RETHINK progresses to its second phase

With creativity, cooperation and ideas for the pan-European dissemination of participative, multi-perspective and critical thinking materials on remembrance education, the  RETHINK project entered its second Workpackage phase; that of upscaling and piloting the model educational practices on its database.

Kicking off the phase with a consortium and educational experts’ meeting in the Hague in September, the project embarked on a critical stage of working on how to share the wide range of educational ideas, with as diverse a set of educators as possible.  An external Advisory Panel of independent experts evaluated the results of Workpackage I (gathering and publicising good educational practices from a range of organisations, museums and memorials from all of the partner countries) and the teams proceeded to plan how to make the practices and methodologies transferrable and useable on a pan-European scale.

The practices will be made available via the RETHINK website, for free download for non-profit use. Working with independent experts and the internal teams, Workpackage II will create a handbook for educators to using the practices in different educational settings, and how to utilise the participative methodologies for broader education on issues of tolerance, anti-radicalisation and anti-extremism.

Through this Workpackage, the CDRSEE has contributed a model lesson based on its prestigious ‘JHP II’ set of resources, which utilises the events of ‘Operation Storm’ and ‘The Siege of Vukovar’ to explore themes of media bias, propaganda, multi-perspectivity and media ethics, aimed at secondary school age students. You may access the model lesson here

If you are an individual or an organisation engaged in remembrance education and interested in promoting or implementing innovative tools aimed at enriching the media literacy and critical thinking skills of the younger generation, join the RETHINK Network and profit from this unique international forum and its educational activities. For more information click here


Is Democracy in Crisis? Experts from Greece and Bulgaria discuss

From 16 to 18 October, 2018 the 1st Bulgarian-Greek Talks, organised under the auspices of the Public Policy Institute and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, in collaboration with the CDRSEE, the CIEEL and the Institute for Balkan Studies in Thessaloniki, took place in the city of Sandanski, Bulgaria. Twenty policy experts, academicians and researchers from Greece and Bulgaria came to discuss aspects of the problems and challenges faced by democracy nowadays. Professor Dr. Zdravko Popov, Director of the Public Policy Institute, Mr. Bogdan Mirtschev, Head of Hanns Seidel Foundation Office in Bulgaria and Dr. Klaus Fiesinger, Regional Director for Southeast Europe, Hanns Seidel Foundation welcomed the participants of the Symposium and moderated the talks.

Speakers engaged in compelling debates about topical issues, such as the past and present of democracy in our region, the EU democratic deficit, the refugee crisis as a strain on European democracies and the impact of digital transformation on the nature of politics and the functioning of democratic institutions. This bilateral initiative aspires to be replicated in 2019, with a view to establish itself as a permanent forum of experts from both countries.


ePACT ‘Teaching for Learning’ series conclude in Banja Luka

The last of the ‘Teaching for Learning’ series of seminars, specially designed for educators from across Southeast Europe, took place in Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, on 11-12 October.

The workshop was attended by 20 school teachers, directors, inspectors and members of pedagogical institutions, who were offered an opportunity to upskill their capacities by incorporating democratic principles and active learning in their teaching. Participants received training by experienced trainers of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republika Srpska, Dijana Pešić, Tatjana Mihajlović, Slađana Vilotić, Kristijan Popović, Brane Mikanović, Marinko Savić, Zoran Bogdanović and Nina Ninković.

Mr. Predrag Damjanovic, Director of the Pedagogical Institute of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Republika Srpska addressed the participant educators an opening speech. Mr Damjanovic made a reference to the excellent cooperation between the Ministry and the CDRSEE in the preparation of this workshop, further stressing the need for more workshops of this kind to be carried out in his country.

The ‘Teaching for Learning’ Seminars were part of the activities implemented within the framework of the educational project ePACT, an initiative aimed at providing democratic education tools and promoting critical thinking and active citizenship through the introduction of new teaching and learning methodologies in the classroom. Designed to improve the quality of the teaching and learning process by internationally acclaimed and awarded Prof. Lorin Anderson, expert in classroom assessment, curriculum studies, and teacher effectiveness, the seminar scenarios created stimulating learning environments tailored to the current needs of the students and offered educators innovative tools to support their teaching.

