President of European Parliament praises CDRSEE for tireless push for peace

The CDRSEE would like to thank personally Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, for the kind and motivating words he spoke about the CDRSEE. Mr Schulz gave the laudatory speech at the presentation ceremony of the FES Human Rights Award for 2013, a transcript in English of which can be found here.

"Ladies and gentlemen, democracy and freedom need to be fought for every day," Mr Schulz said. "You (the CDRSEE) fight every day for democracy, rule of law, and human rights. You make every day an indispensable contribution to a vibrant and active civil society and thus to peace in Southeast Europe."


JHP Praised at History Writing Roundtable


The CDRSEE’s flagship programme, the Joint History Project, drew high praise at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the French Institute in Serbia’s co-organized roundtable on collective history writing. The roundtable gathered professors and history experts from France, Germany, and the Balkans to discuss the impact of regional collective history writing initiatives. Francois-Xavier Deniau, the French Ambassador to Serbia, gave the introductory remarks and the Heinz Wilhelm, the German Ambassador to Serbia, opened the discussion with his insight. The panelists included historians Etienne Francois, Freie Univeristät in Berlin, and Peter Geiss, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhlems Universität in Bonn, and professors Dubravka Stojanovic and Slobodan Markovic, both lecturers at the University of Belgrade. Professor Markovic moderated the roundtable and the CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek was a guest speaker.

The history roundtable was organized in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty, in the spirit of the reconciliation of two former foes and great powers, France and Germany. It highlighted their joint history writing initiative which since 2006 has put forth nearly identical history workbooks for French and German high-school students. This highly unlikely collaboration has been exceptionally successful at breaking barriers and setting a precedent for a cross-border approach to history and history writing. Professor Dubravka Stojanovic utilized the opportunity to call attention to another successful collective history writing initiative, the CDRSEE’s Joint History Project.  She highlighted the JHP’s unheralded achievement in gathering professors and historians from throughout the Balkans to produce, what now stands at, four history workbooks available in 11 languages. The project has not only reached countless students throughout the region, but has also trained over 1,500 teachers in novel approaches to history teaching and drawn the praise of Education Ministers throughout. She went on to articulate that “history is altered faster than new memories are made.” It is perhaps that statement that raised the profile of both of these initiatives as well as the fragility of approaching history and teaching it to new generations.
To read more about the French Institute in Serbia and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s activities please visit their websites:

Pictures provided by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the French Institute in Serbia, taken by Manuel Franco Allemand.


FES Human Rights Award - Want to feel like you were there?

Read more about the fabulous award ceremony that Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung put on for the CDRSEE when presenting the 2013 Human Rights Award (in German), and listen to an interview and the acceptance speech by the CDRSEE's Nenad Sebek, and the laudation speech by EU Parliament President Martin Schulz

Both the interview and speeches can be downloaded as well: 

You can download the english translation of the laudatory speech by EU Parliament President Martin Schulz at the FES award presentation here.

Chairman of the FES, (L) Mr. Kurt Beck, and President of the European Parliament, (R) Mr. Martin Schulz, present the award to the CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek.

President of the European Parliament, Mr. Martin Schulz, gives a memorable laudatory speech.

Chairman of the FES, Mr. Kurt Beck, speaks on the importance of the Human Rights Award and this year’s recipient, the CDRSEE.

A panel discussion, “Divided Memory - Common History: Shaping a peaceful future of Southeast Europe” ensued following the award ceremony. The panelists, from the left, included Ulf Brunnbauer, Director of the Southeast Institute at the University of Regensburg; Michael Martens - Moderator, Southeast European correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; Nenad Šebek, Executive Director of CDRSEE; and Costa Carras, Member of the Board of Directors of the CDRSEE.

Regional music is featured alongside the celebratory portion of the event by the band Romença.

Member of the CDRSEE board, Mr. Costa Carras, provides his insight during the panel discussion.

The CDRSEE’s four history workbooks currently in circulation which exist in 11 languages.
All pictures by Torben Geeck with copyright of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

FES honors CDRSEE with Human Rights Award

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) presented its 2013 Human Rights Award to the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe, citing its commitment to strengthening democratic and pluralistic societies, its work to include disadvantaged groups in society and its mission to foster reconciliation in Southeast Europe.

The prestigious award was presented on October 28, 2013, at a special gala evening to honour the CDRSEE for its 15 years of commitment to human rights, in particular for the impact the center has had on expanding multi-perspective education that builds compassion, understanding and ultimately peace in the region.

Mr Kurt Beck, Chairman of FES, presenting the award to Mr Nenad Sebek, Executive Director of the CDRSEE, said the honour “acknowledged the work of the CDRSEE in strengthening democratic and pluralistic societies and thereby working on preventing future conflicts.”

FES is a non-profit German political foundation committed to the advancement of public policy issues in the spirit of the basic values of social democracy through education, research, and international cooperation. The foundation, headquartered in Bonn and Berlin, was founded in 1925 and is named after Friedrich Ebert, Germany's first democratically elected president.

