European integration of the Western Balkans: Montenegro on the way to the European Union

Oktober 10, 2023
10:00 – 11:30 MESZ/MEZ

Venue: University of Donja Gorica, Oktoih 1, Podgorica 81000, Montenegro

Even after months of coalition negotiations in the wake of parliamentary elections in June 2023, a new government has not been formed in Montenegro so far. As a member of NATO and a front-runner in the accession process to the European Union, the country’s pro-European, pro-Atlantic orientation is expected to continue under the new cabinet in Podgorica. However, the question remains what kind of stability the new government brings, can a multi-party coalition withstand domestic political turbulences and face regional turmoil and tensions? 

Considering the newly established political constellation in this Adriatic country and recent events in the region, the panel discussion focused on the long-awaited European integration of the Western Balkan countries. Experts evaluated the role of Montenegro and current cross-border cooperation formats fostering the accession of the politically and geographically strategic region of South-Eastern Europe to the European Union. 

IDM at the youth event “Young Danube Bridges”

On 19 September, Sophia Beiter attended the event “Young Danube Bridges” at the Collegium Hungaricum in Vienna. Organized by the regional cultural advisor from the Danube Swabian Central Musuem in Ulm, the seminar was part of the project “International Youth Encounters in the Danube Region” and aimed to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas on key issues concerning the area. 

Participants from Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro, Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova came together to learn about the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. The young people, who are all learning German, presented their countries, brought some typical food from their region and gathered knowledge about the Danube region during creative games and interactive activities. Alongside the IDM, several cultural institutes and embassies of the respective countries were present at the event. 

Parliamentary Elections in Montenegro 2023

Read the briefing by Darija Benić, our former trainee, here:

The whole discussion is available on the YouTube channel of the IDM:

Early parliamentary elections, which will be held on June 11, are the twelfth parliamentary elections since the introduction of the multi-party system and the sixth in independent Montenegro. About 542,000 voters registered in the central voter register have the right to vote.
In the elections, 81 deputies are elected to the Assembly of Montenegro.

In the parliamentary elections, Montenegrin citizens will be able to choose between 15 electoral lists (parties and coalitions).

Experts view the considerable number of participants in the elections as a result of the Europe Now Movement’s increasing popularity, despite their varied political stances. Most of the other participants have prior involvement in Montenegrin politics.

Recently, the parties of the parliamentary majority dissolved the previous political alliances and established new ones, while the top officials and leaders of all opposition parties stepped down from their respective roles.

Montenegro has been undergoing significant political changes over the past few years. In 2020, the country’s ruling party, the Democratic Party of Socialists, lost its majority in parliament for the first time in decades. This marked a significant shift in Montenegrin politics and sparked hopes for a more diverse and competitive political landscape.

In essence, opposition to Đukanović’s leadership began when his party tried to seize the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church (the biggest denomination in the country, representing the entire Serbian minority and the vast majority of Montenegrin Christians). As a result, the Church organized religious processions, and the public expressed their disapproval.

Although Đukanović attempted to attribute blame to typical suspects such as Serbs and Russians for interfering in Montenegrin internal affairs, it was ultimately a coalition of a variety of groups, including Montenegrins, Serbs, Albanians, the Church, the civil sector, and many others, that caused his party to lose control of the government in 2020.

Following the defeat, the situation became more unsettled like most transitions. Three consecutive governments emerged after the party of Đukanović lost power. The first government was led by Zdravko Krivokapić, but they needed the support of Dritan Abazović, an ethnic Albanian. The government was later toppled by Former President Đukanović, and his party returned to power with Abazović serving as prime minister.

Soon after, Dritan Abazović made a groundbreaking deal with the Serbian Orthodox Church that reversed the attempts to take away Church property. This effectively resolved the issue that had caused dramatic division in Montenegrin society.

As a result, Đukanović forced the collapse of the second post-2020 government. Currently, the government couldn’t be formed, because Đukanović has refused to give Abazovic and some Serbian parties a mandate since mid-2022.

Then, Montenegro has had a “technical government” while a constitutional crisis emerged in the background. Namely, the formation of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro and other important institutions could not be formed.

