- A traveling exhibition dedicated to the liberation of Serbia in the autumn of 1918 and the memory of the solidarity of Serbian and French soldiers and civilians in the First World War was opened at Oficirski Dom in Nis. It has been a century since the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki front enabled allied troops of the Eastern Army to progress towards the Danube and the Adriatic, as well as the liberation of Serbia, which suffered a great deal in the war. Feelings that are invoked by the stories about the liberation of Serbia by the Eastern Army, with the French and Serbian troops in the first trenches, remain at the heart of the common memory, which is preserved by many Serbian cities. The opening of the exhibition was attended by His Excellency the Ambassador of France to Serbia Frederik Mondolini and Nis City Mayor Darko Bulatovic. And after a hundred years, there are many Serbian families who cherish the memory of those who fought for freedom. There are numerous stories that testify to the special solidarity of French and Serbian civilians and soldiers during that war period. This exhibition brings us back to these historic days and brings the testimonies of the citizens of Serbia who responded to the invitation of the French Institute in Serbia and agreed to share stories and memories kept in their families through generations. The testimonies were collected from March to June 1918 and will be presented on the social networks of the French Institute. Many of them are included in this exhibition. The exhibition was realized by the French Institute in Serbia in cooperation with the city administrations, archives and museums of the cities of Belgrade, Kladovo, Knjaževac, Leskovac, Negotin, Niš, Pirot, Prokuplje, Vranje, Zaječar and professional associates Stanislav Sretenović, a historian, and Aleksandra Mirić, an architect-conservator.
- The 15th anniversary of the French Institute in Nis was celebrated. The French Institute is part of the 130 French institutes in the world. In Serbia, the French institute is located in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis. The mission of the French Institute is to reinforce the French language in Serbia in education (schools, trainings, universities), to enable students to go and study in France: give them an opportunity for mobility in Europe, to encourage society debates, to provide a resource center, to stand as a cultural actor in Serbia, to advise Serbia in its integration process in the European Union and institutional cooperation. At the ceremony on this worthy anniversary the audience was addressed by H.E. the Ambassador of France to Serbia, Frederik Mondoloni, and Nis City Mayor Darko Bulatovic. Since its establishment on April 16th, 2003, the French Cultural Center – now the French Institute in Serbia is more than ever present in the field of culture, science and university cooperation. As the part of the celebration the exhibition of paintings Aleksandra Miric was organized.
- The city forum was held on the subject of Serbian-French relations and a long-standing friendship between two nations on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the French Institute in Nis. At the Forum H.E. French Ambassador to Serbia Frederik Mondoloni, Dr Aleksandra Mirić, an artist from Nis, and Nis City Mayor Darko Bulatovic spoke about Serbian-French relations. Ambassador Mondoloni thanked evryone for the brilliant reception in Nis and expressed his satisfaction with the fact that France was very much represented in Nis.The Mayor talked about the current relations with the City of Arles with a special emphasis on friendship and the exchange of experiences. Ms. Aleksandra Miric, who completed her PhD studies from architecture and archeology, spoke about her experience of studying in France.
- DECENTRALIZED COOPERATION WITH FRANCE IN 2018:
- At the invitation of the President of the Council of the Gironde Department, Mr. Jean-Luc Gleyze, the City of Nis visited that French Department from 16 to 20 May 2018. City delegation, led by Nebojsa Randjelovic, Assistant Mayor for Higher Education and Cooperation with the Academic Community, was composed of Nebojsa Stevanovic, Secretary of the Secretariat for Culture and Information, and Sasa Miljkovic, Honorary Consul of the Republic of France in Nis. The purpose of the visit to the French partners was to discuss a number of ongoing projects such as: the project of the Municipality of Monsegur and its College Eleonor de Provence with which they cooperate in the field of jazz music, the cooperation with the College Alfred Mogen in Gradignan, where Nis comic artist Toni Radev stayed for three weeks and worked, on the topic of human rights and a sustainable community with the European House in Bordeaux, which is a partner with the NIS organizations KOM018 in exchanging volunteer visits for young Nis citizens and young Gironde citizens, and planning new ones between Gironde and Nis like the cooperation with Ausonius Institute on the topic of realization of joint archeological research in Nis and the cooperation with the space for creative economy Darwin, which would host a four-day study visit of representatives of Nis co-working space Deli.
- The project on the promotion of comic art among the youth of Gironde and Nis was realized by a three-week artistic residency of Nis comic book author Toni Radev in Gironde in January this year and his pedagogical work with the children of Alfred Mogen College from Gradignan, i.e. from “Ivo Andrić” Elementary School in Nis in the latter period, on the sensitization to comic art and the development of the French-Serbian comic book on the core values of human rights and the sustainable development of the community, made up of a series of children’s stories on specific topics, translated into bilingual French-Serbian comic book.
