BRUSSELS, 23 October 2006 - The relationship between journalism and politics, media laws, investigative reporting, and the role of the media in a democratic society will be the focus of a training course organized by the OSCE Belgian Chairmanship in Brussels this week, the OSCE press release out on Monday says.

The four-day event will bring together journalists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Tajikistan and Ukraine. They will meet journalists and editors of Belgian media outlets, including De Standaard and Le Soir, visit the headquarters of the Belgian French language TV and Radio channel RTBF, and the Belgian Dutch language TV and Radio channel VRT.

"This 'twinning' of journalists and media organizations will help them share their expertise and skills and foster contacts," said the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, who will be meeting the group of journalists.

"The cornerstone of any democratic society is a free and well-developed media. The media are also an essential instrument for ensuring democratic transparency and accountability, both in established democracies and societies in the process of democratization."

The visiting journalists will also attend a news conference at the European Commission, and meet representatives of the Belgian Union of Professional Journalists, the external communication department of the prime minister's chancellery, the International Federation of Journalists and the International Press Centre.

"There is still a lack of proper media training and media resources in some of the 56 OSCE participating States. The lack of professionalism can make media members and outlets more vulnerable to interference and pressure. Better prepared journalists can help defend the values of peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding, thus playing an objective role in conflict prevention, management and resolution," added Minister De Gucht.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, whose Office provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments, will speak to the journalists about the role of the media in a democratic society.


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