The reason for this is partially because certain officials in those establishments were detained for their involvement in corruption and organized crime, as well as because several figures in Montenegro’s political environment are opposing any kind of action.

Regardless, Đukanović’s party has sustained its losing trend in numerous local elections that followed, with the most significant when they lost elections in the capital and most populated city, Podgorica.

In those elections, a new political option has been introduced, the recently created movement “Europe, Now!” is led by the youthful Milojko Spajić and equally young president-elect Jakov Milatović. In fact, Milojko Spajić has been a more prominent leader, but he was ineligible to run for the presidency because he has both Montenegrin and Serbian citizenship, a technicality which prevented him from running for the highest office.

Thus, a previously lesser-known politician with little experience in politics became the front-runner and defeated the 32-year-long reign of Milo Đukanović.

He was supported by the entirety of the Serbian minority, a significant part of the Montenegrin majority, the entirety of the civil society, all civic platform parties, the Serbian Church, an ethnically Albanian Prime Minister and– both pro-Russian and pro-European parties in Montenegro.

The true implications of these elections are affecting more internal affairs rather than its foreign policy or strategic position; All parties participating in both the recent presidential and 2020 elections have expressed support for Montenegro’s accession to the EU.

Nevertheless, Montenegro is still experiencing political turbulence due to numerous internal divisions. While these elections were necessary for national reconciliation between Montenegro’s two largest ethnic groups, it is uncertain how long the winning coalition will stay united after the defeat of Milo Đukanović.

The complicated political situation in Montenegro is likely to persist, and the restructuring of institutions and political systems will need to be more robust than in other areas of the Balkans.

The upcoming elections will be crucial for the future of Montenegro, as they will determine the country’s political direction and leadership.

The country’s accession to the European Union will likely be a key issue, with some parties advocating for closer ties with the EU and others pushing for a more isolationist approach.

A new beginning for Montenegro

Montenegro will have a new president whose victory brought the era of the longest serving politician in Europe to an end. Darija Benić explains the significance of this watershed election in her commentary for the IDM Blog.

The second round of presidential elections was held in Montenegro on April 2. The presidential candidate of the centrist, anti-corruption and pro-European political movement Europe Now Jakov Milatović, who received more than 60 percent of the votes, was elected as the new president, while Milo Đukanović (a populist political party Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS) got about 40 percent of the votes. This is the fourth presidential election since the restoration of Montenegrin independence in 2006 and the seventh since the introduction of the multiparty system. 

The Europe Now was formed nine months ago, and in addition to winning presidential elections, it showed great success in the October local elections. The victory of Jakov Milatović was expected and the decline of the Democratic Party of Socialists is only more visible. The DPS was completely disempowered after the party’s three-decade regime was replaced in the parliamentary elections in August 2020. In the meantime, the DPS also lost power in most of the municipalities where it ruled for years. 

Even though Montenegro is entering a phase of uncertainty, there are great expectations from the new president and it is optimistically pointed out that this is the beginning of a new era in the political life of Montenegro. Perhaps one of the key issues is the future of Serbian-Montenegrin relations, which have been far from expected in recent years. The influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church on political life in Montenegro could continue to grow because the parties that will come to power in June, after parliamentary sources, might be open to such influence.  

The victory of Milatović raises hopes for the democratization of Montenegro and easing of tensions in the country. Judging by previous statements, the new president of Montenegro seems to be trying to distance himself from the major political and geopolitical topics, and to focus on the economy and economic cooperation of the region. 

The spokesperson of the head of European diplomacy, Peter Stano, said at a press conference for Brussels correspondents that the European Union looks forward to joint cooperation with the new president as well as all political actors in Montenegro in order to help it stay on the path to the EU and build a consensus on the key priorities that need to be fulfilled during the European integration process. 

The next step will be the extraordinary parliamentary elections which will be held on June 11. They were announced because of the institutional crisis that stopped the integration of Montenegro into the European Union. 


Darija Benić– a student in the Master’s program in Planning and Management of Tourist and Cultural Systems at the University of Bari Aldo Boro (Italy) and a former trainee at the IDM ( July to December 2022). She holds a BA degree in Languages and Cultures for Tourism and International Mediation from the same university. 

