CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONCILIATION IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

News

28Oct

German broadcaster praises CDRSEE

German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle had nothing but praise for CDRSEE, posting these articles after Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung gave the CDRSEE its prestigious Human Rights Award for 2013.

Check out the coverage, in both German and Greek:

http://www.dw.de/geschichte-mit-den-augen-des-anderen-sehen/a-17193471 

http://dw.de/p/1A7ww 

 

21Oct

Happy birthday, CDRSEE! 15 years of turning conflict into dialogue, achieving impact beyond borders, and making democracy work

Happy Birthday to the CDRSEE! Today marks the 15th anniversary of the inception of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe, when the founders of our organization took the brave decision to no longer accept the conflict and intolerance that had caused so many tragedies in our region. To this day, we are proud of their bold leap to find a way to foster true reconciliation starting at the grass roots, and make long-term peace possible in a region ravaged by war.

It has not been an easy decade and a half, but it has been fulfilling, not only because of the results and awards, but also because of the friendships and personal awareness and understanding we ourselves have forged. Our team has worked passionately to foster reconciliation, advance democratic principles, and encourage better understanding and collaboration amongst societies in the region.There have been obstacles and challenges along the way, but we have consistently and throughout stayed true to our core values and founding commitments.

While our goal was not to seek out recognition and acknowledgment of our work, it is fitting that this milestone anniversary be capped with a special award. We are more than honoured that our endeavors have led us to receive the 2013 Human Rights Award of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The ceremony will take place in Berlin on the 28th of October. Recognition such as this gives us the drive to continue to push ahead with our work.

Our programmes have made a real difference. The Joint History Project, our first flagship project, has reformed the way history is being taught in our part of the world. The JHP recently added a teaching methodology manual that reaches far beyond our borders. Our TV talk show Vicinities, a powerful more recent addition to our programmes, has received broad acclaim from audiences and media alike. Vicinities is being broadcast throughout the Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian-speaking countries of Southeast Europe and beyond. It remains the only television programme to receive such exposure and reach such a wide audience. It stands as a unique effort of reconciliation, better understanding, media quality, and freedom of expression. We are equally proud of our many other initiatives, including the Employed. Empowered project, the Recycle Monster project in our hometown of Thessaloniki, Greece, and the Kosova/Kosovo project, which in a largely unprecedented fashion brought together Albanian and Serbian journalists on a joint project for the first time following years of conflict.

Today, the CDRSEE Board of Directors, the CDRSEE team, and our colleagues and partners celebrate 15 years of turning conflict into dialogue, achieving impact beyond borders, and making democracy work. Happy birthday, CDRSEE!

11Oct

2nd Teacher Training Workshop of the 2nd Albanian Language Edition

 

4-6 October 2013 - In the coastal city of Vlore, the CDRSEE in collaboration with ALBNA,  the Albanian history teacher association, organised the second local teacher training workshop of the 2nd Albanian Language Edition of the Joint History Project (JHP).

20 teachers took part in the workshop and were introduced in new history teaching methodologies within the spirit of the JHP. The trainers Fatmiroshe Xhemalaj, Helian Demir and Ermal Baze presented various model lessons and engaged the participants to develop model lessons on their own. All participants received JHP Workbooks and manuals, as well as certificates of attendance by the regional educational authorities.

29Sep

1st JHP Teacher Training Workshop of the second Albanian language edition, in Berat, Albania

 

On 28-29 September the first JHP Teacher Training Workshop of the new second Αlbanian language edition, was completed in Berat, Albania.

Twenty-seven history teachers from a variety of primary and secondary schools gathered in the historic city of Berat, a Unesco Heritage Site. The purpose of their gathering was to learn new methods of teaching history within the framework of the Joint History Project.

Trainers Fatmiroshe Xhemalaj, Andi Pinari, and Helian Demiri encouraged the teachers to voice their opinions and present their arguments and thoughts. Following two days of presentations and group work, the seminar culminated with the CDRSEE disseminating  teaching materials to all participants for future use. The thematic group work, presentations, and public discussions were well received by the history teachers, who worked hard at practicing the participatory teaching methodology endorsed by the Joint History Project in Southeastern Europe. All participants received certificates of attendance by the regional educational authorities and were appreciative of being introduced to  alternative classroom methodologies and a multi-perspective approach at teaching that is reforming the way that history is being taught.

26Sep

September 25th, 2013 - Probing Serbian-German Relations

Dusan Reljic, senior researcher at the German Institute for International Affairs and Security and CDRSEE board member, lead a panel discussion on Serbian-German relations at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung organized conference, Serbia and Germany – Asymmetrical Reality. The conference was co-organized by the Belgrade-based Center for Foreign Policy and lead by its director and also CDRSEE board member, Aleksandra Joksimovic. The conference engaged senior Serbian government officials, German representatives, civil society, and academics in a public dialogue aimed at analyzing the historical context and recent developments of Serbian-German relations.

