CDRSEE in Madrid to participate in the YouthCAN Initiative

Extremist narratives and counter-extremism activism in the Mediterranean region were among some of the topics raised in the Regional Youth Innovation Lab that took place in Madrid on the 17th of March. CDRSEE Project Coordinator Michaela Zervidou and Project Assistant Sofia Avgitidou were also there to contribute and discuss ways of countering violent extremism and hate speech. Together with more than 30 activists and creative professionals from France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, the experience proved to be both interesting and fruitful.

The meeting, organised by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, was held in Facebook’s Headquarters in Spain and provided a forum for participants to cooperate, share ideas and construct a basis for exciting new projects and future collaborations. Participants also had the chance to discuss with representatives of Facebook and learn more about how Social Media Platforms can be used to support a campaign. After the first sessions on alternative activism and proactive solutions to countering violent extremism, participants worked in groups and started to build their own counter-narrative campaigns from scratch and also shared their plans on how these new initiatives will move forward to action. Our team came up with the campaign “Meet your neighbours” and we are looking forward to its implementation. Stay tuned!


CDRSEE launches migrant community integration research project

Honoured and proud, the CDRSEE officially launched its new research project on integration of minorities on March 15, called “Communities in Greece”.

The project which is being funded by the Open Society Initiative in Europe, will contribute to a better understanding of the integration policies implemented by the state and the local authorities in the case of the Albanian community in Greece.

The research will be conducted by a team including prominent academia members and researchers who will explore previous policies regarding this particular community in relation to the health, education and labor sectors, but will also suggest new and more effective policies on both state and local level.

By contacting both the Albanian and Greek communities, the CDRSEE will have the opportunity to conduct a survey and understand various opinions, as well as the interaction and the role of each of the communities in relation to their coexistence.

With this project we aim to enhance the possibilities for participation of the immigrant communities in Greece. Also, through the findings of our final report, which will be published on the CDRSEE website we will strive to suggest innovative and substantive ideas for future integration policies around the Europe.


Regional Conference in Podgorica, 26-28 February 2016: History Educators welcome the new Teaching Materials covering Southeast European history 1944-2008.

During the two-day conference, organised by the CDRSEE in partnership with HIPMONT- the Association of Montenegrin history teachers-participants from across the region separated into groups and discussed 10 draft chapters of the new workbooks. Topics included amongst others “The Disintegration of Yugoslavia, Economy, Culture, Times of Crisis and Migration”.  Each group offered suggestions and presented how they would teach their topic using the source material offered by the new JHP volumes and a fruitful exchange of opinions followed. The first session focused on the Teaching of the Cold War, and the second on the Transition in Southeast Europe. Finally the participants were the first to see and review the final drafts of the new JHP volumes, which cover the sensitive recent history, from 1944 to 2008.

Zvezdana Kovač, the Executive Director of the CDRSEE, explained in her welcome speech, that the JHP stays committed to empowering the critical-thinking capabilities of students, as opposed to offering them pre-made conclusions on the history. The two new volumes are important for peace building and unique in that so far, no compilation of source material has been published that offers a regional perspective on the sensitive time period at stake.

The conference was attended by representatives of the ministries of education of 6 countries of the region. The CDRSEE is grateful to all of those present for their constructive participation, support and contribution. The long term partnerships established within the Joint History Project, have already helped to turn history teaching into a means for raising empathy and facilitating the reconciliation process in the region.  


A new synergy is born between the CDRSEE and EUROCLIO

A kick-off meeting of the CDRSEE and EUROCLIO project “ePACT - Education Partnership for Advocacy, Capacity-Building and Transformation” took place in The Hague on 18-19 February, sealing our cooperation and the creation of our common project.

CDRSEE Executive Director, Zvezdana Kovac, Programme Adviser, Antonis Hadjiyannakis and Project Adviser, Corinna Noack-Aetopulos met with EUROCLIO Director Jonathan Even-Zohar, Project Manager Judith Geerling and Project Assistant Romana Sijakovic to discuss the new project and contribute to its implementation through a fruitful dialogue.

Both the CDRSEE and EUROCLIO will tap their experience in ground-breaking educational programmes that fulfill the need for new approaches in history education.  In collaboration with our partners, civil society and educators, two different groups will be created, one focused on innovative didactics and the other on history education. More information and news is on the way, so stay tuned and do not miss our updates!

The project will be implemented with the financial support of the Austrian Development Cooperation as part of the initiative “NETUCATE-Networked education creating a skills web for participation and sensitivity.”



Station Networking meeting of the Editors in chief and TV partners of "Okruzenje"

Thessaloniki, 29 January 2016 – The Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe and the European Fund for the Balkans organised the Station Networking meeting of the Editors in chief and TV partners of the current affairs talk show "Okruzenje".

