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Edition Civil Society in the Danube Region

1 | 2017

the magazine for the danube countries

connects danube

Civil Society on the move Why young people along the Danube get involved

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Young Generation




BUILDING BRIDGES WITH SPECIAL STRENGTHS How young people from different countries learn from each other....................................4-5 A CHALLENGE FOR EUROPE Conference on Roma integration in Budapest.........................6

AN IDEA BECOMES A PROJECT The Baden-Württemberg Foundation: a partner of civil society.....................8-9


GENERATION FACEBOOK TAKES TO THE STREETS How young Romanians fight corruption...........................10-12




GROWING FROM MUSIC! Mostar Rock School overcomes ethnic borders..................................14

GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY How new political movements emerge in Serbia, Hungary, Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina.....................12 SHIP AHOY! The European project Danube Women City Guide is launched ...........................................13 EVENTS.............................................7 IMPRINT..........................................17


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Dear readers,


danube connects is on Facebook and twitter! appiness is impossible without society.

Today, Seneca’s wise words sound truer than ever. Civil society in the

Danube region may face great difficulties, but it is making a difference for a peaceful common future.

Adding to lively debates at conferences, many

NGOs are creating projects that bring together people from various fields and make precious

We offer information and images from the international press on politics, tourism and culture in the Danube region. Furthermore, we keep you on track about the Danube Strategy and the various events alongside the Danube. Come and take a look!

contributions to society. Despite the hopelessness

that has spread across Europe, there are confident movements, even if their path is littered with obstacles.

Young women and men are particularly active, building bridges and

tearing down walls in people’s heads. Yet, it is also our responsibility

as adults to stand up for peaceful coexistence, so that today’s children and youth may look upon the future with hope. When it comes to

creating a good future for the whole Danube region, education and knowledge of other countries are needed.

The active involvement of the political sphere is just as important. We’ve visited young and older people in the Danube region and were

impressed and surprised by what they have achieved with simple means.

You want to share interesting information on the Danube region? Just send a link to

Discover extraordinary projects and their initiators. Let’s bridge! Enjoy reading! Sabine Geller

editor-in-chief and founder of danube connects

the magazine for the danube countries

Tel. +49 (0)731 153 75 05 Fax +49 (0)731 153 75 06

Let's Bridge

BUILDING BRIDGES with special STRENGTHS! The Danube River connects! That is what young people from Germany and Ukraine could experience to the fullest in the project "Let's Bridge". From the Black Forest to the Black Sea, eight young persons (18 – 25) travelled 3000 kilometers by van. By doing so, they built new friendships and bridges amongst each other and with other people they met along the way. became clear: the youth of the Danube region needs more perspectives and opportunities to discover Europe and the Danube region. Access to intercultural exchange and job orientation can be two possibilities to broaden perspectives of the European youth. The motivated project group gained a greater sense of appreciation of their own opportunities and a better understanding of the responsibility to create opportunities for others.

Freedom bridge in Budapest

The 15 days of travelling with persons of different origin led to deep insights into the living conditions and perspectives of young people along the Danube River. While the first meeting at Frankfurt Airport was still a bit careful, strangers quickly turned into friends. The activities during the trip required a strong willingness for cooperation and commitment of each individual who contributed with their different talents and preferences to the project goals. The group was able to make longlasting experiences - not only in the group but also with the locals they met. Meeting young people as well as decision-makers from politics and academia provided interesting exchanges and great learning experiences. In each destination, opportunities and challenges of young people in the respective countries were discussed. In each


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country, youth unemployment was strongly present. Whether in Wenzenbach, Regensburg, Passau, Vienna, Budapest, Backi Monostor, Belgrade, Svishtov, Bucharest or Odessa - the project team has left deep traces, gained new insights and set positive impulses. The discussions with the local youth and decision-makers and among the group members themselves evolved mainly around the following topics: democracy, peace-building, remembrance culture, challenges of refugees and migration, political participation of the younger generation and youth unemployment, the advantages and disadvantages of EU-membership. It is difficult to generalize or summarize the results of the conversations. They only gave minor insights into the different regions and cultures as well as the hopes and fears of the particular local population. One thing, however,

The highlight of the trip was to reach the final destination, Odessa. A public event was organized together with the partner organization "Social Academy" from Kiev. Prof. Tsvitkov Olexandr from Kiev gave a presentation on the history of the Danube region, the part of Ukraine in the history of the Danube region and the commonalities of the various people who live along the Danube river.

