CDRSEE Board Meeting

Nov. 8 - 9, Thessaloniki, Greece - Board Members gather at our headquarters to critique the past year and look ahead to 2015. The plan for our key projects, new and in progress, will be determined. 



CDRSEE Board Member Nenad Sebek receives SEEMO award

CDRSEE Board Member and former Executive Director Nenad Sebek has been given the SEEMO 2014 Award for Better Understanding in South East Europe, which is presented in honour of CDRSEE Board Chairman Dr Erhard Busek who has worked for reconciliation in Southeast Europe for much of his career. Dr Busek, who sponsors the award, also serves as the Coordinator of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) and is Chairman of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM).

Sebek, who currently serves as spokesperson for the Regional Cooperation Council, accepted the award, thanking Dr Busek for his leadership and inspiration in working for reconciliation and understanding in the region.

Sebek started his career as a journalist, covering the region, including during times of conflict, for the BBC and other media, always with the goal of improving communication and understanding. Twelve years ago he switched his focus to non-governmental agencies, working to build bridges and send a message of tolerance and understanding through education and media projects. Most of his experience is with the CDRSEE, where he was instrumental in the success of the Joint History Project and “Okruzenje”, or “Vicinities” in English, and many other programmes.

The presentation was part of the South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF), held Oct. 16-18, 2014, in Skopje. The conference strived to answer the question, “Media in South East Europe: Not enough or too much information?” Speakers and panelists, including policy makers, editors and journalists, attorneys and many others, came from across the region to address the media and politics, effects on EU integration, media integrity, access to public information, data and source protection, censorship, reporting during wartime, as well as other timely topics.



Okruzenje impresses, top journalists vow to cooperate


The CDRSEE’s current affairs talk show Okruzenje, “Vicinities” in English, kicked off another season with a transformative roundtable discussion on regional cooperation of the media and a major press conference including diplomats, partner executives and editors in chief from the largest media outlets in the Balkans.

The event, held Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Belgrade, was standing-room only and brought together some of the most influential people of the region to discuss a topic that is of importance personally to the participants as well as on a broad public level. The cooperation of the media, across borders and within cities, is key to covering and exposing many of the stories that affect the region, the participants agreed.  But doing so in an institutionalised manner remains difficult.

Specifically, Vicinities is an example of cooperation that is working, as it is broadcast on eight TV channels in seven countries during this, its third season. Journalists pointed out that individual media outlets would not have the resources to do what Vicinities does weekly during its season.

“It is not enough to have good political relations on a higher level,” said Mr. Heinz Wilhelm, Ambassador in Belgrade of the Federal Republic of Germany, one of the sponsors of the Vicinities. “It’s important to bring together the people, to achieve reconciliation in a region where many wounds are still open, maybe even bleeding. That is why we have been and keep supporting this initiative.”

The Vicinities team took the opportunity to present the show and its new season. This season the team produced 14 episodes, covering topics that range from corruption and organised crime to renewed nationalism, and traditional theatre to the debate on whether the mutually understood languages of the region are distinct or one in the same.

The panel that presented the show included the German Ambassador as well as Dr. Erhard Busek, Chairman of the CDRSEE, Ms. Hedvig Morvai, Executive Director of CDRSEE’s partner in Vicinities, the European Fund for the Balkans, Mr. Nenad Sebek, Spokesperson of another partner, the Regional Cooperation Council, and Ms. Zvezdana Kovac, Executive Director of the CDRSEE.

The Ambassadors of Croatia and Albania in Belgrade, the Counsellors of the Embassies of Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and attaches from the Embassies of Belgium, Bulgaria and Slovenia also attended the event, which was held in Mikser House, a popular restored warehouse-turned cafe in the center of Belgrade.

The panel discussion was moderated by Mr. Sebek and Ms. Kovac, the hosts of Vicinities. The discussion was lively, and often returned to the fact that personal cooperation exists among journalists, but the region is missing organised cooperation. That cooperation, however, is difficult given the commercial aspect of the media in the region and around the world.

Still, the journalists were intent on continuing to try, for their own good and the good of the region.

“Time will show that whoever wants to survive, needs cooperation,” said Vladan Micunovic, editor in chief of TV Vijesti of Montenegro.

Zarko Joksimovic, Director of TV Kosovo 2, a TV station that is just a year and a half old, said that cooperation is key to the station’s growth. “We do not want to be kept at the local level. That is why we need cooperation.” 

Presenting and then participating in the discussion were the Editors in Chief of TV BiH (Sarajevo), TV Vijesti (Montenegro), TVK2 (Pristina), TV SLO (Ljubljana), and RTS (Belgrade), as well as journalists and editors from the weekly magazines Vreme (Belgrade), Dani (Sarajevo), Jutarnji list (Zagreb).


CDRSEE takes leading role in EWI conference

CDRSEE takes leading role in EWI conference
CDRSEE takes leading role in EWI conference
CDRSEE takes leading role in EWI conference
CDRSEE takes leading role in EWI conference
CDRSEE takes leading role in EWI conference

CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac was a lead discussant in the EastWest Institute’s conference focusing on managing conflict in Europe, presenting the CDRSEE’s work and its impact as well as ideas for what more can be done in conflict management. She was joined by CDRSEE Board Member Dr. Dusan Reljic who also serves as Head of the Brussels Office of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

EWI gathered numerous policy makers, international ambassadors and members of the press on Sept. 25, 2014, for a morning dedicated to finding ways to reduce and manage conflict in its region and its neighbourhood. The idea was to look at how conflict was addressed in the Balkans, and use that experience to reflect on the current situation in Ukraine. In addition the group addressed European tools and instruments for conflict management, focusing on violent extremism.

