Welcome to the ECPYN blogspot!

This blogspot was started by the participants of the 5th International Summer School of ECPYN in Chisinau, Moldova, August 24-29 2008.
You can also visit our official website at www.ecpyn.org, follow ECPYN on Twitter or join our facebook group. Opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent official ECPYN positions.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Debate, design, departure

On Friday we started with a lecture by Attila Kiss, assistent professor at the 'Partium Christian University' in Oradea (Romania). Kiss discussed the historic development of the concepts of statehood and nationhood and how this influenced the situation of minorities in the Carpathian basin in general and in Transylvania especially.

After a short break the plenary was addressed by Vladimir Gjorcev MP (VMRO-DPMNE), chairman of the Committee on Defence and Security, who spoke to the theme of the summer school.

Before lunch a debating course was held. What was learned could of course immediately be applied, not only during the course and over lunch, but also in the afternoon. In the afternoon the group was divided into four. Each group was challenged to design a symbol to represent reconciliation. After some hasty discussions and drawings, each group came up with quite different designs.

The seats in the plenary room had now been arranged like in the House of Commons and two parties had to defend their own design against each other and attack the design of the group facing them. Thus two finalists were decided upon by a jury, consisting of Aleksander Ogorodnikov, Attilla Kiss and Vladimir Plamadeala. The two groups that were selected by the jury stood out on presentation and debating skills respectively. After a fierce final debate the public decided by one vote which design had won.

After some cooling down - in the case of many by having a swim in the beautiful nearby lake - Friday evening concluded the summer school with a closing dinner. During the dinner many speeches were given, each national delegation represented itself by singing a song and/or dancing a dance and at the end all the participants received a certificate for their participation in and contribution to the summer school. After this the party went on for a while of course :-)

Saturday morning, after breakfast, most of the participants checked out of the hotel and gathered in front of the loby to say goodbye to each other. Many left by bus for Skopje and from their on to their respective countries, some others went to Tessaloniki with another bus, to spend some time in that other (Greek) part of the geographical area called Macedonia.

Friday, July 16, 2010

King Samoil, Icons and Saint Clement Ohridski

After the coffee break we had lectures by Guido van Beusekom (ECPM secretary) and Aleksander Ogorodnikov. We then had lunch. After lunch we went to see the old town of Ohrid and especially the citadel. This citadel helped the Macedonians to resist for example Ostro-Goth invasions. We visited five churches and a galery of antique icons. We walked to some pitoresque parts of the town to finally end up at the beach, where we had some drinks, before we went back to the hotel.

At the hotel we had some workshops, that were also given on Tuesday, before we went to dinner. After dinner the representatives of the member organisations gathered in the conference room for the congress. The annual (financial) report was adopted, slightly modified statutes were accepted and Auke Minnema and Denys Dhiver were elected into the board after I had been thanked for my services over the last four years. After this it was time to relax a bit on the terace and notice that the WiFi wasn't exactly working again. When it started working again, it was time to write a blog :-)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Protection of Ethnic Minority Rights in Macedonia

Early this morning the board convened to have a board meeting over breakfast and discuss some last issues in preparation for the congress (general assembly).

At nine the participants gathered in the conference room to listen to Ilija Dimovski, who is among other things a Member of Parliament of Macedonia for the VMRO-DPMNE, a center-right party of Christian-democratic orientation. Dimovski explained how the Macedonian system secures the rights of minorities. An important instrument in this is the fact that in order to change some basic laws parliament needs to reach a qualified majority. This means that an absolute majority is not enough, but half of the members of parliament representing the minorities should also agree in order to reach this qualified majority. Besides this formal requirement there are also some informal political customs aimed at reaching consensus and including minority parties, especially the parties representing the large Albanian minority.

The lecture was received very well, because of its informative content. Afterward some questions were raised and comparisons were made with other countries. It was concluded that some countries could take an example in the Macedonian approach.

And then there was coffee..

Economic integration / Excursion

On Tuesday afternoon there was a second round of workshops, including 'debating', 'ethnic minorities in the Carpathian basin' and 'Communication and Conflict Management'.

In the evening prof. dr. Florin Duma, economist at the University of Cluj (Romania) gave a lecture on the title 'The Economic Integration of Romania in the EU: Opportunities and Challenges'. In his lecture he gave a balanced perspective on this topic, equally discussing both sides and fairly mentioning possible downsides and risks to (fast or unprepared) economic integration into the European Union. He also gave some advice to countries hoping to join the EU in the future, to start preparing already, in order to be able to integrate economically in a way that benefits their country.

After the lecture there was a nice dinner. After that there was time to relax. Some people went for a boat trip, others visited the old town of Ohrid or went for a swim.

