Minutes of AEJ General Assembly, Vonitsa, Greece, Saturday December 1st
Outgoing President, Otmar Lahodynsky opened the Assembly by welcoming all the delegates and thanking our Greek hosts for organising the Congress in Agrinio. Before the business of the meeting got underway he invited the Romanian delegation to mark their national day – Great Union Day – which commemorates the unification of the Romanian provinces on Dec 1st. 1918.
Status of Sections …Prior to the Assembly there had been some disquiet about the status of the Greek section, now known as ‘AEJ for Independence and Transparency’ with respect to Paragraph 4 of the AEJ Statutes … ‘each country has a single AEJ section’ . This had led to an exchange of letters and e-mails and a series of discussions. At the Assembly, Greek Section President Saia Tsaousidou, read a letter from former President Athanase Papandropoulos, in which he outlined the reasons for the changes. The law in Greece concerning Not for Profit Organisations means that since he is now retired he can no longer be the legal representative of the section, thus necessitating the change. Saia then informed the Assembly that a new board of 7 younger members was elected in early November and was now ready to progress the work of the section. In the absence of further queries or objections by delegates, the matter was treated as resolved.
It was with great pleasure that the Assembly welcomed Kyriakos Pierides and Hasan Kahvecoglu from Cyprus, (Greek and Turkish sides respectively) as a returning section and invited guests of the Association. Both told delegates that conditions in Cyprus had improved, peace-journalism was being promoted, the Turkish (Cypriot) section was again active and better co-operation was giving them the chance to re-build the section. They also thanked Athanase, Saia and William Horsley for their continued support and encouragement.
Albanian journalist Arbet Hitaj was also invited to the Assembly as a guest of the Association and he outlined moves in his country to form a section … he spoke of the many challenges facing journalists in Albania, said there were two journalists’ unions but that neither had links with European organisations and were anxious to join the AEJ. More than 80% of the population is in favour of the EU, though they don’t know too much about it.
On a practical level 5 journalists have applied to register the AEJ in Albania and are awaiting registration, there was no indication of a timeline for this or when a board might be formed.
Tally of votes .. Outgoing Secretary General Tibor Macak outlined the number of votes in play for the election of the officers of the board. The list provided by Treasurer Luigi Cobisi talked of 50 votes but concerns were raised about a proxy vote held on behalf of Ukraine …. Ukraine is exempt from fees and there is no indication as to how many members are in the section or whether they are indeed entitled to a vote. Following concerns about principle, openness and transparency, raised by Alexandros Koronakis and Lieven Taillie (Belgium), Andrzej Krajewski (Poland) and others, it was decided to withdraw the proxy vote and follow up with Ukraine to determine the status of that section, with this information to be communicated to the membership. That left 49 votes … Austria -2, Belgium – 4, Bulgaria -2, Finland -3, Hungary -2, Ireland -3, Italy -4, Slovakia -5, UK -4, Spain -9, Greece -5, France -3, Romania -3.
The Minutes of the Vilnius General Assembly 2017, having been circulated, were approved by the Assembly ( the question of Irina’s status as Special Representative was deferred – see pt. 10)
Annual Reports 2018
Tibor Macak … Report of the Secretary General
Tibor’s report contained much about the killing of the Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in February. In the months that followed the AEJ and other organisations expressed their deep shock at this cold-blooded murder, and Tibor said that in his 10 years working with the AEJ he had never experienced such solidarity and collegiality. There was trouble in other countries too and the AEJ had published several statements on the situation in Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Romania – (See www.AEJ.org ) He again encouraged members to visit the website and register for the members only area (where Assembly reports and minutes are posted)
He also referenced the Brussels summit, an enquete in Austria and the 50th anniversary of the UK section in London in September. He concluded by thanking all members (active and retired journalists) for their continued contributions to the AEJ.
Mike Springate … Report of the Audit Committee- (see www.AEJ.org members’ area)
Mike Springate, appearing for the last time as a member of the audit committee outlined a number of issues raised by the committee and some recommendations….
Only two members of the committee received the Financial Report 2017, and while it seemed to reflect accurately, the financial position, the Audit Commitee didn’t have access to supporting documents, nor did they have time to view or validate them, which fell short of best practice and standard procedure. The Committee had had sent the Audit Report to the Treasurer and other members of the board by e-mail in mid-November, asking for assurances that the Financial Report and outlook had been approved by the Board. No response was received.
