JHP Source Committee moves forward on critical new JHP volumes


Oct. 28 - Nov. 1, Skopje --The Joint History Project's Source Committee made serious progress on the new JHP workbooks, compiling final drafts and reviewing the source material that has been collected, to ensure balance in perspectives, topics, and types of sources, so that the books are interesting and enlightening for students as well as teachers.

The Committee met in Skopje as part of the second phase of the CDRSEE's flagship JHP. This phase includes two new workbooks, which will cover the Cold War and the Wars of the 1990s. The meeting was led by Christina Koulouri, series editor, and Costas Carras, JHP supervisor and member of CDRSEE's Board of Directors.

Two sub-committees made significant progress on each book -- one on the volume "Cold War", and the other on the volume "Transition in Southeast Europe" -- as the initial hard copies took shape. As students across the Balkans will in the future, the participants discussed everything from the role of religion to the sensitive 1990s.

Two visitors, Jean Francois Berger, a journalist from Geneva, Switzerland, and Keiichi Kubo, a political scientist from Japan, were able to observe the meetings, and both found the project impressive and important.

CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac and Director of Programmes Corinna Noack-Aetopulos assisted the Committee as it continued to push ahead with the project. The first editions of the volumes will be available in English in April 2016. The JHP has the explicit support of six Ministries of Education in the region.

The Source Committee wrapped up the meeting with a sight-seeing excursion to the Church of St Panteleimon at Nerezi.



'Us' and 'Them'- CDRSEE contributes to the NECE Conference 2015


22-24 October 2015, Thessaloniki -- The CDRSEE shared its experience and expertise in the field of divided and polarised societies with this year's NECE Conference, with Prof. Christina Koulouri, Chair of the CDRSEE's History Education Committee, delivering a keynote speech and Corinna Noack-Aetopulos, Director of Programmes, taking part in a panel discussion session on “Where now for Europe” and a workshop on “Othering and Identity”.      

Christina Koulouri, in her keynote, explained the Greek discourse on immigration and citizenship from a historical perspective and showed how the identity of “being Greek” was defined. In her presentation, Prof.  Koulouri captured the polarised public debate in Greece and showed examples of open nationalism. But, she also conveyed interesting self-reflections, such as those expressed in graffiti in Athens stating, “Our grandparents were refugees, our parents were immigrants, and we are racists”. 

The panel on “Where now for Europe” sparked a thought-provoking discussion on the Greek/German crisis as well as on expectations for the European model to stand out again on the global stage and deliver on its promise to establish an inclusive and social market ecomomy. Ulrike Guerot from the European Democracy Lab compared the current situation in Europe to the “Weimarer Republik”, and Loukas Tsoukalis from ELIAMEP said, “Europe has lost its shine”.

Fifteen parallel workshops followed, and the CDRSEE contributed to “Othering and Identity”, which offered a deep theoretical analysis of what we mean when we speak of identities and how they differ from roles. Step by step, guided by Michalis Kakos from Leeds Beckitt University, participants developed awareness of how we need the “other” to define ourselves, and how our need for “recognition” plays an important role in building our identities. 

The group also discussed interviews that Prof. Ross Alistair conducted with youth around Europe and the Western Balkans. Led by Prof. Alistair, the participants analysed a selection of examples, where secondary students expressed their identities and what they identify with, and the group explored the external conditions that led to single statements. 

NECE, the organiser of the conference, is a non-institutionalised initiative for networking citizenship education in Europe, working towards the creation of a European general public. It offers a forum that allows a variety of stakeholders involved in citizenship education to interact with one another for promoting the Europeanisation of citizenship education. 

The NECE Conference in 2015 focused on conflicts in and around Europe and dealt with the question of “how to reimagine and define the role of citizenship education in increasingly divided and polarised societies”.



CDRSEE contributes to a workshop of Columbia University

October 18-19, 2015, Thessaloniki -- Ms. Zvezdana Kovac, the Executive Director of the CDRSEE, took part in a Columbia University workshop, in which prominent historians, sociologists and professors pointed out the need for civil society to collaborate and take part in creating conditions for constructive political dialogue between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, at odds over the name of the latter. 

The event was organised by the Program on Peace-building and Rights, part of Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and moderated by the Program's director, Mr. David Phillips. The workshop’s main subject was relations between the two countries.

