Sitemap

CorD Recommends

More...

Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights

Serbia Must do More for Workers

In order to enhance the wellbeing of...

H.E. Li Ming, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Serbia

Unbreakable Friendship

It was 25 years ago (1999) that...

Mark Graham Professor, Oxford Internet Institute

Workers Must Unite Against Digital Empires

Just as historical rulers clung to power,...

Jelena Jovanović, Secretary of the CCIS Association of Electronic Communications and Information Society

Broadband Internet Contributes to New Investments

All the services that we provide in...

News

Concept Mercedes-AMG PureSpeed

Exciting, energising and breathtaking – the Mercedes‑AMG PureSpeed concept is the highlight in the run-up to the Formula 1™...

Western Balkans Chambers of Commerce Sign Tourism Cooperation Memorandum in US Congress

A landmark Memorandum of Cooperation has been signed at the US Congress, uniting the Chambers of Commerce of the...

EU Sets Global Standard with World’s First Artificial Intelligence Act

The European Union has taken a pioneering step by adopting the world's first Artificial Intelligence Act, setting a potential...

Montenegro’s Independence Day Celebrated

Celebrating Montenegro's Independence Day with an Exhibition on Montenegrin Cyrillic Printing from the 15th and 16th Centuries. In commemoration of...

Business Event Hosts Serbian Employment Service Presentation

In Belgrade on the 15th of May, the Slovenian Business Club, in collaboration with the National Employment Service of...

Dr Christoph Veldhues, Director Of The Goethe-Institut Belgrade

Dialogue Is Key

Belgrade itself has such a rich cultural life that the Goethe-Institut is happy to be a small part of it by providing German artists to contribute to well-established festivals like Bitef, the Belgrade Jazz Festival, or BelDocs; by cooperating with institutions like the Belgrade Cultural Centre or the Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art ~ Dr Christoph Veldhues

Opening his first interview for CorD, the newly appointed director of the Goethe-Institut Belgrade explains: “Each of our 160 branch offices in 100 countries has to take into consideration the regional and local conditions of its activities; what is expected from the Goethe-Institut by our partners; and what, from our point of view, needs to be addressed in order to add to the cultural life of our respective guest country.”

Given that you’ve worked at various Goethe-Institut hubs worldwide, how do you tailor your programmes to resonate with diverse cultural contexts?

— The Goethe-Institut, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, fosters international exchanges and understanding in the areas of creativity, education and civil society; coupled with information pertaining to recent cultural developments in Germany and the promotion of teaching and learning the German language. The mission of the Goethe-Institut as a whole reflects global changes in these areas – e.g., the aspect of sustainable solutions has achieved a certain prominence in our programmes everywhere – and thus provides a set of worldwide programme options for my work.

In addition, each of our 160 branch offices in 100 countries has to take into consideration the regional and local conditions of its activities: what is expected from the Goethe-Institut by our partners; and what, from our point of view, needs to be addressed to add to the cultural life of our respective guest country. Usually when I’m settling into a new station, my setup of a specific programme line results from a process of consultations with our experienced local staff, as well as partners both from the guest country and related German and European organisations. Dialogue is key.

Considering your experience, which Goethe Institute programmes do you consider as being most relevant and well-received by the Serbian public?

— Belgrade itself has such a rich cultural life that the Goethe-Institut is happy to be a small part of it by providing German artists to contribute to well-established festivals like Bitef, the Belgrade Jazz Festival, or BelDocs; by cooperating with institutions like the Belgrade Cultural Centre or the Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art (cf. our upcoming exhibition “Future Perfect”); by setting up events like the Goethe(- Film)FEST, the Belgrade Art Week, or the “Next Generation” series of performances, including “Failure as practice” and “Inequality as practice” – all of them preferably co-designed with local partners and other European cultural centres. We are committed to helping improve the participation of the very vital Serbian civil society in the political process; to that end, we ally with civil society organisations like CZKD, the Roma Forum, or Merlinka, and we offer space to civil society groups like Commons or Škograd.

