Monday, 04 July 2011 16:37

Young journalists gather in Macedonia to discuss European online reporting

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Photo: Carmen Kong

Invited by the European Youth Press Network, the biggest youth media organisation in Europe, E&M is attending "Integration Europe Online", a one-week training workshop organised by FEJS Macedonia (soon to be renamed as Mladiinfo), a non-profit independent organisation that promotes civil engagement and fosters professional journalism among young Europeans.

These sunny July summer days brought together around 40 young journalists from more than 20 countries, to discuss and share their experience and visions of reporting in Europe. Coming from Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbian, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and, of course, Macedonia, the conversations are truly transnational.

Participants arrived at Ohrid, the hosting city, mostly with no or little knowledge of this country with a population of around two million. Frankly, many of us, including myself, even had embarrassingly little knowledge of this part of Europe.

Unknown facts about macedonia

  • Macedonia was the first country to which European troops were sent in 2003. 
  • The currency of Macedonia is called Denar
  • Macedonia shares the same time zone with Central Europe

Located on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, Ohrid provides the perfect hot summer weather for even hotter debates and discussions among these Europeans. On the first day of our training, journalists were given insights into the structures of the European Union, its defence and its economic successes and failures. But it did not stop there; it is the morning swims in the Ohrid lake and the late night chatting, with the live broadcast of Wladimir Klitschko and Haye at the background, that truly reveal the European spirit and cultural exchange that we all came for.

Sipping from a bottle of Skopsko, the regional beer from the Macedonian capital Skopje, two Macedonian and Slovenian journalists fascinated me with their Croatian-Serbian conversation. When asked more about their common history and culture under the Yugoslavian era, they disclosed the nostalgia for communism that existed in their countries about. (More in-depth interviews will come later in the week)

Every day, this multi-ethnic, multicultural former Yugoslavian country surrounds its visitors with music and history. Whether it is Baltic music or Shakira and Beyonce, Macedonia is a country of liveliness and rhythms. It is also a living example of how religious diversity can truly co-exist in harmony and with respect.

Walking around Ohrid at night, the most prominent landmark that guided our way was an illuminated cross on the top of a mountain, reminding us of the majority Orthodox Christian population in Macedonia. But during the day, the call for prayers broadcast at the bazaar also demonstrated the freedom of religious practice in this country. Both Orthodox Christians and Muslims feel equally Macedonian. To some, this is a more successful example of diversity than many seen in more "developed countries" in Europe.

Last modified on Saturday, 09 July 2011 02:35

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