The implementation of the seminars was the result of a close collaboration between the CDRSEE and the local Ministries of Education, that, acknowledging the significance of this initiative embraced our efforts by officially accrediting all twelve seminars. The training sessions were organised with the financial assistance of the Austrian Development Agency.

The capacity building achieved through the ‘Teaching for Learning’ Seminars will continue online, with the creation of an e-learning environment where educators from across the region will have free access to online courses that enhance knowledge-sharing and the multiplication of teachers’ competencies.  





CDRSEE with an established presence at the Civil Society Forum in Skopje

The CDRSEE was once again among the think tanks, institutions, experts and civil society representatives invited to take part in the Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkan Series, in Skopje. CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms Zvezdana Kovac was assigned the role of moderating the agora discussion “Bridges or Walls: Macedonia and the Western Balkans in Europe” between the Prime Minister of the FYR of Macedonia Mr Zoran Zaev and Research Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy and Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics of South East Europe at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Dr. Ioannis Armakolas. The discussion’s focal point was interethnic relations in the region of Western Balkans and regional initiatives aimed at bridging divisions among societies.

With reference to the panel’s title Mr. Zaev stated that most of the regions politicians, citizens and CSOs are focused on building bridges. In the past year and a half, he added, his country has built bridges within itself, with Bulgaria and Greece. “No country in the Balkans, not even Greece, can not achieve progress on its own. Our country is small and will improve itself only through integration with others”, Prime Minister Zaev said. He further expressed his confidence that the Prespa Agreement will be implemented sooner or later. Professor Armakolas, on his part, agreed that enough bridges have been built between the Western Balkan states and that the Prespa Agreement, despite its unpopularity in both countries involved, is one of them. “We all have a picture of what kind of society we want to live in – a European-style one. And that is already a unifying factor”, Professor Armakolas stressed.

The panel was attended by a large number of civil society and media representatives and elicited great interest.

Following the regular edition of this year’s Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit Series that took place in London in July, an interim edition of the Forum was opened in Skopje on October 7, 2018. Entitled “Civil Society Engagement in the Berlin Process Revisited” the Forum and organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the European Fund for the Balkans concluded its works on October 9, 2018, after two days of compelling panel discussions that addressed topics related to the civil society’s contribution to the attainment of the of the Berlin Process goals. 


RETHINK partners meet in the Hague

Hosted by Euroclio, the 2nd RETHINK Consortium Meeting and Pedagogical Experts Meeting took place in the Hague, Netherlands from 15 to 16 September 2018. Following the successful conclusion of the project’s first phase that included the identification and collection of good practices in remembrance education, as well as the creation of an online database where institutions and educators from across Europe can access these innovative practices, Consortium partners came together to review the results of the first work package and design the array of activities of the project’s next phase.

Representatives from CIEP (Centre International d'Etudes Pedagogiques), the Shoah Memorial, Euroclio, the Living History Forum, the House of the Wannsee Conference, Kazerne Dossin, CESIE (Centro Studi e Iniziative Europeo) and the CDRSEE engaged in two extensive parallel meetings aimed at discussing the division of tasks and responsibilities of the partners and planning in detail the dissemination of the collected model practices in remembrance education. On behalf of the CDRSEE Development Officer Ms Ruth Sutton and Project Manager Ms Apostolia Gougousi attended the 2-day meeting.

The following phase of the project will entail an open call for good practices and an upscaling of these practices through model lessons conducted by the RETHINK network organisations.

If you want to join our network and read our latest news visit the RETHINK website or follow RETHINK on social media, facebook and twitter.


Skopje hosts ePACT workshops

The 10th and 11th Seminars of the ‘Teaching for Learning’ series, organised within the framework of ePACT (Education, Partnership for Advocacy, Capacity-Building  and Transformation) were successfully completed in Skopje.

