KoSSev’s Chief Editor awarded order of the Knight of the National Order of Merit

The Editor-in-Chief of the KoSSev portal, Tatjana Lazarevic, was awarded the National Order of Merit, of the rank of a Knight, at the French Residence in Pristina last night.

Lazarevic was given the rank of Knight of the National Order of Merit by the decree of the French President, issued on July 26th of last year.

„This recognition of France rewards the outstanding services you provided throughout your professional work and it presents an incentive to continue your dedication to the common good,“ reads the reasoning behind the decision.

On this occasion, a ceremony of presentation of the insignia of “Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite” was held last night at the French Residence in Pristina. The French Ambassador Olivier Guerot presented the insignia to the KoSSev portal Editor-in-Chief

In his speech, the ambassador praised the work of Lazarevic and the KoSSev portal itself.

“This reward is also recognition of the professional quality of your work. I would like to mark our appreciation for your experience in the sector of media… You are not just disseminating information to the public, you are also engaged in the transmission of knowledge and competence,” the Ambassador stated.
He indicated that Lazarevic and the KoSSev’s reporting brings a balanced view of the situation of the Kosovo Serbian community.

“Our truly common language, Mrs. Lazarevic, is professionalism and the recognition of the role of free press and objective journalism and democracy. I would like to highlight your commitment in favor of independent and objective reporting“ Guerot underlined.

Your work demands courage, said the Ambassador.

“The price you pay for us benefitting from your work is made of threats and attempts of intimidation, I would like to highlight that tonight,” he added.

After the Ambassador, Lazarevic also gave a speech. Expressing her gratitude, she underlined that she was honored by the award.

You can watch parts of Lazarevic’s speech in the video above.

Read the full speech below:

Dear Friends and colleagues,
Мy family and my editorial staff,
Dear Guests,
Your Excellency,

I am extraordinarily grateful to all of you who came today. I am honored by your presence, and haven’t forgotten those who, for good reason, could not be here tonight with me, even if they very much wanted to. First and foremost, I’m referring to my mother and father. My homeland and my honor. From whom I was brought into this world, who I belong to, and who instilled values in me. My Honor.

Knowing the profound significance of these two words that are at the core of the Order of the great people of France, and having in mind that it is simply unthinkable that this is something that I deserve, or, that God forbid, I compare myself to the illustrious individuals from my own and other nations who have received this honor in centuries past, from soldiers to artists, whose names I am not worthy of: the only manner in which I can fathom accepting this Order is knowing that it’s true recipients are my Profession and my fellow countrymen.

Twenty-four years after the war, what remains of the Kosovo Serb community cowers at the crossroads of the great powers, finding itself between David and Goliath. It is a community that is not merely looking for a way forward but rather for a means of survival, of remaining on their own land. Part of that community is confined to ghettos to the south of my River Ibar, while that other half is cocooned in the north, centered in the one city that we’ve held onto, a city that despite being my hometown, I can say has lost much of the urban charm it once had.

Although we may be divided between those who are more cautious, quiet, timid, and as you would say in Pristina ‘integrated’, and those who perhaps a bit more arrogant, free, or, as they say ‘criminalized’ – all of us share the feeling of neutered, abused, cast aside, unwanted, and humiliated. Excluded from the ‘big table’, we are left on the sidelines to fight over the spare change, when we could have raised our voice instead.

Today, when we are in Belgrade’s eyes merely a Franco-German plan and in Pristina’s a step towards final independence, today, when there are fewer and fewer of us in Kosovo and particulary in Metohija, yet the burden on our shoulders is ever greater, I see accepting this Order as a recognition of all of those who, by some miracle, still carry this burden honorably and with dignity after so many difficult years behind and ahead of us. I see this as a recognition of all of those who, despite the difficult position of the Serb people here in Kosovo, are brave enough to live in the present and to build the future while still preserving our forefathers’ integrity and honor.

And what does this mean exactly? Aside from heroism, I would use a Serbian/Monternigrin word for which I am not sure there is an English equivalent ‘чојство’ – implying a unique strength of character, someone, a person who defends others from themselves.

Because how can one defend themselves from others if they cannot defend others from themselves?

Perhaps if we had maintained this legacy of ‘čojstvo’ in Kosovo and in the Balkans that was passed down to us by our ancestors instead of doing the opposite, if we properly looked after and cared for our bastions of culture and history instead of quibbling over legends, then our children today would grow up together in prosperity and peace and fill our shared home with riches. Instead, they rush away, Mr. Ambasador, to your country and others in the west, where you value them as skilled, young, professionals.

Colleagues and my KoSSev team,

Today for the first time we solemnly mark nine years of work. It was the 5th of February when we posted our first article and, on the 7th, when we went public. Each anniversary was a hardworking day. Perhaps that says something about us – not just that didn’t have the time to celebrate, that we didn’t care of formality, but that there was maybe something more to it than that

Over the past nine years we’ve built an island of freedom, an island on which, first and foremost, one can think freely. Although we often worked under pressure, every written word was ‘another brick in the wall’ for public integrity and for our profession. Not infrequently, our wall was struck from the outside by stones, a blow from the side, from behind, and even bullets.

We write freely. Without censorship. Just as darkness doesn’t exist because it is simply an absence of light, there are for us no taboo subjects, there are simply subjects around which society has constructed taboos. We stand for freedom of choice and thought. We describe atmospheres, publish our impressions, and even convey attitudes and stances when they are contradicted by undeniable facts, or at least by other people’s experiences. We do that because they are true, because they exist. I make efforts to ensure that no word is left without meaning. We will never become part of a mob going after the weak. We will never serve propaganda, agitprop, nor will we engage in sloppy journalism.

We defend the right to freedom of expression and thought. I weigh our success, and always say that it’s not enough, but when doing so I sense a crisis, a serious crisis in which today’s journalism finds itself in, I also see the very difficult position of Serbian media.

We are exposed to the unending judgement of the public, a public for whom and only whom we work and have responsibility, and who remains our greatest ally. While the burden is significant, it is also somehow natural. It is one that I accept it with gratitude.
It is with gratitude that I also accept this Order. Although I wear it on my lapel, I will never allow myself to forget that it is first and foremost a recognition of my team and my fellow Serbian people. I will remember this even when, because of my work and throughout most of my day, I must leave my personal identity on the side and be, to my great satisfaction, simply a journalist.

If I find myself unable to do more than I have up until this point, I can only hope that I will approach my work with, no less panache and energy, with no less belief in the greater common good, no less faith in a better world and better life for my own and all other nations.

Your Excellency, I would ask that extend to your predecessor, Marie-Christine Butel, my warmest greetings and, more importantly, my gratitude for the fact that she recognized something in me that I myself obviously did not. I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to Ms. Cecilia Maronnier, with whom I was especially pleased to collaborate, for her cheerfulness, initiative, drive, and strong female energy.

Preuzimanje i objavljivanje tekstova sa portala KoSSev nije dozvoljeno bez navođenja izvora. Hvala na poštovanju etike novinarske profesije.