Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative for Freedom of the Media, received the Charlemagne Medal for European Media, the “Médaille Charlemagne pour les Médias Européens”, on 30 April in Aachen. This medal has been awarded since 2000 in advance of the Charlemagne Prize celebrations to an individual in Europe who has rendered outstanding services in the area of media to the process of European integration and to the development of a European identity and has done this in an exceptional manner. In awarding the 15th Charlemagne Medal, the board of trustees of the “Médaille Charlemagne” association are paying tribute to both the personal achievements of Dunja Mijatović as well as the work done for the freedom of the media by the relevant institution in the OSCE.
“As an opinion-forming entity, free and independent media are an essential component of a functioning democracy. Despite this awareness – or even precisely because of this – the media are often subject to restrictions. This often involves gradual processes against which action must be taken at the earliest possible point. It is precisely because human rights and democracy are not exclusively the internal affairs of one state, but instead affect all member states directly, that this involves not just the protection of one country, but the safety and protection of Europe. It is not least due to this that Dunja Mijatović, OSCE representative for Freedom of the Media, has been monitoring the development of the media in 57 member states, pointing out undesirable developments and supporting member states in maintaining their standards” commented Michael Kayser, chair of the “Médaille Charlemagne” association, when he announced the current award winner today in Aachen.
Mayor of Aachen, Marcel Philipp, warned that repression of the media, which has occurred in some European countries, is an attack on core values and on human rights. “If journalists are intimidated, threatened or even murdered then this is a call to use to defend freedom. Dunja Mijatovic has exemplified this though her actions. I am delighted that a female from South-Eastern Europe is being presented with this award. This is a region which unfortunately is rarely the focus of European interest.
Dr. Jürgen Linden, chair of the Charlemagne Prize Directorate, stated that freedom of expression and freedom of the media are human rights. “Following the events in France and Denmark, the discussion concerning what the media are permitted to do and where the limits lie has made it clear just how vulnerable and fragile these rights are. By monitoring the development of media in the member states as a form of “early warning system” in her role as OSCE representative for Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović is not only campaigning for observance of human rights in the individual OSCE member states, but also throughout the whole of Europe.”
The “Médaille Charlemagne pour les Médias Européens” has been awarded since 2000 in advance of the presentation of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen to an individual or institution in Europe who has rendered outstanding services in the area of media to the process of European integration and to the development of a European identity and has done this in an exceptional manner.
Previous award winners have been publicist Lord George Weidenfeld (GB), author Cees Nooteboom (NL), producer Jan Mojto (D), director Jean-Jacques Annaud (F), former director of Westdeutsche Rundfunk Cologne Fritz Pleitgen (D), the polish actress Krystyna Janda (PL), the Berlin Philharmonic foundation jointly with directors Fatih Akin (D) and Abdellatif Kechiche (F), the organisation “Reporter without borders”, the musician André Rieu (NL), the publisher Inge Schönthal-Feltrinelli (I), the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Timothy Garton Ash (GB) and last year’s award winner, the European Film Academy (EFA).
The prize is supported and awarded by the association “Médaille Charlemagne pour les Médias Européens”, of which the following institutions are members: City of Aachen, City of Maastricht, German-speaking Community of Belgium, Media Authority North Rhine-Westphalia (LfM), Film- und Medienstiftung NRW GmbH, Arte – the European culture channel, BBC World News, Deutsche Welle, EOS Entertainment GmbH, Euronews, Eurosport S.A., the newspaper publishers’ association of North Rhine-Westphalia and the committee for awarding the International Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen. The association came into being in 2006 on the initiative of the Media Authority North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Aachen.
The medal is designed by the artist Angela Katzy, who is based in Cologne. It has a diameter of approximately 10 cm and is made from 925 silver. The lapis lazuli is set in 18ct yellow gold and the inner bar is also designed in yellow gold. This represents the line which Charlemagne, who was unable to write, added to his seal in lieu of a signature.
Extract from the explanation of the board of trustees
“By awarding the 15th Médaille Charlemagne pour les Médias Européens to the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, the Board of Trustees recognizes both the personal merits of Dunja Mijatović and the merits of the relevant OSCE institution on media freedom.
A main goal for an OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media is the observance of human rights, which is an essential security component within and outside Europe. Thus, in particular, she advocated for the freedom of expression as an essential part of an open society and reliable government.
On this basis, the OSCE Representative monitored the media development in 57 currently connected countries. Participating countries in alignment with the OSCE principles but also the public are informed of negative developments in a timely manner by way of an “early warning system”. In addition, this supports member countries to comply with the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
Dunja Mijatović’s work as an OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media enables her to make an essential contribution to the security, stability and democracy of Europe.”