Established in 2003 as the regional hub for the Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD) project, the Belgrade office of the German Marshall Fund is responsible for managing both the selection of MMF candidates from Southeast Europe and the hosting of visiting MMFs from the United States.
Hosting US MMFs
Our first experience was hosting six US Fellows in 2005, when we scheduled formal and informal meetings with a range of policymakers and prominent actors in business, government, politics, NGO, and media circles. The first hand experience we gained was useful when it came time to host a second group of seven AMMF Fellows from 16 to 21 June 2006 (chosen at random from a larger group of nineteen visiting various countries across Europe). The visiting US Fellows gained insights into Serbian perspectives on domestic and international issues, as well as first hand experience of local culture and daily life.
Using the extensive network of contacts built up through the BTD project, the Fellows had many opportunities to meet partners and grantees both formally and socially. For example, the group met with BTD grantee Group 484 to discuss key themes such as equity and tolerance, immigration, and civic participation. They also had the chance to meet with the Humanitarian Law Center, where they discussed human rights and humanitarian law, focusing on the region’s recent history of conflict and subsequent attempts at reconciliation. Such meetings enabled the group to gain a deeper understanding of issues, challenges and opportunities that face the region.
With the assistance of the Balkan Community Initiatives Fund, the Fellows also took a trip out of Belgrade to visit Vojvodina, where they met with a local organization working on a cross-border environmental project, and visited the Petrovaradin Fortress to meet with the organizers of the EXIT Festival, born out of resistance to the Milosevic Government and now one of the most acclaimed music festivals in Europe.
Apart from meeting with BTD grantees, media and government representatives, the Fellows were able to experience local culture by dining at traditional restaurants and touring historical landmarks in and around Belgrade. By the end of the 5-day visit, the Fellows expressed how pleased they were, and how much they had gained from their stay in Serbia. We at BTD also gained much from spending time with this group of bright young Americans, and were most satisfied to be a part of this effort to extend and solidify transatlantic relations.
Selecting European MMFs from the Balkan region
In October 2005 GMF extended the MMF program into Southeast Europe for the first time. Belgrade office oversaw the selection of six fellows from the region (Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia) to join others from the rest of Europe on a rigorous and comprehensive study trip across the US. The first Balkan MMFs were Sokol Dervishaj and Teuta Baleta from Albania, Igor Bajok from Croatia, Senad Sabovic from Kosovo, Vera Didanovic from Serbia, and Bilijana Petkovska from Macedonia. Participant feedback on their return was very positive. We continue to maintain close contact with each of the Fellows, for example by involving them in other GMF events such as the Marshall Forum, and arranging briefings for other visitors such as journalist study trips.
In 2006 we are seeking to expand the base by adding more members and advisors to the MMF program, and are currently selecting the second wave of Balkan EMMFs. Nominators have been identified and they will each suggest two candidates. After receiving all applications and drawing up a short list, we will organize a two day session of interviews by a selection committee comprised of BTD partners and trusted advisors. Following the interviews, the committee will unanimously pick six candidates and one alternate that will travel on a trip of a lifetime and permanently become a fixture of GMF’s base. We eagerly look forward to the formation of the 2007 group of Balkan Marshall Memorial Fellows.
Grant Summaries – REGIONAL FY 2006 and FY 2007
Grant Summaries – MOLDOVA FY 2006 and FY 2007
The Balkan Trust for Democracy: A Project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (Annual Narrative and Financial Reports - Fiscal Year ending May 31, 2006)