goes well beyond old Yugoslavia.
It has developed a specific network structure that includes
local independent organisations,
gathered around an umbrella organisation – the Balkan Investigative Regional Reporting Network (BIRN Hub)
– a structure that has the advantage of combining
– country-based expertise
– with unique regional cooperation.
BIRN has local organisations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia,
while the Network is editorially also present in Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.
While the country organisations address local needs,
BIRN Hub, registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
also implements regional and international programs.
BIRN Hub brings extensive expertise to journalists
in post-communist and post-conflict societies,
mainly through sharing the accumulated knowledge from the Western Balkan region.
BIRN strives to empower people to access their rights,
by providing accurate and relevant information
and by creating opportunities for them to participate in democratic processes.
Through high-quality – and fiercely independent – reporting
and by creating a pool of skilled journalists,
BIRN examines and scrutinises
– key processes,
– steers debates and provides the public with impartial and reliable information.
BIRN Network also monitors and advocates for the transparency and accountability
of public institutions
and enables CSOs and citizens to influence decision-makers.
Through objective and timely reporting BIRN pays special attention
to some of the region’s most crucial topics
– transitional justice,
– media freedom,
– rule of law,
– organized crime and corruption
– and ecology.
BIRN has a wide media presence – online, in print, on TV and on radio.
BIRN’s sustainability operations are handled by BIRN Ltd,
a company registered in Belgrade.
Now, one name is intimately tied to all of this
– and this is of course
the Founder of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network
and its Regional Network Director until May 2018.
Goca – and this is very unfortunate – cannot be with us today.
With her colleagues, Goca helped establish, manage and develop BIRN.
Through her dedication, engagement and careful planning of the network’s
– programme objectives
– and strategic thrust,
the organisation has continued to grow since its inception.
After graduating from Belgrade university,
Goca began her career as a journalist in Belgrade in 1981.
She reported from Bosnia and Kosovo during the wars that followed the dissolution
of former Yugoslavia.
From 1998 to 1999, Goca worked in the field of human rights as
Director of Research for the Humanitarian Law Centre (Belgrade),
and as Kosovo Researcher for Human Rights Watch (New York).
This is not her first award, however.
Goca has received several journalism awards, including the 1998 Overseas Press Club (USA)
the Award for Human Rights Reporting and a Human Rights Watch Hellman Hammet Award
in the same year for her research into war crimes in Foca, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Goca was Balkan project manager at the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, IWPR,
from 1999 until August 2005,
during which time IWPR’s Balkan reporting received numerous awards and media citations.
I feel very proud to extend my personal congratulations to Goca as the recipients of the
Lifetime Press Freedom Award
and to Marija and all her BIRN colleagues – and the Board with Tim at its helm –
for the 2020 Press Freedom Award.