WHAT IS VICINITIES?
For the first time in two decades, a current affairs talk show, was broadcast simultaneously on eleven TV stations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and the F Y R of Macedonia. When the project was launched by the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in South East Europe (CDRSEE) and the European Fund for Balkans (EFB) in 2012, the idea was to gather people who speak mutually intelligible languages and spark dialogue between people of the countries of the region who may have different points of view, but don’t have a language barrier. We soon realised that language was the least of our concerns when it came to conversation and that the absence of dialogue and communication skills was a much greater obstacle. This is why we expanded our partners and guests in the studio to those who speak Albanian, thus ‘covering’ the region of former Yugoslav countries and Albania. By doing this we enabled millions of viewers to hear different experiences and opinions on more or less common issues. Western Balkan societies have been trying to heal war wounds for over two decades, as well as cure and prepare our part of the world for the true acceptance of European values, and not only for EU membership. The CDRSEE and the EFB wish to contribute to the fulfillment of these objectives through ‘Vicinities’. The significance of this project has been recognised and financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Germany. In recognition of its relentless efforts and determination, in September 2016, ‘Vicinities’ received the jury award in the ‘Media Initiative of the Year category at the ‘European Citizenship Awards’.
EDITORIAL AND PRODUCTION
Zvezdana Kovač, Executive Director of the CDRSEE - Editor in Chief of Vicinities Before joining the CDRSEE, Zvezdana worked as a journalist and an editor for more than 20 years and worked in leadership roles in various TV stations across the region. After moving to Greece, she served as project manager at several NGOs. She joined the CDRSEE in 2011, and three years later was named Executive Director.
Predrag Kajganić Pixi, Executive Producer He has been the executive producer and production director on scores of TV projects at nearly all the major television stations in Serbia. He has taught television production at the Belgrade Academy of Fine Arts- Department of Art and Media Production- as an associate professor. He holds a degree in Film and TV production from the Scenic Arts Faculty of Belgrade, where he obtained his Master’s degree as well.
Dr Stanko Crnobrnja, Director Television and film director, producer and screen play writer. Theorist, lecturer and publicist in the field of mass communications and television theories. He has created over 1500 television series and shows as well as three films as director and co-producer. Founder and creator of national radio-television programmes ATLAS and TV IN in Montenegro, TV Avala in Serbia; founder and programme director of OKK channel and creative director of Novi 3K, a national network in Serbia. Professor of media and communications at Singidunum University in Belgrade.
FRANC KARL PRÜLER Chair of the Steering Committee of the Europian Fund for the Balkans
HEDVIG MORVAI Executive Director of the Europian Fund for the Balkans
Franz Karl Prüller: Vicinities means neighbourhood, but it also signifies closeness and that which is familiar. The closeness and knowing one another didn’t always have a positive resonance in Western Balkan countries. We think that it is, therefore, necessary to use creative means to fix the relationships between societies which were always very close in tradition and history, not always by choice. This series of televised discussions includes people and groups which are not usually on TV screens and we hope to contribute to mutual understanding, a feeling of unity and cohesion in the region. That feeling will be invaluable when it comes to facing challenges ahead. We especially need to include young people into this process of opening up new perspectives and we need to open new paths for their societies to take into a newer, more complex age.
Hedvig Morvai: Vicinities is a unique initiative in the idea, realisation, its width and direction. It is very different to everything we know and have in the region. It echoes the goals of the European Fund for the Balkans and that is why we stand behind this project. The aim is to promote reconciliation and democratization for these countries to come closer to joining the EU, as fast as and as successfully as possible. I believe Vicinities sets an example for others, it offers all the possibilities of the media sphere which is very serious and very interesting. It is developing and covering so much, not just the traditional media we know. That is why I think civil society belongs in the media and we should insist on promoting these possibilities and bring fresh perspectives. We come from another sphere, with other ideas and different ways of communicating and we need to promote these new ways of influencing the public and the events in the region in the future.
Chair of the CDRSEE's Board of Directors
”I think ‘Vicinities’ is a huge success and we look forward to many new episodes. In ten or fifteen years, when we look back, we can say – look, this was a serious contribution to the regional path towards the EU”
Dr Swoboda, long time member of the European Parliament, has been the Chair of CDRSEE’s Board of Directors since September 2016. He was Vice President of the European Parliament’s delegation for Southeast Europe relations and his parliamentary work was mostly focused on the Balkans. As a member of the European Parliament, he worked in many boards and delegations, he was rapporteur for the Accession of Croatia to the European Union. Since 2014 he’s been the President of the International Peace Institute in Vienna and since January 2015 the President of Architekturzentrum Vien (AZV). His work continually involves fighting against the rise of the extreme right in Europe.
The European Fund for the Balkans is a joint initiative of European foundations that envisions, runs and supports initiatives aimed at strengthening democracy, fostering European integration and affirming the role of the Western Balkans in addressing Europe’s emerging challenges.The up-to-date programme strategy based on three overarching areas – Capacity Development, Policy Development and Regional Cooperation – is channelled via flagship programmes and selected projects, complemented with a set of actions arising from EFB's regional identity as a relevant player in its fields of focus. Their synergetic effects are focussed on continuous “Europeanisation” of the policies and practices of the Western Balkans countries on their way to EU accession, through merging of the region’s social capacity building with policy platform development, and a culture of regional cooperation.
The CDRSEE is a non-profit organisation headquartered in Thessaloniki, whose mission is to encourage a democratic, pluralistic society characterised by European values, market economy under the rule of law and social responsibility and reconciliation among peoples. The board of directors of the CDRSEE, chaired by Hannes Swoboda, includes prominent figures from the region and Europe.
Vicinities's significance was recognized and financially supported by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Germany, as this project encourages democratization, affirmation of European values, better understanding and reconciliation in the Western Balkans.