Best Practices

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Art of Dialogue – Dialogue of the Arts

Oct 1994 - Nov 2017 | Bosnia Herzegovina


Municipality of Bologna - Together with Università di Bologna

Municipality of Bologna (Mayor’s Cabinet, Department for Culture and Relations with the University, Department for Sports, tourism and youth), Università di Bologna (Education Science Department, SPISA - Public Administration School, CIRDCE – Interdepartmental research center on European law). Bologna is the seventh city in Italy as far as the number of inhabitants is concerned (almost 400,000) and sixth in economic importance. The metropolitan area of Bologna reaches more than 900,000 inhabitants. Important features of Bologna are its high level of economic development and extensive pre-school, educational, social, cultural and sport services. Very innovative enterprises see in Bologna an ideal location and very high is also the percentage of craftsmen operating in the area. Bologna is one of the most culturally vibrant city in Italy and, with more than 40 museums, it is a city of art with a very high rate of participation in cultural and leisure activities. Capital both of the Metropolitan City and of the Emilia-Romagna Region, the Municipality is member of several EU networks of cities, among which Eurocities, European Coalition of Cities against Racism, Unesco Network of Creative Cities, and has a longstanding experience in participating to international cooperation projects, also in the field of development, migrations and human rights. On the AMITIE CODE project, the City will engage different departments and various stakeholders, such as educational institutions, migrants associations, citizens and civil society at large.

The cooperation between Tuzla and Bologna dates back to the twinning agreement of 21 July 2004 and can be considered as a reference model for co-operation between a European Union city and a city of the Western Balkans.

After a first phase of post-conflict reconstruction interventions, efforts have been made to encourage democratization and institution building processes.Over the years, relationships between universities have been consolidated, indeed they have signed a collaboration agreement and decided to promote exchanges between professors and students. In 1995, the first project, co-funded by the European Commission, the City of Bologna and the Council of Europe, was launched for the creation of the Tuzla - Local Democracy Agency. The Tuzla LDA project aimed to contribute to the peace and stabilization processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through city-to-city cooperation.The LDA was inaugurated on October 2, 1995, and since then, humanitarian assistance and strengthening of local institutions have been carried out. On 20 July 1996, a second cooperation protocol was signed between the two municipalities and in 1997 a new project, co-funded by the European Commission, was launched to pursue peace consolidation, strengthening local democracy and confidence-building. The objectives of the 1997-1999 project were to support the consolidation of the peace process by strengthening the local democratic system, supporting independent and pluralistic information, helping to build trust between the various ethnic groups and defend human rights, improve capacity of local government to improve the quality of public services and strengthen citizen participation in community life through organized social forms.

Tuzla cemetery.
Tuzla cemetery.

The universities of Bologna, Tuzla and Banja Luka (Republika Srpska) signed a protocol of cooperation and the Faculty of Political Science, Economics, Medicine and Industrial Chemistry decided to promote exchanges between professors and students. Since June 1998, the collaboration between the LDA of Tuzla and the Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Interventions of the Faculty of Political Science in Bologna was developed. Many NGOs in Tuzla and Bologna were involved in LDA activities: Dobrotvor Tuzla, Caritas Tuzla, Merhamet Tuzla, GVC Bologna, ProEuropa, ICS (Italian Consortium of Solidarity) and Local Development Agency TALDI (Tuzla Agency for Local Development Initiatives). Another important element was the promotion of activities involving the two constitutional sub-entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina), and thus the relations between Tuzla and Banja Luka. The City of Bologna has supported the opening of an office in Banja Luka, encouraging the start of cooperation between the Federation of Municipalities of the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Municipalities. After a long period of contacts and meetings, in June 1999, the Presidents of the two Associations of Municipalities signed a preliminary declaration of intent to Bologna, which then led to the signing of a protocol of cooperation during a plenary session of the Local Powers Council European Regions in Strasbourg. In April 1998, the then Mayor of Bologna Walter Vitali received the honorary citizenship of Tuzla.

