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The 2nd Euro-Med Journalism Institute (EMJI)

After the success of last year, the second edition of the Euro Mediterranean Journalism Institute was held in Athens from September 29th until October 7th. The Institute lasted for one week and counted with the representation of 45 participants coming from 22 different countries. It was co-organized by Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation and The Fund for American Studies; under the auspices of the Greek Secretariat General of Information.

Following the success of the first edition, the Institute curriculum emphasized on the way of perceiving the role of a free press in promoting the values of a free society and accurately reporting on international, political, and economic conflicts.

The program took place in the City of Athens. The participants were accommodated in a 4 star Hotel located in the heart of the city. It provided the students with comfortable accommodation, an excellent conference room, a pleasant buffet restaurant with healthy Mediterranean food and great access to the city; the hotel was considered to be a very suitable place to perform a program of this nature.

A considerable contribution was made by the guest lecturers: Mr. Alkis Courcoulas, Bureau chief of the Athens News Agency in Turkey, offered the ground for a meaningful discussion on the Role of Journalism in Promoting International Dialogue. Mr. Bruce Clark, Chief Editor of The Economist, shared with the journalists his vast professional experience that gave food for thought about their personal career development. Dr. Aliki Mitsakos, President of the Soroptimist Union of Greece made a presentation on Gender and Media Coverage, pointing out the effects on Women representation in the Media world.
 Taking advantage of the academic background developed during the courses, the participants were able to carry out activities on a professional level held in the Greek Secretariat General of Information and the Hellenic Parliament. Both visits included Presentations, Press Conferences and Discussions with significant speakers and panels.
In the Secretariat General the students had a welcome discussion with the Secretary General of Information, Mr. Panos Leivadas. Afterwards, the Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. George Koumoutsakos took the floor. During the day, the participants had the opportunity to discuss on the issue of “Interdependence between Press and Diplomacy” with one of the most experienced Greek diplomats, the Ambassador Vyrom Theodoropoulos. The session included not only guest lectures but also possibilities of interviews and discussions in Panels. The first remarkable Panel consisted of the presence of Mrs. Despina Afentouli from NATO Public Diplomacy Division, Dr. Ioannis Karmokolias, retired Director of the World Bank and UNIDO, Mr. Grigorios Vassilokonstantakis, acting Director of Greece-US Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The discussion topic was “Public Diplomacy and Media”. 

The second Panel developed on the problematic of “Fires in Greece, the Economic, Political, and Environmental Aftermath. It was composed by Mr. Efstathios Sagias, Forest Engineer, retired Director, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Petros Katsakos, ERT Journalist covering the fires at the time, and Mr. Spyros Spyridon, Secretary General of Western Greece. All the panels were moderated by Mr. Theodossis Georgiou, Chairman of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation

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In the Hellenic Parliament, the students had the possibility to visit the senate room, having a welcome presentation by the Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Dimitrios Sioufas. A productive discussion with government and opposition parties’ members followed; Mr. Savvas Tsitouridis and Mr. Simos Kedikoglou representing New Democracy; Mrs. Sofia Giannaka from PASOK – Panhellenic Socialist Movement, main opposition party; Mr. Giannis Banias from SYRIZA – Coalition of the Radical Left; and Mr. Adonis Georgiadis from LAOS – Popular Orthodox Rally. After the end of the session the participants were offered a special- guided insight of the Parliament.

Besides the full day activities, the participants were also engaged into Formal Dinners with distinguished guests where they had the possibility of establishing off the record contacts and discussions. Under this frame, the first dinner was held in the Residence of the United States Ambassador, counting the presence of Mr. Thomas Countryman, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., US Embassy to Greece. Several diplomats of the American Embassy attended the dinner, mainly experts on the Press Office field.  The following dinner took place in the Ceremony Hall of the Officers Club of Greece, where a number of Ambassadors and several countries’ Diplomatic Representatives were present. The Keynote Speaker was the Ambassador Ioannis Bourlogiannis-Tsaggaridis, Director General for International Relations, Ministry of Defence delivering a speech on the behalf of Mr. Theodoros Kassimis, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Institute’s schedule embraced a cultural dimension aiming to familiarize the participants with the country’s history; thus, promoting strong friendship bonds and the construction of a future professional network of sharing common work experiences and interests.

In so doing, a visiting tour of the Acropolis was organized followed by a pleasant lunch in the historical area of Plaka, where the participants had the opportunity to enjoy traditional Greek cuisine.

           

At the end of the program the students were awarded of participation diplomas, during a formal commencement ceremony. The ceremony took place in the Athens’ Club initiated with open remarks by Mr. Theodossis Georgiou, Chairman of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation, as well as, professional and career advices by the Greek journalist Mr. Athanassis Ellis, Greek correspondent in Washington, D.C. Selected students were asked to give their personal testimony to the audience. The ceremony concluded with the Diploma delivery led by Ms. Michelle Jeffress, Director of Programs of The Fund for American Studies. The end of the program indicated the beginning of their participation to an already vast international alumni network.

The general overview about the EMJI program is that endows young journalists with an important academic background, fruit of the experience of the Professors and guest lecturers. It is adequately complemented with practical experience, including Political Press Conferences and Presentations by notorious panels that would otherwise be very difficult to obtain by young journalists. The visiting tours of Greek Media references offered the participants a coherent perception of the way that journalism works in Greece. The dinners and receptions were also an important component in the sense they could practice informal contacts with Diplomats, Politicians and other keynote figures. They were able to create a diversified international network, very important to the field of the current journalism. They shared their experiences and opinions, both professional and academic, and got in contact with the reality of journalism in different countries and cultures. The success of the first two editions guarantees the program’s continuation in the long term.



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