News and Announcements > Text










Closing conference on program “Serbia and Kosovo: Intercultural Icebreakers” for 2015

December 21, 2015



The closing conference on the results of the program “Serbia and Kosovo: Intercultural Icebreakers” for a year 2015 was held on December 21, 2015 in the Human Rights House in Belgrade. The conference is organized by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia and the Liberal Democratic Centre from Pristina. The pogram is realized with the assistance from the European Union under the Support to Civil Society Facility 2013 Program.

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia and the Liberal Democratic Centre from Pristina have launched the project “Serbia and Kosovo: Intercultural Icebreakers” in 2015. The project aims at renewing old ties and creating new ones among young people, academic and artistic circles, media outlets and civil society organizations from Belgrade and Pristina, thus contributing to dialogue, reconciliation and normalization between the two countries.

Program coordinator Jelena Dzombic gave an overview of the main activities in the field of cultural and artistic cooperation between Kosovo and Serbia in 2015 which were conducted by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and other organizations from Serbia and Kosovo. The main challenges faced while carrying out of this program were how to motivate young artists to participate in the seminars together with their Serbian/Kosovar peers; how to find and secure locations where cultural events took place; how to motivate residents of Belgrade and Pristina to attend these events; and how to motivate the media to cover all of these events.

Kosovo liaison officer in Belgrade Valdet Sadiku emphasized that he is very pleased with the exchange and joint programs between Kosovo and Serbia, whose number is continually increasing. “It is pity that in the Internet age with its innumerable means of communication there is little information about Pristina in Belgrade and vice versa. The best part of my job is supporting such projects and activities as well as simply knowing that they exist. I have participated in almost all activities of the Helsinki Committee for Human rights and I believe that this year cultural cooperation between Belgrade and Pristina was qualitatively better than in previous years. The Berlin process creates additional opportunities for cooperation between young people and the both parties’ governments should support increased participation of young people in such projects. Moreover, they should get engaged in other spheres that until recently were closed for them. Of course, non-governmental cooperation have existed before the Brussels Agreement and NGOs were not waiting for these agreements to be signed, but now there is an opportunity for the engagement of the increased number of NGOs. I strongly believe in this process, we have no other alternative but to attempt to find a way to take a step forward”, said Sadiku.

Movie director and project partner from the Liberal Democratic Centre from Pristina Birol Urcan provided an overlook of the current Kosovo’s cultural and artistic scenes and shared his impressions about the program: “While organizing the festival ‘A Month of Belgrade in Pristina’ we were attempting to find locations where the events would take place, though we were not expecting some problems. For instance, the concerts went smoothly, in the same way any other concerts in Pristina did, which was a good sign. Concerts and exhibitions had extensive coverage in the media. I hope that the cooperation will continue in new forms,” emphasized Urcan.

Based on his work with young people at the seminars, writer Sasa Ilic concluded that young people in Serbia are well-educated but constrained by the local politics and that they know little about Kosovo. “On the one hand, the agreements were signed and chapter 35 was opened; on the other hand, prejudices about Kosovo remain strong in the Serbian society. An event of great importance took place in 2015, which is the cooperation of such institutions as National Theatre in Belgrade and National Theatre in Pristina. It is the first time when cooperation was initiated by institutions other than civil society, and I advocated this cooperation despite numerous difficulties. Up till now many books were translated from Albanian to Serbian and vice versa, performances are put on, etc. However, we should also engage institutions and educational establishments for our efforts not to end up dispersed in the media, but to contribute to the real breakout of stereotypes through festivals, such as POLIP for example. The interesting thing is that Kosovo officials are present at today’s conference, which cannot be said about their Serbian counterparts. They should contribute to the process of normalization and cooperation and support the painstaking achievements of the civil society”, said Sasa Ilic.

Lola Joksimovic also touched upon cultural policy and announced the theater performance “The Encyclopedia of the Living” by the Belgrade Centre for Cultural Decontamination and Qendra Multimedie Centre from Pristina. “It is necessary to develop the open dialogue, the young are not obliged to share other people the views. One American artist said: “Art is what the others are doing to us, while culture is what we are doing to the others”. Civil society should put pressure on politicians and a strong society should not fear strong fringe groups. Cultural policy must be clearly defined, because if that was the case, the cooperation with Kosovo would be more lasting and would not be conceived as a random project”.

At the conference it was announced that this program is to be continued in 2016. New activities and further cooperation with young artists are starting in January 2016; however, this time they would also imply the cooperation of educational institutions, such as universities in Belgrade and Pristina. It was concluded that the number of relevant activities should be increased, that more young artists from Belgrade should visit Pristina and vice versa, that cultural institutions should organize such events so that artists from Pristina could become a part of Belgrade’s cultural scene and vice versa. All projects mentioned above are still pushed forward primarily by the NGOs, so our objective is to make Kosovo cultural events and visits of local artists an essential part of Belgrade’s cultural scene, as well as to make artists and cultural workers from Belgrade present at Kosovo’s cultural scene.




















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.














Copyright * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia - 2015

Web Design * ParadoXFactory