CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONCILIATION IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

News

10Sep

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: www.hobseminar.com and www.facebook.com/hobseminar.
23Jul

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.

21Jul

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: https://www.facebook.com/hobseminar

25Jun

In Memoriam - Dr. Enes Milak

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

He was a researcher at the Institute of Modern History in Belgrade and later served as the Director of the AVNOJ History Museum in Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also was a member of our History Education Committee since 2006. It was a privilege to work with him for almost a decade; we learned so many things about his country and we felt his genuine dedication to history and reconciliation.

"Peace must be lived“ and he was an outstanding example for all of us. We will miss the kind and cheerful personality of our precious friend.

Our condolences go to his wife Rukija Milak and his family.

23May

CDRSEE at European Identity and the Future of the Balkans conference in Skopje

 

19 May 2014 – SKOPJE – CDRSEE took part in an important international conference in Skopje, addressing “European Identity and the Future of the Balkans”, which brought together numerous policy makers, academics and civil society actors.

CDRSEE Board Member and journalist and political analyst Sašo Ordanoski (on the far right in the image) was a speaker, part of the roundtable discussion on the question of whether the Balkans has an identity other than the European-given one. Specifically, he spoke on “Political Populism and European Identity in the Balkan Context”, and a lively discussion followed.

CDRSEE Executive Director Nenad Sebek was also a speaker, but in another roundtable, this one addressing Europe and Reconciliation. He spoke about “Reconciliation and Lessons learned from History”.

The conference had a wide range of supporters, including the French and Austrian Embassies in Skopje and the Paris Institute of Political Science (Sciences Po).

21May

CDRSEE moderating a panel discussion at conference in Sarajevo

 

May 16, 2014 – Sarajevo --The CDRSEE played an important role in a Sarajevo conference, moderating a panel discussion on a provocative analysis of the Balkans, its status, trends and possible development scenarios based on the research findings and policy report of the European Fund for the Balkans.

The panel discussion was entitled “From Euromaidan to Tuzla: Development scenarios for the Balkans in Europe” and included speakers from Cabinet of the President of Republic of Croatia, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, the University of Graz and Democracy for Development. CDRSEE Executive Director Nenad Sebek was the discussion moderator.

The EFB report is called “Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG)” and looked at a number of areas, including where the countries of the Balkans stand in terms of carrying out democratic and economic reforms, how they can cope with growing social dissatisfaction and how to sell further enlargement in the EU member states.

The panel discussion, held at the University of Sarajevo, was organized by the European Foundation Centre (EFC), an international membership association of 231 foundations and corporate funders. The group’s mission is to be the natural partner for those seeking to strengthen the European philanthropic sector.

Participants in the panel discussion, pictured, are: Nenad Sebek (CDRSEE), Hedvig Morvai (Executive Director of the EFB), Leon Malazogu (Democracy for Development), Dejan Jovic (Cabinet of the President of Republic of Croatia), Floriaj Bieber (University of Graz) and Ivan Vejvoda (The German Marshall Fund of the United States).

14May

CDRSEE at International symposium commemorating the First world war in Zagreb

 

Three CDRSEE members and affiliates actively participated at the International Symposium, “Commemorating 1914: Exploring the War’s Legacy”. The Symposium took place on May 5th and 6th at the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb and was organised by the EUNIC network in scientific partnership with the historians of Zagreb University and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and Documenta NGOs.

The Symposium gathered 25 historians from throughout Europe to assess the power of history as a means to consolidate peace and reconciliation. A century after the first world wide conflict, memories are bleak as to how the war affected nations’ memories. The Symposium opened debate and encouraged discussion on how the war shaped Croatia’s destiny and that of her neighbours. In particular, it focused on the confrontation of memories, the representation and account of the conflict, the post First World War process of reconciliation, and the memory of the war in the context of building a new Europe.

Snjezana Koren, a professor of history didactics at the History Department of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, spoke on the third session of the Symposium, The European War and Reconciliation Issues in the 20th Century. She spoke of the challenges and obstacles of teaching the First World War in Croatia. In particular, she addressed the difficulty of distinguishing whether the war was one of heroes or one of the defeated and how interpretations and memories have confounded those beliefs. Among the key points in her talk was her illustration of the ways in which history teaching can be abused for pseudo-patriotic purposes and current regime interests.

Neven Budak, a historian at the University of Zagreb, graciously shared photographs from his personal collection. The exhibition, Croatians during the First World War, was presented at the Library of the French Institute in Zagreb from April 28th - May 15th.

Nenad Sebek, Executive director of the CDRSEE, spoke on one of the closing sessions addressing memory and history of the war. He presented the Center’s Joint History Project and how this unique regional collaboration amongst historians was able to reform history teaching and utilize its outcomes for spurring reconciliation amongst people in the region.

12May

CDRSEE At International Symposium Commemorating The First World War In Zagreb

 

Three CDRSEE members and affiliates actively participated at the International Symposium, "Commemorating 1914: Exploring the War's Legacy". The Symposium took place on May 5th and 6th at the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb and was organised by the EUNIC network in scientific partnership with the historians of Zagreb University and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and Documenta NGOs.

The Symposium gathered 25 historians from throughout Europe to assess the power of history as a means to consolidate peace and reconciliation. A century after the first world wide conflict, memories are bleak as to how the war affected nations' memories. The Symposium opened debate and encouraged discussion on how the war shaped Croatia's destiny and that of her neighbours. In particular, it focused on the confrontation of memories, the representation and account of the conflict, the post First World War process of reconciliation, and the memory of the war in the context of building a new Europe.

Snjezana Koren, a professor of history didactics at the History Department of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, spoke on the third session of the Symposium, The European War and Reconciliation Issues in the 20th Century. She spoke of the challenges and obstacles of teaching the First World War in Croatia. In particular, she addressed the difficulty of distinguishing whether the war was one of heroes or one of the defeated and how interpretations and memories have confounded those beliefs. Among the key points in her talk was her illustration of the ways in which history teaching can be abused for pseudo-patriotic purposes and current regime interests.

Neven Budak, a historian at the University of Zagreb, graciously shared photographs from his personal collection. The exhibition, Croatians during the First World War, was presented at the Library of the French Institute in Zagreb from April 28th - May 15th.

Nenad Sebek, Executive director of the CDRSEE, spoke on one of the closing sessions addressing memory and history of the war. He presented the Center's Joint History Project and how this unique regional collaboration amongst historians was able to reform history teaching and utilize its outcomes for spurring reconciliation amongst people in the region.