Shaping the agenda for the future: CDRSEE at the 20th anniversary of the Symi Symposium

CDRSEE, represented by our Executive Director Ms Zvezdana Kovac was among the invitees of this year’s Symi Symposium that marked the 20th anniversary of the initiative.

Ms. Kovac took part in the panel ‘Disproving history: a new vision for the Balkans’ that discussed the challenges of regional integration alongside Marinella Koppa, Assistant Professor at the Department of International, European and Area Studies of Panteion University, Albin Kurti, Member of the Parliament of Kosovo*, and Ivan Vejvoda, IWM Senior Permanent Fellow. Zlatko Lagumdzija, former Prime Minister of Bosnia & Herzegovina was moderating the session.

Ms. Kovac made an insightful intervention on the fundamental role of education in reconciliation in the Western Balkans, which could serve as a stepping stone in the path towards EU integration. "The recent example of reconciliation between Greece and the FYR of Macedonia showed that there is potential in the Balkans, but this also showed how important the role of the international community is. The EU needs to understand that a stable Balkans is in the wider global public interest regardless of whether or not there is an obvious immediate benefit. Let us invest long term in a stable Balkans; a Balkans with strong democratic institutions and strong civil society and through this, a more stable Europe. Let us join our efforts in helping the Balkans to establish good inter-ethnic relations as a basis for peace and prosperity" she concluded.

Held in Rhodes from 1 to 6 July 2018, this annual gathering brought together leading intellectuals, politicians, entrepreneurs, diplomats, scientists and activists to discuss, in a unique informal setting, how globalization affects and shapes the ‘agenda’ for the next twenty years. Among the topics debated in the 2018 Symi Symposium were the management of population movements, the promotion of dialogue between civilizations, the rise of populism and authoritarianism and the reinvention of a progressive Europe.


CDRSEE at the 98th Rose-Roth Seminar of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

From 27 to 29 June 2018 members of parliaments from NATO member and partner countries along with government officials, representatives from NATO and other international organisations, as well as experts from universities, think tanks and NGOs, gathered in Skopje to exchange views and conduct a constructive dialogue on matters of regional interest, within the framework of the 98th Rose-Roth Seminar of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Our Executive Director Ms. Zvezdana Kovac was among the civil society representatives that participated in the works of the Seminar, that focused on the “Euro-Atlantic Integration of the Western Balkans: Reinforcing the European Peace Project”. Ms. Kovac was among the speakers of the Session on Interethnic Relations in the Western Balkans, moderated by Maria Martens Chairperson of the Science and Technology Committee of the NATO PA, and composed of Ilija Dimovski, Head of the Delegation of the Assembly of the FYR of Macedonia to the NATO PA, Veton Latifi, Professor of the South-East European University and Henrik Bliddal, Seminar Director of NATO PA.

In her speech Ms Kovac gave her assessment on the current situation and the possible avenues towards strengthening reconciliation efforts in the Western Balkans, at a time when the region finds itself at a crossroads in many ways. “It is necessary to work on internal reconciliation, in order to be able to realise regional reconciliation”, she stated, further, stressing that it is only through multi-perspectival education, interethnic dialogue and critical thinking that the Balkan peoples will ever manage to throw off the shackles of ethnocentrism and past divisions.

The Seminar covered a full spectrum of internal and external challenges that the accession countries and the region as a whole face, including good neighbourly relations and stability in the Western Balkans, the role of disinformation and misinformation in public discourse as well as the migration crisis and the Balkan Route.



Joint history initiatives join forces

CDRSEE’s lauded Southeast European Joint History Project will tie in with the landmark Franco-German History Textbook project to promote the reconciliatory and unifying force of education on pan-European level.

Together with the Consulates of France and Germany in Thessaloniki and the Goethe Institute, CDRSEE aims to organize a workshop for historians, education experts, journalists and governmental officials on democratic education as a driver for change in peoples’ viewpoints and a means for fostering dialogue and inclusiveness in European societies.

With reference to the Joint History Projects implemented by the CDRSEE in Southeast Europe and by France and Germany respectively, the event intends to present these two initiatives as best practices in the field of history education, with a view to promoting replication and multiplication of similar educational projects.

In a meeting with Mr. Walter Stechel, Consul of Germany in Thessaloniki, Mr. Philippe Ray, Consul of France in Thessaloniki and Dr. Rudolf Bartsch, Director of the Goethe Institute in Thessaloniki, CDRSEE’s Programme Advisor Mr. Antonis Hadjiyannakis and Development Officer Ms. Ruth Sutton outlined the approach of this unique initiative, which is expected to bear its first fruits in early 2019.


Greek-Bulgarian Forum on Democracy is established

CDRSEE established a permanent partnership with the Public Policy Institute and the Hanns Seidel Foundation within the scope of a series of bilateral fora of experts.

Following the meeting of CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms. Zvezdana Kovač with the President of the Public Policy Institute, Dr. Zdravko Popov, the Head of Hanns Seidel Foundation Bulgaria, Dr. Bogdan Mirtchev, and the Regional Director Southeast Europe of Hanns Seidel Foundation, Dr. Klaus Fiesinger, the CDRSEE will work together with the aforementioned institutions in the implementation of a permanent series of Greek-Bulgarian expert seminars taking place every year alternately in Bulgaria and in Greece.

