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Experiencing Europe 2008: Receptions in Vienna

Vienna, November 3, 2008. Like in 2007, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs invited the participants in Experiencing Europe: Serbian Young Professionals in Austria – Zoran Đinđić Internship Programme to a reception in “Marmorsaal”. The reason for this special honour of being treated to such an occasion is that the programme was initiated by the Austria Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik and Mrs. Ružica Đinđić, president of the Serbian Zoran Đinđić Fund.

Unlike last year, not all 42 participants were able to attend the event because the Introductory Module took place in Belgrade and only 20 people are currently working as interns in Austrian companies and institutions.

Furthermore, Ursula Plassnik was this time not able to welcome the participants in Austria herself. On behalf of her, the Secretary General of the Ministry, Ambassador Johannes Kyrle acted as host in “Marmorsaal”. During his speech, he underlined the importance of the programme for both Serbia and Austria by stating that Austria has always and will support Serbia on its way to the European Union; however, if one decides to join it, one needs to take over the entire acquis communautaire, even if some of the requirements seem not accomplishable. Serbia is on its way and this programme strongly contributes to this track.

After him, Mrs. Đinđić gave an insight into the value of the project for Serbia, “I’m convinced that this cooperation will mark the path that young, educated people want to take. This path leads all of us towards a united, stable and vital Europe, and we are its inseparable part.” Moreover, she pointed out that Serbia needs this kind of support, “so that we can take the place that belongs to us in the community of modern European societies.” This was also the idea of her murdered husband, who “tried, and to a great extent succeeded in renewing the ties between Austria and Serbia, and gave them a new meaning and a new value.”

The last speaker was Mr. Igor Božović, a Serbian young professional and participant in the programme. As direct beneficiary, he first thanked the institutions involved (the ADC as the financier, the Zoran Đinđić Fund and WUS Austria as organizers) by stating that, “Every year there are more and more young people who see their role in this restless change. Consider us as a part of this progress toward real values, as a force of alteration. […] We feel that changing the image, and connecting the Austrian businesses and Serbian education is very important not just for us but for all generations that are coming. That’s why we don’t hesitate, we always give our best.” After talking about his experiences in the previous two months, he concluded by saying, “We don’t consider this as a 3-months-visit to Austria. We are already making some plans about what to do when we come back. I am convinced that true cooperation between Austrian Institutions and companies and us is yet to be fulfilled. […] Serbia and Austria are closer for one more step.”


During the following buffet, the participants gave an insight into their work and life in Austria and showed to the officials the importance of the programme for the Serbian young academics and the Serbian society as such.

Also, the Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia in Austria, Mr. Dragan Velikić, used the opportunity of having all participants together with Mrs. Đinđić in Vienna to organize a reception in the premises of the Embassy. After welcoming words and during a buffet, the participants were able to tell their experiences in Austria, talk about their future plans and challenges.

While these 20 participants will leave Austria for Serbia by December 10, the second group (22 people) will start their three-month internships on January 19, 2009.