The Committee recommended that tighter procedures be introduced to ensure a)that the Board examines and approves the report before b) it is sent to all members of the Committee simultaneously
The Committee also recommended that the Audit Report be circulated earlier to sections, outlining fees paid and arrangements made for travel and exemptions … these could then be updated at the GA.
The recommendations were accepted by the GA with Lieven Taillie (Belgium) saying this report and others should have been circulated earlier by the Secretary General.
Tibor responded by saying he had mistakenly thought the Audit Committee Report (which Mike had sent to the Board on 15/11) was a personal message to Treasurer Luigi Cobisi, ccd to himself and some others.
Mike announced his retirement from the Audit and Arbitration Committees and was warmly applauded for his work over the years.
As the treasurer, Luigi Cobisi, wasn’t present at the GA, no further debate on these reports was invited and their contents were not discussed .
Reports of Vice-Presidents and Special representatives… (see www.AEJ.org members’ area)
Saia Tsaousidou ….highlighted the concern about the future of journalism in every country, for young journalists in particular. She also talked about continued co-operation with the European institutions both in Greece and in Brussels and with unions, though the AEJ is not a union – it’s the only volunteer association of journalists in Greece.
The focus now she said would be on the European Elections and encouraging young people to vote
Javier Fernandez Arribas … talked about the challenges facing journalists in 2018 as they confront the continuous threat of fake news.
He called for increased co-operation between the sections and the need to continuously promote quality journalism as we deal with challenges like Brexit, trade wars and more locally the situation in Catalonia.
He also renewed his commitment to serve as VP
William Horsley – VP and Media Freedom Rep… talked about his work in support of the AEJ’s day to day business and his collaboration with other organisations to develop the Council of Europe’s Platform for the safety of Journalists. The AEJ is now a loud voice on media freedom being heard by the institutions. Early next year there will be a new Annual report by the Platform partners which again gives sections the chance to highlight concerns by passing them on to him….
He also encouraged members attending international events to report back for the AEJ website, and fully endorsed the spirit expressed by the motto ‘the AEJ brings together’.
Lieven Taillie – Brussels Rep …Informed delegates that the AEJ’s registration with the EU Transparency Register (which had lapsed in 2017) had been restored. This allows the Association to be informed of upcoming consultations, tenders etc. He also said he would take responsibility for updating AEJ data on the register and informing members about future opportunities arising.
He is also working with Gian-Paolo Accardo from France on a series of exchanges with Frans Timmermans of the EC on the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-27, these consultations could put our relationship on a secure footing and allow the AEJ to seek funding for special programmes.
Romania – Oana outlined a Romanian proposal for a ‘centralised project management structure’ to be managed by a dedicated volunteer, and the Romanian section is nominating Catalin-Teodor Dogaru (who organised the 2011 Congress in Bucharest)
Poland – Andrzej spoke of the election cycle currently underway in Poland (local, European Presidential) and the section’s participation in a study revealing political bias in recent election coverage on Public TV … some 2 million people watch the news each day but are ‘fed only propaganda’ he said.
Spain – Javier talked about sponsorship – saying that the Spanish section could engage in all kinds of activities because of continued sponsorship (even though it’s down 45% since the recession).
He encouraged delegates to write about the Congress and Assembly to entice further sponsorship. Alexandros wondered who the sponsors were?
Election of Board members
The candidates for the various positions were invited to outline their priorities ..
First up outgoing President Otmar Lahodynsky .. he reminded delegates that when elected in 2014 he said he would do more with the European Institutions and after two years had organised a summit in Brussels in June, which took place again this year…
He also brought Giles Portman Head of the Stratcom Task Force to Kilkenny and continues contacts with him. If re-elected he promised to continue networking to raise the AEJ’s profile in Brussels and to grow the AEJ family , reaching out to Serbia, Albania and possibly Germany. He will have a reduced workload as he edges towards retirement.
Presidential candidate William Horsley spoke again about bringing people together… he has spent 25 years working as a journalist, reporting from every part of Europe, East and West.
For journalists it was a challenging time which called for professionalism in reporting with integrity and he said if elected he would make the board more responsive, with good communication and prompt responses.
He outlined 3 priorities for the Association … to advance a common purpose ,including the expansion of the AEJ’s active network of sections, to co-operate with the institutions and to make sure the association’s mechanisms worked well, to serve the needs and ambitions of sections.
Secretary –General candidate Violetta Teetor, who organised the Congress in Vilnius, said it was all about communication. She said she was happy to be a facilitator between sections, would update the website, organise an event calendar, grow the social media presence and encourage younger members.
