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Since its establishment, TCJE has provided independent and detailed coverage of national and local elections in Albania.

Experts concerned Macron proposal will hurt Western Balkans’ EU membership bids

TIRANA, May 12, 2022 – A proposal by French President Emmanuel Macron to build a new political community of non-EU members around the bloc is raising red flags in the Western Balkans, where there are concerns the new organization could be used as an alternative to full membership.  Macron said Monday that rather than bringing down stringent standards to allow countries to join more quickly, a parallel entity could be built for democratic former Soviet states, the Western Balkans and the likes of the United Kingdom, which voted to leave the EU. “It is our historic obligation … to create what I would describe before you today as a European political community,” Macron said. “This new European organization would allow democratic European nations … to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, the movement of people.” But in the Western Balkan states, which were promised full membership two decades ago and have been waiting patiently and implementing tough reforms with the aim of full membership in the EU, Macron’s proposal is likely not seen as positive.  Albert Rakipi, chairman of the Albanian Institute for International Studies, said he believes that the governments of the Western Balkans should reject Macron’s idea.  “I see this idea as surprising and hard to explain at a time when we were expecting deep reflection following Russia’s aggression in Ukraine — an EU that would be more united in its foreign policy offering concrete enlargement steps in the Western Balkans,” Rakipi told Tirana Times.  He added that the EU integration has been for the countries of the Western Balkans a state-building project striving for good governance and democratic societies.  “To give up now on the EU’s enlargement policies means abandoning these countries’ European integration process and the state building process that goes with it. And this is being done in a time when insecurity and populism are on the rise as is a trend of more authoritarianism in the region,” Rakipi added.  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has radically changed the narrative and positions within the EU. It has become clear that the EU, if it wants to survive and become a geostrategic player, must embark on a path of federalization that is on deeper integration, according to Sonja Biserko of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. “At the same time, the EU policy towards the Western Balkans has emerged once again inconsistent. Blocking the EU enlargement will have dire consequences on the Balkans. Western Balkans must be protected from the malign Russian influence and helped to finally build their future within the EU,” Biserko told Tirana Times. For Genc Pollo, a former Albanian member of parliament who previously led Albania’s national EU integration council, the proposal is not helpful for the Western Balkans.  “The hope with the EU integration process was that its transformational impact would help post-communist applicant countries consolidate the rule of law, democracy, human freedoms and a market economy. The record here is mixed. The debate has been increasingly geopolitical and less value centric,” Pollo told Tirana Times. “Not a positive development. Now if the aim is to create a non-Atlantic NATO light without necessarily requiring the EU standards this would be a further step in that unhelpful development.” Bodo Weber, a Balkans expert and senior associate of the Democratization Policy Council in Berlin, sees the idea presented by the French president more as a tendency to stifle the enlargement process. “I think what he [Emmanuel Macron] is proposing here in principle, [is] an alternative to the EU enlargement process even though he has avoided saying that. He is ready to find a format that would eliminate the issue of EU enlargement,” Weber told RFE. Weber said it is clear that within the EU countries there are major disagreements regarding the further enlargement of the bloc. Toby Vogel, an analyst and expert on the EU and the Western Balkans based in Brussels, believes that President Macron’s idea will not be supported by the bloc countries. In addition to describing the proposal as vague and very vague, Vogel says that Macron through this idea reveals the opposition he has in relation to the membership of new states in the EU. “It is clear that [EU] enlargement is not going anywhere, certainly not for the Western Balkans, and one of the reasons for that is President [Emmanuel] Macron. He was the one who blocked, for example, the opening of membership negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania,” Vogel told RFE. There hasn’t been any official reaction by regional governments yet, but with all six states in varying degrees of seeking full EU membership, it is unlikely the plan will be looked at favorably. Inside the EU, proponents of enlargement are also likely not to want it to be a primary option for the Western Balkans, but the stance of large countries like Germany will also be very important.  German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed the matter in a meeting with Macron, calling it “a very interesting proposal for dealing with the big challenge we face.” But he said the EU shouldn’t stop pursuing the accession processes for those countries where it has already begun, citing as an example North Macedonia, whose leaders had taken “very brave” decisions in recent years. “We should find a way that this bravery isn’t disappointed,” Scholz said.

What happened to European values?

