H.E Pierre Cochard, Ambassador of France to Serbia, presented the French Ordre de la Légion d’honneur at the rank of knight to journalist Ljubica Gojgić for her exceptional and exemplary career.
On that occasion, Cochard pointed out that the order was awarded to Gojgić because she had defended the democratic values that France adheres to in its country.
“Ljubica Gojgić, on behalf of the President of the Republic of France, we are awarding you the National Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur at the rank of knight”, said the ambassador, presenting the order.
Gojgić said that she is proud to receive the order and that she is honoured that her career has contributed to the fight to strengthen democratic values, especially freedom of speech and opinion.
“I belong to a free generation that dared and wanted to talk about freedom in general, including freedom of the media, that considered it its obligation to conquer it and the right not to leave it to anyone – neither government, nor opponents, nor allies”, said Gojgić.
She explained that she had grown up in an environment where combativeness took precedence over flexibility and that she was glad to see people at the reception who believe in the same professional principles even today, in a world of legitimized false news, a culture of exclusion, uniformity and political correctness.
“We must not retreat”, said Gojgić, emphasizing that society must not view the freedom of the media as a matter of guilds, political favour or elite agreements, but as a value that it must support.
Cochard also mentioned that Gojgić is one of the most respected journalists in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, and pointed out that her career began in 1992 on Radio Indeks, that she later joined the weekly NIN and that she wrote for Democracy.
He especially emphasized her work on B92 television since 2001 and her reporting from the Hague Tribunal from the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević, on Serbia’s accession to the EU and on the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština.
“As a professional in all circumstances, you stood out with your respect for the journalistic code, while maintaining directness with your interlocutors, without condescension, which is a reflection of your independence”, said Cochard.
He also pointed to her show Pravi Ugao (Right Angle), in which she “manages to interview the most important people of all orientations in a political and media environment marked by a strong polarization of political and social ideas”.
“When the struggle against information manipulation has become a crucial challenge at European and international level, we should support your commitment to promoting journalistic ethics and principles”, said Cochard, adding that France was committed to the freedom of the press, that it is one of the EU’s core values, and that this freedom must be protected by the authorities not only through laws, but also through respect for journalists and pluralism.
At the end of her speech, Gojgić spoke in French and shared the memory of her grandfather, who went through Golgotha in the First World War and for the rest of his life spoke about two homelands – Serbia and France.
“In memory of those whose heroism enabled us to live freely and who have bequeathed us the obligation to defend the values for which they fought”, concluded Gojgić.
The Order of the Légion d’Honneur is the highest French decoration, established by Napoleon in 1802.