CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONCILIATION IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

News

12Jul

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:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/nyregion/john-brademas-indiana-congres...

11Jul

“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.

07Jul

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.

 

 

17Jun

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:   http://civic-forum.eu/en/2016-european-citizenship-awards-vote-now (‘Okruženje’ is the third nominee in the section “Media Initiative of the Year”).

17Jun

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. 

14Jun

First successful step for setting up the public-private partnership ePACT

The kick off meeting, on 9-11 June in Vienna brought together 12 policy makers, 27 members of civil society, 3 members of Academia and 2 participants from intergovernmental organisations working in the Western Balkans to establish a public-private partnership for the development of history education and innovative pedagogical methodologies. Members of the Special Working Groups met for the first time to set an Agenda for cooperation activities planned for the next three years within the ePACT project.

It was agreed that ‘development of education’, was a much more appropriate wording than ‘reform’ taking into account that the project wants to build on existing best practice and complement approaches that can address remaining gaps.

The meeting was organised into two specialist working groups. A regional working group that will focus on strengthening the implementation of learner centered teaching/learning approaches that, despite endorsed by all countries on the policy level, still can rarely been identified in classrooms of the region. And the second group that will focus exclusively on history education and conduct a wide-ranging needs assessment that will shed light and increase understanding on areas and ways of making history teaching more relevant and constructive.

The meeting started with a key note address by Prof. Andreas Demetriou from Cyprus on “Learning how to think, learn, and reason“, about how intelligence is measured and how it can be nurtured in primary and secondary schools. An expert panel, comprised of Janet Looney from the Institute of Education and Social Policy and John Hamer from the Council of Europe gave an overview of the wider international context before the working groups started with discussions in their specific areas.

As a result of the meeting, a Partnership Memorandum will be crafted between participants, which will outline details of the public-private partnership and set common agendas. A common area on “Basecamp” a platform that enables cost-efficient and effective online cooperation has been opened. Materials, ideas and experiences can be shared and close cooperation can take place virtually on a daily basis via chats and other communication tools.

The next steps are a preparatory meeting in Montenegro for the Needs Assessment and the planning of accredited Pilot Seminars for building capacities amongst school directors, inspectors and curriculum designers for a more committed implementation of learner centered teaching/learning approaches in schools.

08Jun

First cycle of Okruzenje shootings has been completed

The first six episodes of the fifth season of Okruzenje, CDRSEE’s current affairs talk show, were shot at the beginning of June in Belgrade. More than twenty eminent experts from different fields discussed issues of common interest for the region. The topics of the first six episodes were: “Is terrorism a threat to the Balkans and how to fight against it”, “Bilateral disputes”, “(Dis) trust towards neighbors”, “Why there are fewer and fewer of us (white plague)”, “Debt slavery (over-indebtedness of countries and citizens)” and “Tabloidization of public life”. In addition to the guests, our satirists Enver Kazaz, Balsa Brkovic and Voja Žanetić, as well as the alumni of the European Fund for the Balkans, expressed their opinions on each on the aforementioned topics.

The fifth season of Okruzenje will be aired in October.

19May

Serbia and Albania - A step towards a European Future

“Despite animosity, unresolved issues, prejudice and stereotypes, the cooperation of the two countries is possible” Ms Kovac said, attracting the spotlight at the conference ‘Serbia and Albania - Towards a European Future’.

The conference, hosted by the European Movement Serbia, in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, was a great opportunity for participants to discuss issues concerning  Serb-Albanian relations.

The Executive Director of the Albanian Institute for International Studies Tirana, Mr Albert Rakipi,  commented that “there is no issue between 2 countries that needs third-party mediation”. Mr  Gazmend Turdiu, Deputy Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council Sarajevo, said, “What had caused the relations of the two countries to falter, was the inability to agree to disagree”.

The representatives of  National Youth Council of Serbia, the National Youth Congress Albania and Youth Forum of the European Movement in Serbia discussed and agreed on the need to meet each other and exchange experiences. 

The lack of knowing each other and the lack of opportunities for more intensive contact and for working together seem to be the main obstacles standing in the way of normal and fruitful relations between the two countries. The process of cooperation and mutual understanding and support between the two countries is developing and the outcome will have strategic importance for the European integration of  the  Western  Balkans.

Here you can find the media coverage of the conference.