The other side of 'Vicinities'

Mile Lasic, an accomplished journalist and later a professor of European Integrations at the University in Mostar, was recently a guest on the TV show ‘Vicinities,’ a program that seeks to create a constructive dialogue on recent political issues in the region. It airs its 6th season in the Western Balkans this coming Fall.

‘Vicinities,’ the enduring effort of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe, was started as a new way to reach audiences in the greater Balkan region through a talk show that featured journalists, policy experts, and government officials as influential and “high-up“ as Prime Ministers. The initiative, while primarily focused on reaching the masses of Balkan societies at large, has had another interesting and continuing effect: it has forged of new relationships—both professional and personal—between guests that, despite being experts from the same areas in the region, had yet to meet prior to their engagement with the show. It has not just been their interaction on the show that has left guests with a positive, lasting impression of the programme, but so, too their interchange with one another behind the camera that has further cemented Vicinities a place of interaction.

Mile Lasic, a recent guest of the show, describes his own experience meeting and getting to know fellow professionals on Vicinities in a recent article published on Danas; It can be read here.


‘Okruzenje’ (Vicinities) enters its sixth season

Following five consecutive years of success, ‘Okruzenje’ (Vicinities), the first regional television talk show on social and political affairs, is back for its sixth season. The shooting of the first cycle has just wrapped, and plans for the second cycle are underway.

The first six episodes showcase a raft of content including topics such as ‘What does the energy future of the Western Balkans look like’?, ‘Security threats in the Vicinity’, ‘Balkan leaders: Between the Past and the Future’, ‘Why are the Balkans all about politics’.

Aired on 10 different TV stations across Western Balkans, the new series of vigorous debates among notable guests introduce a multidimensional and interactive environment for the audience, whose active participation through social media brings an added value to the show’s well-established popularity and longevity.

This year’s season is further marked by a special edition of the show in Trieste under the auspices of the Civic Forum within the framework of the Western Balkans Summit on 10-12 July 2017.

Aiming at raising visibility among the citizens of the Western Balkans about the partnership between the EU and the region towards EU integration, ‘Okruzenje’ has invited Ms. Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union and Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr. Markovic Prime Minister of Serbia and Mr. Zaev Prime Minister of the FYR of Macedonia to participate in a constructive televised dialogue on the benefits and challenges of this partnership.

We would love to hear any questions and comments you may have. Feel free to share them on our fb page or twitter.


The CDRSEE at the 6th European Historical Forum in Berlin

On May 22-23, 2017, in Berlin, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung hosted the 6th European Historical Forum "The Epochal Year 1917: The Dream - or Nightmare - of Emancipation? Flashback to a Caesura in Eastern and Southeastern Europe" organized with its Russian partner, the Scientific Information Center Memorial (Международный Мемориал). The Forum aimed at offering young historians museum, media, and NGO activists from East, South East, and West Europe a space to reflect and exchange and at promoting a pan-European discourse on memory culture and history politics.

In the second day of the 6th European Historical Forum, in the framework of the discourse on how various places throughout Europe remember the epochal year of 1917, and what conclusions can be drawn from the dominant narratives for the current political and mental state of the region, the CDRSEE's executive Director Mrs Zvezdana Kovac spoke about the Joint History Project as a good practice of cooperation between NGOs and governments in addition to being an example which demonstrates that a common narrative is possible.


Mostar hosts ePACT workshop

Continuing our successful series of workshops with educators across Southeast Europe, our first ePACT workshop in Bosnia and Herzegovina took place in Mostar on 17-18 May, 2017, hosted in the Culture Center and with the support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Science.  ePACT offers teachers, school directors and school inspectors an opportunity to upskill their capacities in learner-centred, participative education methods with the aim of reforming education systems across the region.  Under the guidance of two experienced trainers, Mr. Ismet Strujo,  Assistant Minister of Preschool, Elementary and Secondary School Education and Ms. Đenana Gološ,  Research Associate for Cooperation and Projects in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Education at the Ministry of Education, educators from across the country participated in the two day workshop of activities, discussion and mutual learning. 


Presentation of JHP at Club 44

With our Joint History Project setting the benchmark for history education not only in Southeast Europe, but also in the EU, two of the driving forces of the JHP presented the project on 11 May 2017 at a conference by Club 44 in Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.  History Education Committee Chair, Professor Christina Koulouri and Vice-Chair Professor Dubravka Stojanović spoke about the JHP at the symposium  entitled ‘Constructing a Common History: The Balkans as a laboratory of resilience’  (Construire une Histoire Commune: Les Balkans comme laboratoire de resilience). In the discussion moderated by Jean-François Berger, delegate of the ICRC in the Balkans, the two historians stressed the importance of the methodology and the multi-perspective approach adopted in the writing of the common history books in developing empathy and dispelling long-standing prejudices among the peoples of the region.

The presentation of the JHP elicited great interest among the participants about how a team of historians is succeeding in creating a path to a common future of peace and reconciliation, via common history education.You can watch and/or hear the whole discussion in the following link:


ePACT trainings continue in Niš, Serbia

Niš, 3-4 April 2017: After the successful completion of the ‘Teaching for Learning’ workshop in Belgrade last weekend, the ePACT team, together with the trainers from the Serbian Ministry of Education, traveled to Niš in southern Serbia to implement the second pilot training session, within the framework of ePACT.

Mr. Dragan Gejo, Head of the Regional School Department, opened the two day training workshop and highlighted the importance of such initiatives that help teachers improve their skills and familiarise themselves with new methodologies.

The 24 educators who participated in the workshops came from all over the region and were teachers of a range of subjects at different levels within the school system. Additionally there were also some school directors who took part. All of the participants expressed a wish to see more workshops like this taking place, and even suggested that all schools should carry out such types of training sessions.


Assistant Minister of Education opens ePACT workshop in Belgrade

Belgrade, 31 March - 1 April 2017: The opening speech of Mr Aleksandar Pajić, Assistant Minister of Education in Serbia, strongly confirmed the excellent cooperation between the Ministries of Education in the six target countries within which the ePACT project is implemented and the two operating organisations - CDRSEE and Euroclio. Ms Kovac, Executive Director of CDRSEE, also highlighted that cooperation between the state authorities and the civil society organisations can benefit society as a whole more effectively than when they operate separately. Additionally, in her opening remarks, Ms Biljana Stojanovic, Head of Group for Planning and Programming Projects from the Ministry of Education mentioned the importance of such workshops for the improvement of the teachers skills and their training on new methodologies.

The 21 educators that participated in the training were comprised of teachers of elementary and secondary schools of both natural and social sciences, as well as school directors and inspectors. The team of trainers that participated in the two full-day Teaching for Learning workshop were Ms Stojanovic, Ms Jasminka Marković from the Center for Educational Policy and Ms Levkov - one of the Ministry’s most experienced trainers.  At the end of the workshops a positive feedback was received and some participants expressed their desire for follow-up trainings of the same high standard as this workshop.


The CDRSEE at the EIB in Luxembourg – Countering Extremism

At a seminar organised for the CDRSEE in Luxembourg by the European Investment Bank (EIB) together with the EIB Institute on 23 March 2017, our Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac raised the problems the Western Balkans faces once again and how it needs the EU now more than ever to counter extremism and deal with the refugee problem.

The presentation of the CDRSEE’s projects – out of the ordinary for an EIB audience of 70 people used to seminars of a more financial and economic nature -  triggered much enthusiasm and interest on how promoting tolerance and discussion in Southeast Europe can ease tensions and counter extremism.