As far as the business environment is concerned, ADL and the City of Bologna provided support to a training project run by Sinnea International (Bologna Consulting and Training Company) and TALDI (the Local Development Agency of Tuzla) and co-funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Trade, "Promoting SMEs in the Canton of Tuzla Podrinje". Between 1997 and 1999, some TV shows on the local TV "Tuzla" TV were organized covering issues such as local elections, women's role in political life, human rights advocacy, etc. and in October 1998 the Bologna Round Table entitled "Languages ​​and Multiculturalism in the Former Yugoslavia" was organized in Bologna, in the framework of the International Youth Music Festival ICEBERG. In March 1999, a special session of the East / West Commission of Eurocities was organized in Bologna entitled "The role of Local Authorities and Co-operation between Municipalities in Political Stabilization Processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina". The co-ordination of all cooperation activities with Tuzla was realized through the presence of a delegate of the Municipality of Bologna and curated by the then Foreign Office. Between 1999 and 2004 relations with Tuzla consisted of mere exchanges. In June 2004, Mayor of Tuzla Jasmin Imamovic sent Sergio Cofferati a letter of congratulations for his election, underlining the interest of the Bosnian municipality to reactivate relations with Bologna. On 17 September 2004, the President of the City Council Gianni Sofri went to Tuzla to represent the City of Bologna on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Tuzla Liberation. In 2006, Mayor Imamovic participated in the High Quality Award (Granarolo S.p.A.) as a juror, together with Statutory Auditors from other European cities, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Since 2007, with two projects co-funded by the Cassa di Risparmio Foundation in Bologna ("Culture" and "Culture II"), the Municipality and the University of Bologna (Department of Educational Sciences "GM Bertin") opened a a new round of cooperation, focusing on the promotion of cultural tourism and international relations in Tuzla. In addition to the Municipality of Tuzla, various local associations and local development agencies were partners. The activities concerned, at first, the organization of exchange and training moments on cultural tourism themes, European funding programs and design techniques, European integration and tourism promotion; then the activities focused on the themes of didactics and museum building and the organization of urban festivals.From context analysis, there were times of classroom training and study visits to Bologna and Tuzla, with the participation of municipal officials and operators and sector operators. Later, Tuzla realized the participatory design of the strategic guidelines for the development and promotion of tourism in the city of Tuzla, then approved by the City Council, demonstrating the role of the Bologna team in activating processes and routes then conducted in full autonomy by Bosnian partners. This has been the case mainly for defining the guidelines and for the realization of the international festival of young artists "Kaleidoscope - Art of Dialogue, Arts Dialogue", which then entered the annual cultural programming of the city and is still ongoing. All the training experience has been elaborated, cataloged and made fruirible in other contexts thanks to the production of a multimedia tool. Subsequently, the activities continued with Adottando and Tuzlanska Amica, and when the City of Bologna, the Flashvideo editorial office of the Youth Office hosted two trainees from Tuzla Municipality for a web-based internship; and today they continue with Kaleidoscope and the European project AMITIE CODE.

Which positive outcomes have been achieved?

The cooperation between the two cities led to institutional building in the fields of cultural tourism and international relations, specifically to the Strategy for the development and promotion of tourism in the municipality of Tuzla, the creation of educational tours and materials about museums and other cultural and natural resources in Tuzla, the yearly organisation of an international young artists festival in Tuzla called Kaleidoskop and organised with a participatory approach that sees the whole city get engaged to promote the creativity of the City of Tuzla and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Credits Municipality of Tuzla (General Affairs Department, Economic development department, Culture Department, Eastern Bosnia Museum, Urbanistic Department) Nerda – Territorial development agency for North-Eastern Bosnia Tuzla BIT - Business Innovation & Technology Center Pannonica – Company for the promotion of tourism, sport and leisure City of Bologna (Mayor’s Cabinet, Department for Culture and Relations with the University, Department for Sports, tourism and youth) Università di Bologna (Education Science Department, SPISA - Public Administration School, CIRDCE – Interdepartmental research center on European law) Special credits: Matilde Callari Galli, Università di Bologna Gianni Sofri, Presidente del Consiglio Comunale di Bologna Jasmin Imamovic, Mayor of Tuzla Svjetlana Kakes-Michelini, City of Tuzla Associate partners: University of Tuzla UNDP Sarajevo (SUTRA Project)