Outgoing Secretary-General Tibor Macak recalled his election in Offida, at a very difficult Assembly , which had to be suspended temporarily in a row over the Statutes.
He said he had a good relationship and contacts with the President, organised a board meeting in Slovakia each year, had tried to compile a members’ list several times, all the while working full-time for Slovak Public radio.
Vice-Presidential candidate Oana Enachescu said it was an honour to be nominated … she had been involved in organising two Congresses in Romania and hoped to bring value, ‘young value’ to the Association.
Vice-presidential candidate Irina Nedeva is the Chair of the Bulgarian Section. Earlier this year, she co-ordinated the AEJ’s submission (based on input from sections) to the Commission’s public consultation on fake news and disinformation. She relished the joy of working together. At this difficult time for journalists she said there was a need to re-build trust in general.
In Bulgaria, the AEJ can influence the national debate and she dreams of having such influence internationally too.
Vice-Presidential candidate Saia Tsaousidou again focussed on attracting younger journalists to the organisation and said we must have ‘active journalists’ on the board.
Vice-Presidential candidate Javier Fernandez Arribas said we must improve, and support others in these challenging times. He again emphasised the importance of inter-section co-operation and the need to publicize all of our public activities to attract sponsorship.
The Election Committee was then appointed by consensus on the basis of further nominations… Alexandros Koronakis (Belgium), Simone Rapple (Ireland), Joseph Horvath (Hungary) Kambiz Ghafouri (Finland) Antonio di Stefano (Italy), Ed Steen (Austria) and Javier Martin-Domingo (Spain)
In the Presidential election Otmar was re-elected with 27 votes to William’s 20, with 2 abstensions
Tibor was re-elected Secretary General with 27 votes to Violatta’s 21, with 1 abstension
And Saia (39 votes) Javier (30) and Oana (29) were elected as Vice-Presidents … Irina got 24 votes and there was 1 abstension.
As there was only one candidate for the post of Treasurer, Luigi Cobisi was elected by acclamation.
All those elected were warmly applauded and congratulated.
Audit and Arbitration Committees …
Some nominations were received by the board in advance, others were announced at the Assembly and the following were appointed
AGRINIO BOARD MEETING minutes
Present: Otmar Lahodynsky (O.L), Tibor Macak *(T.M), Javier Fernandez Arribas (J-F.A), William Horsley (W.H), Saia Tsaousidou (S.T), Lieven Taillie (L.T)
Absent: Luigi Cobisi
# For Information: GA (Saturday) location moved to Solzos Hotel, Vonitsa (from Mesolongi – technical reasons)
# Supporting docs: Agenda; Athanase Papandropoulos (AP), Gr Section President, Messages of 28/11 and 30/11
GA Minutes: Eileen Dunne offer accepted, with thanks
Some items discussed with no definite resolution
# 1 GA Draft Agenda item re-titled: “Welcome and early preparations for prospective AEJ Sections in Albania & Malta”
[not “..entry” of]. New info (O.L) : Albanian journalist Arbet Hitaj to be invited to speak to GA about early preparations towards setting up new section.
+ GA to welcome revival of bi-communal Cyprus section: Kyriakos Pierides and Hasan Kahvecioglu present at GA as GA guests
# 2 GA Draft Agenda item: “New Greek section was founded: reasons/explanation by Saia Tsaousidou
Follow-up email letter from A.P. received today. Discussion about the issue, legal significance and procedure to be followed in GA. Key points: Earlier email exchanges; A.P assurance ‘no 2nd AEJ section in Greece’ + AEJ Brussels Rep – clarity required for purposes of Belgian law (where AEJ officially registered)
# 3 Finance/budget : Audit Cttee report received; not available to discuss
New info: AEJ funding for travel to Greece of guests from Albania (1) and Cyprus (2) – Add to 2018 Spending report
# 4 AEJ Sections numbers and voting tally:
Sections requests for full explanation of voting system, preparation of proxies etc – noted
Point of order raised re late appearance of “Ukraine –exempted, 1 delegate by proxy” in absence of any actual record of section membership number; lack of previous agreement to “exempt” Ukraine. Clarification at GA?