- In the period 19-23 November 2018 a study visit by the representatives of the Legal and Business School from Nis to Gironde and Pellegrue was completed, which is the first activity under a project supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the development of volunteerism among young firefighters in Nis and the region. The visit included the visit to the professional fire brigades in Bordeaux and Pellegrue, and in the latter, the establishment of cooperation with a college there, which had a special educational program for students who decide to become firefighter-rescuer, with the aim of updating the curriculum for firefighters at the Law and Business School in Nis.
- By the visit of the representatives of Grand Dax to Niska Banja in the period 12-15 June 2018 the cooperation between the two local communities on the development of the tourist and spa offer of Niska Banja continued. There was the expert in the development of spa sites within the French delegation with concrete and financially viable proposals for improving the image and perception of Niska Banja.
- The project of a three-year cooperation between the cities of Nis and Arles and the Gironde department, supported by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, was continued by organizing 2 workshops held by the expert from Arles, in periods 4-8 June and 24-28 September 2018, with officials and employees from the Secretariat of Culture of the City of Nis, the Niš Tourism Organization and the National Museum of Niš. Topics covered during those workshops were the management of cultural monuments, the development of a local action plan, the role of World Heritage Label in local community development, and the impact of culture and cultural heritage on local economic development.
- The City of Nis accepted the participation in the project TOMORROW, which is realized within the partnership led by the Energy Cities Association, financed by the European Union within the HORIZON 2020 Programme (H2020 framework LC-SC3-EE-16-2018-2019 -2020, Providing Support to Public Authorities in the Implementation of the Energy Union), while the Contracting Authority is the European Commission. The overall objective of the TOMORROW project is to empower local authorities to lead the transition to cities with low greenhouse gas emissions, which are more resistant to climate change and generally more pleasant for the lives of citizens by engaging citizens and stakeholders in development of the Energy Transition Road Map by 2050. The specific objectives of the project are: development of local “Energy Transit Road Map by 2050” for pilot cities, as ambitious and efficient tools for launching the process of decarbonisation and sustainability and launching their implementation; developing an innovative engagement process for developing road maps in pilot cities and continuing to encourage the engagement of a larger number of stakeholders and citizens; promoting road maps among EU cities as a new, efficient and collaborative approach to governance in order to make cities more suitable for life; training public officials to develop the role of leaders in transition and to improve their capacity to engage citizens, in particular through peer to peer approach; making recommendations in order to improve the legal, financial and socio-economic environment at the EU and national level. The leader in the project is Energy Cities, the scientific partner of the project is the Dutch Research Institute for Transition – DRIFT, and the partners are the cities of Brest (France), Dublin (Ireland), Brasov (Romania), Valencia (Spain), Mouscron (Belgium) and Nis (Serbia). Project implementation time is 36 months. The total value of the project is 1,499,767.50 euros, and the project is fully funded by the European Union. The value of the project for the City of Nis is 79,198.75 euros.
- DECENTRALIZED COOPERATION WITH FRANCE IN 2018: The cooperation between the City of Nis and the Gironde area in France was initiated in October 2012 at the initiative of the French Embassy in Serbia, with a joint agreement to focus on young people, culture and sustainable local development. Such an agreement has led to concrete cooperation projects involving actors in the fields of education, culture, local government and civil society.
- The first project, in this sense, involved the Girondin college Marcellin Berthelot from Begles and elementary school King Peter the First on a joint adaptation and bilingual performance of the literary work “The Little Prince”, which was performed in front of a packed hall of the National Theater in Nis on March 21, 2014 .
- The cooperation of the College Eleonor de Provence from Monsegur with the School of Music from Nis was also realized, as well as the exchange of students and joint performance of jazz music in Gironde and Nis. The concert in Nis was performed in the full hall of the Symphony Orchestra on March 20, 2014. The continuation of this collaboration was in the form of a study visit by young jazz musician Vladimir Jelenkovic to Monsegur and Bordeaux during the spring of 2017 and the participation of 5 students and 1 college professor from Eleonor de Provence College at the 2017 Nisville Festival. The next activity will be the performance of the Serbian-French big band of young jazz musicians from Monsegur and Nis (30 young people) as their first appearance at the upcoming Nisville Festival in 2018.
- A writer, director, musician, actor and leader of the Dromosphere Art Association from Gironde, Gianni Gregory Forne was a participant of the Sicevo Literary Colony in 2013, and in October 2014 stayed for a month in Nis as part of a writing residency supported by CM Pantelej. As a result of this residence the work Walkers, in French and Serbian, was published by Student Cultural Center Nis. The book, in collaboration with the Girondin Association of the Dromosphere and the Academic Theater of Student Cultural Center Nis, was dramatized into a play of the same name, which premiered during 2015 in Nis (as part of the Urban fest) and then in Novi Sad and Belgrade (as part of the Bitef Polyphony event), and next year it embarked on a one-month tour in France (Paris, Bordeaux, Lormon, Limoges and Bergerac). The following activities of Gianni Gregory Forne are the production of a sound or radiophonic bilingual work, Serbian-French, entitled “Lucky You”, for which the author hired students of the Department of French Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philosophy in Nis to read the original text in French, as well as translated parts in their native language. The produced radiophonic work was presented at the World Poetry Days at the Belgrade Cultural Center and during the French Days in Serbia in March 2017.