“You have your principles, we have structural funds” – whose words are these? They were uttered by the French president François Hollande in 2017. From his perspective, the “you” referred to the new EU members states from Central and Eastern Europe, whereas the “we” stood for the countries of the so-called Old Europe. Fateful words indeed. It is worth recalling that they were said in the context of the preamble to the Lisbon Treaty and the hundreds of statements made by western politicians about “European values” supposedly defended by the countries of “Old Europe” against the new member states. Hollande’s words have been borne out recently by the war in Ukraine as the leaders of “Old Europe” have shown more concern for their money than for the EU’s founding principles, while the countries of NATO’s eastern flank, aware of what is at stake for Europe, have called for solidarity, justice, common security and genuine care for those in need. Russia’s barbaric aggression against Ukraine threw the practice of implementing “European values” in the EU into sharp relief. Let’s take a closer look at the values in question as they are rarely mentioned by name. The recurrent themes in EU discussions are freedom, democracy, fighting discrimination and combating exclusion. Lately, however, it has been more pressing to curb discrimination of male individuals who want to win at women’s sports events and use female toilets. It was more important to ensure the freedom to talk gibberish about human nature not to discriminate against “any views” as guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The view that there is truth, good and justice or even that there is reality rather than its multiple narratives has often been pigeonholed as “fascism”, in line with communist nomenclature, and considered not worth defending. How do these values look in the light of the recent demonstration of Russian pride on the streets of Berlin? Those Russians who live in Germany, and are thus not subject to Putin’s terror, did not think it right and proper to condemn the crimes committed by the Kremlin. Instead they followed the ideology of “non-discrimination” to defend their imperial pride manifested by the hundreds of people who were raped and horrendously murdered in Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin. Was no one bothered by this? Inspired by Isaiah Berlin, Western Europe seems to take it for granted that freedom should not be used to pursue a higher purpose lest that purpose becomes an obligation and a threat to freedom. Inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche, the sophisticated representatives of the West have positioned themselves in a strange place “beyond good and evil”. It it really so comfortable and safe out there? After all, it is the domicile of wrong-doers and criminals such as Putin and his clique. Who in today’s Europe believes that good, evil, truth and justice really exist and require sacrifice; that there is a price to pay for comfort and freedom; that freedom without responsibility is pointless anarchy? Finally, who in the EU has spoken up for common sense, respect for natural law, truth and justice? Were these not mainly the politicians of Central and Eastern Europe, who have been accused of “fascism” and having links to Putin? Who has provided the most funding to Putin’s Russa? Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia? To give the correct answer, we would have to point at people driven by their own financial and political interests for whom European values are so many empty words. I will spare the reader the long list of western politicians. Suffice it to say that when you violate principles with an eye for the main chance, you may lose both your good name and the chance. The dilemma is well-known from European history. It was mentioned by Winston Churchill in his comment about Neville Chamberlain’s efforts to “save peace” on the eve of WW2.  A lot had to change for things to remain the same. The providers of huge funds feeding Putin’s war machine still lecture Poland on the rule of law and pretend to see no difference between the defence against the migrants invading the EU from Belarus and the help offered to Ukrainian refugees.  The text is simultaneously published in the Polish monthly “Wszystko Co Najważniejsze” as part of a project carried out with the Poland’s central bank (Narodowy Bank Polski) and the Institute of National Remembrance.

Si të raportojmë për fenë?- Manual Gazetarie

 Një nga botimet më të rendësishme të Tirana Center for Journalism Excellence, një ndihmese e shkëlqyer për cdo gazetar apo student gazetarie që dëshiron të kuptojë dhe mësojë se si duhet raportuar feja në media, pa bërë gabime në terminologji dhe pa prekur ndjeshmëritë e publikut me raportime të pasakta. Botimi është realizuar me ndihmën financiare të Ambasadës së SHBA në Tiranë. One of the most important publications of Tirana Center for Journalistic Excellence, an excellent help for any journalist or journalism student who wishes to understand and learn how to report religion matters in media, without making mistakes in terminology and without affecting the sensibilities of the public with incorrect report. The publication was made possible with the financial support of the US Embassy in Tirana.

“Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation- Sixth lesson Dr. Arian Starova

On January 29, Tirana Centre for Journalistic Excellence (TCJE) organized with the local journalist and the journalism students the sixth and the last lesson, in the framework of the project: “Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation”. The guest in this lesson was Dr. Arian Starova. He has served as former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Deputy Minister of Defense. From July 2002, he has also served as President of the Atlantic Council of Albania. The topic of Saturday’s lesson was about the Security in the Eastern Europe. He explained to the students about security as a concept, what can threat a state’s security and which international organization deals with security issues. Dr. Starova along with the students had a discussion about a current topic such as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. He informed the students how all this conflict started and how this case can be a threat to international security. Another discussion was held about the situation of Serbia and Kosovo and it was discussed with all the participants about what these two situations might have in common.

“Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation- Fifth lesson with the journalist Zylyftar Bregu

Last Saturday, on January 22, Tirana Centre for Journalism Excellence (TCJE) organized the fifth lesson was with local journalist and journalism students in the framework of the project: “Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation”. The guest was professor Zylyftar Bregu. Along with the students, a discussion was held regarding the topics that each student will chose for its own article. The topics are going to be related with the European Integration as a phenomenon. The article must have a critical approach and students were advised to view the 35 negotiating chapters of the European Commission in order to better understand what European Integration is and how they can incorporate this process within their article. The timeline of the research and writing the article is from February until March 2022.

“Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation- Fourth lesson with the journalist Erisa Zykaj

On January 08, Tirana Centre for Journalistic Excellence (TCJE) organized the fourth lesson with the journalism students in the framework of the project: “Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation”. The guest in this lesson was the journalist Erisa Zykaj. She serves as a correspondent in Brussels by reporting the latest news and events, and cooperates with Klan and ABC News televisions since 2010. Zykaj is an expert regarding European Union affairs. Together with the participants it was discussed what is European Integration and the importance of the Albanian’s integration in EU. It is crucial for Albania to be integrated in EU in order to achieve European standards in fields such as economy, politics and society.

“Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation” Project- Third lesson with Prof. Dr. Ksenofon Krisafi

On December 18, Tirana Centre for Journalistic Excellence (TCJE) organized the third lesson with the journalism students the framework of the project: “Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation”. The guest honor in this lesson was Prof. Dr. Ksenofon Krisafi. He has served as the ambassador of Albania at the international organizations in Geneva, has served as secretary general at the Council of Ministers and currently Mr. Krisafi is the Dean of Faculty of Law and International Relations at the Mediterranean University in Tirana. During Saturday’s lecture, participants were explained what international law is and what international organizations are. For a clearer illustration of these terms examples were taken from the history of Albania.

“Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation” Project- Second lesson with Ms. Kejsi Rizo

On December 11, Tirana Centre for Journalistic Excellence (TCJE) organized the second lesson with the journalism students, young journalists and local journalists in the framework of the project: “Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation”. The guest honor in this lesson was Ms. Kejsi Rizo. She is part of The People’s Advocate office. Also, Ms. Rizo is an expert of the human rights, minorities and the European legislation. The main goal of Saturday’s lesson was to introduce to the participants a detailed information regarding human rights and to explain to them how this topic is going to be in close relation with their future work. During the lesson, discussions were held on current events in Albania in which human rights have been violated.

“Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation” Project- First lesson with the Ambassador Mr. Valter Ibrahimi and journalism students, young journalists and local journalists.

In the framework of the project: “Better- Informed Journalists, Better Journalism, Less Disinformation”, financed from the “Balkan Trust for Democracy”, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tirana Centre for Journalistic Excellence (TCJE) organized on Saturday, December 04, the first lesson with the journalism students, young journalists and local journalists. The guest of honor was the Ambassador Mr. Valter Ibrahimi, who has also served as a Diplomatic Adviser at the Office of the Albanian President. The lesson was about Introduction to European Integration where students were shown a history of Albania’s relations with the European Union, as well as the attempts made by Albania to be part of the Union.

Plagjatura në Universitetet Shqiptare – Një Investigim

Në kuadër të projektit “Arsimi në Shqipëri: Rrënjët e krizës” të financuar nga Rrjeti Investigativ i Shqipërisë, Tirana Centre for Journalistic Excellence ka prodhuar një dokumentar investigues mbi tematikën e plagjaturës në sistemin arsimor shqiptar. Dokumentari i shkurtër “Plagjatura në Universitetet Shqiptare” synon të depërtojë në përdorimin, ose mospërdorimin, të platformës së parë në vend për identifikimin e plagjaturës nga institucionet e edukimit të lartë në Shqipëri. Nevoja për një platormë të tillë u theksua gjatë protestës së studentëve në fundin e vitit 2018 dhe masat kundër plagjaturës ishin një prej kërkesave të studentëve në Paktin për Universitetin. Sipas investigimeve, nga 3,500 punime doktorature në total, vetem 312 prej tyre u publikuan në portal, për t’u përdorur më pas vetem nga dy universitete nga 12 në vend. Një vit pas nënshkrimit të kontratës për përdorimin e platformës anti-plagjaturë, mund të themi me bindje se projekti ka qenë një dështim.

