The Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, an important regional think tank, celebrates its 70th anniversary at Palais Niederösterreich

Vienna – Exactly 70 years to the day after the IDM was founded on 5 December 1953, the Institute’s anniversary event took place at Palais Niederösterreich. By the end of 2023, the Institute will have organised a total of 20 initiatives in each of the Institute’s 19 partner countries as well as an event dedicated to the Danube itself, all with the motto “Locating the Future”. The ceremony was opened by the IDM Chairman and Rector of the University for Continuing Education Krems, Friedrich Faulhammer, while IDM Director Sebastian Schäffer presented the Institute’s diverse activities and the most important findings.

“In line with the IDM’s mission, we have been offering a broad spectrum of expertise from the entire region for 70 years. We offer a platform of in-depth knowledge, act as a hub for a democratic and resilient Europe and thus live regional cooperation!” said Faulhammer on the vision and achievements of the IDM as a regional think tank.

Alongside the regional initiatives, the relatively small team, in which around two thirds of the employees are female, has also implemented its regular programme with around 70 events and three publication series in 2023. According to the Open Think Tank Directory, the IDM’s 70 years makes it on average twice as old as comparable institutions in Austria and even worldwide.

For Schäffer, the IDM is at a crucial point. “There are many think tanks that have a broad expertise in the Western Balkans. There are think tanks that specialize in the Eastern Partnership. You won’t find many that are familiar with both regions. One of our approaches to staying relevant in the next 70 years is to find a niche. I believe this is it.”

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and the Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research Martin Polaschek congratulated the IDM with respective video messages.

President of the State Parliament in Lower Austria Karl Wilfing gave a speech on behalf of the Governor of Lower Austria Johanna Mikl-Leitner. “We can say thank you for a lot of work, for many contacts, for everything you do here, especially in the youth sector, that we stand together, that all the countries connected by the Danube stand up for peaceful coexistence and work to ensure that our values, our common culture and history are preserved,” said the President.

Martin Eichtinger’s keynote speech concluded the official part of the event. The Special Envoy and Coordinator for Austria’s neighbourhood policy and the foreign policy dimension of the Danube Region at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs spoke about the various challenges of the present and emphasized the importance of our region for the future: “There is no other place to turn to if we want to create stability and security: it is our neighbourhood to which we have been closely linked intellectually, historically, economically and politically. No matter what the coming years will bring, this is the region we belong to and where we will find the partners to overcome all challenges.”

He also referred to the important role that the IDM will play in creating a resilient and peaceful Europe in the future: “We are entering a new era which requires creative thinking for which we can sadly no longer rely on convinced “Mitteleuropäer” like Erhard Busek or Karel Schwarzenberg. The IDM is called upon to continue the legacy of these great minds, their visionary thinking and the IDM’s work of seven decades. And this work is more relevant than ever before.”

The evening was moderated by Sophia Beiter, research associate at the IDM, who also presented the book #MyDanubeStory. This collection of 16 short stories about Europe’s second-longest river was published by publishing to mark the IDM’s 70th anniversary.