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[balkans] Panayote Dimitras & Nafsika Papanikolatos: (Non-) Reporting Diversity and its (Non-) Contribution to the Prevention and Resolution of Conflict

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  • Florian Bieber
    (Non-) Reporting Diversity and its (Non-) Contribution to the Prevention and Resolution of ConflictNafsika Papanikolatos Minority Rights Group - Greece and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 23, 1999
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      (Non-) Reporting Diversity and its
      (Non-) Contribution to the Prevention and Resolution of Conflict

      Nafsika Papanikolatos
      Minority Rights Group - Greece
      Panayote Dimitras
      Greek Helsinki Monitor

      (paper prepared for the conference "Conflict Reporting and the Media: the
      Role of Journalism in the Prevention and Resolution of Conflict," Ohrid,


      Mass media in the Balkans do not promote diversity. Most of them are
      usually militant against it, and the just few 'neutral' ones simply shy
      away from actively undermining it. Media propaganda prepared public opinion
      for, was usually supportive of and thus legitimized the multiple ethnically
      motivated conflicts and cleansing operations in Yugoslavia. That was not an
      exception, though, but merely the most extreme example media serving, if
      not contributing to shaping, 'national interests.' There are, however, many
      other examples that are not as obvious as this one. Yet they function in
      equally conspicuous ways, violating human rights and suffocating democratic
      culture. Such tendency is dominant in the Balkans today. This can be seen
      in the fact that not only national or state-owned media participate in
      producing national(ist) propaganda. Privately owned media are also acting
      in the same direction too. The latter, though in theory enjoying more
      freedom, most often function as soldiers, defending national interests and
      promoting a nationalist ideology that sometimes outflanks even state
      propaganda. In most cases national(ist) propaganda dominates the
      competition between journalistic ethics and national interests. Producing
      and reproducing prejudices, stereotypes, and myths is the rule of the game.
      History is interpreted in ways that banish diversity and 'otherness.' Thus,
      minorities of all kinds (ethnic, political, cultural, religious, etc.) have
      no place in this history. Anyone who questions this attitude is called a
      collaborator of the enemy(ies), or, worse, has to endure McCarthyist

      Negative images of 'the other,' stereotypes and 'hate speech' in the media
      help cultivate a false sense of superiority. This is based on a simplistic
      order of things emanating from national ideologies. National ideologies in
      turn need the reproduction of such stereotypes and hate speech, in order to
      legitimize the violation of individual and collective rights, including
      grave atrocities. Mass media even in pluralist societies reproduce and
      reinforce the values of a collective identity that national education
      transmits. The extent to which this process leads to stereotyping and hate
      speech depends both on the particular national history and on the political
      culture of the respective society.

      In the Balkans, there is a very weak democratic culture and an absence of
      genuine democratic institutions. Thus the media, instead of promoting
      pluralism, play a fundamental role in the perpetuation and reinforcement of
      the intolerant national ideology, that makes society closed and in search
      of enemies.

      Mass media, just like history books before them (especially "popular
      history" books), have to this day been preparing Balkan populations to
      support even violent conflict against all kinds of internal or external
      enemies of different ethnic, confessional, political or cultural origin.
      Given the overlapping nature of Balkan irredentisms, from the mere
      beginning there was a need to have fanatic and disciplined populations to
      carry out the "greater ideas." These stereotypes and myths were reawakened
      in late 20th century, because the two-pole system, that had appeared to
      have eliminated them, in reality never created the conditions for an
      alternative way of thinking and categorizing reality. Yugoslavia is a case
      par excellence. A few years of hate speech there, in the late 1980s,
      prepared the ground for the atrocities of the last decade . The majority of
      society and of the intelligentsia, in the role of both the oppressed and
      the oppressor, encouraged this intolerance. We all know of the Belgrade
      Academy's role in defense of Serbian nationalism. More recently, the
      Bulgarian and the Albanian Academies have produced similar studies on the
      'National Issues' that are based on historical myths and prejudices and
      promote irredentism and intolerance against neighboring peoples and
      internal minorities.