Landing stage on the Danube at the Media Camp, Backi Monostor, Serbia

The various insights were documented daily via social media and, at the end of the journey, the group had created a blog, a Facebook page and eight video trailers. Because of the short but very positive experiences in the different encounters, all participants explained that they would surely return to discover the various regions along their journey with more time at their disposal. Due to of the positive results of the tour, the newly created networks, as well as the obvious need for extracurricular youth work, there was no doubt that "Let's Bridge" had to continue. With the new Danube project called "Future Lab", Starkmacher e.V. aims to give a space to youth to think about the future of our societies and their possible contribution.


Let's Bridge

I will never forget these different meetings and the people, because each visit led to new insights. And really, I had to think and reflect on them a lot. I am so proud of our team, because I know that with small steps we have achieved something great!" Ruslana Bondarenko, Ukraine

The project is presented in interviews and social media activities.

INFO "Future Lab" The project provides perspectives for a sustainable and future-oriented society and wants to strengthen young people in their orientation process. In three meetings, young people from all over the Danube region can exchange ideas and learn from each other in different workshops. This multinational platform enables them to overcome prejudices and to build new bridges as well as to find common areas of interest. In the near future, the topics environment and sustainability are becoming increasingly relevant for our economies and society in general. Therefore, both aspects will be the main focus of the project. The young people will meet experts and visit innovative social projects in different field trips. In the “Future Lab”, young people get the chance to gain access to career coaching and to develop their own ideas or projects (e.g. start-ups or communal social projects) that aim to make a difference in social initiatives and social enterprises. The meetings require a participation fee of 100 €/person, (reduction possible in consultation with Starkmacher). Including travel fees, accommodation and food The "Future Lab" takes place in: 21.-28/08/2017 in Croatia 28.10.-4/11/2017 in the Ukraine 03.-08/04/2018 in Mannheim (Germany)

The most ambitious participants of the first two events in Croatia und Ukraine will get the chance to participate in the final event in Mannheim for free.

A special publication

of the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung

For more information follow this link:

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A CHALLENGE FOR EUROPE Despite ambitious political plans, the integration of Roma remains one of Europe’s biggest challenges, especially in the Danube Region. From 6 to 8 April, the “Roma Inclusion Conference” at the German Andrássy University Budapest presented relevant strategic programs and specific projects. The conference took place in the framework of the project “Duna Romani Luma”, “The World of Roma along the Danube”, covering educational, employment and integrational issues. The project was initiated by the European Danube Academy in Ulm and is funded by the State Ministry of Baden-Württemberg. These institutions’ involvement is due to the realization that it is a common task of all Danube countries to improve the living conditions of Eastern European Roma, due to the poverty-driven migration to Baden-Württemberg, amongst others. Duna Romani Luma has, for example, already funded a childcare center in Cidreag (Romania), an employment program for Roma women in Novi Sad, a school partnership between Gandhi High School in Pécs and Anna Essinger High School in Ulm; furthermore, a first Roma Conference was organized in Ulm in 2015. In his welcoming speech, Péter Szegvári, a consultant to the Municipality of Budapest, stressed the topic’s importance for Hungary’s capital, from cultural, economic and other perspectives, which is why he thinks all Roma living in Budapest should be integrated into the educational system. Peter Langer, General Coordinator of the Council of Danube Cities and Regions, declared: “In spite of all the misery and discrimination, there are very confident Roma who achieve a great deal. And yet, improving their living conditions is one of the greatest challenges for European politics, particularly in the Danube Region.” László Ulicska of the Hungarian Ministry for Human Resources provided an overview of Hungary’s


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Uccu Foundation: music workshop with professional guitarplayer Ferenc Snétberger

Roma Strategy, adopted in 2011. “In Hungary, Roma poverty is concentrated in northeastern communities that are in general considered to be fragile”, says Ulicska. The percentage of Roma among citizens threatened by poverty has declined since 2014, but as of 2016, 83 percent of them still fell into this category. Roma actors often resigned Gordana Berjan, Manager of the European Youth Center Budapest, reminded the audience of the recommendations the Council of Europe has been giving on this issue since 1967. “Support such as the Roma Youth Action Plan is urgently needed so that the younger Roma generation can flourish”, she stated. Tea Erdélyi of the Budapest non-profit society Esély presented specific projects: a mentor program in Budapest-Csepel, a board game and a program that helps new entrants to the labor market find internships. “These initiatives aim at

making people aware of Roma’s needs, but also at encouraging exchange, e.g. among different generations of Roma”, said Erdélyi. She concluded with the information that due to recent developments, Budapest’s new Equal Rights Program also targeted migrants. Upon danube connects’ request, Paul Langer, EDA Project Coordinator and organizer of the conference, declared: “The decade of Roma integration ended in 2015, but many problems persist. So, with this conference, we want to bring together all sorts of Roma actors and encourage exchange to develop and present solutions – the stakeholders often seem resigned.” In his presentation, Prof. Mirko Savić of the University of Novi Sad’s Center for Applied Statistics pointed out that ethnic information is rarely included in public statistics. “The number of Roma in Europe could be anything between 4 and 14 million. But we need precise data for benchmarking, to make state-

Events 2017

Daniel Hirsch, Budapest

29. 06.

International Danube Day

05. - 09.07. EXIT Festival, Novi Sad (Serbia), Petrovaradin 13. - 15.07. Sea Dance Festival in Budva, Montenegro 16.07./23.07. Fishermen’s Jousting on the Danube Ulm /Neu-Ulm 24. 07.

Schwörmontag, Ulm


Ooen Air Popfest, Karlsplatz, Vienna

09. - 16.08.

Sziget Festival, Budapest

09. - 13.08.

Guca-Trumpet-Festival, Serbia

Events 2017

ments about conditions and to measure effects.” Still, statistics show that in Europe, it is only in the Danube Region that Roma represent over ten percent of each country’s population. Gusztáv Varga of the combo Kalyi Jag called for more Roma participation and more Roma representatives in all public authorities. He expects the creation of a European Roma Council which should, amongst others, run a European Roma TV channel and dispose of a budget of 1.5 billion Euro provided by all countries with Roma population.


11.08. - 18.08. Filmfestival, Sarajevo 02. - 24.09. George Enescu International Festival, Bukarest

INFO Then, five projects from five countries chosen among a total of 47 submissions were awarded funding. All aim at improving Roma participation along the Danube. Examples of the chosen projects include the “Association of Roma Intellectuals” (2,000 € grant) that gives Serbian Roma students career guidance, the organization “Young Roma Maramures” (1,500 €) that supports networking among Roma in Romania, and the Hungarian “Uccu Roma Informal Education Foundation” (1,300 €) that encourages encounters between Roma and non-Roma.

07. - 11.09.

Ars Electronica Festival, Linz


Night of Culture, Ulm/Neu-Ulm

11. - 13.10.

International Danube Conference of Culture, Pécs

12. – 15.10.

Annual Conference of European Journalists Association , Ljubljana


4rd Participation Day of Danube Civil Society Forum, Budapest

18. - 19.10.

Annual Forum of European Union’s Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), Budapest

08. - 12.11.

International Book Fair BUCH WIEN, Vienna


Danube Salon, Talk, House of Danube, Ulm

16. - 19.11.

European Days of Literature, Spitz in Austria

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Civil Society

The Growing Relevance of Civil Society Participation in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region The 3rd Danube Participation Days took place on November 2nd and 3rd 2016 in Bratislava (Slovakia). Around 210 actors from civil society and government institutions from the entire Danube region got together and discussed the latest developments within the macro-regional context of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR).