The initiative aspires to evolve into a regular forum of dialogue on topics pertaining to the current and future affairs of Europe, the contemporary global challenges as well as on topics related to the democratic institutions and the civil society participation in the two countries.

This year’s regular series of seminars will start on 17-19 October in the town of Sandanski, followed by another one in spring, expectantly in Thessaloniki.

CDRSEE, as a long-established and highly regarded international organization, is delighted to contribute to the project through its remarkable network of partners and experts in the region of Southeast Europe and through its long-standing experience and recognized competence in delivering multi-stakeholder, inclusive projects.


JHP II books soon in schools in Serbia

We are delighted to announce that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia has approved CDRSEE’s application for an accreditation of its Joint History Project teachers’ training sessions and its ‘Teaching for Learning’ workshops for the following three school years.

Under the auspices of the Ministry, the CDRSEE-led training sessions on the multi-perspective methodologies of the JHP will enhance the opportunities for professional development among Serbian teachers and will mobilise them to improve the quality of teaching in their classrooms. This development further paves the way for the second editions of the books (following the success of the first editions) to be used at schools throughout the country as supplementary history education material.

Extending to the ‘Teaching for Learning’ workshops organised by the CDRSEE within the context of its educational project ePACT, the granted accreditation will allow the implementation of more training sessions on competence-based and learner-oriented teaching approaches across the country. 

Remaining  faithful to its mission to promote a common historical consciousness though critical-thinking, the CDRSEE continues to scale the heights of history teaching in the area of Southeast Europe.

Watch this space for upcoming news!


RETHINK project website goes online

Kicking off a 3-year pan-EU project on remembrance education, the ‘RETHINK’ project has embarked on its first phase of implementation by launching its website.  

Whether you are an educator, student, civil society organisation or member of the public, RETHINK has something to offer you.  Take a look at the website and find out more about how you can benefit and participate in the project.

In the first phase of this project, the CDRSEE, in partnership with a consortium of prestigious institutions across the EU, will be carrying out research on good practice in remembrance education for combatting extremism and promoting  tolerance.  The good practices will be compiled into a database of materials and activities – accessible to educators and the public across Europe-and will form the basis of a MOOC and policy recommendations.



First launch of the local language editions of the JHP in Pristina

Following the launch of the English language workbooks in seven capitals across the region, the CDRSEE was delighted to organise another launching event, this time to present to the public the Albanian and Serbian language editions of its innovative, supplementary history education books.

The successful launch was welcomed by Ambassador Jan Braathu, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo* and Mrs. Annette Fath –Lihic, Chief Political Adviser/Executive Coordinator to the European Union Office in Kosovo* joined by Dr. Frasher Demaj, Scientific Advisor in the Institute of History in Pristina on a roundtable discussion. All speakers outlined once again the importance of the Joint History Project in building peace and reconciliation for the entire region and especially for Kosovo. “The perspectives and stories from the shared past matter. That’s why history teaching in an adequate manner will help children of today pose new questions and gain deeper understanding of events that interest them. Asking questions and listening carefully to what others have to say is instrumental for dealing with the past and for gradually paving the way toward reconciliation. These joint history source books should be used in that direction [….] and the Ministry should continue to support the JHP and the training of history teachers with these workbooks” said Ambassador Braathu. On her part, Mrs Fath-Lihic, stressed that the project’s force lies in the fact that history matters. ”Why history matters? Because through history we can connect with other people and witness societal evolution. In this manner, historians are like prophets looking backwards” she added.

Held on 24 May 2018, the high-profile launch was attended by Heads of diplomatic missions, representatives of international organisations in Kosovo*, teacher associations, historians and journalists. Both language editions were presented in an event hosted by Swiss Diamond Hotel, in Pristina; a city symbolic of both co-existence and divide along ethnic lines.

A teacher training workshop on the content and methodology of the workbooks followed the presentation. The workshop was conducted by Dr. Artan Puto, Faculty of History and Philosophy, Tirana University and was attended by school teachers from across Kosovo*.

The event marked the first regional launch of the local language editions of project.


* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.




The Joint History Project Workbooks now available in Albanian and Serbian

The Joint History Project, CDRSEE’s flagship project, a real vector for change in the education of history in the area of Southeast Europe, 20 years after its embarkation, still continues to expand its reach. The second phase of the commendable project that started with the publication of two more workbooks, covering the Cold War, the wars of the '90s and the transitions up until 2008, in English, has advanced with the translation of the workbooks into Albanian and Serbian respectively.

The solid results already achieved with the Joint History Project in Southeast Europe will be further strengthened, as the project’s potential to reach wider groups of teachers and students expands. Soon after the launch of the new language editions more training sessions for trainers and for teachers will be delivered throughout the countries of region where the languages are spoken.

The new editions are now available on the CDRSEE website and can be downloaded here:

The official launch of the new language editions will take place in Pristina, on May 24th. Stay tuned for more updates!