Launched in March 2020 in spite of the difficult situation, the Kyrgyzstan-based Media Dialogue project is relentlessly proceeding with its implementation; July 3rd 2020 marked another crucial step towards the project goals, as an online event was organized to officially sign grant agreements with the four pre-selected grant winners, i.e.
Beating 23 other applications that ALDA had received as part of the call for proposals it launched in April, in fact, each of these four finalist organizations will now receive up to 30,000 euro, as stipulated with this official signing of the grant agreements.
“We are glad that we started to explore the region with Kyrgyzstan because, despite all the recent challenges, it remains one of the most democratic country in this part of the world”, stated ALDA Secretary General Antonella Valmorbida referring to the project being the first for ALDA in Central Asia. Indeed, in the past few years Kyrgyzstan experienced a good amount of political turmoil, going through revolutions in 2005 and 2010 that led to changes in the country’s leadership and to ethnic violence in the south, eventually culminating in a constitutional referendum in 2010 that reduced presidential powers and established a parliamentary system.
As expressed by Eastern Partnership & Central Asia Coordinator Alexandru Coica, « It is truly inspiring for us to see such interest [the 27 applications for the grants] because we know how challenging the current situation is for media institutions. Apart from the global pandemic situation, the local media are also affected by recent legislative initiatives that tend to negatively affect freedom of expression, access to information and media independence« .
Indeed, Media Dialogue effectively wants to provide conflict prevention and mitigation tools ahead of the 2020 elections to avoid the repetition of past crises, and aims to do so by strengthening the capacity and responsibility of media actors to operate as drivers of democracy. To reach this goal, on the one hand the project wants to improve the legal environment affecting the media sector in Kyrgyzstan, so that the environment abides by international freedom of expression standards; on the other hand, it will help media actors play a stabilisation role as reliable relays of information and democratic watchdogs during the 2020 electoral cycle.
Hopefully, Dr. Valmorbida added, this will be just the beginning of a fruitful cooperation with an increasing number of local partners: “ALDA is interested not only in establishing working relationships with its grantees, but also a truly constructive and long-term partnership”. Best of luck, Media Dialogue!