It is safe to say that the Goethe-Institut’s partners and audience are generally staunch supporters of a clear EU perspective for Serbia, as a country that’s doubtless “in the heart of Europe”

The reach of our programmes extends beyond the Serbian capital, as we also support activities in rural areas (e.g., ARLEMM festival) or between countries, for instance in the theatre project “New Stages South East” (here the Belgrade branch office is serving not only Serbia, but also Montenegro). It is most important for us to join forces with Goethe-Institutes and partners in other post-Yugoslav countries that share a considerable amount of common history and, hopefully, future – hence our series of Western Balkan projects dedicated to remembrance and reconciliation like “Missing Stories” or “Present/ Past”. And let’s not forget that an important part of the Goethe-Institut’s work is to enable Serbian schools to provide substantial and meaningful German language programmes, the impact of which usually extends much further than just language learning.

Despite reports of waning interest in EU accession among Serbian citizens, how does their enthusiasm for European and German culture, as well as cultural exchange, fare?

— It is safe to say that the Goethe-Institut’s partners and audience are generally staunch supporters of a clear EU perspective for Serbia, as a country that’s doubtless “in the heart of Europe”; and, indeed, all reasonable considerations – taking into account our common cultural, economic and strategic interests – suggest Serbia’s EU integration as the natural move. Based on lots of conversations, I am optimistic that a realistic understanding of this move’s benefits, both for Serbia and Europe, will sooner or later overcome all petty nationalistic arguments.

That’s why the Goethe-Institut actively participates in shaping and spreading this understanding: for instance, by partnering with EU organisations on projects like “Pulse of Europe – EU Media Trips”, which takes Serbian journalists to places of EU best practice all over the continent; or by operating, on behalf of the EU Commission, the terrific “Culture Moves Europe” programme, which provides tons of opportunities for travel and exchanges between artists in Europe.

Navigating the varied tastes and interests of multiple generations, from baby boomers to Gen Z, can be challenging. What kind of content appeals to both demographics?

— We always try to offer a mix of programmes. Some topics perhaps appeal more to younger people – to name a few: “Playing Narratives”, an education project via gaming; the upcoming Belgrade concert of the German band “Ok.Danke. Tschüss”, intended for schoolkids; or our monthly “reduce-reuse-recycle” sustainability activities at the institute, with a repair workshop to be added.

The reach of our programmes extends beyond the Serbian capital, as we support activities in rural areas (e.g. ARLEMM festival) or between countries, for instance in the theatre project “New Stages South East”

We plan to revitalise artists’ collectives from the former Yugoslavia in the countryside, which might be a good example for a project that calls for a somewhat more experienced audience. I assume, and notice, that the regular art exhibitions and literary readings at our library in particular are interesting regardless of age and they apparently attract all kinds of people passing by our window on Knez Mihailova Street.

Given the growing popularity of the German language in Serbia, how often do you engage in casual conversations in German with Serbian citizens?

— Unfortunately, as I arrived in Belgrade only recently, I so far haven’t made many Serbian acquaintances that aren’t related to my job; I’m working on it. However, I did notice that whenever I try to make use of my still very rudimentary Serbian in shops or at a bus stop, people often recognise me as German and tend to answer in German – which makes it easier on the one side, but certainly doesn’t help my efforts to learn Serbian…

Which of the German courses offered by the Goethe-Institut are in high demand in Serbia?

— It goes without saying that all our German courses are great and can be recommended. Not only because they are offered in an authentic German atmosphere, and with a good deal of German culture into the bargain, but also because we highly value, and therefore invest in, the quality of our teachers, and we systematically align the courses with our own internationally recognised German exams, i.e., by awarding “Goethe certificates” at all language proficiency levels.

As we can offer the complete set of language learning options, everybody should be able to find the best approach for them. Some prefer a face-to-face classroom experience – be it superfast, in our super-intensives, or in the slower pace of our semester courses – while others appreciate the time flexibility of digital (or at least blended) learning in the comfort of their own home. Demand for German courses online has been on the rise constantly since their efficiency was proved by the pandemic. This is especially true for our tailored company courses. An additional bonus is that digital courses for students are now being offered with a discount of 50% off the regular price!