      Self-assertion in the Balkans, being the product of national(ist)
      education, is based on negative evaluations of 'otherness' and neighbors.
      Historically, Balkan peoples have developed national identities that emerge
      out of an inverted love-hate relationship. They are indoctrinated "to love
      to hate and to hate to love" anything which does not fit in the national
      imagery of a homogeneous society, that must be free of differences,
      oppositions, or uncertainties. This is true not only of the countries that
      used to have communist regimes.

      Still, there is no doubt that the communist period exploited the ideology
      of homogenization and also provided it with the ideological legitimization
      based on scientific socialism. It is therefore no surprise that the
      collapse of these regimes led almost naturally to the resurgence of
      nationalism. This is another ideology, which praises the utopia of
      ethnically cleansed societies, free of conflict and opposition. Such a
      model makes dialogue and debate unnecessary, if not dangerous. The
      post-communist world offers several versions of this model. Some are
      subtler, others more glaring. The common element in all of them, however,
      is that this new face of intolerant and antidemocratic culture has been
      perpetuated and reinforced by the media, in many cases by the privately
      owned ones. Thus even in the transition to democracy, Balkan media are
      conveyors of a defensive, intolerant and thus aggressive national
      consciousness. In this way they demonstrate the difficulty in synchronizing
      rights with duties in a pluralistic society where the media are free.

      The last few years have seen the publication of several studies of the role
      of the media in the Balkans in the promotion of ethnic hatred and
      prejudices towards minorities and neighbors. One such study was carried out
      by the International Helsinki Federation, which monitored Balkan media
      between 1995-96. The final publication of this project has abundant
      examples of hate speech produced by various Balkan media.2 Examining the
      types of hate speech common in media reporting in the Balkans, six major
      categories could be delineated.

      First, the denial of the existence of minorities, with an emphasis on the
      homogeneous character of the particular society, has been a major cause for
      the production of stereotypes and hate speech in the Balkan media. The
      denial of the existence of 'the other,' no matter whether s/he is a member
      of the same society or is a neighbor, requires the most explicit forms of
      hate speech and stereotyping. It usually works on two levels -stressing the
      homogeneity of the society in question and negating the existence of any

      Thus in Albania the media promote the ideology of a "compact ethnic state"
      with no minorities, while in Slovenia they promote the "Slovenization" of
      the state. In Montenegro all Catholics are (mis)presented as Serbs. In
      Croatia the media try to invent ways by which the ethnically cleansed state
      will protect itself from foreign elements, suggesting that borders with
      Serbia be closed for the next 50 years. The national policy of Greece leads
      the media to not only reproduce but also reinforce the ideology of a
      homogeneous society. Thus Greek media oppose any suggestion of the
      existence of people with a Macedonian ethnic or national identity within
      the Greek borders, not to mention the negation of the Macedonian nation as
      such. In spite of a more positive attitude towards the Macedonian state by
      the Greek government in the recent period, the media continue to perpetuate
      the same images and label as an enemy any individual or organization -local
      or foreign- questioning this position. Similarly the Turkish minority is
      'non-existent.' Whoever accepts that the Muslims of Greece can be called
      Turks is said to "serve the aims of the most reactionary and obscurantist
      agents in Turkey as well as in Greece.3"

      A second common form of hate speech and stereotyping results from the
      negative images of neighboring peoples. Here deprecation of the neighbors
      in order to minimize, debase and humiliate them can alternate with a
      disproportional presentation of the national self as superior to all
      others. In both cases labels may be used to signify different things.
      Montenegrin media, supportive of Belgrade policies, have called the Croats
      Ustashas, term used also for the independence-oriented Montenegrins. When
      referring to Albanians the media in neighboring countries use the
      -pejorative in Slavic languages- term "Shiptars." Hungarians has been
      presented in Romania as "the venom in Europe's body." Romanian media have
      often had some strong anti-Semitic references. For Serb media all former
      Yugoslavs are either "materialists" or "terrorists," while Croatians are
      "fascists." Intimidating the readers with the potential "massive invasion"
      of Albanians in Kosovo, Serb media argue that "an ethnically pure space is
      being prepared for the emergence of a Greater Albania."