The first pilot seminar that gathered school directors, curriculum developers and members of educational institutions from across the country took place on 10-11 September and the second one designed for primary and secondary education teachers from various disciplines took place on 12-13 September 2018.

Upon the guidance of distinguished trainers Ms. Violeta Petroshka-Beshka, Ms. Zaneta Chonteva and Ms. Ajse Ajrulai, participants enhanced their competencies, through mutual learning and participative activities. Hosted in hotel Arka, and organised with the support of the Bureau for Development of Education of the Ministry of Education and Science, the seminars were parallelly conducted in two languages (Makedonski and Albanian) allowing, thus, educators from both communities to embrace new teaching methods and exchange views on how to improve the quality of the teaching and the learning process in their classrooms. Participants acknowledged the value of the capacities built during the seminars in their work, expressed their satisfaction for the outcomes and requested the replication of such practices in the near future.

ePACT is a joint initiative of CDRSEE and Euroclio, implemented with the support of the Austrian Development Agency.


‘Balkan Booster 2018’ set sails from Thessaloniki

CDRSEE in collaboration with DW and RYCO, organised, within the framework of DW’s project ‘Balkan Booster’, a 3-day workshop for journalists from across Southeast Europe in Thessaloniki.

CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms. Zvezdana Kovac introduced participants to the Joint History Project books, and emphasized on the importance of multi-perspectivity not only in the work of a historian, but also in that of a journalist. Within the ‘Balkan Booster’ project, 14 journalists from 8 different countries will adopt a multi-perspective approach in their reporting, while using the books as a guide for their story-telling.

From 26 to 29 August 2018, 14 young, talented and eager-to-learn participants from across the region of Southeast Europe attended this preparatory seminar on mobile reporting and learned how to use specific tools (equipment, applications, filming techniques) to tell stories and publish them online. DW’s Head of Europe Desk and the Western Balkans Department Ms. Adelheid Feilcke, CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms. Zvezdana Kovac and RYCO’s Communication Officer Mr. Nikola Ristic welcomed the participants and encouraged them to utilize the skills acquired through this workshop in reporting stories that will promote the shared history and culture of the peoples of the region. Following this intensive training, participants had the opportunity to draw on the knowledge gained during the workshop in order to generate their own reports and later present their footage to their peers.

Starting from Thessaloniki, the 'Balkan Boosters' will embark on a journey to follow the traces of the common past of the Balkan peoples, based on the sources provided by the Joint History books. Stay with us for more updates on that!


Examining aspirations and perceptions across the Western Balkans: CDRSEE at the 2018 Balkan Barometer launch

On 6 July 2018, on the occasion of the launch of the 4th edition of the Balkan Barometer in Brussels, the CDRSEE joined representatives of the European Union (EU), governments, civil society, academia and regional media in a comprehensive discussion over the main findings of a survey, based on the latest examination of attitudes, experiences, aspirations, perceptions and expectations across the six economies of the SEE 2020 process.

CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms. Zvezdana Kovac moderated the expert panel discussion on the key perception insights that followed the detailed overview of the results of the 2018 edition of the Balkan Barometer. Panelists Mr. Valdrin Lluka, Minister of Economy of Kosovo*, Mr. Hamdo Tinjak, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Trade & Economic Relations of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Mr. Mario Holzner, Institute Deputy Director and Staff Economist at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW), and Dr. Dusan Reljic, Head of ‘Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik’ of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) brought their input on two broad topics covered by the annual public opinion survey: What is the perception of the region on the EU accession and the EU integration support? What is the business opinion of the situation in the region and what is expected from the governments?

This year’s main findings show that satisfaction of people and businesses on the overall situation in the region, while still below average, is steadily improving. EU accession prospect perceptions among the populations are mixed, with businesses being slightly more optimistic, an indication that the region slowly regains trust in the EU integration process.

The Balkan Barometer is an initiative, first commissioned by the Regional Cooperation Council in 2014, aimed at collecting and analyzing data across a host of thematic areas, examining aspirations and perceptions of the region’s populations and its business community.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.