European Federation of Journalists

President’s speech at the EFJ Annual Meeting 2024 in Prishtina

Credits: EFJ

Speech by Maja Sever (EFJ President) on 23 May 2024.

Dear colleagues, I am glad that we gathered here in Prishtina. 

Thank you to our AGK for hosting us, and I believe that we will send a message about the importance of protecting the independent, professional, and safe work of the media community in this part of Europe as well.

It’s been a difficult year. Times are tough and might get even tougher. But we’re all here because we refuse to give up. We believe in journalism and democracy, and we won’t back down from our fight.

Our colleagues are losing their lives in wars. We strive to help, support, and practical aid. We raise awareness globally about the peril our colleagues face because they courageously uphold the truth. More than 140 journalists died in Gaza. With respect to them, and to the colleagues who died in Ukraine, I believe that we are united in our desire for peace to reign in those countries as soon as possible. 

I welcome here my colleagues from Ukraine and Afghanistan who had to go into exile, and I thank the locals for providing a safe place for these people.

Statistics reveal that our work remains unsafe even in regions unaffected by war. As part of the MFRR project in 2023 and 2024, we issued over 1,500 warnings to the platform that monitors media freedom violations. Since May 2023, the EFJ has co-signed 201 alerts for the European Platform for the Protection of Journalism Council, highlighting 5 instances of impunity in journalist murders.

I don’t think there’s a single journalist who hasn’t encountered online insults and threats. On top of that, we grapple with fighting misinformation, political pressures, market challenges, and the difficulties posed by the increased use of AI. Being a journalist today is no easy task. However, that’s precisely why we’re here—to support one another and defend journalism.

In Kosovo, we support the important work our affiliate, AGK does in promoting the professional and open journalism of journalists and other media workers here. We stan din solidarity with you, as you continue unacceptable pressure and intimidation coming often from the people in the higher offices. This should stop, and the Government and other institutions in Kosovo should create an environment in which journalists are free to do their important work in the public interest. 

The principles of openness and inclusiveness guided me to navigate obstacles while organizing this assembly and extend a helping hand above daily politics in this region.  It’s not always easy, but just as we begin each day with the resolve not to give up, I will emphasize from this stage that we are journalists and unionists united by the desire and determination to champion independent, professional journalism. We transcend politics and will continue to do so. Let’s remain fair and strong in our solidarity. We will need it in the times ahead the EU has made significant improvements in legislation to establish a safer environment for journalism. This has been achieved through the implementation of new regulations, including the Copyright Directive, the Digital Services Act, the Artificial Intelligence Act, the Anti-SLAPP Directive, and the European Media Freedom Act. Additionally, the EU has provided funding for various journalism-related projects. Our responsibility is to ensure the effective application of these laws and to encourage the EU to remain steadfast in this direction. Let our message resound: Stand up for journalism as a public good!

We released the manifesto titled “Stand Up for Journalism as a Public Good.” The manifesto aims to raise awareness about the critical importance of defending the rule of law, media freedom, and media pluralism. We invite future EU policymakers to champion journalism and journalists. I encourage you to download the manifesto and take action within your communities. Let’s make sure those politicians hear us loud and clear!

In the times ahead, solidarity and joint work are crucial, that’s why we dedicated the year to work on bridging bridges.

Finally, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the EFJ, our communication team has introduced a new logo. Designed with a modern and fresh look, it aims to better represent the diversity of our organisation. This logo symbolises openness to the world and underscores the vital role of fellow journalists in illuminating what some seek to conceal.