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Seminar “Serbia and Kosovo:
Intercultural Icebreakers”

Belgrade, Novi Sad, Prishtina, and Prizren, November 9-17, 2016



The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia has organized the sixth seminar within “Serbia and Kosovo: Intercultural Icebreakers” program on November 9-17, 2016. Young people from Kosovo and Serbia, active and interested in culture and arts, spent ten creative and working days in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Prishtina and Prizren, making friends and exchanging experiences and knowledge about their societies and cultures.

Participants in the seminar had an opportunity to listen to lectures by prominent authorities in arts and culture. A writer Sasa Ilic delivered a lecture on “Literature of the Separated Worlds - Cultural Exchange as Peace-building (Kosovo/Serbia)” addressing the history of divided societies, cultural and political developments since early ‘80s until today, the culture and politics of denial, the avenues for cooperation in arts and culture, especially at the literary scene, and the importance of cultural exchanges. “Communication is being created through culture and arts. It is necessary to show that kind of openness in the communication and to allow the inflow of information and stories in order to change ourselves, and through our change we can make changes in societies we live in,” he said among other things. Culturologist Aleksandra Đurić Bosnić held a lecture in Novi Sad on „A non-silent culture: about the deconstruction of ideological codes in closed societies“. Film director and professor Ismet Sijarina discussed with participants about art that brings people together at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Prishtina. And, the last but not least, the lecture given by philosopher, political analyst, and art critic Shkelzen Maliqi, who spoke about contemporary Kosovo art and about protection of cultural heritage.

Besides lectures young artists were attending daily workshops held by sociologist Demir Mekic. During the workshops they teamed up for creative campaigns to be staged in the period to come. In this way, the program helps the promotion of young artists from both societies, who will be working together for breaking prejudices and stereotypes, and promoting good relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Besides the campaign, young artists shared their views and impressions in the essays, which will be also available at our web page.

We have also visited different cultural institutions and organizations in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Prishtina, and Prizren. We toured the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Centre for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade. Participants also visited the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade where dean Zoran Popovic welcomed us and presented the work of the Faculty. In Novi Sad we were kindly welcomed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Vojvodina and Academy of Arts in Novi Sad. While in Prishtina, we visited the Contemporary Art Center - Stacion, and the Faculty of Dramatic Arts. Participants enjoyed a theater play at the National Theater in Prishtina, after which artist Jeton Neziraj talked with young artists, and shared his views and experiences on the subject of Serb-Albanian relations in art and culture. At the end, in Prizren we toured the Museum – Albanian League of Prizren, Ethnographic Museum, and we had a great talk with Dokufest creators and organizers.

Furthermore, we enjoyed some of the cultural events in Belgrade and Prishtina, such as the Free Zone film festival in Belgrade, and many others.

One of the participants, Dejan Krstić, student of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Novi Sad speaks about his impressions saying: “Participation in this program drastically changed my understanding and acceptance of relations of two different cultures. The whole concept of exposure to each other, of direct interaction and discussion about joint ideas, and problems that preoccupied us, essentially contributed to mutual connecting and understanding of “the Other” who is on the other side of the border. The experiences I’ve gained during this seminar through interaction with my colleges from Kosovo, but also from various lectures which in a very creative and concrete way influenced the interaction between two cultures, and also awoken the will for further development and care of the idea of connecting seemingly two different worlds.

I am very delighted by the flexibility and the accessibility of the program which gives us the absolute freedom and right to cherish our acquired knowledge and transfer it into something more through art colonies and organization of joint projects which take place months after the seminar. The thing that encourages me the most in realization of this program is its artistic and creative character which is present during the all of the activities. Only through something universal and yet provocative, something that brings another perspective, may lead to the final change, impression, tolerance and respect. Art as something that has the power to connect, educate and does not know boarder of expressing, is ideal medium for destroying established negative stereotypes and feeling in society which by themselves required a long time to reach any kind of change. It is often said: “The young shall inherit the earth”, and in that sence, I’m glad that we are contributing in making youth to know better the world that surrounds them, and the cultures that fulfills it, that with a lot of respect and knowledge of the past we try and make place for the new, modern ideas and visions which will, driven by the past experiences, result in something, simple called, “a better place to live in”.”

Trëndelina Halili, born in Pristina, student of Film and Television Directing at the Academy of Arts of University in Pristina shared her thoughts: „The problem of intercultural interaction is usually made by improper way of interpretation during the delivering of the massage. Lack of knowledge and information about the culture of “the Other” may lead us to uncomfortable situations as the consequence of this problem, and this can lead us on a very dangerous road as well. That is the problem that is currently occurring between two countries, Kosovo and Serbia. I think that being familiar with the culture of “the Other” is the fact that brings fear to people who build walls, since they want to hide this truth.

I think that this program broke that wall, by bringing these two societies with different cultures in order to communicate and cooperate, and that can lead us to more peaceful situation. Intercultural communication between these two countries was on quite distance, and that is why I believe that idea of this seminar is really efficient and important in order to make progress in cultural integration.

Travelling to Serbia and meeting with young people who were open for cultural cooperation make all the prejudices, which are made during the wrong transmission, disappear and that was really emotional part of this seminar. Visits to the different institutions in Belgrade and Novi Sad such as Faculty of the Dramatic Arts, galleries, museums, theaters, festivals, and other, made me to fall in love to this country with great culture opened for interaction. While the workshops were the funniest but at same time also the most emotional part of this seminar, because every participant shared his personal story, but also we shared new ideas and information about the culture of our countries. Because of all this I think that now I have to tell a new story in my life.”

The overall goal of the program is to contribute to renewing old and create new ties between young people, academic and artistic community, media and civil society from Belgrade and Prishtina by promoting intercultural dialogue, reconciliation and normalization process.




























In 2015, program is financed by the European Union under the Support to Civil Society Facility 2013.
In 2016, program is financed by the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The contents of all calls/press releases/video materials are the sole responsibility of
author/organization and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union,
Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH or Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.














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