Both days were held under the slogan “Working towards Sustainable Development: Civil Society, Local Actors and EU strategies”. Highly experienced speakers like the former EU Commissioner Franz Fischler and State Councilor Gisela Erler from Baden-Württemberg confirmed EU-Commissioner Cretus’ statement and stressed the importance of participation and social innovation along the Danube River.

During the second day of the event, participation was further discussed from the perspective of regional and local authorities. The Danube Civil Society Foum (DCSF) and Priority Area 10 of the EUSDR invited the Council of Danube Cities and Regions (CoDCR), the Urban Platform Danube Region, the Danube Local Actors Platform (D-LAP) and the ARGE Donauländer to an extensive discussion.

Georg Mildenberger (Center for Social Investment and Innovation at the Heidelberg University) emphasized that according to the workshop on social innovation, there is need for new inclusive and participatory governance. Only then social innovation is possible in the Danube Region. Georg Mildenberger highlighted that especially civil society organizations and local actors have the great potential to propose and test innovative solutions and approaches because of their strong relationships with citizens and other sectors of society. The workshop on Open Governance indicated the need for viable user-friendly open data on appropriate platforms to increase civil society participation. A day full of work found its highlight with a splendid reception held by the Mayor of Bratislava in the city hall.

The concept of the Participation Days was elaborated in the last five years by Stefan Lütgenau and his team within the Danube Civil Society Forum in close cooperation with the coordination office of the Priority Area 10 (held by the City of Vienna and the Centre for European Perspective in Slovenia). The Priority Area 10 deals with Institutional Capacity Building and Cooperation and it is the responsible arm of the EUSDR for civil society.

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The 3rd Danube Participation Days in Bratislava followed the young tradition of the first two Danube Participation Days in Eisenstadt (Austria) in 2014 and Ulm (Germany) in 2015. The Baden-Württemberg Stiftung (BadenWürttemberg Foundation) supports the project for the years from 2016 – 2018 as part of its program Perspektive Donau:

Bildung, Kultur und Zivilgesellschaft (Perspective for the Danube region: Education, Culture and Civil Society). Further financial support for the Participation Days 2016 and 2017 comes from the group of the EU Ladder project, the Council of Danube Cities and Regions and the ARGE Donauländer. A partner consortium of Agapedia gGmbH, the coordination office of Priority Area 10 in Vienna, The Center of Social Investment and Innovation of Heidelberg University, the Andrassy University in Budapest, the Civil Society Network EUSDR in Baden-Württemberg and the Civic Participation Forum in Bulgaria is responsible for the content of the Participation Days. The coming Danube Participation Day will be held on October 17th 2017 at the Andrassy University in Budapest. In 2018, the Participation Days will take place in Bulgaria (please check the box below for further information). Participative governance is important to complement the top-down approach of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region and its 3 No’s (no new funding, no new structures, no new legislation). By systematically applying a bottom-up approach, the Participation Days take civil society and local actors on board. Here NGOs from different fields (environment, social issues, advocacy and political activities) meet and exchange

Civil Society

The current challenges that the EU is facing, as well as their growing complexity, make consent and participation of Civil Society Organisations more important than ever”. Corina Crețu, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy addressing the 3rd Danube Particpation Days in Bratislava

Danube Participation Days

views with responsible local, regional and national authorities. The National Participation Days are strongly supported by the Danube Local Actor Platform (D-LAP) and the coordination office of the Priority Area 10. The overall results of the Participation Days are promising. For 2017, a total of 8 National Participation Days are planned. They range from Ulm, Eisenstadt, Prague, over Bratislava, Ljubljana and Sofia and all the way to Chisinau and Odessa. Building trust is one of the many significant results of these processes and conversations. The relationship between governments and civil society in post-socialist transition countries is still not filled with mutual appreciation and trust. That fosters growing polarization within their societies and the rise of populist parties. The Danube Participation Days are the annual civil society participation summits within the EUSDR, taking place one day before the Annual EUSDR Forum. All proceedings were established and documented in close cooperation between the Danube Civil Society Forum (DCSF) and the coordination office of the Priority Area 10.