Plagiarism in Albanian Universities – An Investigation

In the framework of the “Education in Albania: The Roots of the Crisis” funded by the Investigative Network Albania, Tirana Centre for Journalism Excellence (TCJE) has produced an investigative documentary on the topic of plagiarism in the Albanian education system. The short documentary “Plagiarism in Albanian Universities” aims to bring a closer look into the use, or lack of thereof, of the first anti-plagiarism platform in the country by the Albanian higher education institutions. The need for such a platform was emphasized during the students’ protest in late 2018 and measures on plagiarism were one of the demands of the students as part of the Pact for the University. According to the investigations, out of 3,500 doctoral theses, only 312 of them were uploaded in the portal, to be used by only two universities out of 12 in the country. One year after the beginning of the contract for the use of the anti-plagiarism platform, it is safe to say that the project has been a failure.

Journalism School of NATO and Security Studies – Video

A video about Journalism School of NATO and Security Studies.

Journalism School of NATO and Security Studies

Here you will find all podcasts of the lessons held during Journalism School of NATO and Security Studies.

Meeting with journalists in Shkodra

Tirana Center for Excellent Journalism (TCJE) organized in Shkodra, in the youth center Arka, on October 7, a meeting with journalists from RTSH Shkodra, as part of the project entitled ” Development of critical thinking towards the Albanian media ”

Journalism School of Nato and Security Studies

Intro video of Journalism School of NATO and Security Studies.

Call for applications: School of Security and NATO Studies

Are you a journalist or studying to become one? Are you looking to pursue a career in international relations or security studies? If yes, then you can apply to the Online “School of Security and NATO studies” organized by Tirana Centre for Journalistic Excellence (TCJE), with the financial support of NATO. The ‘School of Security and NATO studies’ will be held in October-November 2020 and the lectures will be conducted in Albanian. With a growing interest of news about Albania as part of NATO and security issues in general, the School aims to provide the participants with thorough knowledge on topics related to NATO’s history and Albania’s role in it, as well as security challenges Albania is faced with; terrorism and violent extremism in Albania and the region and media’s role in reporting and fighting it. Through ten thematic interactive sessions, the participants will discuss the future of NATO in light of potential security challenges, the return of geopolitics in the Balkans as well as cyber security.   Eligibility Undergraduate students who are enrolled in the 1st semester or higher when applying, Master or PhD students and young graduates from the Journalism Department are eligible to apply. Candidates’ field of studies should have a focus on journalism, international relations and diplomacy or political studies. The applicants should be older than 19 years when applying. A very good command of Albanian is required. English is an asset. How to apply? All interested candidates are requested to apply by filling in this application form. Deadline for applications: October 9th 2020

School of Security and NATO studies

TCJE with the financial support of NATO will organize a ‘’School of Security and NATO studies’’ in October-November 2020.

Prof. Dr. Gjergj Sinani was the keynote speaker to the second seminar on reporting of religious topics

On Thursday, July 2, TCJE held a second seminar with Albanian journalism students and Prof. Dr. Gjergj Sinani on “Religion and Media”. Prof. Dr. Sinani spoke about the history of religion as well as its philosophical roots, and how they can be applicable to religion reporting in the media today.

Students of journalism attend the TCJE training on “Religion and the Media”

TCJE brought together journalism students in Albania to discuss “Religion and the Media”, in the framework of “Strengthening the capacity of media professionals to reduce the threat of radicalization through the use of reflective journalism.” Students spoke of their own experiences and ideas on the situation of religion reporting in the Albanian media. 

Religion and Media Seminar held in Tirana with Prof. Dr. Përparim Kabo as keynote speaker

On Wednesday, June 10th TCJE held a second seminar with Albanian journalists and keynote speaker Prof. Dr. Përparim Kabo to discuss how religion is currently being reported in the media. Journalists and Prof. Dr. Kabo exchanged ideas and suggestions on the improvement of the current situation.  

Food Safety Investigation: can we trust what we eat?”

Food Safety Investigations: Can we trust what we eat? TCJE is training a group of Albanian journalists to report on food safety issues. (With funding from the U.S. Embassy in Tirana.)

Enabling critical thinking towards the Albanian media landscape

Using the profit accumulator is one such way, and you should understand why it increases your chances of the profits.

Strengthening the capacity of media professionals

The middle part is called the emotional, brain-controlled feeling. The outer part controls logical reasoning.

Elections 2017: Seven things to keep in mind as Albanians head to the polls

They play a role in making operations more seamless, bridging the gap between authorities, consumers and businesses.

Why foreign policy is missing from Albania’s electoral campaign

It is understandable that in a small country like Albania foreign policy is not going to get much attention on the campaign trail.