Dr Erhard Busek: 'Vicinities has never been more needed in the Western Balkans'
Standing as a beacon of media responsibility, free speech and proof that issues can be discussed and resolved with reasoned argument rather than violence, Vicinities has not only continued to make history, but has also built on its successes for the benefit of the citizens of the Western Balkans. This 5th Season has engaged more viewers than ever and is still the only television series that is broadcast to all of the countries of the Western Balkans simultaneously. Dealing with shared issues of common concern ranging from terrorism and bilateral disputes to how to trust each other and covering issues of shared history, gender in politics and the tabloidisation of public life, Vicinities provides viewers with informed debate on a wide range of social and political issues.
At this time in the Western Balkans, Vicinities is never more needed: a rise in extremism, social and national introspection, political instability and a lack of unbiased media outlets all play into and reflect the current worrying trends towards populism, intolerance and narrowing of attitudes in Europe in general. Without voices and programmes that offer a range of views and opinions, the descent towards a darker, less tolerant and more uncertain future is assured.
Vicinities’ value cannot be overestimated. It is not just its content that challenges, informs and opens minds,but also its approach; that of inclusive debate, diverse opinions being aired and confronting disagreements with substance and facts, rather than scandal or personal attacks.
Vicinities’ contribution to the region’s stable and democratic future is incalculable. We can only hope that by continuing in this manner, Vicinities is an example and the first of many such initiatives which will enlighten,encourage and support civil society in the region.