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 (


Hands on the Balkans Seminars Completed


The CDRSEE, in partnership with the European Movement in Serbia implemented two Hands on the Balkans seminars in July and August of 2014 with funding from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Balkan Trust for Democracy. In addition to exceeding all established benchmarks for project evaluation, both seminars were overwhelmingly successful. Our outreach garnered over 200 qualified applicants to submit applications for the July or August sessions. Following a selection process, we selected 28 applicants to participate in the seminars, our maximum logistical and planned capacity.

We highly valued the feedback that we would receive from those that participated. Upon the completion of the seminars, we asked the participants to submit anonymous feedback forms which asked them to rank the success of the program through a serious of questions, as well as provide commentary. For two of the most critical questions, participants were asked to rank their answers between 1 and 5 with 5 being the highest score. On the question of how satisfied were they with the seminar overall, the average rank was 4.8 with no score less than a 4. On the question on how likely they were to refer the seminar to a colleague or a friend, all but one participant ranked their answer with a 5, with one participant ranking it a 4. The average rank for the second question was 4.96.

During the seminars, the participants were the beneficiaries of an experience that is unique in its approach as we strove to spend as much time in the field and little of it in one confined space. Participants had the opportunity to meet with civil society organizations, media, international organizations, and public officials, as well as spend several days in Kosovo to get a feel for the contrast in views and opinions from meetings in Belgrade, North Mitrovica, and Prishtina respectively. Leaders and influential individuals provided the group with insight that can often be difficult to find in academic text. Milan Antonijevic, Director of YUCOM (Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) shared his views in that “the new government doesn't like criticism. They see it as something disturbing government [procedures] and ultimately destructive. They take it all too personally and don't see the need for open criticism in a country." Dubrovka Stojanovic, a historian at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade spoke on the CDRSEE’s Joint History Project and history education in general, noting that "it’s not just about history - it’s about the misuse of history... whoever controls the past also controls the future." When the participants were in an academic setting, whether it be at the facilities of the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade or Universum University College in Prishtina, they received frank and open insight from professors who taught during the seminars. Filip Ejdus, in his Serbia after Milosevic lecture, proclaimed that “as long as you have questioned borders you can’t really focus on democratization.” Alejtin Berisha, Executive Director of Universum University College in Kosovo, spoke on his experience in running for MP during the Kosovo Parliamentary Elections in 2010: "voters were more interested in short-term gains rather than long-term promise and vision ... I'm now in the education sector [so that] I can help support better political awareness." Such insight was at the core element of this seminar and provided the participants with a hands-on experience that complements either their education or early career endeavours.

An added value and particularly important sustainability element of the seminars is the network that the participants from both groups were able to form. In establishing a HoB Alumni online group we are affording the participants the opportunity to remain in contact, as well as collaborate together towards future endeavours in the HoB context and bilaterally with their own careers. The Alumni group discussion is active and an important aspect ensuring that the seminar experience lasts well beyond its ten day period. 

Overall, we are confident that the HoB seminar experience is of particular benefit to each student and young professional that participated. We are encouraged by the feedback and endeavour to build on these positive developments with future seminars and expand the HoB alumni network which will continue to develop the careers of future policymakers, civil society activists, and public servants. Our HoB seminar session in planned for December 12th to 22nd. Follow the seminars on the program’s website and facebook pages: and

In Memoriam - Dr. Zvezdan Folic

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Zvezdan Folic.

We had the privilege of working closely with Dr. Folic when he served as an editor of Montenegrin-language Joint History Project books. He was an accomplished researcher at the Historical Institute of Montenegro and taught History of Religions at the Institute’s Postgraduate Studies Programme. He was also a professor in the Department of History, Faculty of Philosophy, in Niksic.

Dr. Folic was a kind teacher and a consummate professional, and we will miss him. We send our condolences to his wife, Sladjana, and his children.


Hands on the Balkans Seminars Get Underway

The CDRSEE’s latest initiative, the Hands on the Balkans seminars, are set to take place over the coming weeks. The HoB seminars, for which the CDRSEE has partnered with the Belgrade based European Movement in Serbia, are geared to provide emerging professionals, as well as students and graduates of political science, with on-site educational experience in international development in the Balkans and hone their skills as policymakers, practitioners of international development, civil servants, and civil society activists. This promising initiative was made possible by support from the Balkan Trust for Democracy and the Konrad Adenaur Stiftung.

The first of the two seminars will take start on July 11th and will include fourteen promising future decision-makers from Portugal, Switzerland, Slovakia, the United States, Armenia, Macedonia, Ukraine, and Serbia. The participants will hear first hand from academics and experts on the region’s transition from post conflict instability to reconciliation, reform, and engagement in Euro-integration processes. Along with partaking in lectures at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, they will meet with civil society organizations, major media outlets in the region, and international organizations throughout Serbia and Kosovo.

The second seminar, set to take place in August, will include another full-capacity group of participants and will closely follow the structure of the July seminar. Follow post, updates and pictures from the seminar on the projects facebook page: