When war tore through neighbouring Yugoslavia, a group of diplomats, historians and businessmen in Greece and abroad vowed they would do everything in their power to make sure such tragedy would not happen again. This is not an easy task, as they knew, but the CDRSEE and its founding fathers have never veered from their mission to start at the grassroots level and promote reconciliation and genuine democracy - lived and nurtured by civil society, as a path to peace.
The CDRSEE started in 1998, as an offshoot of the ADB, an organisation that was founded in 1996 and still remains active in Greece. The beginnings were humble, and though the CDRSEE continues to function on the most conservative budget, it has developed into a premiere international organisation. Most of the original founders continue to serve on the board, and along with a breadth of influential academics, sociologists and educators.
In its nearly two decades, the CDRSEE has touched the lives of millions, by creating and implementing a variety of civil society projects that help achieve what our founders knew were key: reconciliation, democracy and economic development
The first project, our flagship 'Joint History Project', put the CDRSEE on the map. It is now in its second phase and brings history education workbooks including perspectives from scores of sources to students in their native languages across Southeast Europe. This project grew from a few historian partners to the current History Education Committee and numerous regional Ministries of Education as partners.
Other projects have taken off as well. The first-ever regional TV current affairs talk show 'OkruŽenje', which connects citizens of the region through TV debate, has become the go-to show for international perspectives. The success has led to other branches as well, such as 'Vicinities Europe'.
These are just two examples of how the CDRSEE has developed over time to be the gold-star civil society organisation of the Western Balkans and Southeast Europe.