Wednesday morning we gathered at nine to go on an excursion by bus. After quite a long drive, which provided time for a lot of discussions and jokes among the participants, we arrived in Bitola. We first visited the historic museum. There was an exposition on the history of Macedonia from the time of Alexander the Great, the Roman occupation and Christianisation and also of the Macedonian revolution against the Otoman Turks. There was also an exposition on Mustafa Kemal 'Atatürk', the founder of Turkish secularism (aka Kemalism), who lived in Bitola at some point. After walking through the centre of Bitola and having coffee at a café, we took the bus to an archeological site, where several layers of urban settlement had been excavated. We could see, among other things, a Roman theatre and a beautiful mosaic in a Christian church, which included a lot of symbolism. Christians were represented by deers (inspired by the Psalm 'As the deer pants for water..') and the Romans were represented by a leopard attacking a deer et cetera.

From the archeological site near Bitola we went on to Krushevo. We visited the monument for the resistance fighters, where Viktor Mitevski gave some explaination on the Macedonian struggle for independence from domination by the consequent multinational countries, the Ottoman empire and the 'Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. We then had a look at the inside of the memorial, which hosted an exposition on the topic. From the monument we went on to the old town of Krushevo, where we visited an orthodox church with beautiful icons and fresco's.

When we arrived back at the hotel in Ohrid, we had dinner, after which we went to down town Ohrid, where we embarked on a boat, to make a tour of the lake and have a look at the monasteries, the chateau and villas on the side of the like. It was a nice tour and the lights in the dark added to the ambiance, which resulted in a good atmosphere for informal conversation and getting to know each other better. We continued this, when we disembarked and on to a café for some drinks and a bit of dancing (even though some were to shy to dance ;-) ).

When we got back to the hotel many went to bed, but others such as me started their computers...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pictures Summer school

Pictures of the summer school can be found on http://www.ecpyn.org/page/27980.

Repentance, justice and forgiveness as prerequisites to restoring relations

I was supposed to be flying from Amsterdam to Skopje by way of Budapest, but when I arrived at the gate in Budapest for the flight to Skopje, it turned out to be overbooked. This meant that I had to wait for some hours. After that I could fly to Zagreb (Croatia), I had to spend a few hours there again, which I used to visit the inner city. In the end I arrived in Skopje at quarter to twelve in the evening. It wasn't before three in the morning that I arrived in Ohrid, which explains why I haven't been able to give an update here until now. These problems in my travelling were frustrating, but the kind personnel, some compensation and the opportunity to visit Zagreb helped in reconciling myself with the fact I was going to be late ;-)

In my absence on Monday evening, the summer school was addressed by the Macedonian President of Parliament (Trajko Veljanovski) and the Minister of Defense (Zoran Konjanovski).

After a good local breakfast we started on Tuesday with a speech by the secretary general of the Department of Culture, who spoke about the importance of preserving Christian cultural heritage. After this Viktor Mitevski explained the political history and the workings of the current political system of Macedonia. Vladimir Plamadeala (Moldova) explained the situation regarding the so called frozen conflict over Transnistria (aka Pridnestrovje).

After a short coffee break on the terrace overlooking the Ohrid valley filled by a big lake bordering on Albania, we went on to four different workshops. Leo van Doesburg (ECPM representative in Eastern Europe) gave a workshop on 'Communication and Conflict Management', Jacques Bazen on 'Geopolitics', Krisztina Deme (Hungary) on 'Minority Problems in the Carpathian Basin' and the undersigned on 'The Christian Concept of Reconciliation'. In my workshop we indentified different types of conflict and several trajectories for reconciliation. We then applied this theoretical framework to existing conflicts. In conclusion we discussed the process of European integration as a kind of postponed reconciliation. In the sense that the founders of the European Community of Coal and Steel acted as if France and Germany were reconciled. In the long term reality would follow this imitation. The presentations will be published on the website after the summer school.

After a good warm lunch, part of the group went on a visit to the Monestary of Sv. Naum, who was a discipel of the Saints Cyrillus and Methodius and the others went for a swim or sightseeing in the town of Ohrid.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Follow the progress of the summer school on our blogspot!

From Monday July 12 till Friday July 16, 2010, the 7th International Summer School will take place in Ohrid, Macedonia. The summer school is the core event of ECPYN. This year's theme will be 'Reconciliation'. Besides the ECPYN member congress, the conference will include lectures and workshops from senior politicians and other professionals from several countries and an excursion. You can follow the progress of the summer school semi-live on http://ecpyn.blogspot.com , because I will regularly publish short reports after sessions.