Under the topic “Public discourse in Europe: Can media help to save democracy?” the 11th edition of the South East Europe Media Forum, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 27-28 November, gathered more than 250 editors-in-chief, leading journalists, business professionals, civil society and academia as well as representatives of relevant international organisations and state institutions from Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and beyond. The Forum was hosted by the South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and the Central European Initiative (CEI).


The Forum included several panel discussions on key issues, such as: securing media freedom; media business today in the context of fake news, populism, budget constraints; media responsibility and media literacy; new concepts and digital opportunities in times of economic and political pressure. A special session was devoted to media and politics in Bulgaria.


A welcome address was delivered by Lilyana Pavlova, Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2018. “It is a pleasure to be part of the South East Europe Media Forum and to present the European priorities of Bulgaria for 2018: Western Balkans perspective, future of Europe and youth, security and digital economy. Joint efforts are needed to fight fake news - together we can make it”, the minister said.

Neledcho Mihaylov, CEI National Coordinator, MFA Bulgaria, welcomed the participants on behalf of the CEI underlining the relevance of the SEEMF and the support provided by the CEI to this major event in the field of media.

"The main aim of the forum is bringing together people from different countries, with different backgrounds and help them to face common difficulties and challenges, offering networking opportunities for discussing about relevant media issues”, explained Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General. He also emphasised that "for SEEMO the partnership with the CEI is very important especially because the CEI is a regional forum bringing together EU and non-EU countries which is crucial for debating press freedom and freedom of expression in this part of Europe”.

Christian Spahr, director of the KAS Media Program South East Europe, while moderating the session on fake news and propaganda, pointed out that “journalists with high professional standards always look at  different sides of the story and check the facts; of course, in times of  internet, speed is very important in journalism, but the quality is more important if you want to stay credible. Journalists should combine speed with quality and not just quoting statements of others”.

Barbara Fabro, CEI Senior Executive Officer, defined the Sofia event as an "extraordinary opportunity to tackle key issues about the media situation in the area throughout experience sharing and good practices exchange. The EU integration is the core mission of the CEI, that’s why our organization is committed to supporting the non-EU CEI countries in order to come closer to EU standards in terms of quality journalism, media legislation, public broadcasting, free movement of journalists”.

During the SEEMF, the annual CEI-SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism was presented to Victor Mosneag (Moldova) in the section “Professional Journalists” and Yevheniia Motorevska (Ukraine) in the section “Young Professional Journalists” while a special mention was assigned to Marina Constantinoiu (Romania).

The SEEMF is a CEI Feature Event supported by the CEI Cooperation Fund.