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IDM Short insights 23: Presidential elections in Montenegro

Montenegro at the crossroads to the EU 

IDM Short Insights 23: Presidential elections in Montenegro

The current President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović, and the candidate of the Europe Now Movement, Jakov Milatović, will meet in the second round of the presidential elections on April 2. Although in the Montenegrin system the function of the president is significantly weaker than that of the prime minister, these elections are seen as significant, as they could be a prelude to extraordinary parliamentary elections and a new division of power on the rather complicated Montenegrin political scene.

Our former trainee Darija Benić talks about the current situation regarding the presidential elections in Montenegro in the newest Short Insight.

This might be of inerest to you:  

Montenegro at the crossroads to the EU

Transcript of the Short Insight:

On March 19 in the first round of presidential elections in Montenegro, the president of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) Milo Đukanović, won 35.3 percent of the votes and Jakov Milatović, whose movement Europe Now has no parliamentary status, won 29.2 percent of the vote.

The candidates were diverse – an influencer without a day of political experience Jovan Radulović, the current president with 30 years in power in his biography, several of  his opponents (besides Milatovic- Andrija Mandić from For the Future of Montenegro,  Goran Danilović from United Montenegro, Aleksa Bečić from Democratic Montenegro) and one female candidate Draginja Vuksanović Stanković (Social Democratic Party of Montenegro). This indeed briefly describes the starting position for the President of Montenegro.

The second round is scheduled on April 2. Both rounds of presidential elections are held in a time of institutional and political crisis. The current government lost confidence in the parliament seven months ago. Several attempts to form a new one failed, which is why Đukanović announced early parliamentary elections for June 11. The results of the second round of presidential elections, in which Milo Đukanović and Jakov Milatović will be present, will have an impact on the upcoming parliamentary elections, which could lead to overcomposition on the political scene of Montenegro.

Balkan, Ukraine und Moldau nach Europa – sofort!

„„Gschichtn“ von Fußball, Freiheit und Zukunft“ 

In seinem Kommentar fordert IDM-Geschäftsführer Sebastian Schäffer eine dringende Reform des EU-Beitrittsprozesses und erklärt seine Beweggründe für die Entstehung der “Gschichtn” über die Länder des (West-)Balkans, Ukraine und Republik Moldau. 

Eine dringende Reform des EU-Beitrittsprozesses  

Die EU-Erweiterung ist und bleibt das wichtigste Instrument zur Transformation auf dem europäischen Kontinent. In Artikel 49 des Vertrags über die Europäische Union heißt es wie folgt: 

 „Jeder europäische Staat, der die in Artikel 2 genannten Werte achtet und sich für ihre Förderung einsetzt, kann beantragen, Mitglied der Union zu werden.“ Konkret heißt das: „Die Werte, auf die sich die Union gründet, sind die Achtung der Menschenwürde, Freiheit, Demokratie, Gleichheit, Rechtsstaatlichkeit und die Wahrung der Menschenrechte einschließlich der Rechte der Personen, die Minderheiten angehören. Diese Werte sind allen Mitgliedstaaten in einer Gesellschaft gemeinsam, die sich durch Pluralismus, Nichtdiskriminierung, Toleranz, Gerechtigkeit, Solidarität und die Gleichheit von Frauen und Männern auszeichnet.“  

Leider ist der Beitrittsprozess in den vergangenen Jahren immer technischer und langwieriger geworden. Einzelne Mitgliedstaaten nutzten ihre Möglichkeit, Fortschritte  auch ohne gerechtfertigte Gründe zu blockieren. Das geschah zu verschiedenen Zeitpunkten des Prozesses, etwabevor ein Land den Kandidatenstatus erhielt, bevor die Verhandlungen eröffnet wurden, bevor diese abgeschlossen wurden und dann auch noch vor der endgültigen Aufnahme. Das hat natürlich Auswirkungen auf die Transformationskraft der EU. Der Austritt des Vereinigten Königreichs hatte ebenfallsEinfluss darauf. Ich bin nach wie vor davon überzeugt, dass eine EU-Mitgliedschaft weiterhin für die betroffenen Länder attraktiv ist und die europäische Integration eines der wichtigsten politischen Projekte darstellt. Doch der Prozess muss dringend reformiert werden. Vorschläge dazu gibt es genug, doch es braucht mehr Mut, um die Aufgabe anzugehen. Der Sorge vor einer langen und schwierigen Vertragsrevision möchte ich entgegenhalten: Vom Vertrag von Nizza zum Vertrag von Lissabon – inklusive gescheitertem Verfassungsvertrag und zunächst negativen Volksentscheid in Irland – vergingen etwas mehr als sechs Jahre. Hätten wir direkt nach dem Brexit-Referendum den Mut gehabt, die Verträge und damit auch den Erweiterungsprozess zu reformieren, könnten wir dies bereits jetzt anwenden! 

“Balkan nach Europa – sofort!” 

Im Sommer 2020 fragte mich Erhard Busek, ob wir gemeinsam ein Buch zum Westbalkan schreiben wollen. Ich war sofort begeistert und habe recherchiert, was darüber von wem in den letzten Jahren publiziert wurde Gemeinsam mit einer Kollegin am IDM erstellten wir eine umfangreiche Liste von Titeln in mehreren Sprachen und kamen zu der Erkenntnis, dass es nicht unbedingt Bedarf für weitere umfassende Publikationen gibt. Zudem wurde das Projekt immer größer und es drohte langwierig zu werden. Erhard und mir verband eine gewisse Ungeduld im Hinblick auf die Umsetzung von Aktivitäten für unsere Region, was sicherlich für die Beteiligten nicht immer einfach ist. Die Plattform bietet dieser  Möglichkeit relativ rasch ein Buch zu veröffentlichen und sich aufgrund der maximalen Zeichenanzahl einer Geschichte von 2500 Zeichen(es können höchstens 17 Geschichten in ein Buch) auf das Wesentliche zu beschränken. Somit hatten wir den geeigneten Rahmen für unser Projekt gefunden. Die „Gschichtn“ über Grenzen, Glauben und Grausamkeiten, über Fabeln, Frieden und Fußball verknüpften wir mit unserem Plädoyer  über die sofortige Aufnahme aller Westbalkanstaaten in die EU. 

Ein Frühjahr, das alles veränderte… 

Der 24. Februar 2022 war für uns alle ein Schock. Als dann die Ukraine und später auch die Republik Moldau sowie Georgien einen Beitrittsantrag zur EU stellten, haben wir begonnen zu überlegen, ob wir nicht eine Art Nachfolgepublikation schreiben sollten. Leider ist Erhard dann plötzlich am 13. März 2022 verstorben. Dieser neue Schock hat erneut unsere Prioritäten verschoben und das Projekt geriet in den Hintergrund. Als dann nach den Weihnachtsfeiertagen etwas Ruhe eingekehrt ist, holte ich die Idee wieder hervor und begann auszuprobieren, wie es sich anfühlt, das Buch alleine zu schreiben. Mir wurde rasch klar, dass es funktioniert. 

„Ukraine & Moldau nach Europa – sofort!“ 

„Ukraine & Moldau nach Europa – sofort!“ ist zunächst eine Verneigung vor Erhard Busek. Es ist auch eine Verbeugung vor den Menschen, die in der Ukraine für unsere Werte kämpfen. Ich versuche – ähnlich wie bei „Balkan nach Europa – sofort!“ – durch „Gschichtn“ von Fußball, Freiheit und Zukunft Zusammenhänge aufzuzeigen, Zugehörigkeit herzustellen, Zusammengehörigkeit zu veranschaulichen, Zusammenhalt zu vermitteln und damit hoffentlich dazu beitragen, dass die Zeitenwende, wie der 24. Februar 2022 weithin inzwischen bezeichnet wird, am Ende positive Assoziationen hervorruft. Anders als in der ersten Publikation ist aber hier kein konkretes Plädoyer für eine sofortige EU-Mitgliedschaft der Ukraine und/oder Moldau enthalten, weil es nicht mit den gleichen Vorschlägen, die wir im Hinblick auf die Westbalkanstaaten gemacht haben, umsetzbar ist. Ich wollte dennoch durch den Titel bewusst eine Kontinuität in der Arbeit des IDM darstellen.    

