'Okruzenje' makes history in Trieste

Western Balkans leaders on ’Okruzenje’, July 12, 2017, Trieste: The special episode of ‘Okruzenje/Vicinities’ enjoys unprecedented success and extended media coverage on both a regional and European level.

Making history once again, the CDRSEE’s  ‘Okruzenje’ television show brought together Western Balkan leaders to discuss issues of accession and EU integration, as part of  the Civil Society Forum, organised within the framework of the 4th intergovernmental Summit of Western Balkans and EU countries. In another groundbreaking achievement, the show featured the Prime Minister of Albania, Mr Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of the F Y R of Macedonia, Mr Zoran Zaev, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Mr Ivica Dačić, and the Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council Mr Goran Svilanović on the same panel.

In a rare televised roundtable, the Balkan leaders, joined by Mr Svilanović, reflected on how the promotion of regional cooperation within the so-called ’Berlin Process’ could bring economic stability and new perspectives to the enlargement process of the six Western Balkan countries.

On the set, guests discussed issues such as the potential benefits from the creation of a Western Balkan Common Market, as well as new possibilities for cooperation in the field of infrastructure and economic development. The guests further assessed the efficiency of the initiatives taken so far and endorsed efforts to strengthen cooperation in the region.

On the sidelines of the 4th Western Balkans and EU countries Summit, this special edition of the ‘Okruzenje’ talk show surpassed all expectations, bringing  together, for the second time in its six years of broadcasting,  two sitting Prime Ministers, and one Deputy Prime Minister  and Minister of Foreign Affairs  in the same studio, at the same time. The historic televised meeting, almost unthinkable for most other regional or even European TV stations, attracted a wide range of  attention from the media both in the region, and beyond.

This joint initiative of the Center of Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe and the European Fund for the Balkans was made possible by the generous support of both the ERSTE Foundation and the Regional Cooperation Council alike, and was once again hosted by CDRSEE Executive Director Ms Zvezdana Kovač.

The special episode will be broadcast on 10 national channels across the Western Balkans within the coming days.

Follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates on the broadcast calendar.



Counting Down to the Vicinities’ Special Episode in Trieste

The 2017 Civil Society Forum, linked to the 4th intergovernmental Summit of Western Balkans and the EU, will host this year’s special edition of ‘Okruzenje’ (‘Vicinities’). On 12 July, in Trieste, Italy, the special episode of the groundbreaking regional talk show will feature the Prime Minister of Albania, Mr Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mr Zoran Zaev, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Mr Ivica Dacic, and the Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, Mr Goran Svilanovic.

Our Executive Director and host of the ‘Vicinities’ show, Mrs Zvezdana Kovac, will have the honour of moderating this roundtable of highly profiled guests from the Western Balkans and the EU. This year’s special episode will be centered around the linkage between the “Berlin Process” and its achievements in terms of politics, economics, infrastructure, and civil society cooperation, as well as the strategies and challenges that lie ahead in bilateral and multilateral cooperation on other key issues.

In keeping the ‘Vicinities’ tradition of being taping episodes in front of an audience, the live recording of the special episode in Trieste will be open to members of the civil society and journalists, including members of the Alumni network of the European Fund for the Balkans, a long-standing supporter of the show.

By bringing together prominent public and political figures from the Western Balkans and the EU who will engage in an insightful debate, offering the straightforward exchange of ideas on contemporary political issues affecting the Balkans, ‘Vicinities’ is once again expected to make an extraordinary TV-Show.

Stay tuned and don’t miss the updates on our Twitter and Facebook accounts!         



Following a series of successful launches of the new JHP workbooks, Prof. Dubravka Stojanovic, Vice Chair of the JHP History Education Committee, presented a lecture on the latest volumes of the Joint History Project at the University of Regensburg, in Germany on 3 July 2017.

Prof. Stojanovic was invited by the Leibniz-Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung), one of the largest and longest-established German institutions that covers interdisciplinary reseach fields oriented towards transnational and comparative perspectives, with a special research focus on Southeast Europe. Her lecture entitled “Joint Past. Southeast Europe as the Laboratory of Multiperspectivity?” was part of the “Forum” series organized by the Graduate School for East and South Eastern European Studies in Regensburg, where she has been awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship. The event open not only to experts but to students from various disciplines as well.



The other side of 'Vicinities'

Mile Lasic, an accomplished journalist and later a professor of European Integrations at the University in Mostar, was recently a guest on the TV show ‘Vicinities,’ a program that seeks to create a constructive dialogue on recent political issues in the region. It airs its 6th season in the Western Balkans this coming Fall.