      The Macedonian press, which is a major participant in the shaping of
      national consciousness, finds it essential to present Macedonians as
      superior to their neighbors. In Albanian media the images of Greeks are
      closely related to Greece's policy towards its Albanian immigrants.
      Oftentimes this leads to hostile collective generalizations or extreme
      characterizations. Croatian media are full of pejorative characterizations
      of Serbs and Macedonians, leading to the 'logical' conclusion that Croats
      are a superior race. Hate speech in Greek media is directed mainly towards
      Turks and Macedonians. It is important to point out here the support this
      form of reporting receives from the Greek Orthodox Church, which
      participates actively in the production of an aggressive discourse,
      defending national consciousness. Greek media, with a few exceptions,
      support Serbs as "Orthodox brothers," thus being generally negative towards
      all those whom Serbs identify as enemies. The independence of Macedonia,
      the Imia/Kardak crisis in the Aegean Sea, the presumed assault against
      Orthodox Christianity throughout the war in ex-YugoslaviaÂ… All these
      provided ample evidence for Greek media to produce plenty of hate speech
      and scare mongering against most of Greece's neighbors. Turks were
      presented as "thugs" and "omnivorous people," while Turkey - as "nurturing
      Asian and Islamic barbarism." Whether the issue was related to Turkey or
      Serbia, it was always clear that the main issue was the opposition between
      Muslim fundamentalism and Catholicism against Orthodox Christianity. Anyone
      with a different position was immediately identified as "Hitler's heir."
      The conclusion was always the same: Serbs and Greeks are "Europe's
      defenders against fascism" and "victims of aggressors who are supported by
      the West." Today, with the Kosovo crisis, the same images have been
      reproduced time and again.

      Another form of stereotyping and hate speech common in the Balkans is the
      one, which produces negative images about ethnic, religious and linguistic
      minorities, including immigrants. When the existence of minorities within
      one's borders cannot be entirely denied, then the method used is that of
      attacking them with pejorative and degrading terms as to deprecate their
      rights and freedoms. In other words, everything that is particular to a
      minority is presented in such a way, so that the right to use one's
      language, the right to pray in one's church, the right to have one's own
      associations, etc. appear as artificially constructed demands which do not
      correspond to reality. Here the issue is not whether a particular society
      is homogeneous or not but whether these other identities will be allowed to
      exist parallel to the dominant national identity since their positive
      integration appears unlikely.

      Serbian media recycle infinitely the image of the separatist, nationalist
      and secessionist Kosovo Albanians, thus producing tensions and making
      coexistence and communication between the communities difficult, if not
      impossible. Albanians, on the other hand, produce their own hate speech,
      calling Serbs "Slav Communist Chetniks." In the Slovenian press, we read
      that "as a rule, human rights for non-Slovenes are harmful for Slovenes."
      In Bulgaria, where coexistence with Turks and Roma is considered
      inevitable, verbal and even physical attacks -almost exclusively on Roma-
      are considered necessary to free society from this "threat." Being the most
      vulnerable group, Roma are described with exorbitant negative images. They
      are depicted not as simple criminals but as sadists, who torture, rob and
      rape people. As for Turks, they are attacked on the basis of their being
      both Turkish and Muslim. Turks are presented as threatening Bulgarian
      politics, as Islamist activists, preparing a massacre in Bulgaria. Besides
      Turks and Roma, new religious groups (e.g. Evangelicals, Scientologists,
      etc.) are demonized and attacked for conspiring against the state, for
      orgies, or for producing "Janissaries" (i.e. traitors).

      In Romania, Hungarians and Roma are the main objects of stereotypical
      characterizations and hate speech. Apart from that there is also pronounced
      anti-Semitism and religious intolerance towards Islam. Romanian media try
      to terrorize public opinion, in order to make it feel threatened by these
      minorities. Hungarian nationalists, for example, are presented as people
      who destroy Orthodox churches and Romanian schools. Roma, similarly to the
      case in Bulgaria, are receptors of negative characterizations that border
      on racism. They are labeled "criminals," "dirty," "lazy," "thieves,"
      "niggers." They are accused of committing all kinds of crimes, regardless
      of the lack of evidence. The perpetuation of stereotypes about Jews, which
      was typical of the communist period, is still frequent in Romanian media.
      The dominant position of the Orthodox religion, on the other hand, leaves
      little room for tolerance towards other religious denominations like the
      Muslims, who are presented as "a threat to Christianity." Besides
      Albanians, other religious and ethnic minorities are the victims of hate
      speech in Serbian media. The press presents other ethnic communities in
      these lands as "undesirable" and "redundant." In Bosnia-Herzegovina, things
      are more complex, depending on who rules the media outlet in question.
      Thus, Serbian media are full of stereotypes and hate speech against
      Bosniaks, Muslims and Croats; Bosnian media - against Croats, Serbs,
      Catholicism and Orthodoxy; Croat media - against Serbs, Bosniaks and Muslims.

      Albanians are the minority mostly attacked in Macedonian media. Muslims and
      Roma follow. In Croatia, Serbs are the major target of pejorative
      characterizations and collective generalizations followed by the Muslims.
      Following the arrival of a significant number of Albanian immigrants, Greek
      media produce and reproduce 'Albanophobia.' The hate speech produced by the
      media consequently cultivates more prejudices against Albanian immigrants,
      making coexistence with them even more difficult. Neither the official
      state position in Greece, nor the parties in opposition have ever been
      sympathetic and supportive of immigrants. On the contrary, quite often they
      participated through the media in supporting an almost racist attitude
      towards Albanian immigrants, who are "taking the jobs of Greeks," or who
      "raise the level of criminality in Greece." Greek media use stereotypes and
      hate speech also against religious minorities like Catholics,
      Scientologists and Jehovah's Witnesses. This is in line with the aggressive
      attitude against all other religious denominations, promoted by the
      official Orthodox Church. And last, but not least, in Greece too Roma are
      the object of pejorative characterizations, bordering racist discourse.

      Following the type of stereotyping and hate speech that denies or degrades
      minorities and neighbors, there is another type of negative attacks against
      those who are actively involved in the defense of minorities and the
      representation of their rights. There are three major categories here:
      attacks against minority activists, against NGOs, journalists and
      intellectuals, and against the West. These 'diversity activists' thus
      become victims of stereotyping and hate speech of a very aggressive kind,
      which tries to deny the reasonableness of their positions and actions.

      Minority activists everywhere in the Balkan media are presented as agents
      of foreign countries, who promote separatism and autonomy and who are
      hostile towards the majority. Turkish minority activists are seen as
      "foreign agents of Turkey," while Albanian activists as "following the
      dictates of Tirana." In Romania, Hungarians "follow the dictates of the
      Hungarian State," while Macedonians in Greece are "agents of Skopje."

      Even more interesting are the attacks against NGOs, journalists and
      intellectuals, i.e. the fighters for freedom of expression and respect for
      human rights. These attacks are closely linked to the very low level of
      democratic political culture, which leads to a complete lack of any
      reaction on the part of society in their defense. Thus when NGOs,
      journalists or intellectuals raise their voices for diversity in society,
      when they support minorities or challenge national myths, they themselves
      become victims of stereotyping and hate speech by the media. During
      particular crises, this phenomenon has led to a kind of McCarthyism against
      these people; they have been called collaborators of the nation's enemies.

      Montenegrin media like to be sarcastic about "the low price at which Europe
      gets full obedience from independent media in the region." Helsinki
      Committees are frequent victims of attacks by the media in Albania,
      Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Romania, because "they are spreading lies,"
      "inventing fabrications," "alleging genocide" and "spreading leftist or
      communist ideas." In Albania, during the period of the study, the media
      attacked the Socialists and independent intellectuals many times, accusing
      them of being foreign agents and collaborators of the communist regime.
      Independent journalists and anti-nationalist intellectuals are attacked for
      being "Stalinists, who are ready to make a trade off with the national
      interests of Albania." All NGOs are "ambassadors of Soros," instead of
      ambassadors of Albanian culture.

      A combination of anti-leftist and anti-European attitude is quite common in
      the post-authoritarian regimes that emerged with the fall of communism and
      the collapse of Yugoslavia. Albania and Croatia were the best examples of
      this phenomenon during the period of the media monitoring. On the other
      hand, Greece also presents a very peculiar example. One might have expected
      a more tolerant attitude towards diversity-minded people in a 'traditional
      democracy.' Even though the country has had democratic institutions for a
      few decades, it still lacks the political culture necessary to support them
      and make them genuinely functional. Thus NGOs which dare speak on issues
      sensitive to the 'national interests' are immediately attacked in various
      degrees by the media, while society refuses to raise its voice in their

      Besides local proponents of diversity, Balkan media have no difficulty in
      identifying the origin of evil in the 'societies, which are more tolerant
      to diversity (i.e. the West).' These societies are in turn attacked,
      because their values promote diversity and hence endanger intolerance and
      the ideology of homogeneity that is dominant in the 'otherphobe' cultures
      of the Balkans. It is interesting to recall here the traditional conspiracy
      consciousness so fundamental in the communist ideology. The West is viewed
      as 'Big Brother,' who is the mastermind behind the destiny of the world and
      keeps under control those unable to decide freely what their real interests
      are. On the one hand, this concept presupposes the omnipotence of the West,
      on the other hand, however, it presents also the inability of people to act
      according to their free will.

      Thus in Montenegro the media argue that the international community is
      plotting against Serbs and Montenegrins. The independent Bosnian State is
      presented as a product of the West. Serbian media hold the position that
      "the Vatican conspires against the Orthodox Serbs," that "the USA and
      Germany finance the Ustasha militants," that "the international community
      is plotting to exterminate Serbs, due to a conspiracy masterminded by
      Catholics and Muslims." Romanian media present an image of a Western
      takeover of the country reminiscent of the vocabulary typical of the
      communist period. NATO and the UN are called "Mafia gangs," while the Soros
      foundation - "a sink of sex orgies and criminality." In Croatia, the media
      subscribing fully to the official positions, criticize the West for the
      campaign against the alleged war criminals. There are also references to
      the conspiracy of "international circles," of "the Hungarian Jew Soros" and
      of various other anti-Croatian and anti-Catholic organizations, which are
      "poisoning the youth." Greek media have a predominantly anti-American
      attitude, which, depending on the circumstances, can reach even hysterical
      levels as it did recently during the Kosovo crisis. There are a few
      concepts, which Greek media take for granted: that America is in favor of
      Turkey and Macedonia and that it supports the anti-Orthodox view of the
      West, which led to the attack on Serbia in defense of the Kosovo Muslims
      (called merely 'Albanophones' rather than Albanians). The attack, which the
      West launched on Serbia, is defined as fascist and all Western institutions
      are described as "useless organizations full of crazy politicians and
      militaristic criminals." These were recurrent images during the Sarajevo
      events. The last few weeks of reporting on Kosovo were not only similar in
      this respect. They were even more one-sided. The Greek part of Thrace,
      which is densely populated by Turks -officially known as 'Muslims'- is
      presented as the base of Turkish agents and conspiracies. NATO and Turks
      are presented as "two conspirators against Greek interests," while
      minorities are "mere inventions of human rights organizations and the US
      State Department reports, which are generated by anti-Greek hysteria."

      Stereotyping and sometimes hate speech, however, is not completely absent
      from Western media. On the contrary, one can discover generalizations,
      simplifications, reductions, as well as preconceptions and prejudicial
      remarks by Western media about societies which are not naturally conceived
      to be Western. Even though they are less extreme, they lead quite often to
      negative images and stereotypes. For example, the media in the West have
      never really bothered to carefully examine those they pejoratively called
      "Balkan tribes" and to try and understand the region's history and
      complexity. On the contrary, their simplistic and even deforming views have
      very often contributed to the misunderstanding of Western policy makers who
      then do little proactive work to help the region. The resurgence of
      nationalism in the Balkan region has been observed rather passively. On the
      one hand, it is thought to be grounded in the inevitable return to history
      and to primordial principles, which used to be oppressed during the
      communist era. On the other hand, it is believed that the late construction
      of nation-states makes the (re-)emergence of nationalism a necessary step
      in the transition to modern liberal democratic societies. Thus Western
      media reproduce negative characterizations of the "Balkan tribes" in a very
      rash way, ignoring the profound complexity resulting from the coexistence
      of different communities in the Balkans.4 This logic of leveling and
      simplifying reality in order to rationalize and justify events predominated
      very much in the media coverage of the Kosovo crisis and the NATO air
      strikes against FR Yugoslavia.

      The recent Yugoslav war gave ample examples of "non-reporting diversity" by
      Balkan and Western media alike. The objective, irrespective of the point of
      departure, was how to present a homogeneous reality in which a consensus
      universalis dominated. Those favoring NATO strikes were quick to demonize
      the Serbian people, so as to minimize the importance of "collateral
      damage." Hardly any Western media tried to analyze the attitude of Serbs,
      who have lived for a decade in an authoritarian and recently totalitarian
      regime. Outsiders, having helped shape some forms of grassroots civil
      society, felt that its institutions could be sacrificed as one more
      "collateral damage," due to their alleged impotence to respond to the
      challenges, and thus responsible for keeping the Milosevic regime intact.
      Very few bothered to look at how Hungarians, Bulgarians, Romanians, and
      Roma of Yugoslavia experienced this conflict. Worse, hardly anyone bothered
      to look at how NGOs, which had been striving against all odds to help shape
      civil society, were faring. Minority Rights Group-Greece and Greek Helsinki
      Monitor have a Balkan Human Rights web site5 where they have collected all
      related documents, and a related listserv where they distributed them all.
      They observed how most Western media -with very few exceptions- ignored them.

      For the proponents of the strikes, these NGOs' attitude was disturbing.
      'Good people' had to support the strikes. Therefore, if 'good Serbs'
      opposed them, there was a problem. In the midst of this conflict, where
      reality turned out to be more complex than ideology, these media chose to
      ignore the 'good Serbs,' so that everyone would believe that they simply
      did not exist. If challenged, the same media did even worse. They attacked
      those Serbs as victims of Serb nationalism, or even as accomplices to
      Milosevic's atrocities, drawing the 'legitimate' conclusion that both they
      and their work deserve to be destroyed. As if similar NGOs have done
      "miracles" and have changed societies everywhere else in the Balkans. As if
      outside Yugoslavia, media reported diversity, society imposed tolerance on
      governments, Roma were respected, ethnic cleansing had not happened in
      Croatia and Bosnia, and so on. One could have thus concluded that all
      minorities in the Balkans -Albanians in Macedonia, Greeks in Albania, Turks
      in Greece and Bulgaria, Kurds in Turkey, Hungarians in Romania and
      "Southerners" (i.e. former Yugoslavs) in Slovenia- have had no major
      problems. That Macedonians in Bulgaria and Greece and Bulgarians in
      Macedonia are recognized and their rights respected. And last, but not
      least, that no NGO outside Yugoslavia has ever been affected by the
      nationalist rhetoric in its country.

