Vienna, 6 July 2005 - The Secretary-General of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Johannes Kyrle, presented the Austro-Polish Prize for Journalism 2004 to the Polish journalist Malgorzata Schwarzgruber-Barwicka today. Since 2001 the prize has been awarded annually on an alternating basis to an Austrian or Polish journalist whose journalistic work in the opinion of the jury has contributed to a better mutual understanding of political, economic and cultural life in Austria and Poland, especially in connection with the process of European integration. Previous prize-winners are Burkhard Bischof (of the Austrian daily "Die Presse"), Barbara Radzikowska-Krysczak (the Vienna correspondent of Polish Radio) and Josef Kirchengast (of the Austrian daily "Der Standard"). Malgorzata Schwarzgruber-Barwicka, the winner of the prize for 2004, is Head of the Foreign Affairs Desk of the Polish daily "Trybuna" and also writes for "Polonika", the monthly magazine published in Vienna in Polish and German.
In his laudation Ambassador Kyrle stressed that Ms. Schwarzgruber-Barwicka's work stood out not only for its high journalistic standard, but also for its transnational European approach. In her numerous articles and analyses the prize-winning journalist had addressed a diverse range of different themes with an Austrian angle.
Kyrle emphasised that there remained a strong need among the population for realistic and authentic information about the new partner countries in the European Union, despite the increasingly intensive cooperation between Poland and Austria following Poland's accession to the EU last year. In the last few years the constantly growing number of Polish tourists visiting Austria and Austrian companies investing in Poland, as well as committed efforts such as the "Polish Year" in Austria in 2002, had all done their part to gradually alleviate the deficit of information that still prevails. Nevertheless, it was an unfortunate fact that people's knowledge of the social, cultural and political circumstances in the respective other country was still partially dominated by clichés and stereotypes. "The media have a very decisive role to play in conveying a more realistic and authentic picture", said Kyrle, adding that Malgorzata Schwarzgruber-Barwicka with her journalistic activities had made an important contribution to this end.
The prize was jointly presented by Ambassador Kyrle and Anton Kolarik, Head of the Public Relations Department of Bank Austria Creditanstalt, which sponsors the Austro-Polish Prize for Journalism.