Press professionals from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and the European Union (EU) exchanged views on the situation they face in both regions and the possibilities for collaboration during the II EU-LAC Journalists Forum, held in Stockholm on March 23 and 24.
The participants also shared reflections and proposals for the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), scheduled for July 2023.
The Forum, organised by the EU-LAC Foundation in collaboration with the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS) and the Nordic Institute of Latin American Studies (NILAS) of the University of Stockholm, was attended by 25 professionals from 15 European, Latin American and Caribbean countries, who work with print, radio, online and independent media platforms. This meeting was a continuation of the I EU-LAC Journalists Forum, held in 2020 in Costa Rica.
During the opening session, which was also attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Stockholm and students from Stockholm University, the Executive Director of the EU-LAC Foundation, Dr Adrián Bonilla, emphasised that the Forum offers
"a space to promote journalistic work on bi-regional issues and relations and provide opportunities for the development of collaborative practices."
Likewise, Keisal Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the country holding the Pro Tempore Presidency of CELAC, highlighted the importance of the meeting in bringing together professionals from both regions and strengthening the bi-regional agenda. For her part, Claudia Gintersdorfer, Head of the Americas Division, Regional Affairs, of the European External Action Service, referred to the upcoming EU-CELAC Summit, the first to be held since 2015, and an important occasion to revitalise the bi-regional strategic partnership and reformulate it in light of new challenges, she said. Also speaking at the opening of the event were NILAS Director Dr Thaïs Machado-Borges and Maria Leissner, Ambassador in the Department of Multilateral Partnerships of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the country currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The first panel, focused on the current situation of journalism and the vision of journalists on bi-regional relations, included contributions from Erik Halkjaer, President of Reporters Without Borders Sweden; Adriana León, Peruvian journalist and member of IPYS; and Gaspar León, Spanish journalist.
During the second panel of the Forum, Cissi Askwall, Secretary General of Vetenskap & Allmänhet, and Zulfikar Abbany, Senior Science Editor at Deutsche Welle, shared reflections on science journalism and the challenges of reporting on complex issues in times of misinformation. In addition, Brazilian journalist Marta Alencar, founder of COAR Noticias, presented the data verification project and highlighted the importance of tools such as these.
On the second day of the event, participants interacted in three working groups: international policy, human rights and storytelling, in which they presented various projects and identified concrete opportunities for collaboration.
The II EU-LAC Journalists Forum culminated with a debate on proposals for cooperation in the face of a renewed bi-regional narrative. In the session, the situation of journalists and threats to their safety emerged as the main concern, as well as the importance of press freedom for democracy.
The participants also identified concrete projects to promote journalistic collaborations between LAC and the EU. They also emphasised the possibility of developing collaborative work at the bi-regional level on shared issues such as drug trafficking, corruption and the environment.
The journalists underscored the importance of the Forum in creating connections to enable journalistic collaborations on the bi-regional agenda and agreed on the desire to carry out a follow-up activity after the upcoming EU-CELAC Summit.