Balkan nach Europa – sofort!

Erhard Busek (Vizekanzler a.D. und Vorsitzender des Instituts für den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa – IDM in Wien) und Sebastian Schäffer (Geschäftsführer IDM) fordern die sofortige Aufnahme aller Westbalkanstaaten in die EU. Ihr Plädoyer verbinden sie mit „Gschichtln“ über Grenzen, Glauben und Grausamkeiten, über Fabeln, Frieden und Fußball. So bilden die persönlichen Erlebnisse und Erinnerungen der Autoren auch ein Zeugnis ihrer Zeit.

Montenegro at the crossroads to the EU

In her blog article Darija Benić, IDM’s former trainee, explains the reasons for political instability in the context of approaching presidential elections in Montenegro.

The previous year has seen many unresolved issues in Montenegro, which have deepened its ongoing political crisis, attracting a lot of attention far beyond its borders and challenging its accession to the EU. After regaining its independence in 2006, it seemed that Montenegro should not face any major obstacles to becoming the next EU Member State. But is that really the case?  

Montenegro declared independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2006. After applying for EU membership in 2008, the country started the accession process officially in June 2012. So far, Montenegro has started all 33 of her negotiation chapters and has tentatively finished 3 of the total number. With Russia’s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine, Montenegro has also shown that it is 100% aligned with the EU’s common foreign and security policy, including all sanctions against Russia. At the same time, however, various EU officials have realized that Montenegro’s accession appears to be stalling. What happened? 

One of the decisive moments that affected the political atmosphere and increased internal tensions was the signing of the Fundamental Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church in August 2022. It guarantees the Serbian Orthodox Church ownership of churches and monasteries on the territory of Montenegro, which, as the Democratic Party of Socialists stated, is violating the Constitution of Montenegro and will move the country further away from the EU. Relations with Serbia remain challenging but both sides are willing to work toward discussing open issues. Besides addressing the question of Serbian Orthodox Churches in Montenegro, some of the issues also include Montenegro’s accession to the Open Balkan regional initiative (a so-called mini Schengen zone in the Western Balkans), as well as the extradition of Svetozar Marović (the former president of Serbia and Montenegro charged on suspicion of being involved in corruption and smuggling), the ongoing economic crisis, and the attitude towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where Serbia still hasn’t imposed sanctions, although it has condemned the invasion. Another issue, which is closely related to the previous, is membership in the NATO alliance. Montenegro has been a member of the alliance since 2017, but not Serbia, which claims military neutrality. One of the main reasons for this is that the expansion of NATO is fiercely opposed by Russia, from which Serbia has support in the matter of Kosovo, as well as dependence on Russian gas supplies. Kosovo is another point of differing attitudes between Montenegro and Serbia; in 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, which Montenegro was among the first countries to recognize. 

Apart from its relations with Serbia, which had a major impact in the previous period, there are additional issues at the national level in Montenegro that are affecting its path to the EU. Polarization, a lack of productive dialogue between political parties, and a failure to forge consensus on crucial issues of national interest led to the resignation of two turbulent governments. This political unpredictability and instability has affected the proper functioning of Montenegrin institutions. Due to the Parliament’s failure to elect new members and the incomplete composition of the key judicial bodies, the Constitutional Court was unable to fulfill its role as of mid-September because there was no quorum. It has only three judges out of a total of seven, therefore it cannot make decisions on constitutional appeals, which also refer to election processes. Without the final decision of the Constitutional Court, it is not possible to constitute a new government after the election. 

Furthermore, the governments and the parliament have failed to demonstrate in practice their engagement as regards the EU-related reform agenda. In order to secure institutional and political stability, Western allies and the EU have been urging Montenegrin political leaders for months to come to an agreement on unblocking the constitutional court. If the judges are not chosen, the European Union has threatened the possibility of terminating accession negotiations with Montenegro. Given the current situation, this warning could have been anticipated and it is clear that, after 10 years of negotiations, the country has never been faced with such a blockade as it is now at the beginning of 2023. 

