Annotation: The year 1989 marked the beginning of the re-unification of a sort of the European continent after the end of the Cold war. After that symbolic year one of the first priorities of the so called new democracies in South-East Europe was to become members of the European Union. In general they saw in the Union a short-cut to economic prosperity for their peoples, but in the reality they had to find out that the European integration was a broader and a more complex process.
It has become axiomatic that media are vital for the functioning of a healthy democracy. After the end of the Cold war in South-East Europe the party press went down and new media systems emerged in the countries with significant presence of commercial and corporate media. A more recent phenomenon is the so called new media whose impact is far from being assessed.
How this changed media landscape interacts with the European integration? Do media help to build stable institutions that guarantee democracy and the rule of law? Do media work towards the respect and protection of human rights? How do media contribute to the understanding of the economic aspect of the European integration? How do media succeed to make familiar for the audience the aims of political, economic and monetary union?
If we look from a different perspective: how do media explain the absence of the European Union from the scene during the wars of the Yugoslavian disintegration? In the case of the countries of the Western Balkans do media pay due attention to the problems of the regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations as a precondition for their integration? And, of course, a cross-cutting policy issue in regard of the European integration is the freedom of expression and media, which is in a lasting worrying situation in the region, both commercially and politically, in countries already members, in candidates countries and in potential candidates.
These are just some of the issues that could be developed into a paper to be presented at the congress. They give the frame and do not constitute restrictions as far as a proposal falls in the main panel topic "Media and the European integration of South-East Europe".