# Nominations invited/gathered for Voting committee: Ed Steen, Jozsef Horvat, .Di Stefano, Simone Rapple – others?
Time at GA to be reserved for self-presentation of candidates for all posts (2 mins + brief Q and A)
# Arbitration and Conciliation committee nominations for 2019-20 (5 minimum acc. Statutes): Brindusa Armanca, +
Others to be announced orally/ further nominations to be collected/approved
# Audit committee (3 required): soren Haar (Be) Tim Ryan (Ire) Javier Martin-Domingo (Sp)…
# NOMINATIONS TO BOARD POSTS (to 30/11): Alphabetical order
President: William Horsley, Otmar Lahodynsky
Sec-Gen: Tibor Macak, Violetta Teetor
VP (3) : Javier Fernandez Arribas, Oana Enacescu, Irina Ned, Saia Tsaousidou – NB 4 candidates
Treasurer: Luigi Cobisi
Special Representatives: GA to hear self-presentations and discuss/ approve: Jozsef Horvath (interim – for new sections)
Contingency: If not elected President – W.H. to continue as MF Representative
If not elected VP – Irina Ned appointed to Board as Special rep for Disinformation/fake news
Other items: Outgoing Board members to raise, and respond to comments/ questions at GA
Minutes by WH
A summary of major issues about the practice of journalism debated at the AEJ’s 51stCongress and Assembly held in Brussels on 22-23 November: first-hand accounts from East and West of journalists under growing pressure from governments and media owners; threats to investigative journalism from secret ‘dragnet’ surveillance and tracking of electronic communications; and the start of an intensive debate on media futures and new ideas for funding quality journalism. Click here for more information.
The AEJ’s 2012 Congress and Assembly in Offida, in Italy’s east coast Marche region from October 25 to 28, gathered the widest ever selection of journalists from twenty countries from east and west Europe.
The occasion marked AEJ’s 50 anniversary, and the association received messages of congratulations from Giorgio Napolitano and Mario Monti, President and Prime Minister of the Italian Republic; European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes; Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland; Gianni Pitella and Georgios Papastamkos, Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament; Anna Maria Darmanin, Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee; and Diogo Pinto, Secretary-General of European Movement International. Click here for more information.
The XLIX Congress of AEJ took place in ROMANIA, from 10th until 13th of November 2011, at Howard Johnson Hotel from Bucharest (capital of Romania) and it was held under the patronage of Foreign Affairs Ministry. Event was organized by AZIR the Romanian section of AEJ and its main theme was “Freedom and responsibility in mass-media. Ethics and professionalism for journalism facing all the new technology challenges.” Click here for more information.
From 7 till 11 October, representatives from 24 national sections of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) and several associated journalist organisations, gathered in the wonderful and picturesque city of Ordu, Turkey for the 48th Annual Congress and General Assembly of AEJ. Click here for more information
Organised by its Dutch section, the Association of European Journalists held its annual Congress / General Assembly this year in Maastricht, from November 19 to 22. More then 100 delegates from nearly all 24 national sections and special guests gathered in the city where one of the most important European Treaties was signed in 1992. Click here for more
The 2008 Congress/General Assembly of the Association of European Jounalists (AEJ), organised by Otmar Lahodynsky, AEJ Austria President, in the Austrian city of Linz, became one of the best AEJ Congresses of the last years. The 80 delegates were offered an insight into the preparations and programme of Linz 2009 European Capital of Europe. A tour of this ancient city on the Danube resulted in a completely fresh perspective of the city.
The General Assembly started with a message of greeting of the Austrian Minister for European and International Affairs Ursula Plassnik (click for text). During he meeting a new international board (see below) and other officials as members of the Executive Committee, the Arbitration Committee and the Audit Committee, were eleted. On the afternoon of the 22nd, during a four hour meeting, the flagship project of the AEJ ‘Media Freedom in Europa’ was on the agenda with reports by the AEJ sections about the situation in their country and very lively discussions. The meeting was prepared and chaired by William Horsley, AEJ Media Freedom Represented. Guest of honour was Mr. Matthias Traimer, chairman of the Council of Europe Media Steering Committee.
For more information about this meeting see the column FOCUS ON on the homepage. For full textes of William Horsleys’ Annual Report on the AEJ and Media Freedom and the Country Reports visit www.aej-uk.org
The delegates showed their thanks and appreciation to the sponsors who supported this annual AEJ event: Linz 209 Kulturhauptstadt Europas; Land Oberosterreich; IV Industriellenvereinigung Oberosterreich; Bundespressedienst Osterreich; EPAMEDIA, Public Space Advertising; Schardinger (milkand cheese) and Brau Union.