SKOPJE, November 26 (FENA) – The first regional conference entitled “Improving Dialogue between Journalists’ Associations and Western Balkan Parliaments for a Stronger Civil Sector” was held today in the capital of North Macedonia, Skopje. The conference, which was attended by representatives of BiH, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, was opened by the President of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, Talat Xhaferi, who stressed the importance of media freedom.
“The media have a duty to inform the public in a timely and truthful manner, and parliaments have a duty to protect freedom of the media and expression. This especially relates to the countries of the Western Balkans due to the human rights situation in this part of the world,” said Xhaferi.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was represented at the conference by MP Lazar Prodanović from the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Head of the Public Relations Department of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly Zlatko Vukmirović, Secretary-General of the BH Journalists Association and President of the Association of BH Journalists Marko Divković.
“We have asked all levels of government to tighten the laws for spreading hate speech. But unfortunately they were not adopted,” said Prodanović in his introductory speech, emphasizing that guaranteeing freedom of expression and protection of journalists is one of the 14 priorities of the European Commission, fulfillment of which is a precondition for BiH’s candidate status for membership in the European Union (EU).
He reminded that by signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU (SAA), in 2015, BiH committed itself to harmonize its legal framework in the field of media with international and European standards and consistently implement it.
At the end of the conference, a joint declaration was signed committing the four countries to more intensive co-operation between parliaments and journalists’ associations in creating an environment that will protect journalists as they perform their duties.