Belgrade, 14 December 2016: The recording of the last show of the fifth season of ‘Okruženje/Vicinities’ enjoyed unprecedented publicity and media coverage. The special episode entitled ‘Balkan states’ European Dreams’, which concluded the fifth season of Okruženje, featured the former president of Yugoslavia and Croatia, Stjepan Mesić, former Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Djukanović, the Chairman of the CDRSEE, Hannes Swoboda and Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans, Hedvig Morvai.
Okruženje wrapped up its 5th season with a look at the EU and the European aspirations of the Balkan states. In the show, the guests discussed the future of the European Union; whether in the following years the crisis within the bloc will deepen, how can Europe restore its unity and vitality and whether the countries of Southeast Europe are tired of Brussels’ ‘enlargement fatigue’.
The live recording was open to the public and journalists and the positions taken by the participants of the shows were ’prominent’ news items on almost all the media in the region. The media attention has exceeded our own record (which was also a Southeast European record) when in the final episode of the 4th season of Okruženje for the first time ever, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama came together in the same studio.
Before the live recording of the show, the promotional event which celebrated five successful seasons of ‘Okruženje/Vicinities’, (the recent recipient of the Jury Award in the ‘Media Initiative of the Year’ category at the European Citizenship Awards 2016), took place.
The path undertaken by Okruženje so far was presented in front numerous guests who were able to see how Okruženje developed and took shape over five years of broadcasting from an initial limited production to today’s high-value broadcast, from a few broadcasters to the current 11 public and commercial television broadcast today, from the regional Okruženje to the Vicinities Europe up until the award for media initiative of the year at the ’European Citizenship Awards’.
Participating in the promotional event, were Mr Axel Dittmann (Ambassador of Germany to Serbia), Mr Hannes Swoboda (CDRSEE Chairman), Ms Hedvig Morvai (Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans), Ms Zvezdana Kovač (Executive Director of the CDRSEE) and Mr Vladimir Šestović from the European Civic Forum.
Hannes Swoboda, said he was looking forward to the new episodes of Okruženje and hoped that in future we would be able to say that the concept of Okruženje was a good way to bring the region closer to the European Union.
For Hedvig Morvai, Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans, which has been supporting Okruženje for the past five years, this project is a real civil society initiative which was able to open the large doors of the media, to step through that door and establish itself in the region and beyond as something truly valuable because, as she pointed out, the quality always finds its way.
The German Ambassador to Serbia, Axel Dittmann said he would be happy to continue supporting Vicinities, as he considers it an excellent format where people discuss all issues, not with the intention of convincing each other of their point of view but to examine and understand different perspectives, in order to reach a compromise. "Regional cooperation is not something based solely on the efforts of governments and international institutions, but it is vital that people talk to each other, and that there are exchanges between civil societies, which is of crucial importance," said Dittmann.
The promotional event was also attended by Vladimir Šestović, member of the jury for the ’European Citizenship Awards’, who pointed out that many members of the jury outside the region voted for Okruženje and that this initiative contributes to mutual understanding through dialogue, and that such programmes are necessary not only here, but also throughout Europe.