Hopes were high after the last election in 2020, where Đukanović and the ruling elite did not openly interfere. The collapse of Europe’s longest consecutive ruling government (the DPS had been in power since 1989) and the democratic change has raised hopes that prosperity is possible after all, but there’s a long way to go. Many believed that Montenegro had finally left behind the regime that did not reflect the reality in this multiethnic country and was only a manipulation particularly designed for the international public. 


The presidential elections in Montenegro 


The fourth presidential election, since the restoration of independence and the seventh since the introduction of the multiparty system will be held on 19 March. From either side, it is uncertain who exactly will be running for president. There isn’t even a distinct coalition in sight. The fact that there are only two months until the presidential elections and the public is unaware of a single trustworthy candidate on either side is striking. Moreover, it appears that everyone is in some way shocked that the elections are taking place right now. 

In a number of media appearances, the current Montenegrin president, Milo Đukanović, refused to say whether he would run for office again. It is also unknown whether, by the day of the election, Montenegro will have a functional constitutional court, which is necessary for the announcement of the election’s final results. The sixth round of judges‘ elections is underway, as the previous five attempts failed due to the impossibility of reaching an agreement between the ruling majority and the opposition. 

Prime Minister Dritan Abazović assessed that the selection of constitutional court judges could be completed at the beginning of February. And the president of the parliament, Danijela Đurović, said that all political actors must show maximum responsibility and contribute in order for the country to emerge from the political and institutional crisis. 

Montenegro has been given the opportunity to once again attempt to stabilize the situation, but with very short deadlines and with everything moving dynamically, we have yet to see how the political elites respond in the upcoming months. What is the way out of this current situation? The priority should be to unblock the constitutional court in order to correct the country’s constant political instability, focus on its long-standing European ambitions, and form a government that can prioritize EU reforms. 


Darija Benić– a student in the Master’s program in Planning and Management of Tourist and Cultural Systems at the University of Bari Aldo Moro (Italy) and a former trainee at the IDM ( July to December 2022). She holds a BA degree in Languages and Cultures for Tourism and International Mediation from the same university.

Danubius Awards 2022

Danubius Award 2022 to the Bulgarian scientist Prof. Dr. Diana Mishkova, Danubius Mid-Career Award to Ukrainian scientist Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tamara Martsenyuk and Danubius Young Scientist Awards to 13 promising researchers from the Danube region. 

The “Danubius Award” 2022 goes to Bulgarian Prof. Dr. Diana Mishkova, History Professor and Director of the Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) in Sofia, Bulgaria. With her work focusing on modern and contemporary history of Eastern Europe, the modernization of South-Eastern Europe, European societies, and European peripheries as well as national identities, she has contributed profoundly to research on the Balkans. She is o the funding director of CAS Sofia, that is supported by numerous international sponsors, such as the Wissenschaftkolleg Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study Berlin). Prof. Dr. Mishkova has already received several awards for her scientific work and is involved in different international projects – currently in the Horizon 2020 project „PREVEX – Preventing Violent Extremism in the Balkans“.

Ukrainian scientist Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tamara Martsenyuk has been awarded the “Danubius Mid-Career Award” 2022. She is an Associate Professor at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. In her studies, she focuses on gender research, social inequality issues, gender policies, social movements, and empowerment. In addition to numerous stays abroad and the participation in international research projects, she also brings her expertise to national policy forums and NGOs. Her research is currently focusing on the topic “Women’s involvement in Russia’s War against Ukraine”. 

In addition, 13 young scientists from the Danube Region will be awarded with the Danubius Young Scientist Award 2022 for their scientific work.

By presenting these Awards, the Austrian Ministry for Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) is contributing to the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) adopted by the European Council in 2011. Through the awarding of outstanding scientific achievements, the Danube region is made visible as a research area and the perception of its multidisciplinary challenges and potentials is strengthened.

„The Danube Region provides many opportunities for cross-border and regional cooperation among universities as well as research organizations. And there are, indeed, plenty of common challenges along the Danube and beyond which we need to jointly address and develop solutions for Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research Prof. Martin Polaschek pointed out on the occasion of the award ceremony on 10 November 2022 at the University of Maribor.

