A more professional military media contributes to democratisation of both military and society.
By Klaudija Lutovska and Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Time in Skopje and Belgrade -- 17/02/14
Serbia military’s web department places media content online. [Nada Bozic/SETimes]
Balkan militaries are upgrading military media to promote greater transparency in their work as well as in Euro-Atlantic integration, officials said.
Military media has become an increasingly professional service that now also serves civilians and employs civilian experts, said Marko Milosevic, researcher at the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy.
"The end result is a greater transparency of the military and a susceptibility to increased quality control of this institution that is reflected back as greater responsibility," Milosevic told SETimes.
Serbia's military manages 32 websites, a Twitter account, a Facebook profile that has 150,000 fans, a YouTube channel, a movie studio and a publishing house.
But the military's staple is the bi-weekly Odbrana (Defence) magazine -- available at kiosks throughout Serbia as well as online -- that reports all relevant military issues.
The magazine has become a reference cited by news agencies, daily and periodical publications and television stations, said Jovan Krivokapic, spokesperson for the Serbia defence ministry.
Krivokapic said the strategic goal is to better inform the public of defence sector reforms, the army's professionalism and its international co-operation.
"The efforts certainly contribute to the transparency of the Serbian military, its efficiency and the overall democratisation of society," Krivokapic told SETimes.
In Macedonia, officials said the defence ministry's print and online publications inform the public on all aspects of military-related life and defence issues.
The ministry merged several publications and now produces the monthly magazine Stit (Shield), the international journal Contemporary Macedonian Defence and the newspaper Vest (News).
"In the interest of ensuring the greatest level of transparency, we aim to reach as large an audience as possible," Ivan Petrusevski, editor at the Macedonia defence ministry, told SETimes.
To do so, the ministry publishes Stit in Macedonian and Albanian, and ensures it is widely available in news kiosks and online.
Officials also said the military magazines, including Montenegro's monthly Partner, regularly report and discuss the achieved level of Euro-Atlantic integration and transformation according to NATO standards.
"Partner is free of charge and citizens can get it at newspaper kiosks. It is also distributed to all state institutions in Montenegro, parliament representatives, NGOs, media outlets, foreign diplomatic missions and regional defence ministries," Montenegro's defence ministry told SETimes in a statement.
By providing more information more readily to the public, including civilian media, the military has made transparency part of the broader democratisation process, Milosevic said.
"Military media has become more professional and objective, more open to verification, which contributed to the democratisation of the military itself. There are very few 'forbidden' topics today, and civilian authorities can control and sanction those," he said.
Prompt and quality reporting and analysis have put military transparency on a par with other developed countries, said Blagoja Markovski, president of the Balkan Security Forum in Skopje.
"Citizens certainly benefit by being well informed about the level of defence readiness at home, in the other countries as well as the progress in acquiring NATO standards," Markovski told SETimes.
What can the Balkan militaries do to further engage military media to increase transparency? Share your opinion in the comments space.