CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONCILIATION IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

News

29Sep

1st JHP Teacher Training Workshop of the second Albanian language edition, in Berat, Albania

 

On 28-29 September the first JHP Teacher Training Workshop of the new second Αlbanian language edition, was completed in Berat, Albania.

Twenty-seven history teachers from a variety of primary and secondary schools gathered in the historic city of Berat, a Unesco Heritage Site. The purpose of their gathering was to learn new methods of teaching history within the framework of the Joint History Project.

Trainers Fatmiroshe Xhemalaj, Andi Pinari, and Helian Demiri encouraged the teachers to voice their opinions and present their arguments and thoughts. Following two days of presentations and group work, the seminar culminated with the CDRSEE disseminating  teaching materials to all participants for future use. 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. All participants received certificates of attendance by the regional educational authorities and were appreciative of being introduced to  alternative classroom methodologies and a multi-perspective approach at teaching that is reforming the way that history is being taught.

26Sep

September 25th, 2013 - Probing Serbian-German Relations

Dusan Reljic, senior researcher at the German Institute for International Affairs and Security and CDRSEE board member, lead a panel discussion on Serbian-German relations at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung organized conference, Serbia and Germany – Asymmetrical Reality. The conference was co-organized by the Belgrade-based Center for Foreign Policy and lead by its director and also CDRSEE board member, Aleksandra Joksimovic. The conference engaged senior Serbian government officials, German representatives, civil society, and academics in a public dialogue aimed at analyzing the historical context and recent developments of Serbian-German relations.

The panel on historical and political relations which Mr. Reljic moderated included academics, journalists, and public officials from the two countries. While many contrasts and comparisons aiming to enhance lines of communication through political and civil channels were drawn from the discussion, Ivan Ivanji, a renowned Serbian author, offered particularly valuable insight. Having lived and traveled throughout Germany over many years, he recalled his difficulties in understanding Germans throughout various parts of Germany despite fluently speaking the language. He contrasted the existence of these local dialects with the common understanding and similar language that people of the Western Balkans speak despite consisting of several countries and separate national identities. The ensuing discussion focused on themes of reconciliation and how Germany can both be credited with insisting on Serbia addressing its past, as well as being more understanding of what it means to reconcile following conflict.

 

23Sep

September 20th, 2013 - A Comparative Perspective of International Reconciliation Models

 

The Third Belgrade Security Forum, where global issues are brought to the Balkan strategic discussion, took place over the course of three days at the onset of autumn in Belgrade. This year’s relevant theme dealt with addressing the challenges that Balkan states face in responding to the economic crisis, energy dependence, and inter-state conflicts.

On the second day of the Forum, following the plenary session, the CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek moderated a breakout session on comparative perspectives of international reconciliation models. The speakers included Dr. Slawomir Debski of the Center for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding, Nora Ahmetaj of the Centre for Research, Documentation and Publication in Kosovo, and Andi Bela, an Albanian-Canadian journalist writing frequently on regional inter-state relations.

As soon as the discussion commenced, it was evident what a challenging and thorny subject the issue of reconciliation is. Some of the questions addressed throughout this dialogue were the existence of a universal principal for reconciliation, the prerequisites needed prior to fostering reconciliation, and the role that CSOs can play in supplanting the state in its support for the reconciliation process.  While the panelists were generally reserved and cautious to address these issues, going as far as to recoil from using the term reconciliation due to the politically driven context that it embodies, they did offer some thought provoking ideas for the engaged audience. Among the sternest statements that the panelists offered was that there is an absolute need for institutions to be created to facilitate the process of reconciliation and that leaders and key figures in times of conflict need to be engaged in the process. These statements triggered a discussion that did not lack substantial differences of opinion. The discussion confirmed the difficulties in addressing the reconciliation process in post conflict societies, but also validated the notion that progress and development will endure considerable obstacles all the while issues of reconciliation, dealing with the past, and an establishment of truth are not adequately addressed and embarked upon.

23Sep

21-22 September 2013, Trogir, Joint History Project Teacher Training Workshop

 

The CDRSEE successfully completed another Joint History Project Teacher-Training Workshop in Croatia, in the city of Trogir, Dalamatia.

This was the fourth and final workshop in the second round of trainings scheduled to help teachers understand and tailor the JHP workbooks and programme to their students' needs. Including the 20 participants that joined the workshop in Trogir, about 100 teachers have been successfully trained in Croatia. 

In Trogir, five trainers helped with the presentation of the workbooks, engaging the teacher-students with five model lessons. 

These workshops would not have been possible without the help of Education and Teacher Training Agency, the  History Association of Croatia and of course our trainers -- Kresimir Erdelja, Snjezana Koren, Tamara Jankovic, Ivan Dukic and Kiti Jurica-Korda.

The CDRSEE wraps up the round of workshops in Croatia with the hope and confidence that we have contributed to the successful implementation of the JHP in the area, and ultimately to true reconciliation in the region.

17Sep

September 17th, 2013 - Alpbach Summer School Students Introduced to the CDRSEE's Joint History Project

 

The Alpbach Summer School on European Integration held its annual program in Belgrade to learn about the region’s history, culture, society, politics, and law. The CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek led a panel discussion and presented the work of the CDRSEE at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory.

