News archive - Event Review: Ideology, Democracy and Social Change in the Western Balkans: Challenges for social sciences

Ohrid, FYR of Macedonia, was the venue for the first RRPP Annual Scientific Conference on June 26-27, 2009. RRPP's aims to foster cross-border co-operation in social sciences research between the targeted Western Balkan countries - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Its two-day conference provided 70 researchers from the Western Balkans, Bulgaria and Switzerland with a platform for a scientific exchange on social science issues relevant for the transition in the Western Balkans.

At the same time, the conference was an opportunity for researchers from the Western Balkan countries, to present research projects already funded by the RRPP as well as to network with fellow colleagues. The conference had been organised by the RRPP Management from the University in Fribourg together with the two Local Coordination Units in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Human Rights Centre, University of Sarajevo) and FYR of Macedonia (Foundation Open Society Institute Macedonia).

After the conference opening by the RRPP Director, Prof. Nicolas Hayoz from the University of Fribourg, and a welcoming note by the Head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) office in FYR of Macedonia, Mr Romain Darbellay, key speakers addressed two topics that were subsequently examined in more detail in two of the four parallel workshops. Prof. Franz-Lothar Altmann (Bucharest State University) spoke about the relationship between states and identities, identifying factors for the formation of the latter at the national, regional and supranational level. Mr Sašo Ordanoski, a former journalist and now with Transparency Macedonia, dealt with the reciprocal dependence linking the media with politics, and how this impacts on democracy.

Papers were presented in four workshops that focused on:

  • Nation and State Building in the Balkans;
  • Gender Discourses: Conflicting Ideologies and Social Policies;
  • Media and Democracy in the Western Balkans: Between Burden of the Past and Future Challenges; and
  • Society in Transition: Economic Development and Challenges.

The lively discussions in all four workshops produced cross-border and also interdisciplinary insights, presented by the workshop moderators on day two of the conference. Linked to the relevant workshop, the audience was presented the seven research projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina and FYR of Macedonia, which the RRPP had approved earlier this year.

In the concluding session, participants and members of the RRPP Scientific and Steering Board expressed their overall satisfaction with the outcome of the conference, and shared their opinion about possible future interventions within the programme.

Next year's annual conference is planned to beheld in Albania, which, together with Kosovo (UN Resolution 1244), was also included in the latest call for RRPP research projects that had closed just days before the Ohrid conference.

Source: RRPP website

The conference reports are available from

Entry created by Elke Dall on July 29, 2009
Modified on July 29, 2009