The 5th anniversary of Okruženje took place in a room crowded with journalists and an unanimous appreciation of the sole regional TV programme: this is a project that must continue.
Until now, Okruženje was realised with a great number of guests who could witness its development and shaping through these five years: from a modest rookie production to a high-quality programme; from just a few broadcasters to 11 public and commercial TV channels which are now showing the episodes; from regional to European Vicinities and ultimately, the medal for the Media Initiative of the year at the European Citizenship Awards, given by the European Civic Forum and Volonteurope.
This special event saw speakers who supported the project from the beginning and those who recognised the importance of Okruženje for the region.
Hannes Swoboda, chair of CDRSEE Steering Committee, said that he is looking forward new series of Okruženje and that he hopes one will say in the future that the idea of Okruženje was a good practice for bringing the region closer to the European Union.
According to Hedvig Morvai, executive director of the European Fund for the Balkans which support Okruženje for 5 years now, this project is a genuine initiative stemming from civil society which managed to open the doors of the media, but also to cross these doors and get recognised in the whole region and beyond as something valuable. “Quality always makes its way through”, she says.
Morvai also explained that Okruženje is a key project for the European Fund for the Balkans. “This is our common project and I think that Okruženje is an example of good practice which can potentially be listed and implemented in other regions and under other circumstances. Today, Europe is facing major issues and challenges, and we as a region striving to be part of the EU, must build a more collective, constructive and clever way of thinking about Europe’s future. In this sense, I see Okruženje as the perfect tool for it”, she concluded.
Germany’s Ambassador in Serbia, HE. Axel Ditmann added that his country is still enthusiastic about supporting Okruženje, noting that it has an ideal format in which people can discuss about all relevant questions not by trying to convince each other, but to confront each other’s perspective, to understand different citizens in order to reach a compromise. “The regional cooperation is not something built solely upon governments’ efforts and supranational institutions. It is also necessary that people talk to each other, that there is an exchange of views among civil societies, this is key in the process”, according to him.
Vladimir Sestovic, representing the European Civic Forum and part of the European Citizenship Awards team, also assisted to the event. He stressed the unanimous recognition of the initiative by the judging members, even if most of them were not from the region. Okruženje gives a great contribution to mutual understanding through an open dialogue and such programmes are essential, not only in the region, but also in Europe.