On March 8, 1999, reporters from RFE/RL’s Kosovo Unit, Radio Evropa e Lirë, broadcast their first words to a tense Balkans listenership.
Now the head of RFE/RL’s Kosovo’s unit, Arbana Vidishiqi was then a correspondent and had just reported on an investigation by a team of European Union forensic experts over the killing of over 40 civilians in the village of Račak in Kosovo. It was RFE/RL’s first report to Kosovo’s population of 1.8 million.
Sixteen days later NATO launched an air strike against former Yugoslavia, and RFE/RL’s Kosovo unit was thrust into reporting in the middle of a war zone.
Thirteen years later, Radio Evropa e Lirë is celebrating more than a decade of providing its Kosovo audience unbiased reports and telling people’s stories, even while combating ethnic intolerance in the midst of deeply rooted inter-ethnic tensions between Albanian and Serbian communities.
Radio Evropa e Lirë is part of RFE/RL’s Balkans Service, which broadcasts in six languages to the ethnically diverse populations of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.
Despite Radio Evropa e Lirë's outreach, these post-war countries still lack genuine media freedom. The majority of the media outlets are either government controlled or remain divided along ethnic lines.
-- Deana Kjuka