Thus, the aim to “fill the strategy with life”, that was declared by Winfried Kretschmann (Prime Minister of BadenWürttemberg) at the official launch of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region in June 2011, remains as important as ever. The Danube Participation Days are a modern tool to contribute to this aim.

On October 17th 2017, the 4th Danube Participation Day will take place at the Andrassy University in Budapest, followed by the annual EUSDR forum on October 18th 2017 in Budapest. Under the title “Paving the Path: Science meets Innovation and Participation”, people from all sectors in the Danube region are invited to participate. Using the academic arena, insights from all 4 EU-macro regions (besides the Danube region, there are EU-macro regions for the Baltic Sea Region, the Adriatic and Ionian Region and the Alpine Region) shall be discussed and an agenda for participation initiated. Places are limited, so please state your desire to participate at : For further information please visit:


Prague 30/05/2017 Bucarest 22/06/2017 Stuttgart 29/6/2017 Other dates planned: A special publication

of the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung

Chisinau, September 2017 Odessa, September 2017 Eisenstadt, Autumn 2017 Ljubljana, Autumn 2017 Bratislava, Autumn 2017

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Generation Facebook Takes to the Streets Most of Romania’s protest movement is young, uses social media, is against the elites and wants more Europe. Their concerns are freedom, the rule of law, decency and citizenship. A journey to the west of the country to find out who these young demonstrators are. An Asian restaurant in Temeswar. This is where I meet Dan Caramidariu, a lawyer, university lecturer and columnist in his mid-thirties. He’s also studied the recent mass protests: “I was there myself because I felt that the government had to backpedal. And that’s what it did in the end. And I wanted to see these people. I wanted to understand what they’re like. My impression is: they all knew they were protesting for the right cause. But they don’t know how the whole thing works.” Dan Caramidariu leans back, becomes thoughtful. On the one hand, there are the results of the latest parliamentary


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election. It gave a clear majority to the government led by social democrats. On the other hand, there are those hundreds of thousands that took to the streets soon afterwards to object against the very same government elected by a vast majority: “I wonder whether this young, urban, slightly wealthier class even participated in the election of December 2016. I’m convinced that many of the young people on the streets in early February didn’t take part in the election. That they didn’t vote. I like that they took to the streets. But it would be better if they also voted.” Less than 40 percent of voters participated in the latest parliamentary election. Voting, being politically active – most young adults don’t find either very sexy. “It's generation Facebook. They’re people who hang out on Facebook, who publish pictures on Instagram and who are constantly twittering. But what they lack is political education. In the last

few years, they’ve probably got exasperated with more than one shortcoming of Romanian society. And now they’re expecting things from the government without even being politically active or just voting. It may sound arrogant, but I’d say they’re quite clueless politically.” Industrial wastelands and a shrinking city On site in the city hall of the Western Romanian industrial city Resita, about 150 km from Temeswar. On one of the hills of the Banat mountains surrounding the city, a large metal pinion tells of the city’s former importance: Up until the early 1990s, the many local factories were still operating. Almost three decades later, industrial wastelands characterize the urban landscape. Yet, the city hall is the seat of someone considered as a new hope for a better, more

I voted because „ But it is my right to vote in

modern, more democratic Romania: Ion Popa, in his mid-fifties, in an unbuttoned dank blue shirt and jeans, no tie or jacket. The man looks more like the CEO of a start-up than the mayor of an ailing industrial city. With a big smile, he points at an unusual vase on his desk. Instead of flowers, it contains – a pack of noodles! After the Romanian revolution of December 1989, Popa made his way. He started out as a money changer in the dusty streets of Resita and became the owner of one of Romania’s largest noodle factories. Some people call him the noodle millionaire. “Then I noticed: This city doesn’t look very good. I have two children, four and eight years old. Since I have the children, I’ve taken to the streets more often. And in the end, I said: come on, I’ll try to change the city… because I think that things have pretty much gone downhill in the last 27 years. We used to have 120,000 inhabitants, now there are only 73,000 left. We lost over 50,000 people. Our industry broke down.” Adding to that, many former mayors of Resita were only concerned with filling their own pockets. “The last mayor is in jail for three years. The one before him is also in jail. So, you can see how well the city was doing”, he says somewhat ironically. The fact is that the new government’s decree would have removed precisely this type of offense from the penal code, or attenuated the penalties. No way, thought Ion Popa, and took part in the protests in his own way – by going on strike, a unique occurrence among Romanian mayors. “And then I said: stop, from now on, I’m not working anymore. Then I went on strike. And a few hundred people came with me here in Resita. That hadn’t happened since 1989. On one day, there were 1,500 of us. We were together every evening.” A mayor who takes to the streets toge-

a democracy, and that right was fought for – so I exercised it."

