Members of the European Parliament get a feel for Vicinities


December 4th 2013, Brussels - More than a hundred dignitaries gathered to experience first hand “Vicinities”, as part of an event sponsored by European Parliamentarians to highlight the impact of the first current affairs talk show broadcast across the Balkans that prompts sincere communication and makes way for true reconciliation in the region.

Vicinities is not just another talk show and this was not just another event. The Vicinities crew kept the evening in sync with the show’s hard-hitting yet quirky ways. A panel discussion centered on freedom and quality of the media but it took place only after the Members of the European Parliament and other dignitaries were welcomed with traditional baklava and treated to a comedic “diagnosis” of the diseases affecting the mainstream media across the region.

“We do not have such a TV show in Europe,” Ms Ulrike Lunacek, a Member of the European Parliament and the lead sponsor, told guests at the event. “Vicinities contributes to reconciliation, changing people’s mindsets.”

Ms. Lunacek and four other Members of the European Parliament sponsored the event, “Confronting the Past and Looking Towards the Future: Highlighting the Impact of the TV talk show Vicinities”.  Mr Othmar Karas, vice president of the European Parliament, gave the opening remarks for the event, which took place on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Brussels.

Guests included MEPs, the diplomatic corps and the European Commission. They saw highlights of the talk show, which just wrapped up its second season, and experienced how the show’s makers bring in knowledgeable and open-minded guests to address difficult subjects, such as War Crimes, National Identity, and Violence Among Youth, in an open way that fosters communication and reconciliation far beyond the show’s set.

“What you are doing is much more than we can do from the European Parliament,” said Eduard Kukan, a Member of the European Parliament and the Chairman of the Delegation for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.

At the event, a panel of six guests took their turns discussing a challenging topic -- “Regional Cooperation in South East Europe: Freedom and Quality of the Media giving the MEPs a feel for the success and importance of Vicinities.

“Vicinities is the link between the past and the future,” Fabrice de Kerchove, a Project Manager with the King Baudouin Foundation, said during the panel discussion. “It is difficult to promote reconciliation through media, and that is important to support.”

Vicinities is the product of a partnership between the CDRSEE and the European Fund for the Balkans. Five pilot shows were aired last year, and this season included 12 shows, with an expanded list of topics and many improvements. The German Federal Foreign Office provides support as well.

MEP Lunacek moderated the event’s panel discussion. The complete list of international panelists is as follows:

  • Erhard Busek - Jean Monnet Professor and Chairman of the Board of Directors, CDRSEE
  • Fabrice de Kerchove - Project Manager, King Baudouin Foundation
  • Eduard Kukan - Member of Parliament, Chair of the Delegation for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo
  • Goran Svilanovic - Secretary General, Regional Cooperation Council
  • Hannes Swoboda - Member of Parliament, President of S&D Group
  • Doris Pack - Member of Parliament, European Parliament

MEP Jelko Kacin and Joost Korte, Deputy Director General, DG Enlargement, provided the post-debate commentary.

Mr Svilanovic thanked the courageous TV stations that have dared to broadcast Vicinities, recalling Konstantinos Kavafis’ poem Ithaca, which emphasizes the beauty of the journey to reach the final destination, not just the destination.

The representatives of the partner TV stations present were:

  • Nikola Mirkov, acting Director General, RTS, Radio Television Serbia
  • Olivera Dodig, acting Director, TV BiH, Television of Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Vladan Micunovic, Editor in Chief, TV Vijesti, Montenegro
  • Hamdi Rashiti, Director of Programmes, TV Alsat-M, FYR of Macedonia 
  • Rajko Radovanovic, acting Director General, TV RS, Television of Republika Srpska
  • Vlasta Bartolec, Programme Editor, HRT, Croatia
  • Anamari Repic, deputy Director General, RTK, Kosovo

“There is no other European talk show -- we have only the Eurovision song contest,” Dr. Busek said during the panel discussion. “Vicinities is the voice of the herald.”

A cocktail reception followed, giving Vicinities Editor In Chief and show co-host Zvezdana Kovac, CDRSEE Executive Director and co-host Nenad Sebek, and European Fund for the Balkans Executive Director Hedvig Morvai, the opportunity to speak personally with MEPs and other guests and answer any questions they might have had about the show and its impact. Plans are already underway for Season 3 of Vicinities.


Teacher Training Workshop in Skopje, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia


23-24 October 2013 - Another 20 history teachers successfully completed a Teacher Training Workshop, as part of the CDRSEE’s Joint History Project, and are ready to take their knowledge and insight back to their own schools and students.

On Nov. 23 and 24, 2013, the teachers gathered in Skopje, at the Hotel Continental, for two days of advanced coursework that prepared them to tailor the JHP materials for their own classrooms and that gave them an up-to-date review of the latest teaching methodologies.

The trainers leading the workshop were Violeta Petroska-Beshka, Petar Todorov, Isamedin Azizi and Darko Stojanov.


CDRSEE organizes in cooperation with the European Academy of Berlin Seminar for Greek-German relations during the economic crisis period


Between the 23rd and 24th of November 2013, the seminar for Greek-German relations during the economic crisis period brought together 30 journalists from the Macedonia and Thrace regions. The seminar was organised by the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast  Europe (CDRSEE) in cooperation with the European Academy of Berlin (Europäische Akademie Berlin). The aim of the two days seminar was to engage the journalists with a first-hand experience of German economic policy, including philosophy and decision making processes.