      Then there are those who opposed the strikes. In many cases, they also
      seemed to oppose diversity too, as they showed little respect for the
      tragedy of the Kosovo Albanians and frequently downplayed the ethnic
      cleansing taking place in Kosovo. The same people did not hesitate to
      systematically undermine the work of NGOs. From Counterpunch and Zmag,
      through the London Review of Books down to most Greek media, NGOs were
      suspected of being NATO's puppets, trying to legitimize the strikes. No
      evidence was ever provided. However, some "secret meetings" at the State
      Department were invented, so as to explain the lack of outright
      condemnation of the strikes by some NGOs, which at the same time insisted
      on paying attention to the violations of the rights of the Kosovo
      Albanians. Of course rarely was it mentioned that the same NGOs also
      insisted on human rights violations by NATO.

      Reporting diversity in ways that could contribute decisively to the
      tolerance and respect of the "other" and enrich one's own culture with new
      elements, is rare in the media both in Europe and in the USA. This holds at
      a varying degree for different media. However, while weakly reporting
      diversity, most of them at least avoid hate speech and blatant
      stereotyping. Other media, including the majority of those in the Balkan
      region, are actively and conscientiously engaged in non-reporting
      diversity, in helping construct uniformity, and in strengthening the forces
      of intolernce dominant in their societies. Thus they are preparing their
      people to fight the next war that may be deemed necessary by the countries'
      leaders. Were not Greeks and Turks ready to kill each other in 1996 for the
      sovereignty of a tiny uninhabited rocky islet, Imia/Kardak? Western
      societies certainly need to reinvent democracy and to rejuvenate their
      institutions to avoid the traps of uni-dimensionality. In the Balkans the
      task is even more primordial. It is a question of establishing democratic
      institutions and developing the political culture, which will make them
      genuinely functional and defend them from intolerance, nationalism, and
      extremism of all kinds.

      Journalists should not be looked at independently of the totality of
      relations and dependencies in which they are involved in a particular
      society. From that point of view, just like any other citizen, they have to
      choose what kind of society they want to live in and they have to decide
      how they are going to enjoy the rights and duties they have. There are some
      journalists in the Balkans, who manage to step outside the national
      hysteria and fight persistently in defense of alternative journalism, which
      respects diversity, promotes communication between various communities,
      engages in anti-nationalist dialogue and promotes tolerance of 'otherness.'
      There is an example of this in Macedonia. Journalists from both the
      Macedonian and the Albanian communities participate together in a common
      project tearing down the walls that erect parallel societies and
      constructing avenues on which they walk together acknowledging diversity
      and respecting each others rights. They have produced many articles,
      programs, etc.6 Journalists enjoy a privilege, which they can exploit, in
      spite of the personal cost it may involve. They have a 'public space' at
      their disposal, where they can make visible another world, another way of
      thinking that promotes dialogue and undermines extremism and intolerance.
      This is what the above project succeeded in doing and certainly many such
      similar projects are possible and necessary throughout the Balkans.
      Projects that educate the public but also educate journalists themselves to
      view reality as a rainbow rather than as a nutshell.

      1 See Mark Thompson (1994) Forging War: The Media in Serbia, Croatia and
      Bosnia-Hercegovina (London: Article 19)

      2 Lenkova, Mariana, (ed.) (1998), "Hate Speech" in the Balkans, (Athens:
      IHF/ETEPE). Unless otherwise mentioned, all references to hate speech here
      cover the 1995-1996 period and come from that book.

      3 Secretary General for the Youth Petros Sfikakis, quoted, in a supporting
      way, by Eleftherotypia, as recently as the 21st of June 1999.

      4 Rupnik, Jacques, (ed) (1995) Le Dechirement des Nations, (Paris: Seuil)


      6 See Anthony Borden & Ibrahim Mehmeti (eds.) (1998) Reporting Macedonia:
      the New Accommodation (London and Skopje: Institute for War and Peace
      Reporting & Search for Common Ground)

      Florian Bieber
      Alsoerdosor utca 3
      H-1076 Budapest


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