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(Left to right) Prizewinning journalist Olesya Vartanyan, IWPR Caucasus Programme Director Beka Bajelidze, EUMM Chief of Press and Public Information Unit Ann Vaessen, EUMM head Toivo Klaar. (Photo: IWPR)
Olesya Vartanyan, a journalist from RFE/RL’s Ekho Kavkaza service, is one of five winners of a European Union journalism prize for the Caucasus.
Vartanyan received the Special Prize for Peace Journalism – the first time it had been awarded – at a December 14 award presentation in Tbilisi. The event was hosted by the EU delegation to Georgia and the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and attended by the deputy speaker of Georgia’s parliament, Manana Kobakhidze.
The other awards went to Mariam Otarashvili, for the best online investigative or opinion piece, Giorgi Mgeladze for best TV or radio report, Giorgi Kikonishvili for the best social media/blog posting, and Netgazeti as the most informative news agency/online newspaper;
“No matter how hard organisations such as EUMM try to help build confidence, and how much funding is allocated for projects, no sustainable result can be achieved if journalists do not fulfil their role as impartial, objective observers providing the public with an unbiased, comprehensive account of a situation, portraying all points of view,” EUMM head Toivo Klaar said at the prize-giving event.
Vartanyan wins a one-month fellowship at the London offices of IWPR, for an article called “Hope Keeps Relatives Strong”.
“We always complain that there are problems in the media on either side of the conflict lines,” she said, referring to the three frozen conflicts in the Caucasus – South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorny Karabakh. “I think this will be an incentive for them to try to find out the views of people on the other side, to double-check information and to find out what the other side thinks,” she said.
Vartanyan has worked with IWPR on many projects including the Cross-Caucasus Journalism Network and the Georgian Regional Media Network.
“The Tbilisi office [of IWPR] was my home when I was just starting out on my journalistic career ten years ago,” she said. “IWPR gave me a chance to learn the basic skills of my profession and also to get hands-on experience of reporting on ethnic minorities and conflict-related issues.”
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