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Free media and freedom of expression in Macedonia

The International Institute of Human Rights and Peace in Caen, partner in the Decentralised Cooperation Lower Normandy/Macedonia, together with the Embassy of France in Skopje, dedicated two working days this February where the freedom of expression and media in Macedonia were analyzed.
The first day, on February 26, 2014, was reserved for round tables and debate with French and Macedonian experts in the field of law and journalism. Together with the public, mainly consisted of journalists and experts that work in this domain, the experts cross-referenced the freedom of expression and the media in Macedonia and in France, from the legal practice point of view.
French experts from the organization Reporters without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières), addressed the public demonstrating the methodology for their latest 2014 World Press Freedom Index. According to their results, Macedonia was on the low 123rd place, marking an enormous decline of 84 positions, comparing to 4 years ago. Throughout the presentation it was evident that one the Macedonian journalists are facing an auto censorship, which is unacceptable for an EU candidate country. Together with the current situation in the society, the high penalties for journalists, and the resent litigation of one Macedonian journalist, the reasons piled up and opened hot debates with the public. Comparing to the French media, “which is far from perfect” as the French experts stated, Macedonia is very far from the freedom of speech that can be acceptable in the European society.  
This debate, as an introduction to today’s conference, tackled even more issues in this domain, where jurists, professors and law students discussed the situation in both territories. This is a third conference held in the framework of Franco-Macedonian Comparative Law, held in the facilities of the Faculty of Law in Skopje. The debate opened some new points of view regarding the freedom of speech and media, comparing the two territories, but also other democratic societies throughout history. The evolution of the free thought and free speech, and how it’s reflecting itself today is very different in France and in Macedonia. The debates were growing around the question of how to ensure and develop the freedom of expression, how to maintain it, and how to avoid the hate speech on all levels. From a legal point of view, even though regulated by decrees and laws, the thin line can and is easily crossed. The media and the information are influenced by society and politics, as well as the technology via its social networking tools, online as well as offline. From there one question remains: how to ensure and develop the freedom in question, as a fundamental right of every human being.
Both conferences were opened by Mrs. Karen Rochet, Advisor at the French Embassy in Macedonia and Mr. Sebastien Botreau Bonneterre, Director of the International Institute for Human Rights and Peace in Caen, as well as Mr. Borce Davitkovski, the Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Law in Skopje. For more details on the discussed topics, speakers and experts, please consult the website of the International Institute of Human Rights and Peace in Caen.
The International Institute of Human Rights and Peace in Caen is partner of the Decentralised Cooperation between Lower Normandy and Macedonia, coordinated by ALDA. For more information about the Human Rights and other cooperation components within the framework of Lower Normandy / Macedonia, please consult the website of the cooperation.


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