The editors reviewed the activities of the past season and discussed on the next steps of Okruzenje Season 5.

Building on the successful fourth season, the TV editors from the ten stations which broadcast “Okruzenje”, brought new ideas for expanding the visibility of the shows and pledged their commitment to not only maintaining the quality of the shows, but also improving it. The feedback from the viewers has been consistently very positive and thus the editors are dedicated to expanding the range of topics and viewer interest

The Editor in chief of Okruzenje and Executive Director of the CDRSEE, Zvezdana Kovac, hosted the meeting. She was joined by Branka Panic, Programme Manager of the European Fund for the Balkans, a partner of the Okruzenje project.

Season V of Okruzenje is again supported by the EFB as well as the German Federal Foreign Office.



24th Board Meeting and traditional pita cutting

Thessaloniki, 24 January 2016 - The 24th meeting of the Board of Directors of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation convened in Thessaloniki this weekend, to discuss the migrant and refugee crisis and what the Center can do to help with integration of the refugees.

The Executive Committee as well nearly all the Board members were present, active and willing to discuss in depth the current activities of the Center and possibilities for future projects, tapping the CDRSEE’s experience and tools that could contribute to improving lives and conditions for all involved.

After the meeting, the CDRSEE held an annual traditional Greek pita cutting, in honour of our host country. Mr Nikos Efthymiadis, a member of the Executive Committee, found the lucky coin, which promises luck and prosperity for the new year.

Our best wishes for a prosperous year! 



REGIONAL COOPERATION DAY: "End of a tough year, what will 2016 be like?"

Sarajevo, 17-19 December 2015 --  The Regional Cooperation Council organised a constructive meeting for representatives of Civil Society as well a workshop for journalists of the region, looking ahead to the new year, and CDRSEE’s Michaela Zervidou was there to present the Center's current projects as well as ideas for 2016.

A recurring topic of the conference, titled "End of a tough year, what will 2016 be like?", was the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, such as the effects on the region and how people can cope with those effects. 

Additionally, a panel discussed a number of EU reports and the progress in the EU accession process of the pre-selected countries. Civil Society Organisations were key participants in the conference, especially in the segment on improving the investment climate in the region. Their representatives stated that they will continue efforts to increase their role and impact on the public.

The event gave the opportunity for better networking among the participants as well as a promise for improved future communication and cooperation.



CDRSEE, European Academy Berlin, present seminar for Greek journalists

Athens, 7-8 December 2015,  -- The European Academy Berlin (Europäische Akademie Berlin) in cooperation with the CDRSEE presented in Athens a seminar for Greek journalists, with German and Greek politicians, researchers and academia discussing the European monetary crisis, the refugee issue as well what Greece expects from Germany and the role of both countries in Europe.

The goal of the seminar, attended mainly by regional media, was to foster a better understanding of bilateral relations and to help create mutual respect. Mr Costa Carras, a founding member of the CDRSEE Board of Directors, gave the welcome speech, and CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac and other staff members were on hand to assist at the event.

A common conclusion made by both Greek and German presenters was that the refugee issue connects the two countries, and that a common European solution must be found. Mr Michael Roth, a Member of the German Federal Parliament and Germany's Minister of State for Europe, highlighted that it is crucial that a new immigration law be proposed and implemented, and commented that Germany wants Greece to stay in the European Union and maintains the importance of the Schengen Agreement.

Dr Peter Schoof, Germany's Ambassador to Greece, added that the "Grexit issue belongs to the past” and that it is crucial for Greece to be supported as Europe attempts to rescue the Schengen Agreement.

Mr Yannis Mouzalas, Greece's Alternate Minister for Migration Affairs, called on Germany to support Greece, with human resources, infrastructure and “knowhow”.  He pointed out that approximately 750,000 refugees travelled through Greek borders and highlighted the need for a registry of NGOs that will be part of a national plan.

Mr Norbert Kopp, Mayor of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough of Berlin, and Mr Spyros Galinos, Mayor of Lesvos, analysed their local authorities’ roles in welcoming the refugees. Mr Kopp highlighted that the German state is interested in integrating the refugees by helping them to learn the language and by supporting them financially. Mr Galinos described the difficult situation on the island of Lesvos, with more than 420,000 refugees coming to the small island, and he reflected on the solidarity of the local people who are helping the refugees. He added that Europe should have a clear and stricter stance towards the smugglers who take advantage of the refugees.

Ms Annette Gruttner, Press Officer for Bundesbank, presented German policies for the future of the monetary union and said that the solution is to strengthen the European currency.

Prof Eckart Stratenschulte, Director of the European Academy Berlin, presented the conclusions of the seminar and warmly thanked the participants for exchanging their opinions and knowledge, in an effort to improve relations and understanding.