Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Balkan trip day 1: fact finding in Vršac

In the first two weeks of February, I'm travelling through the Balkans with Auke and Annechien. During this trip I will visit projects, will go on fact finding, meet collegues and friends etc.

Day 1: Lenuca organized a meeting with the president and with a member of the Executive Board of the Assembly of the Municipality of Vrsat (resp for minorities and religious affairs)and with a deputy from the Provincial Assembly of Vojvodina.
I discussed about ways how Vojvodina with many different minority groups can have a positive impact in the development of Serbia and its possible future accession to the EU. As a more autonomous province it would be good to work to construc...tively build up its local multi-etnical society based on the different minority groups that are living there, but also should become a positive motor for Serbia's possible future accession to the European Union.It is encouraging to hear that recently good laws were passed in the general assembly of Serbia concerning Vojvodina although also it is always very important how these will be practically implented.

The discussions were effective and fruitful and gave insight in the situation of the municipality of Vrsac, the impact of the Romanian community in Vojvodina, and the situation of the minorities in the province. Also it was good that the meeting got also quite some attention on the local media. I expressed the importance of the cultural and religious diversity and to maintain their values and traditions. Also within a more and more globalized and united Europe, we should always protect the national and local diversities, culture, freedom of religion and traditional values that gives its people identity, gives direction and protect the individual responsibility.

After explaining about the ECPM and about my points of view for the local media, I introduced Auke who gave a statement on behalf of the ECPYN to them and an interview. Our statements were broadcast during the day and on the local evening news. The newspapers will publish it in the weekend and the course of next week. It is encouraging to see how the media was interested to hear our opinions and I hope that with Gods help I could make a positive contribution in the discussions about the role of minorities in Vojvodina and in Serbia.

After the meeting we were shown the beauty of the city Vrsac and its surroundings with its beautiful churches and cathedral (after the cathedral in Zagreb the biggest catholic cathedral in the Balkans). Also we visited the residence of the Serbian metropolitian bishop: a beautiful palace. That the city was also developing well was shown by the new stadion and five star hotel. The small city seems to position itself as the place to organize trainings and meetings outside the bigger neighbouring cities of Belgrade and Timisoara: far enough but not too far from them to organize effective business retreats and trainings: a strategy of the city that I considered as well-thought, also good for the development of local Small and Medium enterprises.

In the evening I was invited to speak at a prayer meeting of the local Baptist church. It was so encouraging to hear the reactions of the people and the way how God works in their hearts.

Also it was good to have a prayer time together. I felt that it was really important that also at the end of the the first day, in the first stop in the trip, we prayed together for the politicians in Vrsac, Vojvodina, Serbia and in whole Europe. Also together with Auke and Annechien it was good to pray for the rest of the trip.

Tomorrow we are heading to Pancevo to meet the Alliance of Romanians in Vojvodina and members of the Serbian Christian Democratic Movement both fresh members of the ECPM.

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