The overall objective is to promote reconciliation in the Western Balkans. In particular, Vicinities strives to create an open dialogue on a series of controversial regional issues and foster debate, an ultimately, reconciliation.
Vicinities has no hidden agenda. The intention is to turn communication, which had boiled down to only the necessary minimum over the past 20 years, into something normal and desirable.
The CDRSEE and EFB approached a much wider audience with the idea of fostering a frank exchange of ideas in an open debate about the issues affecting Southeast Europe and impeding reconciliation and EU accession.
The partners wanted to reach way beyond the typical academic participants and make their way into living rooms around the region, where people discuss and share time and experiences.
Television, a universally accessible resource, was the perfect medium. The CDRSEE and EFB combined efforts to create the first-ever current affairs TV programme broadcast across the region simultaneously.
Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian are languages that are mutually understood, and the problems in “the vicinity” are mostly the same and intertwined. In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, subtitles are provided. In the future, the show may be broadcast in other countries outside of the region, and subtitles will again be provided.
The first series was broadcast weekly for five weeks, beginning on April 2, 2012. The shows garnered prime-time slots and gained enviable media attention and critical praise.
The topics of the debates were:
- How to survive the economic crisis
- Media - do they help or hinder mutual understaning?
- The Great Powers and the Balkans
- To be young and to live in the Balkans
For the first time on a regional TV show, these sensitive issues were discussed openly and honestly in a constructive manner.
The second series is currently in production. There will be 12 shows broadcast on eight channels across the region. Plans are underway for a third season, and beyond.
The talk show guests are influential, well-respected, unbiased experts from a wide range of social sciences and society. Definitely not the “usual suspects”. EFB alumni have played a major role as well.
In the first season, CDRSEE Executive Director Nenad Sebek and writer, publicist and journalist Petar Lazic were the hosts of the shows, and renowned director Nebojsa Radosavljevic was the director of the series. Each show was introduced and wrapped up by comedienne Marina Orsag, adding to the novelty of the series.
The second season is led by Editor in Chief Zvezdana Kovac, and directed by the accomplished Dragan Elcic. Nenad Sebek is co-hosting the show, along with Editor in Chief, Zvezdana Kovac.
The experience and professionalism of the hosts and directors, spiced with the youthfulness of the European Fund for the Balkans alumni and the vitality of all the guests, make the series a novel yet powerful example of the EFB’s and CDRSEE’s mission.