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South East Europe public sector communicators association created in Budva

South East Europe public sector communicators association created in Budva
Published date 29.09.2013 19:18 | Author PR Bureau

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BUDVA, MONTENEGRO (29 September 2013) – The 2nd South Eastern European Government Communication Conference concluded today in Budva, Montenegro, with the establishment of the South East Europe Public Sector Communication Association (SEECOM), as an international, non-profit, professional association of senior public sector communicators from the region.

The event was organised by the Public Relations Bureau of the Government of Montenegro, in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Montenegro, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat, and the US Embassy in Podgorica.

According to the statute, the Association will work to advance professional development and networking; stimulate partnerships with non-governmental actors, first and foremost media and civil society organizations; promote citizen engagement and good governance through transparency, accountability and free and easy access to information in public sector; advocate for higher professional standards, values and ethics of public sector communication, as well as use of innovation and new technologies.

Krunoslav Vidic from Croatia was elected the Chairman and Vuk Vujnovic from Montenegro the Secretary General of the Association. Members of the Steering Board are Christian Spahr (KAS Media Program South East Europe), Dinka Zivalj (RCC) and Nadica Dujovic (UNDP).

In his speech at the conference, Dusko Markovic, Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro, stressed that the most important role of communication professionals is to be the voice of citizens within institutions, and the voice of institutions in the public, helping ensure the policies they make and implement fully reflect the needs and interests of the citizens.

“This way of thinking and of governance is also in line with the best European standards, with the EU strongly promoting participative democracy in the Lisbon Treaty as one of the three principles of democratic governance (with democratic equality and representative democracy).”

No democratic Government was ever at a loss when it was prepared to listen to its people, said Rastislav Vrbensky, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro.

„Every government’s duty is to be informative and transparent to the public. However, there’s more here than having one side advertise their policies or the other side yelling out their grievances. It is a two-way street of partnership and trust between government and citizens. This Conference appears to be an undeniable proof of political will of the Montenegrin Government and governments in the South East Europe to work and improve on its link of communication with citizens.”

Douglas Jones, Deputy Chief of Mission, U. S. Embassy to Montenegro, commended the PR Bureau of the Government of Montenegro for organizing this outstanding event, which highlights the important role that Government communicators play in getting critical messages out to citizens.

“Spokespersons play a central role in ensuring transparency and openness in governance. Your job is not always easy but the results are clear: when Government communicators are empowered to do their jobs, society benefits: the public is more informed and engaged, governments make better decisions, trust in government increases and corruption decreases.”

The conference focused on government communication in citizens’ service, optimisation of resources in public communication, usage of modern technology for improvement of two-way communication, social media, communicating EU integration, and regional cooperation.

Frank Priess, Deputy Head of European and International Cooperation of Konrad Adenauer Foundation, pointed out that besides the media, governments and political parties have a major responsibility for making politics transparent.

“For political communication, good resources and structures are required. But even more important is the professional attitude of PR managers in politics. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung actively involves itself as one of the hosts of the SEECOM because it is a place of experts who see their job as a social responsibility. The SEECOM is a network for values.”

Jovan Tegovski, Chief of Staff at the RCC Secretariat, recalled that the economic crisis that hit South East Europe had made communication ever more important, making it imperative for governments to be in constant communication with their citizens to explain what is it that they are doing to help them overcome the present difficulties.

“A deepening of the dialogue between state actors and media and non-governmental community is the niche the RCC considers of a paramount importance for securing the well-being of a society, its economic prosperity and development, in line with goals of the SEE 2020 strategy the countries of the region are currently preparing under RCC coordination.”

The event gathered 80 top government communicators from all over South East Europe, communication experts from Europe and the US, as well as PR managers and heads of communication from the region.