Speech of President Thaçi at the Regional Conference on the Safety of Journalists
Honourable ambassador Brathu,
Honourable ambassador Apostolova,
Honourable ambassador Fandler,
Honourable ambassador Papadopulo,
Honoured representatives of media and civil society,
Ladies and gentleman,
Allow me first of all to wish you welcome in Kosovo and to congratulate OSCE mission in Kosovo for organizing this conference, which is important for journalism in Kosovo and in the region.
I am sure that the discussions that will take place in here, as well as the campaigns that will be launched, will contribute even more in strengthening the profession of journalism in our region.
Ladies and gentleman,
Journalism in Kosovo is probably not the oldest in terms of tradition, but is among the bravest in the region.
Journalists in Kosovo were among the first ones that were engaged to pluralism, democracy, equality, human rights and freedom of expression.
Whereas, since post-war period in Kosovo, great efforts are made to install a journalism that is professional, reliable and that will always be in service to the public.
We had two important circumstances that have resulted in brave journalism.
First, the free and appropriate journalism has begun in Kosovo during the time of repression and apartheid.
The journalists were precisely among the first ones who have faced the repression and efforts to stop the voice that demanded justice and equality.
In these circumstances, it is enshrined the courage to confront the authority, whatever that authority might be.
But were also cultivated the values, such as fairness, professionalism, zeal to investigate and to seek accurate information, and the courage to publish any information.
This carried its own price.
Journalists have always been the target of those who tried to install their policies through violence and repression.
They were attacked, violated, kidnapped and killed.
There are journalists whose fate is not known since the war.
Yesterday, as the President of Republic of Kosovo, I have taken an initiative to establish a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in Kosovo.
In the light of seeking the truth on what happened in Kosovo during the war, this commission will also work to enlighten the fate of every journalist who has suffered at that time.
Secondly, after the war, we had great international support in building a professional journalism, of the highest standards.
It was the OSCE mission which has led the efforts to build a professional journalism in Kosovo.
Journalists and media in general were trained, either in the context of studying the journalism at the University of Prishtina, or through the trainings of existing journalists.
It is supported the establishment of organizations that protects the journalists, journalists' rights, but also organizations that protect the profession of journalist.
Support was provided in drafting legislation that protects the work of journalists and the journalists themselves.
Today, journalists in Kosovo are protected by law.
In Kosovo, journalists cannot be punished for the journalist work, but also the journalists are not obliged to reveal their sources at the court.
This is done in order to protect the credibility, integrity and professionalism of journalism as a profession.
But this does not mean that the work of journalists is easy.
In Kosovo as well, journalists and journalism in general faces pressures related to their work.
Articles on corruption, extremism, radicalism, equal rights for every community, whether ethnic communities or other communities such as LGBTI, the most vulnerable groups such as women and children, places the journalists under direct threat and risk.
In Kosovo there are mechanisms that protect the journalists in this field as well.
Kosovo Police is committed to protect journalists, when the need arises.
This is done either by providing escort and security for them, or by investigating the source of threat and sanctioning those who threaten the journalists.
This has resulted in a courageous, dynamic and powerful journalism in Kosovo.
Ladies and gentleman,
Allow me to say a few more words about the challenges of journalism today.
Even in here, Kosovo is in the same line with the world, not only with the achievements but also with the present challenges.
The main challenge for journalists and journalism as a profession does not come from outside the profession, but it comes within the profession.
Today, thanks to the opportunities that the Internet provides, reporting and distribution of news has become easier than ever before.
This has caused other people to exercise the profession of journalism, whose goal is not the journalism, but they see this as a mean to realize their other ambitions.
This erodes from inside the integrity, professionalism and credibility of the profession of journalist.
Currently it is not a challenge, at least in Kosovo, freedom of expression of journalists.
The challenge is the abuse and misuse of freedom of expression that is done by those whose profession is not journalism.
Even in here, the journalists themselves have the main role in protecting the profession of journalism.
Organized in institutions that are established by representatives of media that monitor the observance of professional standards, the journalists themselves are the ones who protect their profession from abuse.
It is up to the rest to support the journalists in cultivating an environment that values and appraises, but also preserves and protects the professional journalism.
I believe that in this conference you will find the answers on today's challenges of journalism, not only the challenges encountered here in Kosovo, but in the world as well.