Fortune favors the bold: Okruzenje/Vicinities is honored in London

Out of more than 100 applicants, Okruzenje/Vicinities receives the jury award in the ‘Media Initiative of the Year’ category at the European Citizenship Awards 2016 ceremony in London’s City Hall for its achievement in gathering citizens from across the Balkans in a manner which gives substance to European values and improves the lives of communities in terms of participation, democracy, rights and social justice. With rising viewership ratings, the TV programme is now in its fifth season and is based on a simple yet rather big idea: that of discussing sensitive political, economic, religious and social issues that still divide the countries of the region today. Upon receiving the award, the CDRSEE’s Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac, raised the fundamental importance of honest dialogue between neighbors gathered around a roundtable in promoting reconciliation, and explained how dissimilar views are always an occasion for re-examination and not hostility. She also gave special thanks to the herculean efforts and courage of all those involved in the programme which, not so long ago, seemed inconceivable.


JHP travels to the land of the Rising Sun

In connection to the upcoming translation and publication of the two new volumes of the Joint History Project in Japanese, Professor Nobuhiro Shiba from the University of Tokyo visited the Joint History Project Series’ Editor Professor Christina Koulouri and her colleagues Assistant Professor Vagelis Karamanolakis and Dr Philip Carabott in Athens. This was the first in a series of two meetings, the second of which will be held in Tokyo with Professor Koulouri to finalize the publication in November.


JHP in Sarajevo's bazaar

In a Sarajevo bazaar setting on August 30th, it was not goods being exchanged, but ideas.

The traditional meeting place for buying and selling turned into a bazaar for discussion, sharing thoughts and presenting projects, organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s (FES) Coordination Meeting, Southeast Europe.

Attending and presenting the Joint History Project for the CDRSEE, was Programme Adviser, Antonis Hadjiyannakis. He was joined by other FES funded organisations and individuals from Southeast Europe to engage in discussion on a wide range of social, political and economic issues facing the region. On a panel focusing on ‘Progressive Peace Policy’, the CDRSEE’s Joint History Project was promoted and its purpose as a key element in the vital role of education in peace building was emphasised. Other panels dealt with topics such as social democratic values and socio-economic research and advocacy.


In memory of Founding Director and Honorary Board Member Dr. John Brademas

Photo credit William E. Sauro/The New York Times

Dr. John Brademas

In Memoriam


It is with deep sadness that the CDRSEE announces the death of Founding Director and Honorary Board Member, Dr. John Brademas on July 11th 2016.  It was his ideas, vision and values that gave rise to the concept of the CDRSEE and his effective action that helped to found it.  His contributions to the CDRSEE through nearly 2 decades of work are immeasurable, but he will be particularly remembered for being the central driver in internationalising the Center and building bridges between countries and institutions– attracting Board Members and staff from all over the world and enabling the Center to attain international recognition.

His life and career are both characterised by a steadfast and positive commitment to public service and belief in the capacity of humans to develop better societies for all, through education, the arts and the humanities.  Serving in numerous positions in education, government and on foundations and committees, Dr. Brademas was a tireless innovator and supporter of inclusive education and cultural development; working ceaselessly for equal access to learning and the arts. 

A dauntless champion of democratic principles, John Brademas was a consistent opponent of the Junta that ruled Greece between April 1967 and July 1974 and equally staunch supporter of rule of law in Cyprus after the Junta’s coup resulted in the Turkish invasion.

John Brademas’ unwavering adherence to democracy and rule of law made him unpopular with then senior figures in the executive branch of the US government, but to its credit, represented the majority view in the US Congress.

Effectively, John Brademas and those who worked with him at that time- namely the late Congressmen, Senator Thomas Eagleton and Representative Ben Rosenthal and Senator Paul Sarbanes-played a decisive role in keeping the Cyprus issue open and it is very much to be hoped that a just settlement may be reached in Cyprus over the coming months.

John Brademas, in defending democratic principles and rule of law not only represented what is best in the American tradition but also displayed a sound understanding of the direction in which our world needs to move.

The first Greek-American member of the US Congress, he served as a Representative for Indiana for 22 years (1959-1981) and played a key role in the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities as well as being involved in every piece of educational legislation during his term; earning him the nickname “Mr. Education”.  He was appointed by Bill Clinton to be the Chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and was also Chair of the American Ditchley Foundation-an institution for establishing and promoting international understanding and cooperation.

Focusing on inclusivity and culture, he held the post of President of New York University for 11 years, transforming the institution into an internationally recognised centre for research and academic excellence.