Ms. Kovac presented the CDRSEE's flagship Joint History Project history education workbooks to an exclusive group of prominent professors of international law, historians and sociologists as an example of the potential impact of civil society organisations in the region.   

The guests called for more collaboration and for civil society to help create conditions for a more constructive political dialogue. They pointed out that it was generally admitted in society that stereotypes must be identified by both sides. 

The workshop also highlighted that billions of euros are being exchanged between the two countries in trade, and that the countries maintain a very strong educational relationship, with student exchanges initiated by both. In essence, participants said, relations between the two countries are very good with the exception of the name issue.

During the workshop, tasks focused on Shared History, Sociological Research, Opportunities for Cooperation between Law Faculties and Opportunities for Cooperation in the Study and Practice of Conflict Resolution.


Vicinities Europe 2 pilot shows filmed successfully!

The first two episodes of the pan-European current affairs TV show “Vicinities Europe” are now a reality. After 9 months of continuous efforts by the CDRSEE team, hosts Susan Nadeau and Tim Judah gathered in the studio with guests from across Europe for very lively and sometimes intense discussion about the migrant and refugee crisis, and on current events and the future of Europe. 

The pilot shows were made possible thanks to the financial support of the ERSTE Stiftung.
The show “Quo Vadis, Europe?”, which looked at recent current events and what they mean for Europe, included guests Florian Bieber from the University of Graz; Silvie Lauder of Respekt magazine; Stephane Grueso of; and Nenad Sebek of the Regional Cooperation Council.    
The migrant and refugee crisis in Europe was the topic of the second show, which included Melita Sunjic of the UNHCR; Timea Kovacs of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights; Philippe Fargues of the Migration Policy Centre; and Vasilis Tsartsanis, an independent filmmaker. Discussion intensified as guests looked for answers to a difficult and sometimes tragic situation. 
The show benefited from comments and the participation of a live audience that included members of the European Alternatives Network, European Fund for the Balkans Alumni and students from a joint master's degree programme with the University of Belgrade and the University of Graz.  
The shows are now in the editing stage and will be ready for broadcasting in the next week                                        .



CDRSEE plays role in 25th Economic Forum in Krynica Zdroj (Poland)

The CDRSEE's new Board Member, Dr Hannes Swoboda, spoke on two panels, elaborating on capitalism and values in the 21st century, as well as on European Crossroads and Social Differences in the EU.

CDRSEE Director of Programmes Corinna Noack-Aetopulos moderated a panel on collective memory and national identity, where speakers from Ukraine, Kosovo, Poland and Germany discussed the use and abuse of history, the risks that artificially created national identities bear and whether a common European identity comes close to Utopia, as the President of the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland, Lukasz Kaminski, put it. 

Further speakers were Oleksandr Dekhtiarchuk, Member of Parliament and Head of the Supreme Council of the Ukraine; Leonid Finberg, Head of the Centre for Studies of the Culture and History of East-European Jews of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy; Ramadan Ilazi, the Deputy Minister of European Integration from Kosovo; and Eckart Stratenschulte, the Director of the European Academy in Berlin. 


Serbian and Albanian PMs look to the future on Okruzenje

Aug. 27, 2015, Vienna -- With the spotlight set firmly on the future, Prime Ministers Edi Rama of Albania and Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia came together for the first time ever in a TV studio as guests of the CDRSEE's current affairs talk show "Okruzenje" ("Vicinities"), discussing prospects for the region's youth, regional cooperation and the Balkans' place in Europe.

The heads of state were joined by fellow guest Goran Svilanović, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, on the special edition of Okruzenje, a joint initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans and the CDRSEE that was filmed immediately following the Vienna Western Balkans Summit 2015.

They were to discuss the "Union of Youth of the Western Balkans Initiative" that the two prime ministers are spearheading to increase cooperation and raise quality of life in the region.

On the set, however, they discussed the youth initiative and more -- looking to the future, they emphasized how cooperation will help the region as a whole.

"We are not talking about the past anymore; such greater Albania, greater Croatia, greater Serbia shall not exist" Mr. Vučić commented.

And that cooperation will be best realized with the region as a part of Europe.

"It is a common European issue that both countries, Albania and Serbia, shall be part of the European family," Mr. Rama added.

