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Balkanalysis.com Briefing with Dr Michal Vašečka, Director of CVEK, August 2011

Bratislava, Slovakia— On August 1, 2011, Balkanalysis.com contributor Maria-Antoaneta Neag conducted a briefing with Dr Michal Vašečka, Director of the Bratislava-based Center for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK) and Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Studies of Masaryk University in Brno.

In the briefing, Dr Vašečka provided background information on the recent two-week Summer School of Ethnicity and Migration he helped to organize, and discussed future similar activities.

Issues of ethnicity, Roma inclusion and free movement of people within Europe are all topics high on the EU agenda at present. Currently, the European Union is working on a common comprehensive migration policy aiming at a ‘Europe without borders,’ in which citizens can move freely between countries and can assess the legal migration and integration aspects (due to be adopted by 2012).

In this respect, the relevant research long carried out by Dr.Vašečka and CVEK in these fields were central to the summer school’s activities. The event was held under the umbrella of CVEK, together with other partners like the European Centre for Minority Issues, the IOM and the European Migration Network. Donors included the Visegrad Fund, the Open Society Foundation, and the US Embassy in Slovakia.

Dr Vašečka disclosed that the event’s target group for this summer school included MA and PhD students, young researchers, young public officials from Central and Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans, Turkey and some Eastern Partnership countries. The programme covered topics connected to the de-construction of national myths, analysis of public policies concerning minorities, reconciliation and migration policy models. Topics regarding the Western Balkans highly appreciated by the participants included the reconciliation process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, and the state of play regarding Macedonia’s EU negotiations (with a consideration of its effect on the unresolved name issue with Greece.

The format of the summer school provided a unique informal learning process (debates, lectures, movie screenings and workshops), helping participants to enhance their knowledge on the subject and better understand the applicability of concepts in terms of policy design and practical consequences. Mr.Vašečka is optimistic that the outcomes of discussions will be further disseminated in other academic and decision-making environments.

Concluding the briefing, Dr.Vašečka noted that he had been pleasantly surprised by the active presence of the participants coming from the Western Balkans. Their ideas and new approaches contributed to a very vivid debate. This is why, next year, the summer school of ethnicity and migration will cover more case studies from the Western Balkans.

Dr. Michal Vašečka is the Director of the Center for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK), Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University in Brno, researcher at the Institute for Research in Reproduction and Integration of Society and lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences of the Comenius University Bratislava.

Among the founding members of the Civic Institute in Bratislava and of the Civic-Democratic Youth, Dr Vašečka served also as an assistant at the Ministry of Culture of Slovakia and as a researcher and executive director at the Documentation Center for the Research of Slovak Society. Other institutions with which he has collaborated include the InfoRoma Foundation (legal advisor for the UNHCR Bratislava), Academia Istropolitana, Institute for Advanced Studies, the Open Society Foundation, the Institute of Public Affairs, the Hoover Institute, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Open Society Institute, the International Organization for Migration, the UNDP, the European Center for Minority Issues, the ForschungsinstitutzurZukunft der Arbeit, the Institute for Minority Rights, EURAC and the British Council Bratislava. He has also been a consultant for the World Bank (2000-2008).

The Center for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK) is an independent research and educational institute created in 2005, and focused on research and analytical activities in the sphere of culture and ethnicity. CVEK is contributing to expert activities and fostering of an expert dialogue in the sphere of minority issues, social exclusion, strengthening of social cohesion, social construction of ethnic and cultural identity, race and ethnicity issues, and development of cultural activities and media space in the Central European context. Among the topics covered by activities of the organization are social cohesion and inclusion, issues of intolerance and racism, civil society development, migration, integration of migrants and asylum seekers, ethnic and cultural identities, poverty and social policy and other media related issues.

Balkanalysis.com is an American research and analysis firm that provides dedicated coverage of the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean regions, in areas ranging from politics and security to economics and culture. It draws on the expertise of its broad network of field analysts and reporters representing a number of various countries and professional backgrounds.

Balkanalysis Briefings is a regular series in which correspondents of Balkanalysis.com, sometimes in affiliation with partner organizations, engage with representatives of companies, governmental institutions, non-governmental groups and other organizations professionally involved with the Balkan and Mediterranean regions in order to gain insight into issues, trends and other factors affecting present and future developments in the area. This process contributes to better analytical and prognostic research, allowing Balkanalysis.com to better serve its readers, while also providing Briefings partners an opportunity to make their products, services and goals better and more clearly known among those most actively involved with the region.

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