CCBS Director, Ruth Taillon travelled to Cieszyn, on the Czech-Polish border at the end of February for the final study visit of the TEIN: Platform for Dialogue project. This project, funded by the Micro-projects strand of the CZ-PL INTERREG IVA programme, also involves participants from the Poland/Czech Republic, France/Germany, Austria/Slovenia and France/Spain (Catalan) border regions; all of which, like CCBS, are members of the Transfrontier Euro Institute Network (TEIN). Previous study visits, all on the theme of ‘Good Practice in Cross-Border Cooperation’ took place in Ireland and Germany/France in 2017.
The aim of the project is to create a positive change in Polish-Czech relations related to the historical and political context of Cieszyn Silesia. The project is based upon the use innovative methods of cooperation based on an exchange of experience between the Polish-Czech borderland and other European border regions in terms of developing solutions for cross-border problems, most of which have political, historical or ethnic/national roots.
At our first session on Monday 26 February, the workshop – attended by approximately 50 local cross-border practitioners – was opened by Mr Janusz Pierzyna, President of the Council of the Cieszyn Silesia Euroregion and Mr Lukáš Szlaur, Chairman of one of our host organisations, Institut EuroSchola. After short presentations giving introductions to the project and the TEIN, historian Mr Mariusz Makowski (Museum of Cieszyn Silesia) provided an historical overview of the common heritage of Cieszyn Silesia and Dr Andrzej Kaskerek (University of Silesia) gave a talk about Cieszyn Silesia identity. The workshop concluded with presentations from two local cultural initiatives, ‘The Cinema on the Border’ and the international theatre festival, ‘Without Borders’.
Tuesday was devoted to a number of site visits to INTERREG-funded projects working on behalf of the Polish minority community in the Czech Republic. These included the Pedagogical Centre for Polish Minority Schools; the Polish Congress in the Czech Republic, the Polish Cultural and Educational Association; and a Kindergarten and Primary school.
Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning were closed sessions for the TEIN members. Our Polish and Czech partners presented conclusions they had drawn from the analysis of documentation from each of the participating border regions and learning from the other study visits and recommendations for the Cieszyn Silesia and wider Czech/Polish border region. This was followed by discussion of potential future cooperation projects among TEIN members. The participants agreed the final details of an application which will be submitted to the next round of the Europe for Citizens programme, ‘Engaging civil society in border regions for the future of Europe.’
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