The special episode, possible by the generous support of the ERSTE Foundation and the Regional Cooperation Council, will be broadcast on 10 national channels, including both the Serbian- and Albanian-language TV channels of Kosovo's public TV station RTK, Albanian Public TV RTSH, Serbian Public TV RTS, and national channels in all the other countries of the Western Balkans. Scores of regional TV stations in various countries will also broadcast the special edition.

The show was hosted by CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac, and her regular-season co-host Nenad Sebek, RCC’s spokesperson.


Civil Society organizations meet with WB, EU leaders at Summit Forum

Aug. 26, 2015, Vienna -- Civil society leaders came together in Vienna for an important Civil Society Forum, ahead of the Western Balkans Summit Vienna 2015, to organize and prepare for their chance to voice their concerns and ask for support from the heads of state attending the major international event this week.

CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac and Project Manager Antonis Hadjiyannakis attended the Summit Forum, as the Center plays a major role in Civil Society in the Balkans and beyond through its education and media programmes. CDRSEE's current affairs talk show "Okruzenje" ("Vicinities") will tape a special edition after the Summit, with the Prime Ministers of both Serbia and Albania as guests, along with the general secretary of the Regional Cooperation Council, Goran Svilanovic.

The prominent themes of the Civil Society Summit were regional cooperation, freedom of the media and the creation of jobs and general prosperity. The speakers noted progress, however, just in the fact that such a diverse group could come together in a positive atmosphere and vow cooperation.

"This scene ... wasn't possible even a year ago," Albanian Prime Minister Ed Rama said as the discussion got underway.

The civil society leaders met ahead of the larger Western Balkans Summit Vienna 2015, the most important event of the year for the region when leaders from the Western Balkans countries and the European Union meet to discuss progress in EU enlargement, regional cooperation and other key areas. This year, civil society was given a prominent role, as governments turn to the organizations for dealing with ongoing issues in the region.

Franz Karl Prüller, Chairman of the Board of the ERSTE Foundation, kicked off the forum with moving remarks and positive motivation about the future of the region.

Guests on the panel included Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania; Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister of Serbia; Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations; Igor Lukšić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro; and Igor Crnadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Civil Society representatives included Ardian Hackaj, Director of the public policy platform Shtetiweb at the Cooperation and Development Institute; Meliha Bajramović, Coordinator of Plenum Zenica; Faik Ispahiu, Director and Executive Producer of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and Internews; Dona Kosturnova, Executive Director of the Youth Educational Forum; Dejan Milovac, Director of the Center for Investigations and Deputy Director of MANS; and Aleksandar Simurdić, Secretary General of the European Movement, Local Council Novi Sad, Serbia.

The discussion was moderated by Ivan Vejvoda, Senior Vice President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit 2015 is the joint initiative of ERSTE Foundation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Karl Renner Institute, in close cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs.



Special Okruzenje with Albanian and Serbian Prime Ministers as guests

For the first time ever, the Prime Ministers of Albania and Serbia, Mr. Edi Rama and Mr. Aleksandar Vučić, will come together in one TV studio, for a special edition of the CDRSEE's current affairs talk show "Okruzenje", which is a joint initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans and the CDRSEE and will be filmed during the Vienna Western Balkans Summit and broadcast on TV channels across the Balkans. This episode was made possible by the unlimited support of the ERSTE Foundation and the Regional Cooperation Council.

Mr. Rama and Mr. Vučić will be joined by Mr. Goran Svilanović, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, as our guests on Okruzenje, or Vicinities, to discuss the "Union of Youth of the Western Balkans Initiative" that the two heads of state are spearheading to increase cooperation and raise quality of life in the region.

The Prime Ministers will discuss the initiative in front of a live audience and with four special youth guests from the Western Balkans. The youth initiative is seen as an important driver for tolerance, solidarity and cooperation among young people in the region.

The special edition will be recorded in Vienna on August 27 during the Summit, known as the Vienna WB6 Summit. It will be broadcast 48 hours later on 10 national channels, including both the Serbian- and Albanian-language TV channels of Kosovo's public TV station RTK, Albanian Public TV RTSH, Serbian Public TV RTS, and national channels in all the other countries of the Western Balkans. Scores of regional TV stations in various countries will also broadcast the special edition.

The show will be hosted by CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac, and her regular-season co-host Nenad Sebek, RCC’s spokesperson.

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