FES presents the Human Rights Award each year in honor of Karl and Ida Feist, two labor activists whose own bitter experiences with war and destruction led them to advocate peace and non-violence. The award singles out the organisation or individual that the foundation feels has contributed most to Human Rights in different parts of the world.

Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, said in his laudatory speech that the CDRSEE has given an “invaluable contribution to civil society in the Balkans and in reconciling the nations of the region. For bad things to happen, all it takes is for good people to do nothing: The CDRSEE belongs to those who work every single day for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”

For the CDRSEE, this award culminates 15 years of dedication and perseverance, reflected in the CDRSEE’s flagship Joint History Project, the TV news talk show Vicinities, and many other programmes that have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the region. The CDRSEE, which celebrated its 15th birthday earlier this month, works tirelessly, always keeping its founders’ goals and values at the forefront.

“(I)t is these two things – values and goals – which, I believe, have brought together the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the CDRSEE here today,” Nenad Sebek, executive director of CDRSEE, said in his acceptance speech, as he thanked FES for recognizing the long-term value of the CDRSEE’s programmes.

The award ceremony included a panel discussion entitled, “Divided Memory - Common History: Shaping a peaceful future of Southeast Europe”. Mr Beck, chairman of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, presented the award to Mr Sebek, and Mr Schulz, President of the European Parliament, gave the laudatory speech.
In receiving this honour, CDRSEE joins 19 other human and civil rights activists, including the first honouree, Marie-Schlei-Verein e.V., a human rights organization working for women’s rights, the Israeli-Palestinian Coalition for Peace, the International Tribunal for Rwanda, Truth Commissions of Chile and Peru and many other admirable individuals and organisations that have dedicated themselves to promoting human rights and peace.

The Human Rights Award, presented for the first time in 1994, dates back to the legacy of Karl and Ida Feist from Hamburg. The couple stipulated in their will that their fortune be administered by the fund, which is to present a Human Rights Award once a year. According to the donators, the Human Rights Award should be awarded to individuals or organisations who rendered outstanding services for human rights in the different parts of the world.

More information is available on the FES website, at:


German broadcaster praises CDRSEE

German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle had nothing but praise for CDRSEE, posting these articles after Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung gave the CDRSEE its prestigious Human Rights Award for 2013.

Check out the coverage, in both German and Greek: 



Happy birthday, CDRSEE! 15 years of turning conflict into dialogue, achieving impact beyond borders, and making democracy work

Happy Birthday to the CDRSEE! Today marks the 15th anniversary of the inception of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe, when the founders of our organization took the brave decision to no longer accept the conflict and intolerance that had caused so many tragedies in our region. To this day, we are proud of their bold leap to find a way to foster true reconciliation starting at the grass roots, and make long-term peace possible in a region ravaged by war.

It has not been an easy decade and a half, but it has been fulfilling, not only because of the results and awards, but also because of the friendships and personal awareness and understanding we ourselves have forged. Our team has worked passionately to foster reconciliation, advance democratic principles, and encourage better understanding and collaboration amongst societies in the region.There have been obstacles and challenges along the way, but we have consistently and throughout stayed true to our core values and founding commitments.

While our goal was not to seek out recognition and acknowledgment of our work, it is fitting that this milestone anniversary be capped with a special award. We are more than honoured that our endeavors have led us to receive the 2013 Human Rights Award of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The ceremony will take place in Berlin on the 28th of October. Recognition such as this gives us the drive to continue to push ahead with our work.

Our programmes have made a real difference. The Joint History Project, our first flagship project, has reformed the way history is being taught in our part of the world. The JHP recently added a teaching methodology manual that reaches far beyond our borders. Our TV talk show Vicinities, a powerful more recent addition to our programmes, has received broad acclaim from audiences and media alike. Vicinities is being broadcast throughout the Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian-speaking countries of Southeast Europe and beyond. It remains the only television programme to receive such exposure and reach such a wide audience. It stands as a unique effort of reconciliation, better understanding, media quality, and freedom of expression. We are equally proud of our many other initiatives, including the Employed. Empowered project, the Recycle Monster project in our hometown of Thessaloniki, Greece, and the Kosova/Kosovo project, which in a largely unprecedented fashion brought together Albanian and Serbian journalists on a joint project for the first time following years of conflict.

Today, the CDRSEE Board of Directors, the CDRSEE team, and our colleagues and partners celebrate 15 years of turning conflict into dialogue, achieving impact beyond borders, and making democracy work. Happy birthday, CDRSEE!


2nd Teacher Training Workshop of the 2nd Albanian Language Edition


4-6 October 2013 - In the coastal city of Vlore, the CDRSEE in collaboration with ALBNA,  the Albanian history teacher association, organised the second local teacher training workshop of the 2nd Albanian Language Edition of the Joint History Project (JHP).

20 teachers took part in the workshop and were introduced in new history teaching methodologies within the spirit of the JHP. The trainers Fatmiroshe Xhemalaj, Helian Demir and Ermal Baze presented various model lessons and engaged the participants to develop model lessons on their own. All participants received JHP Workbooks and manuals, as well as certificates of attendance by the regional educational authorities.


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.