‘Vicinities,’ the enduring effort of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe, was started as a new way to reach audiences in the greater Balkan region through a talk show that featured journalists, policy experts, and government officials as influential and “high-up“ as Prime Ministers. The initiative, while primarily focused on reaching the masses of Balkan societies at large, has had another interesting and continuing effect: it has forged of new relationships—both professional and personal—between guests that, despite being experts from the same areas in the region, had yet to meet prior to their engagement with the show. It has not just been their interaction on the show that has left guests with a positive, lasting impression of the programme, but so, too their interchange with one another behind the camera that has further cemented Vicinities a place of interaction.

Mile Lasic, a recent guest of the show, describes his own experience meeting and getting to know fellow professionals on Vicinities in a recent article published on Danas; It can be read here.


‘Okruzenje’ (Vicinities) enters its sixth season

Following five consecutive years of success, ‘Okruzenje’ (Vicinities), the first regional television talk show on social and political affairs, is back for its sixth season. The shooting of the first cycle has just wrapped, and plans for the second cycle are underway.

The first six episodes showcase a raft of content including topics such as ‘What does the energy future of the Western Balkans look like’?, ‘Security threats in the Vicinity’, ‘Balkan leaders: Between the Past and the Future’, ‘Why are the Balkans all about politics’.

Aired on 10 different TV stations across Western Balkans, the new series of vigorous debates among notable guests introduce a multidimensional and interactive environment for the audience, whose active participation through social media brings an added value to the show’s well-established popularity and longevity.

This year’s season is further marked by a special edition of the show in Trieste under the auspices of the Civic Forum within the framework of the Western Balkans Summit on 10-12 July 2017.

Aiming at raising visibility among the citizens of the Western Balkans about the partnership between the EU and the region towards EU integration, ‘Okruzenje’ has invited Ms. Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union and Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr. Markovic Prime Minister of Serbia and Mr. Zaev Prime Minister of the FYR of Macedonia to participate in a constructive televised dialogue on the benefits and challenges of this partnership.

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The CDRSEE at the 6th European Historical Forum in Berlin

On May 22-23, 2017, in Berlin, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung hosted the 6th European Historical Forum "The Epochal Year 1917: The Dream - or Nightmare - of Emancipation? Flashback to a Caesura in Eastern and Southeastern Europe" organized with its Russian partner, the Scientific Information Center Memorial (Международный Мемориал). The Forum aimed at offering young historians museum, media, and NGO activists from East, South East, and West Europe a space to reflect and exchange and at promoting a pan-European discourse on memory culture and history politics.

In the second day of the 6th European Historical Forum, in the framework of the discourse on how various places throughout Europe remember the epochal year of 1917, and what conclusions can be drawn from the dominant narratives for the current political and mental state of the region, the CDRSEE's executive Director Mrs Zvezdana Kovac spoke about the Joint History Project as a good practice of cooperation between NGOs and governments in addition to being an example which demonstrates that a common narrative is possible.


Mostar hosts ePACT workshop

Continuing our successful series of workshops with educators across Southeast Europe, our first ePACT workshop in Bosnia and Herzegovina took place in Mostar on 17-18 May, 2017, hosted in the Culture Center and with the support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Science.  ePACT offers teachers, school directors and school inspectors an opportunity to upskill their capacities in learner-centred, participative education methods with the aim of reforming education systems across the region.  Under the guidance of two experienced trainers, Mr. Ismet Strujo,  Assistant Minister of Preschool, Elementary and Secondary School Education and Ms. Đenana Gološ,  Research Associate for Cooperation and Projects in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Education at the Ministry of Education, educators from across the country participated in the two day workshop of activities, discussion and mutual learning. 


Presentation of JHP at Club 44

With our Joint History Project setting the benchmark for history education not only in Southeast Europe, but also in the EU, two of the driving forces of the JHP presented the project on 11 May 2017 at a conference by Club 44 in Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.  History Education Committee Chair, Professor Christina Koulouri and Vice-Chair Professor Dubravka Stojanović spoke about the JHP at the symposium  entitled ‘Constructing a Common History: The Balkans as a laboratory of resilience’  (Construire une Histoire Commune: Les Balkans comme laboratoire de resilience). In the discussion moderated by Jean-François Berger, delegate of the ICRC in the Balkans, the two historians stressed the importance of the methodology and the multi-perspective approach adopted in the writing of the common history books in developing empathy and dispelling long-standing prejudices among the peoples of the region.

The presentation of the JHP elicited great interest among the participants about how a team of historians is succeeding in creating a path to a common future of peace and reconciliation, via common history education.You can watch and/or hear the whole discussion in the following link: