Communication for Development – Trans Europe Express


”Nice word opens the iron gate”, one proverb says. Methaphorically speaking, the main aim of the the multimedia project Trans Europe Express, that has been initiated few months ago through the ”Creative Force” partnership between Global Reporting and agency Kielo from Belgrade, Serbia and with seed funding by Swedish Institute, is to be such a ”nice word”.

Because, almost two decades since the end of wars in the former Yugoslavia, there are still too many locked iron gates there; the conflict and tensions are now of low intensity, but still seem to be ubiquitous.  Although the regional cooperation is often emphasized as the precondition for political stability, economic growth and European integration of the region, the substantial changes in that direction are very slow. Divisions (both between neighbours and within particular states and societies) are sharp and deep. The mistrust, level of prejudices and even open hatred are enormous.

The state of common language is one of the strongest metaphors of  these post-Yugoslav divisions – what used to be one language is now politically divided into four: Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrian. The differences are minimal, but usually not tolerated in the official public media. Instead of being an instrument for the building of trust and understanding, the common language is also an eternal cause of disputes.

However, despite all these differences, divisions, prejudices and mistrusts, this language that now has four different names is still the main common ground for all those people who are speaking it.  In that sence, Trans Europe Express just wants to provide – virtual, but real – space for tolearant quality communication between the first neighbors, between minorities and majorities. The idea is to pursue dialogue itself,  but also a wider “European dialogue”, particularly by giving the voice to those ones who are rarely heard. The belief is that only such a  communication can contribute to “Europeaniziation” of the public discourse in that language with four names.
It is hard to talk about the results and accomplishments after just two, three months online.

Still, statistics talk per se. Trans Europe Express Community has already near 500 members. Members and other visitors of the site come from 60 (!) different countries. The majority is from Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, as well as from Sweden, Germany, Austria, USA, Spain, i.e. from all the places where there are people speaking the common language with four names.  Most of the people that are following Trans Europé Express are between 20 and 50, and there are sligtly more females than males…

The other kind of feedback are comments, letters, e-mails, encounters with people… We have been aproached by many. Many were willing to cooperate. Some of them say that they can’t believe that something decent like that exist and can exist in the common language with four names.

In that sense, Trans Europe Express has already accomplished part of its mission – it showed that decent, tolerant and open media like that doesn’t have to be impossible either. Everything is about the choice and will.

As Cristobal Diaz, one of the contributors, stated in one article there: ”When we open up the gates and communicate, there is one great danger that can occur – it might happen that we understand each other. ”

As the main editor of Trans Europe Express, I will do my best to make it more and more dangerous (in that way) with every new day.  I really believe that such a communication, i.e. the nice word, is the precondition for development of that divided region that is sharing the same language with four names. Otherwise, everybody remains locked, behind iron gates…

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