The panel on historical and political relations which Mr. Reljic moderated included academics, journalists, and public officials from the two countries. While many contrasts and comparisons aiming to enhance lines of communication through political and civil channels were drawn from the discussion, Ivan Ivanji, a renowned Serbian author, offered particularly valuable insight. Having lived and traveled throughout Germany over many years, he recalled his difficulties in understanding Germans throughout various parts of Germany despite fluently speaking the language. He contrasted the existence of these local dialects with the common understanding and similar language that people of the Western Balkans speak despite consisting of several countries and separate national identities. The ensuing discussion focused on themes of reconciliation and how Germany can both be credited with insisting on Serbia addressing its past, as well as being more understanding of what it means to reconcile following conflict.

 

23Sep

September 20th, 2013 - A Comparative Perspective of International Reconciliation Models

 

The Third Belgrade Security Forum, where global issues are brought to the Balkan strategic discussion, took place over the course of three days at the onset of autumn in Belgrade. This year’s relevant theme dealt with addressing the challenges that Balkan states face in responding to the economic crisis, energy dependence, and inter-state conflicts.

On the second day of the Forum, following the plenary session, the CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek moderated a breakout session on comparative perspectives of international reconciliation models. The speakers included Dr. Slawomir Debski of the Center for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding, Nora Ahmetaj of the Centre for Research, Documentation and Publication in Kosovo, and Andi Bela, an Albanian-Canadian journalist writing frequently on regional inter-state relations.

As soon as the discussion commenced, it was evident what a challenging and thorny subject the issue of reconciliation is. Some of the questions addressed throughout this dialogue were the existence of a universal principal for reconciliation, the prerequisites needed prior to fostering reconciliation, and the role that CSOs can play in supplanting the state in its support for the reconciliation process.  While the panelists were generally reserved and cautious to address these issues, going as far as to recoil from using the term reconciliation due to the politically driven context that it embodies, they did offer some thought provoking ideas for the engaged audience. Among the sternest statements that the panelists offered was that there is an absolute need for institutions to be created to facilitate the process of reconciliation and that leaders and key figures in times of conflict need to be engaged in the process. These statements triggered a discussion that did not lack substantial differences of opinion. The discussion confirmed the difficulties in addressing the reconciliation process in post conflict societies, but also validated the notion that progress and development will endure considerable obstacles all the while issues of reconciliation, dealing with the past, and an establishment of truth are not adequately addressed and embarked upon.

23Sep

21-22 September 2013, Trogir, Joint History Project Teacher Training Workshop

 

The CDRSEE successfully completed another Joint History Project Teacher-Training Workshop in Croatia, in the city of Trogir, Dalamatia.

This was the fourth and final workshop in the second round of trainings scheduled to help teachers understand and tailor the JHP workbooks and programme to their students' needs. Including the 20 participants that joined the workshop in Trogir, about 100 teachers have been successfully trained in Croatia. 

In Trogir, five trainers helped with the presentation of the workbooks, engaging the teacher-students with five model lessons. 

These workshops would not have been possible without the help of Education and Teacher Training Agency, the  History Association of Croatia and of course our trainers -- Kresimir Erdelja, Snjezana Koren, Tamara Jankovic, Ivan Dukic and Kiti Jurica-Korda.

The CDRSEE wraps up the round of workshops in Croatia with the hope and confidence that we have contributed to the successful implementation of the JHP in the area, and ultimately to true reconciliation in the region.

17Sep

September 17th, 2013 - Alpbach Summer School Students Introduced to the CDRSEE's Joint History Project

 

The Alpbach Summer School on European Integration held its annual program in Belgrade to learn about the region’s history, culture, society, politics, and law. The CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek led a panel discussion and presented the work of the CDRSEE at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory.

The dialogue, rather than taking the customary jot down and repeat what I say approach of regional education, engaged students in a vibrant discussion on the concept and subjectivity of history, shared identities, and the EU integration aspirations of Balkan states. Students were immediately challenged to think outside the box and reexamine the cultural differences that borders of the Balkans have established. Throughout the discussion, Nenad presented the students with the CDRSEE’s flagship program, the Joint History Project. While making sure to highlight the project’s successes in teaching history by avoiding stereotypes, identifying attitudes that encourage conflict, and promoting the idea of multiple interpretations of one event, he also addressed some of the hardships that the project has faced as Balkan societies are still in the process of breaking away from nationalistic sentiment, xenophobia, and ethnocentricity. The students were appreciative to learn of the project and grasp at the idea to study history with multiple interpretations of one event.

The discussion was followed by a question and answer session where the students eagerly sought answers to issues ranging from the transformation and emergence of political parties in Serbia, Montenegro’s EU accession path, and the process of reconciliation in the region.