“The role of scientists and researchers has changed profoundly in the last decade. On the one hand, scientists and researchers are in a high demand to deliver fast results and provide evidence for critical policy decisions, and they have become indispensable in explaining and communicating the current knowledge available. On the other hand, we see a worrying rise in skepticism towards science and research as well as towards democracy in general, which creates a wide range of problems for and in our societies. We need to work together to counter this skepticism, and I am confident that all of you present and especially the awardees of today can and will contribute with their work towards demonstrating and communicating the relevance of science and research„, Polaschek continued.

The award ceremony in Maribor took place in the presence of Barbara Weitgruber, Head of the Department from the BMBWF, and Friedrich Faulhammer, Chairman of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM).

In her introduction, Barbara Weitgruber highlighted the solidarity with Ukraine as partner country of the EUSDR: “We will continue our support to the Ukrainian researchers, who have come or aim of coming in the EU, as well as to those remained in Ukraine. In addition to that, we hope for an early beginning of the reconstructions, and we are getting ready for appropriate support measures”. 

Friedrich Faulhammer added: “I am really pleased that once again we are working together with the Ministry for Education, Science and Research to honor scientists, who are significantly contributing to the development of knowledge and understanding within the Danube region in their various fields of research. This year, I am particularly pleased that we can also highlight the scientific work of Ukrainian female researchers, as they are currently forced to work under the conditions caused by the unjustified Russian attack on their country”.

The “Danubius Award” was established in 2011 to honor researchers who have outstandingly dealt with the Danube Region in their academic or artistic work. The prize is granted every year on a rotating basis for achievements in the humanities, cultural and social sciences (2022) or in life sciences and is endowed with € 5,000.

The “Danubius Mid-Career Award“ is endowed with € 2,200 and has been awarded since 2017 to researchers who are from 5 to a maximum of 15 years after their last formal scientific degree or have equivalent scientific experience. The prize winners were selected by an independent jury of experts chaired by Univ. Prof. Dr. Stefan M. Newerkla (University of Vienna).

Since 2014, special young talent awards, the „Danubius Young Scientist Awards“ have also been awarded. The prize, which is open to all disciplines, highlights the scientific work and talent of young researchers and increases the visibility of the excellence of the research community in the Danube Region. In this way, the prizes also contribute to the fact that young scientists deal with the river and the region in a variety of ways. The young talent prizes are endowed with € 1.350, per award winner. The selection was made by an international jury of experts, whereby the candidates for the award were nominated by their respective scientific institutions. 

Austria  Daniela Apaydin  
Bosnia and Herzegovina  Marko Djukanović  
Croatia  Jelena Kranjec Orlović  
Czech Republic  Adela Grimes  
Germany  Jan Schmitt  
Hungary  Blanka Bartos  
Moldova  Nicolae Arnaut  
Montenegro  Miloš Brajović  
Romania  Mihaela Cudalbeanu 
Serbia  Zorana Miletić  
Slovakia  Tibor Zsigmond  
Slovenia  Žane Temova Rakuša  
Ukraine  Illia Diahovchenko  

Watch the Award ceremony below

Nun sag‘, wie hältst du’s mit der EU-Erweiterung?

Meinung der Europa-Abgeordneten zum EU-Beitritt der Westbalkanländer

“Balkan nach Europa – sofort“ forderten Erhard Busek und Sebastian Schäffer in ihrem Appell an die Europäische Union. Doch wie lauten die Positionen der österreichischen EntscheidungsträgerInnen im EU-Parlament zur Frage der EU-Erweiterung?

Das IDM-Team wollte es genau wissen und bat die VolksvertreterInnen, ihre persönlichen Positionen, Visionen und Handlungsspielräume zu erläutern. Neun von insgesamt 18 Abgeordneten darunter MandatarInnen aller fünf Parteien haben uns geantwortet und ihre Sicht der Dinge dargelegt

Wie beantworten die PolitikerInnen die Gretchenfrage zur Zukunft unserer Nachbarschaft? Informieren Sie sich über die unterschiedlichen Positionen:




Claudia Gamon


Harald Vilimsky

Monika Vana, Thomas Waitz und Sarah Wiener

Und wie würden Sie diese Fragen beantworten?