The dialogue, rather than taking the customary jot down and repeat what I say approach of regional education, engaged students in a vibrant discussion on the concept and subjectivity of history, shared identities, and the EU integration aspirations of Balkan states. Students were immediately challenged to think outside the box and reexamine the cultural differences that borders of the Balkans have established. Throughout the discussion, Nenad presented the students with the CDRSEE’s flagship program, the Joint History Project. While making sure to highlight the project’s successes in teaching history by avoiding stereotypes, identifying attitudes that encourage conflict, and promoting the idea of multiple interpretations of one event, he also addressed some of the hardships that the project has faced as Balkan societies are still in the process of breaking away from nationalistic sentiment, xenophobia, and ethnocentricity. The students were appreciative to learn of the project and grasp at the idea to study history with multiple interpretations of one event.

The discussion was followed by a question and answer session where the students eagerly sought answers to issues ranging from the transformation and emergence of political parties in Serbia, Montenegro’s EU accession path, and the process of reconciliation in the region.    

17Sep

September 17th, 2013 - A Discussion on the Role of Civil Society in the Process of EU Integration

 

The Alpbach Summer School on European Integration gathered 25 aspiring students from throughout Southeast Europe to learn, debate, and discuss the politics of the region and undertake a course on the European Union and the EU integration processes. The CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek moderated a panel discussion on the “Role of Civil Society in the Process of EU Integration" at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade. Among the distinguished group of panelists was Sonja Licht of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Dr. Caspar Einem of the Austrian Institute for International Affairs, Henri Bohnet of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, and Daniela Schily of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit.

The discussion challenged students to rethink some of the common assumptions of civil society and its role in political life. Sonja Licht, one of the leading political theorists in the region, offered an abstract but accurately descriptive answer to the question of what constitutes civil society. She put forth the idea that civil society is every citizen, institution, or group of people that actively engage in public political life. Her statement, while giving the audience a brief pause to reflect, commenced a lively dialogue on issues ranging from the sustainability of civil society organizations to the hardships of securing donor funding while remaining independent. These fundamental challenges that CSOs face are often neglected, but are necessary for organizations to function and remain committed to their core values. Civil society throughout Southeast Europe is not only an important vehicle for balancing the power of governments and giving citizens a voice in the political arena, but also a space for open minds that has produced influential political theorists and policymakers that currently shape the political discourse of our region.

Following the discussion, the students engaged the panelists with questions focusing on the uncertain future that they as students, and more generally, Balkan societies face. While no one was in the position to offer any comforting answers, the predominant response was that emerging social scientists need to remain committed to democratic values while acquiring the right skills and know how to gradually change the mentality that has plagued post-socialist societies throughout Southeast Europe.

31Aug

August 31st, 2013 - CDRSEE to receive European Union funding for the Project "Uniting Differences- fostering the integration of Roma preschool children"

The Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe is pleased to announce it has been awarded European Union funding to launch a new programme to help integrate Roma preschool children in Croatian schools.

The CDRSEE is the lead non-governmental organisation and is cooperating with the Center for Peace, Legal Advice and Psychological Assistance of Vukovar, Croatia, to carry out the project titled, “Uniting Differences- fostering the integration of Roma preschool children”. The programme will take place in Medjimurje County in Croatia.

The funding was awarded under the call for proposals for the Integration of disadvantaged groups in regular education system, part of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) IV Component Human Resources Development Grant Scheme.

The aim of this project is the integration of Roma preschool children in the education system through the diffusion of new multicultural teaching methods, networking, access to information, and opened channels of communication with decision-makers. Working on the promotion of equal opportunities in access to education for Roma in Croatia, the two NGOs will help train the staff of preschool educational institutions to use and promote multicultural teaching methods as a means to support the social inclusion of Roma children. Through activities such as roundtables uniting local level actors and educational institutions and additionally by holding pilot teacher-training workshops to apply a chosen teaching methodology, the two NGOs aim to promote values of multiculturalism, tolerance and diversity along with social and personal skills to preschool children.

The IPA was designed so as to address the needs of the beneficiary countries within the context of pre-accession policy in the most appropriate way. Its main aim is to support institution-building and the rule of law, human rights, including the fundamental freedoms, minority rights, gender equality and non-discrimination, both administrative and economic reforms, economic and social development, reconciliation and reconstruction, and regional and cross-border cooperation.

04Jul

27-29 June 2013, Croatia - Europe joins Croatia

 

The CDRSEE was honored to play a key role in an international youth conference that marked Croatia’s accession to the European Union. Board Chairman, Dr. Erhard Busek, took part in the panel discussion “Europe for the young: Building reliable roadmaps”, the principal activity of the Zagreb conference.

The conference, organized by Klub Alpbach Hrvatska (http://www.kah.hr/cro/eng/) took place from June 27 to 29 and was entitled “Europe joins Croatia”. It was an event organized by youth, for the youth, celebrating and promoting young people’s contributions to the EU. Dr. Busek was a panelist together with Doris Pack, Ivan Krastev and Dejan Jovic in a lively and productive discussion at the Museum of Contemporary Art. CDRSEE Executive Director Nenad Sebek was also on hand, leading a workshop on moderating panel discussions as well as a more informal chat among participants, entitled “European Union and its youth – a success story?”

The conference was a huge success, also including a public speaking competition, a workshop of public advocacy, a photo exhibition, the presentation of a documentary and many other activities that promoted the active and positive participation of young people in the European Union.

Bravo for our young friends at KAH!