Raluca Nelepcu ther with his citizens to protest against the central government in Bucarest: that is indeed unique in Romania. Now that he has sold his noodle factory to Italian investors, Ion Popa is financially independent and immune to corruption. He sees it as his duty to do something for his city: “For instance, we’re building a new tramline, 11 kilometers long. That alone has us spending 25 million euros for mobility. Then we have different projects on saving energy. They’re for private homes, these big apartment blocks. And we have these schools: seven theoretical schools. We’re renovating all of them with European money. And we’ve created an industrial park of 15 hectares.” The core group isn’t giving up Back in Temeswar: Raluca Nelepku is an editor of the German-language newspaper “Banater Zeitung” and in her mid-thirties. She’s going through the latest news reports. By now, there are less people on the streets than when the demonstrations started, but their actions are becoming more and more creative. Still, Raluca Nelepcu wonders why the majority of Romanian teenagers and young adults isn’t politically active, apart from demonstrating on the streets: “I have the feeling that people are so disappointed by politics that they think it doesn’t matter who you vote for, they’re all a bad choice. So out of disappointment, you prefer not to vote at all. I voted, even if I just chose the lesser evil. I wasn’t completely convinced, either. But I voted because it is my right to

Civil Society

vote in a democracy, and that right was fought for – so I exercised it.” Having to vote for the lesser evil – that seems to be the core problem of Romanian politics. Every day, more news is published about corrupt politicians in the governing parties – and not only there, but also in the opposition. This fills many Romanians with bitterness, especially young people. Andreea Oance, also an editor at the “Banater Zeitung”, says: “Young Romanians are just completely shocked when they see that nothing changes. That the politicians are always the same, moving from one party to another. I don’t know how to revive Romania’s political life.” There is a glimmer of hope: The social democrats with their post-communist veneer may have emerged from the parliamentary election in December as the strongest party. But it was also the first time that a new party entered parliament, the “Union Salvats Romania”, a party supported by a younger, still unspoilt generation of politicians. True,

Very well connected in the digital world: Andreea Oance (left) and Raluca Nelepcu, journalists of „Banater Zeitung“.

their mainly young parliamentarians have hardly any political experience. But just the fact that they made it into parliament is already a sign of hope for Andreea Oance. Thomas Wagner, journalist danube connects 01I 17


Civil Society



Just like Viktor Orbán in Hungary, � � is centraliSerbia’s Aleksandar Vucic zing more and more power in his own hands – also thanks to a fragmented opposition. Few people were surprised when Vučić resigned his position as prime minister and was elected president in early April. He reached the absolute majority in the first ballot. What surprised more were the public protests after the election, organized via social media by young citizens with no party-political affiliation. They accused the seemingly almighty politician of electoral fraud and corruption. Protesters took to the streets not only in the capital, Belgrade, but also in Serbia’s second largest town, Niš, as well as in Novi Sad and even provincial Sombor. But calls for resignation don’t bother Aleksandar Vučić. His strategy is paying off: ruling with an iron fist within the country, controlling the media and opposition, and acting as a reliable EU candidate externally. tze

� � is governing in Serbia Aleksandar Vucic like an autocrat: first as Premier, now as State President.