The CDRSEE is honoured to be able to count him among our Board Members. We recognise our debt of gratitude for all his work and appreciate his commitment to not only the CDRSEE, but to all of his efforts in the fields of education and culture which have impacted on the lives of so many. 

Our sincere condolences to his family.    

Please find below the link to the orbituary of Dr Brademas at the New York Times:


“Flows of people are like flows of water; they bring new life”

The challenges of dealing with migration-the problems, fears and negativity-have regularly been at the forefront of the news, but at the NECE Workshop ‘Crossing Borders. Migration and Citizenship Education in Europe’ held on 8-10 July, 2016 in Ljubljana, the focus was on the positive aspects of movements of people.  Attended by CDRSEE's Ruth Sutton, this NECE (Networking European Citizenship Education) Expert Workshop created scenarios and engaged in training and discussion on how to deliver and improve civic education for, about and with refugees and host communities.  In a lively, interactive and highly animated series of activities –generating enormous amounts of ideas and interlinking concepts-participants explored the their own assumptions and undertook structured brainstorming exercises in order to define the main issues to be discussed at the NECE conference to be held in Zagreb in November 2016.


Okruzenje amongst the best!

Okruzenje honoured at a European level.

Recognising the value, commitment and innovative effectiveness of Okruzenje’s work, the European Citizenship Awards 2016, honoured the initiative with a special mention in the ‘Media’ category.

The Awards celebrate the democratic and civic engagement of individuals and organisations which give substance to European values and improve the lives of communities in terms of participation, democracy, rights and social justice.

Organised by the European Civic Forum and Volonteurope, the awards are bestowed based on a public voting and jury deliberation; demonstrating that not only experts in the field appreciate the work of Okruzenje, but also that the general public recongises and understands the value of the initiative, beyond the viewership of Southeast Europe.

An award ceremony, hosted by the Mayor of London, will be held in on September 12th, 2016 and will include a roundtable to discuss issues on civic engagement, which the CDRSEE will attend.

This joint initiative of the CDRSEE and the European Fund for the Balkans continues to go from strength to strength, with a 5th series underway (due to be broadcast in the Autumn throughout the Western Balkans) comprising high-level guests discussing timely topics.




Okruzenje to the finals for the European Citizenship Award 2016!

There is a saying in Greek that good things come after hard work. And here we are to prove it! Through our continuous and persistent work on our media project ‘Okruženje’ (‘Vicinities’ in English) we are one of the four nominees for the European Citizenship Award 2016 in the category “Media Initiative of the Year”.

With our project having just entered its fifth season, we still believe that discussion and sharing ideas  can be a driving force for wounds of the past to be healed and for true reconciliation to be sustained.

In this journey we would like to have you as supporters and vote for us in the category “ Media Initiative of the Year”, so that we will have more and more people supporting  our initiative to bring together nations through education and dialogue!

It only takes a minute to vote!  Please find the link here: (‘Okruženje’ is the third nominee in the section “Media Initiative of the Year”).


The Western Balkans: Hijacked Democracies or Future EU Members?

“The future of the Western Balkan countries’ accession to the EU will depend on how the latter will cope with challenges such as the refugee crisis and BREXIT”. “The inevitable changes that the digital technology and the social media have brought  to the modern  world have been quite beneficial but carry a lot of dangers too”.

These were only a couple of the many insightful remarks that emerged from the spirited discussion during the roundtable which took place in Athens on June 15 th, entitled “Towards a different media culture in the acceding countries of the Western Balkans: Investing in raising media standards and media transparency”. Organised by the CDRSEE in cooperation with  DG NEAR (European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations), this event is the first in a series of 3 roundtables to be held in Greece aimed at raising awareness of how accession by the Western Balkan nations is beneficial to the current EU Member States. .

The speakers at the event contributed a range of different angles, knowledge and experience to the discussion, which was attended by journalists, diplomats, international consultants and NGOs.

Mr Bouras, photojournalist and documentarian, spoke about the change of the media terrain in the digital era, as well as its consequences not only for journalists and media professionals, but also for states and their abilities to control the information flow.  Former member of the European Commission and economic adviser to the Greek government, Mr Wallden, provided an analysis of the EU in connection to the progress of the acceding countries of the Western Balkans. He was followed by Mr Sebek, who examined the meaning of the European Integration both for the Western Balkan countries and the EU within a framework of media issues. The closing speaker was Mr Ordanoski who highlighted the lack of democracy in the Balkan region as well as the state control over the media.

The CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms Kovac was the moderator of the roundtable. On noting that the event had set an extremely high standard of public discourse on the issues, she guaranteed to implement more fruitful roundtables in the Autumn, at which the enlargement procedure will be examined through the lens of economic cohesion and  social integration.