Freedom of the press and of information are essential elements in Iraq’s political and economic stabilization and democratic development.
This is the reason behind the Open Eye Award, presented on 9 December for the first time by “wirtschaftsplattform irak”, an online economics platform for Iraq which receives funding from the Federal Foreign Office. The award is for Iraqi journalists who take a critical approach to the economic challenges Iraq is facing and thereby contribute to greater transparency and sustainability within the Iraqi economy.
The jury of ten, which includes well-known journalists and editors from both Germany and Iraq, has chosen three articlesfrom among over 100 applications.The three winning pieces each shed light on current developments in the Iraqi economy – red tape surrounding the purchase of land for building, the export of oil to Iran, and the economic and social consequences of Iraq’s agricultural policy.
The three winners have been invited to Berlin to receive their awards, which include work placements in the editorial department of “wirtschaftsplattform irak” and other editorial departments in the field of business journalism, as well as a cultural programme presenting the capital’s most important historical and political sights.
“Wirtschaftsplattform irak” is partly financed by the Federal Foreign Office and run by the Berlin-based non-profit organization “Media in Cooperation and Transition” (MICT). Since its web launch in May 2009, the platform has provided up-to-date information on economic and social development in Iraq as well as tips for German businesses on potential for involvement and useful dates. The information covers everything from the legal regulations in the country to regional partners. “Wirtschaftsplattform irak” is intended thus to bolster the country’s reconstruction.
With Federal Foreign Office support, MICT also operates a website offering independent political information on Iraq (www.niqash.org).
The two initiatives feed into the German Government’s broad-based efforts to help Iraq on the road to political stabilization and assist reconstruction. On a recent visit to Iraq, Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle held talks with, among others, President Talabani, Prime Minister Al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Zebari, during which he urged them to form a government soon and sought closer economic relations between Germany and Iraq.
More information about the programme and the awards ceremony is available at www.wp-irak.de