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It came from nothing and was overwhelmed by its own success: early this year, the independent movement Momentum shattered the Hungarian government’s dreams of applying for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Within only a few weeks, Momentum collected over 270,000 signatures in favor of a referendum on the Olympic bid. This surprised Momentum team members like Andras Fekete-Györ, a 28-yearold lawyer, but also right-wing populist prime minister Viktor Orbán. To avoid defeat in the referendum, his government dropped the prestigious Olympic bid. Momentum, seeing itself as a proEuropean, pragmatic movement free of ideology, has set itself another goal: af-

GERMANY On Sundays at 2 pm, pro-European citizens meet in numerous German towns to wave European flags, listen to speeches and spread a positive atmosphere. 'Pulse of Europe' is the citizens’ initiative bringing them together. It was created by a married couple of lawyers from Frankfurt and is organized mainly via social media. Since late March, these rallies have also been taking place in Ulm. They usually include a symbolic walk across the Danube to its Bavarian twin town Neu-Ulm. Pulse of Europe meetings have two mandatory ele-

ter its accreditation as a party, the movement wants to surpass the five-percent threshold at the parliamentary election in spring 2018. Given that the opposition is fragmented, Momentum could become a serious alternative for Hungarian voters. Thomas Zehender, danube connects

F SE O L U P OPE EUR ments: singing the European anthem and reading out the ten – very general – principles of the movement. An example is “Reforms are necessary”, the seventh principle. There are no concrete statements such as the ones recently published by political scientist Ulrike Guérot (“Why Europe must become a republic”) – there are no precise statements on EU enlargement nor on the relationship between the member states and the European Union. tze

The European project Danube Women City Guide sets off on its journey. Just before Europe Day, the kick-off event of a new Danube project took place at the beginning of May: an impulsegiving cruise on the Danube from Vienna to Bratislava.

Ship ahoy!

The project "Danube Women City Guide" aims at drawing more attention to past and current work of women in the Danube cities. It will connect providers of guided tours and walks concentrating on women in cities and towns along the Danube. European Partnership The project is coordinated by Ulm University; the partner organizations come from Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Romania. For a whole year, scientists and experts from civil society, culture and the media will do research together, exchange experiences and insights and prepare the presentation of their results. During the International Danube Festival Ulm/Neu-Ulm 2018, a new city guide in pocket format will be presented that will showcase the achievements of women in the Danube cities. In addition to this, the new website will depict the results of the European discussion and include links to guided tours and walks focusing on women. The partners hope to eventually create a network for “Danube women”. The project is supported by the Baden Württemberg Foundation within its program “Perspective Danube: Education, Culture and Civil Society”. Novi Sad: Future Capital of Culture Two representatives of the team Novi Sad 2021 took part in the kick-off event in Vienna. They’re responsible for preparing the Serbian city’s activities du-

ring its turn as “European Capital of Culture 2021”. Both Tamara Zelenović Vasiljević, chief operating officer of the Foundation Novi Sad 2021, and Vuk Radulović, in charge of international cooperation, were highly interested in the project. The representation of women was one of the focal points of

Yugoslavia at the turn of the millennium on women and their history. Project launch in Ulm The project has already started in Ulm with a city tour focusing on women. The main goals are to raise young women's awareness of female achie-

Vienna City Tour for women only starts in front of parliament.

the city’s application for the coveted title of European Capital of Culture. “We’re prepared to connect our city within the Danube Region and will be glad to support this project with our cooperation“, Tamara Zelenović Vasiljević explains. “It’s so very important to see the history of women, particularly regarding cultural heritage and the perspective of women in art. We also want to achieve better positions for women as artists and cultural managers.” The European discussion will include the consequences of the civil war in former

vements and to make them reflect on their own ideas of the future. The project team is preparing activities with St. Hildegard School, Anna Essinger High School and the University of Applied Sciences of Neu-Ulm. Christiana Weidel, Vienna

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Mostar Rock School

Growing from Music!

Orhan „Oha" Maslo, one of the founders of Mostar Rock School.

