Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I hope you all enjoyed a happy and peaceful Christmas - thank you to all those who sent good wishes and let me now take the opportunity to wish all members of the AEJ a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
This year will be a very important one for the AEJ as we head towards our 50th. Annual Congress in the Autumn. Unfortunately the last of our founding fathers, Marcello Palumbo, passed away during this year but in his honour we would hope to re-instate our journalism prize and call it after him. Marcello was an active member of the association almost to the end, and in a letter to the Annual Congress in 2010 he urged solidarity with the Turks - twice this year AEJ representatives went to Istanbul to attend a protest and a trial, as the AEJ continues to add its voice to those fighting against the jailing of journalists in that country.
As the year drew to a close controversy erupted once again over Hungary's new media laws and in many other Eastern European countries, colleagues are under pressure as they go about their daily work, as we heard at our Congress in Bucharest.
Our Media Freedom work, led by William Horsley, continues to be one of the strongest features of the organisation . Now recognized as a significant source of expertise on the subject - the AEJ is an official observer at the Council of Europe Media Steering committee and William will be undertaking several projects in the New Year for which I'm sure he can count on your help.
We had a very successful Congress in Bucharest this year (thanks once again to our Romanian hosts !), and along with fruitful discussions on Media Freedom, we also launched a new platform on Euregional Journalism which Koos Van Houdt will head up.
In Bucharest it was also decided to streamline the organisation to make it more efficient and Secretary General, Peter Kramer, will be bringing forward proposals in the New Year which I ask you all to study carefully, we will discuss them at our next Ex Com in Bratislava at the end of March.
As we say continually the AEJ is only as strong as its member sections - please pass this message on to all of your members, keep in touch with the website to see what members in other countries are up to, and most of all keep safe !
I look forward to working with all of you again in the New Year,
Here's to 2012,