Development Cooperation Handbook/Stories/Training Young Syrian Journalists
In Syria now, it is a time of division, violence and suffering. When we were there in November 2010 and in August 2011, we recorded many stories of cooperation and development. Nowadays, only sad and violent stories are narrated about this wonderful country. What then shall we do with these stories we collected in Syria in what now seems to be a different "age" altogether? Well, we decided to re-edit the videos we had made, include them in the Handbook we are developing and share them through the Internet. These videos will help us remember what Syria was before the civil war. And we hope that these stories will help restore trust amongst communities in Syria, and build, amongst those who love this country, the motivation to do whatever they can to restore peace and cooperation.
SKILLS was a programme on training young Syrian professionals to access new market niches that were then opening up, in 2011 and 2012, due to the Syrian government's support to modernisation and decentralisation of political control. It was a component of BESP, a vast cooperation programme between the EU and Syria aimed at expanding mutual trade.
In 2011, as part of this initiative, our team conducted a two week workshop for journalists that were attending training courses organised by SKILLS. The class divided in 4 groups, covering different stories of development assistance in Syria.
The classes was divided into four groups. One group helped us to revise and improve the development cooperation projects that we had covered before with the assistance of the journalist of the Italian television. One group decided to elaborate the methodology that we had been used for narrating the projects and prepared a 'tool box" of instruments that has been included in the on line handbook of development cooperation that we prepared along with the documentary. One group prepared an article on the Skill project itself. While a fourth group covered a project called "quality", a programme aimed at improving quality infrastructure in Syria and upgrading the competitive quality of Syrian products for international markets. They explained what were the obstacle in Syria in setting and maintaining quality standards, how this was affecting Syrian economy, and how the ongoing cooperation with the European Union was helping the Syrian Government to remove obstacles to modernisation and improve the overall business environment. They were encouraged to express their opinion without hindrances and they responded with enthusiasm, even if sometimes this meant they voiced out their criticism of the EU approach to international relations.
It was March 2011 then. The political confrontation that had started in Syria was at that time turning more violent. And all of a sudden, the Syrian Government cancelled visas to all foreign journalists and asked them to leave Syria. We were working in a cooperation project and did not hold journalist visas, so we were permitted to stay on and go ahead with the training programme.
While we were holding the workshop, some European Union parliamentarians demanded that the European Union cancel the ongoing cooperation programmes in Syria. We were all dismayed and disappointed. We recorded video the opinions of the trainee journalists on the importance of continuing development cooperation activities with Syria. We uploaded the same video on YouTube and mailed the link to the EU Delegation in Syria and the EU Parliament.
Finally in 2012, the EU suspended cooperation with the Syrian Government; but the projects with Syrian civil society are continuing.
On YouTube ⇒ Training Young Syrian Journalists - playlist
⇒ Andris Piebalgs - We will never stop the cooperation with the Syrian people
⇒ Stefano intervistato da Francesco Brancatella (RAI-TG1) a Beirut
Videos prepared by the trainees
Knowledge resources produced in the training