The city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been separated ever since the end of the Balkan wars. Catholic and Muslim children are educated separately and differently. Musician Orhan Maslo wants to end this ethnic separation and founded “Mostar Rock School”, a place where children make music together. Despite his success, he has to deal with many problems. In this interview, he tells us why it’s worth fighting for this project and what his hopes for the future are. How did you come up with the idea of founding a rock school? After the Balkan wars, when I was living in a Mostar children’s home, the organization “Apeiron d’Art”, a community of local musicians, gave music lessons to children in schools. At that time, I already thought it would be wonderful to create such an institution. My idea stems from childhood dreams. With the help of a friend, I founded “Growing from Music” in 2001 – the name describes my own life. In 2011, I got to know colleagues from the Dutch organization “Musicians without Borders” who were creating a rock school in Mitrovica, Kosovo. I thought their school was great, and so I created Mostar Rock School in August 2012, when eight girls and boys met with four teachers at the Rock Camp in Skopje. These young musicians brought so


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much positive energy back to Mostar that we had around 90 enrollments during the first year. And from then on, more and more people became interested. Why did you want to open the school in Mostar? I was born here and wanted to give something back to the city. Unfortunately, there are mainly negative news about Mostar in the media. It’s time to change our city’s image. Since the Balkan wars, the city has been politically separated and our schools are encouraging segregation. People say that culture is ten years ahead of politics. That’s why I wanted to change something culturally. It was and is our goal to get young people off the streets and help them get to know each other. The easiest way to achieve that is when they

create something together and can be proud of the result. We, as the older generation, should offer such a platform and support them in their actions to help them believe in hope and a good future. How did you convince parents to send their children to your music school? The children and young people contributed to that themselves. Of course, some parents had doubts, which is due to the media and politics. And yet, I saw how those same parents had a wonderful time at their children’s concerts, side by side. What are the biggest problems you face? Laziness can be man’s worst enemy. And I’m afraid that concerns the whole Balkans. Most of the population is dis-


appointed by the political system and the government. They believe neither in themselves nor in their vote. They tell their children to finish school as quickly as possible, leave the country and look for a better future abroad. Lack of interest prevails. That’s what causes the lethargic laziness, and these monsters who call themselves politicians and who govern like in the 18th century take advantage of it! Ignorant people are winning against the educated. This is a serious problem. Why didn’t you give up when you were lacking financial support? Who would want to put hundreds of children on the streets? And yes, there are such people. In today’s world, capitalism reigns and most people see themselves as the priority. But we have sown good for years and hoped we would reap the benefits of our work. We didn’t give up and it was worth it. Who is currently your most important sponsor? Thanks to the Swedish SIDA (Authority for International Development Cooperation) and USAID, our existence is secure until 2020. And from 2017 on, Mostar Municipality is covering the rent for our location.

towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina took part in the 2016 Music Camp. Most of the participants came from small towns on the border between the Federation and the Republika Srpska. Those are places where no one invests in youth and childhood. We noticed how much our school means to them. That says a lot about our project’s success. Politics can’t sow enough hate to eradicate all the love we create! Was the music school able to change things in the parents’ heads? I certainly hope so. The young people are involved and know what they want. And since they’ve noticed that their dreams can come true, they’re even more motivated. Parents can learn a lot from their children. What’s your wish for the future? That the population becomes wiser. Otherwise, there will be no social evolution. And a wish concerning the project: I want Mostar, the city that is still separated politically, to become the center of the Balkan music scene! Interview by Mirella Sidro, journalist Augsburg

INFO Orhan “Oha” Maslo, born 1978, has been working in the music industry for 17 years. A musician, manager and producer, he has played as a percussionist for Dubioza Kolektiv, Mostar Sevdah Reunion, the Dutch Metropole Orchestra and others. He lives and works in Mostar. For him, music is a universal language that builds bridges.

Mostar Rock School in concert Music-Center Pavarotti in Mostar, April 2017

Why do you think that music connects and can stop ethnic divisions in the Balkans? I have to correct you: modern urban music connects. Unfortunately, there is music in the Balkans that spreads sexism and nationalism, such as turbofolk. But good music doesn’t deceive or lie. You can feel everything. That’s why it is understood and used as a universal language. When did you understand that this school was changing things? Children and young people from 18

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danube connects – the magazine for the danube countries, 1/2017  

Special edition about civil society in the Danube region

danube connects – the magazine for the danube countries, 1/2017  

Special edition about civil society in the Danube region