Introduction 2012 - Gerhard Pfanzelter

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The Central European Initiative (CEI) based in Trieste is the oldest and largest regional organisation in Europe. Established in 1989, over the years the CEI has offered a valuable framework to foster cooperation among its 18 Member States. Oriented towards policy dialogue, the CEI also has economic growth and human development as pillars of cooperation. Our core mission is regional cooperation for European integration: this goal is pursued through a blend of multilateral diplomacy and project-management. Moreover, the CEI is in a unique position to act as a bridge between macro-regions, such as the Baltic, Danube, Adriatic and Black Sea Regions.

Freedom of expression and of the media is one of the fundamental elements of our democracies and the European Union. Accurate, reliable information is vital in our societies, especially in the phase undergoing political and economic transformation. This is why the CEI is highly committed to promote activities and projects in the field of information and media.

Through our Cooperation Fund – the multilateral fund financed by our 18 Member States - 76 cooperation activities in the field of media have been approved in the period 2002-2012 for a total contribution of about 822.801 EUR.

Our commitment is complemented by the remarkable cooperation with the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) which also includes other relevant partners, such as the International Media Centre (IMC) and the South East Europe PR Organisation (SECEPRO).

In this framework, the CEI supports the South East and Central Europe Media Handbook, which represents a unique instrument not only as a comprehensive database of media organizations and institutions, but also as a source of objective information about media legislation, media ownership and minority media.

Moreover, the CEI promotes the Award for Outstanding Merits in Journalism, which so far has been focused on investigative reporting. The Award is meant to recognise the work of journalists who excel in objective reporting despite the difficult conditions under which they often have to operate.

A further concrete contribution of the CEI is the involvement in the South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF) which has become one of the CEI flagship events in the field of media. After the successful editions of Budapest (2010) and Belgrade (2011) this year the CEI is one of the main partners of the Forum in Budva/Montenegro focusing on “Journalism, New Media and Social Networks”.

There is still some way to go for non-EU Member States in order to come closer to EU standards in terms of media legislation, digitalization, public broadcasting service, free movement of journalists. This is why we are very much committed to continue with our efforts to contribute to protecting and enhancing the freedom of the media.



Ambassador Gerhard Pfanzelter
Secretary General
Central European Initiative (CEI)