Prominent German experts on the topic were among the speakers, but were also keen listeners to the opinions of the Greek journalists. Mr. Michael Georg Link, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, was among those present, and he helped explain the role of European and national institutions in further growth and development of Europe. Mr. Link went on to state that he is in support of the political union of Europe and of the creation of a federation with pure European characteristics.

The general consul of Germany in Thessaloniki, Mr. Info Von Voss, and the Vice President of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe, Mr Nikos Efthymiadis, were also among those present at the seminar. They were highly active in sharing their insights in the discussions that followed the lectures.


JHP Modeled at History Education Reform Conference in Braunschweig


Braunschweig - November 21st, 2013 - The CDRSEE’s work was presented at a conference that gathered researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to discuss the specific character of external education interventions in post-conflict contexts. The conference was held at the Georg-Eckert-Institute in Braunschweig, Germany between November 20th and 22nd, 2013.

Participants congregated to share their experiences from interventions in different areas of education throughout the counties of South Eastern Europe. They discussed strategies and were able to critically reflect on the diverse challenges that interventions present, such as collaboration and communication between international agencies and local actors. One of the key aims of the conference was to comparatively asses the outcomes amongst various interventions as well as to contrast best practices and common challenges.

The CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek spoke during the second panel that was focused on educational reform in South East Europe. Among his co-panelists were Melisa Foric of EUROCLIO-HIP Bosnia, Jonathan Even-Zohar of EUROCLIO Netherlands, Milija Marjanovic of the Institute for Pedagogy in Banja Luka, and Marko Suica of the University of Belgrade, who also gave the keynote speech. The panel was chaired by Karatina Batarilo-Henschen of the Georg-Eckert-Institute.  Nenad highlighted some of the key aspects of the Joint History Project and underscored its accomplishments in reforming history education. In particular, he emphasized how this unprecedented regional initiative has not only provided history workbooks for students to deliberate various and multi-perspective interpretations of historical events, but has also engaged more than 1,500 teachers in JHP workshops, equipping them with novel and more productive methods of history teaching.  He went on to point out that the JHP’s workbooks have been translated into 10 languages and include content that reaches the Second World War. 


4th Teacher Training Workshop of 2nd Bosnian Language JHP Edition


Sarajevo 15-17/11/2013 - The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina hosted the 4th Teacher Training Workshop of the 2nd Bosnian Language Edition of the Joint History Project workbooks, wrapping up the JHP activities in the country for 2013. More than 30 primary and secondary education teachers gathered in Grand Hotel, Sarajevo, for a busy two-day seminar.

The CDRSEE's trainers -- Mr Munib Efendic, Ms Nada Djakovic, Mr Buhrudin Besirevic and Mr Nijazija Maslak -- provided a series of model lessons and encouraged the participants to develop their own. Also, there were specific training and focus on modern teaching methodologies, which the participants acknowledged as very important and beneficial.

The workshop was performed under the auspices and the continued support of the Ministry of Education, in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


3rd Teacher Training Workshop in Tirana, Albania


9-10 November 2013 - In the capital city of Albania, Tirana, the CDRSEE in collaboration with ALBNA,  the Albanian history teacher association, organised the third local teacher training workshop of the 2nd Albanian Language Edition of the Joint History Project (JHP).

28 active and highly motivated teachers from the surroundings of Tirana, took part in the workshop and were introduced in new history teaching methodologies within the real spirit of the JHP. The trainers Prof. Dr. Valentina Duka, Fatmiroshe Xhemalaj and Helian Demiri presented various model lessons and engaged the participants to develop model lessons on their own. Many work groups were engaged during the 2 day training and all participants received JHP Workbooks and manuals, as well as certificates of attendance.


Second JHP workshop in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia completed


The CDRSEE completed its second JHP workshop in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with resounding success. The workshop was co-hosted with a local partner, the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, and included the training of 25 teachers in the city of Struga during the first two days of November. Teachers from Ohrid, Tetovo, Skopje, and Bitola were trained in novel and multi-perspective approaches to history teaching. They showed great interest in the trainers' presentations and then discussed the presented topics in breakout workgroups.

The team of trainers was composed by Violeta Petroska-Beshka, Mirjana Najchevska, and Irena Stefkovska.

The workshop was funded by the European Commission's IPA programme.


First Teacher Training Workshop in Veles, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia


19-20 October 2013 - The CDRSEE completed its first JHP Teacher Training Workshop in Veles, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on October 19th.
During the two-day workshop, nineteen history teachers gathered in Veles to learn new methods of teaching history within the framework of the Joint History Project.

Following presentations and group work, the CDRSEE in cooperation with its local partner, the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, and trainers Violeta Petroska-Beshka, Mirjana Najchevska, and Irena Stefoska, encouraged teachers to voice their opinions and present their arguments amongst the group.  The thematic group work, presentations, and public discussions were well received by the history teachers, who worked hard at practicing the participatory teaching methodology endorsed by the Joint History Project in Southeastern Europe.

The workshop, funded by the European Commission's IPA programme, stimulated a dynamic  discussion and active participation amongst the teachers.