Ms. Kovac was a lead discussant in the first session, which discussed “Ethnic and National Conflict: The Case of the Western Balkans.” The second session took the cases studied in the first and looked at the current crisis in eastern Ukraine, reflecting on the role that Europe and the EU have played there in the recent months.

Finally, Ambassador Martin Fleischer, Vice President and Director of Regional Security of EWI, moderated a discussion regarding Europe as a whole, called “Conditions for Successful Conflict Management in Europe: Tools for countering Violent Extremism and Managing Conflict”. This session involved all participants, many of whom brought up lessons learned in previous conflicts and warnings for dealing with current conflictive areas.


CDRSEE speaks at U.N. Human Rights Council

Take a look -- The CDRSEE took part in a United Nations Human Rights Council panel discussion on history teaching and its importance for the future.

Dubravka Stojanovic, a history professor at Belgrade University and Vice Chair of the Joint History Project’s History Education Committee, was a key panelist.


CDRSEE hosts panel discussion at 24th Economic Forum in Poland

The CDRSEE was the host of a panel discussion bringing together prominent speakers on the subject “Are Divided Memories a Threat to a United Europe?”. The panel was part of the 24th Economic Forum in Poland, which attracted 2600 participants from all around the world.

The CDRSEE partnered with the Institute for Eastern Studies from Warsaw to organise the panel, which took place from September 2 to 4, 2014, in Krynica Zdroj, Poland.

The panel consisted of Ms. Gordana Comic, the Deputy Speaker of the Serbian National Assembly; Prof. Piotr Glinski, a sociologist and the nominee for Polish Prime Minister by the opposition party Law and Justice; John Roosegard Bisshop, a diplomat from the Netherlands with vast experience in European affairs; Prof. Tomas Venclova, a Lithuanian poet and writer who teaches at Harvard; Father Kazimierz Sowa, a Catholic priest and journalist and the founder of Religia TV; and Prof. Stefan Troebst, a historian and professor at the University of Liepzig.

The panel, moderated by the CDRSEE’s Programmes Director Corinna Noack-Aetopulos, discussed the importance that addressing divided memories in Europe has versus a more future-oriented approach where the focus lies on aspects that unite us. There are good arguments for both approaches, which do not have to be in contradiction to each other; on the contrary, the path to a genuinely united Europe will have to go along both ways, the panel noted.

The Economic Forum overall addressed the social, political, and economic consequences of the global crisis and challenged the established economic theory that has been the staple of financial institutions throughout Europe. This discussion centered on Europe’s revision to social policy and its effect.

Read more about the 24th Economic Forum here:


Board Chairman opens IDM conference, presents CDRSEE work


The CDRSEE was honored to have Board Chairman, Dr. Erhard Busek, open the IDM’s conference on Myths Surrounding the Great War in the Danube Region, held in Vienna on September 22, 2014.

The conference was organsied by the Renner Institut, the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe and the Politische Akademie and supported by the Federal Chancellery of Austria, WienKultur and The Future Fund of the Republic of Austria. About 100 journalists and international participants attended the conference that analysed the impact of political myth from the First World War to present and the inter-relation of collective memory and European integration in the Danube region.

Dr. Busek, who also serves as IDM’s chairman, also presented as a member of the panel discussing political myth. Dr. Busek spoke about the CDRSEE and its work in particular, the impact of the “Joint History Project”, CDRSEE’s flagship programme, which he called a “mythbuster” when it comes to history-teaching in Southeast Europe.

In addition, “Vicinities”, CDRSEE’s regional TV current affairs talk show broadcast in seven countries, also helps to fight against the creation of new myths, by working to enhance mutual understanding in the Balkans, Dr. Busek noted.

Board member Nenad Sebek also participated in the conference, giving a keynote speech on “Why an ugly truth is better than a beautiful myth”.


The first episode of season three Okruzenje ("Vicinities") broadcasted in seven countries


The third season of Okruzenje, known as “Vicinities” in English, got off to an outstanding start this week, as the first episode of the 2014-1015 political talk show series, which addressed Solidarity among citizens in the region, was broadcast on eight TV channels in seven countries.

This season is the most in-depth to date, with 14 Vicinities debates in the works, covering topics ranging from Language and Organised Crime to Unemployment and the Aftermath of War.

From the start, Vicinities has been the only regional talk show in the Balkans. The shows take on topics that are important to the region, affect everyday life and oftentimes are difficult or painful to address. But the guests, from different backgrounds and countries, discuss, debate, disagree and sometimes even find humour, all while promoting communication and reconciliation.

As in past seasons, the guests speak in their native languages -- Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian -- as they are mutually understood. Co-hosts Zvezdana Kovac and Nenad Sebek pose questions and prompt debate with videos and information, and the debates take on a life of their own.

This season’s participating TV channels, simultaneously broadcasting the show, include ALSAT-M TV from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Radio Television Serbia, Vijesti television from Montenegro, Radio Television Bosnia and Herzegovina, TV BN (Bjeljine), HRT Croatian television, RTK - Kosovo and TV Info from Slovenia.

The third season of Vicinities is supported by our partners, the European Fund for the Balkans (, the Regional Cooperation Council ( and the German Federal Foreign Office (