In the countries of the region, critical tones are being stifled, the media space is narrowed and difficult to establish. Abolishing the right to this space, accessible to all, is a devastating act, but it will not discourage us.
We would like to inform you that the Twitter account of the Vicinity portal (www.okruzenje.net) has been suspended on May 18 this year. We used all available appeal options, but unfortunately, the account has remained suspended to this day.
Without intending to interfere in Twitter’s business policy and analyze the criteria it uses to suspend an account, we are surprised that a project like „Vicinity“ was among the undesirable, since, first through six seasons of its television series (broadcast on 13 channels in the former Yugoslavia and in Albania) and then for ten months on the web portal, the team of the „Vicinity project“ has worked and has been doing everything to gather the citizens of the region around the ideas of reconciliation, fostering democratic principles and all fundamental European – universal human values.
The project of the European Fund for the Balkans and the European Movement in Serbia has been a wide open space for critical reflection, exchange of arguments and ideas, nurturing a culture of dialogue in promoting the ideas of reconciliation and cooperation in the Western Balkans. For that, in 2016, the project was awarded the Media Initiative of the Year award by the “European Citizenship Award”.
The account of the Vicinity project was suspended on the day of the publication of the issue on the topic of nationalism and its disastrous influence on the reconciliation process. We believe that Twitter, in good faith to recognize and stop the spread of ideas that are at the opposite end of those we promote, has made a mistake. The European Fund for the Balkans and the European Movement in Serbia support and encourage efforts to regulate the vast media space on social networks and call for mechanisms to be found so that those whose professional engagement is directed towards the same goal would not suffer in those efforts. It is symptomatic that in addition to the recent hacker attack on our website, the Twitter account was suspended at the very moment when we dedicated the issue to the open story of the evil that various types of nationalism inflicted on the citizens of the region.
In the countries of the region, critical tones are being stifled, the media space is narrowed and difficult to establish. Abolishing the right to this space, accessible to all, is a devastating act, but it will not discourage us. We will continue to talk about everything that endangers the dignity and the right to a normal life of all citizens of the region without hesitation. The number of followers of the Vicinity that is growing day by day (as evidenced by statistics from our web portal and the number of people who follow us on social networks) obliges us to do so.
We haven’t been on Twitter for two months, but all those who have followed us before, and everyone else, can find us there again under the name Vicinities/Okruzenje (@Okruzenje_WB).
On behalf of the European Fund for the Balkans and the European Movement in Serbia
Zvezdana Kovač, Editor-in-Chief of the Vicinity project