- The cooperation with Gironde also included youth and civil society organizations, which was achieved through the development and maintenance of fruitful cooperation between Nis associations Proaktiv, KOM 018 and Kobra with the Gironde organizations of Colors of the World and the European House of Bordeaux. It provided one-month residence for two yopung people from Nis in Bordeaux and four young people from Gironde in Niš, with active participation of the Nis Youth Office. With the support of the Erasmus program, a new wave of exchanges and residences of young Nis citizens (1 person for 8 months) in Bordeaux and from Gironde (4 people for 2 months) in Nis is underway.
- The activity of the annual donation, each worth EUR 2,000, in the form of books and textbooks of the French language submitted to the Primary School King Peter I (2014 and 2015), Primary School Ivo Andric (2016) continued with Elementary school Ivan Goran Kovacic in 2017.
- In September, City Municipality Niska Banja hosted a two-week artistic residency of the Gironde painter and writer Philip-Anri Ledri, as part of which the exhibition of his works was organized in Nis,as well as meetings and discussions with young people in the EU Info Corner, which continued the practice of fostering cultural cooperation beteween Nis and the Gironde Departments.
- Within the project of EUR 39,500 co-financed by the French MFA, the Council of the Gironde Department, the City of Nis (Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environmental Protection) and the agricultural cooperative Oblacina Cherry worked in 2015 and 2016 on knowledge transfer and good practices in developing organic sour cherry production for export to well-known customers in Gironde.
- Based on the gained experience, the Gironde Department and the City of Nis, in agreement with the City of Arles, linked this activity to the pursuit of cultural and historical heritage and together they were able to obtain a co-financing of a French MFA in the amount of 39,500 EUR for the project entitled “STRENGTHENING PUBLIC SERVICES IN NIS ( SERBIA) FOR DEVELOPMENT BASED ON VALORIZATION OF THE HISTORICAL AND TERRITORIAL HERITAGE ” which aims to strengthen the services of the City of Nis Department for Culture, the Nis Tourist Organization and the National Museum in managing entrusted funds, working with different groups and development of new tourist offer based on the architectural heritage and linking these activities with the evaluation of natural and local agricultural potentials, which will be the subject of training of staff in the Directorate for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Tourist Organization of Niš by defining new tourism products in this field in order to establish a connection with the rich offer of the historical heritage of the City of Nis.
- In addition to the ongoing collaboration of higher education institutions with University Partners from Gironde (Erasmus projects of the Department of French Language and Literature and History of the Faculty of Philosophy), a collaboration with the Institute of Antiquity and the Middle Ages of Ausonius of Bordeaux with the Naisus Foundation, a body recently founded by the City of Nis, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Archeological Institute and Balkanological Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts , will be established for the purpose of archeological research, presentation and valorization of the ancient cultural heritage in Nis, with special emphasis on the area city field. The cooperation between the Girondin Archive and the National Museum enabled a three-day study visit of the representatives of the National Museum in Nis during 2016, namely the exchange of researchers of archival materials in Bordeaux and Nis on the subject of the Yugoslav detainees during the Second World War in the Merignac Beaudesert camp, i.e. Frenchman at the Red Cross Camp which will result in a joint exhibition and a bilingual publication.Continuation of this cooperation included work with school children in Gironde (Alfred Mogen College from Gradignan) and Nis (Primary School Ivo Andric) to develop the memory of the suffering in the mentioned camps. The result of this work is a joint exhibition of these schools, which was presented in Bordeaux in April 2017, and was held in Nis on November 15. The next phase of this project will be the writing of the French Kiss play by author Nebojsa Ozimic and its adaptation into a bilingual theatrical play by Nis actor and director Aleksandar Mihailovic, produced by Nis Cultural Center and the Girondin Dromosphere Association, which will premiere in Nis in 2018 , and the French edition in the fall of the same year.
- The ongoing project started with the three-week artistic residency by Nis comic book author Toni Radev in Gironde in January this year and his pedagogical work with the children of Alfred Mogen College from Gradignan and elementary school Ivo Andric on sensitization to comic art and the development of French-Serbian comics editions on the fundamental values of human rights, made up of the results of workshops with Girondin and Nis school children, to be presented by Nis Cultural center at the next edition of Nifest in 2018.
- The City of Nis and the French Institute in Serbia signed the Agreement on further cooperation in the field of culture. The French Institute in Serbia, a branch in Niš, is considered a cultural reference partner in the service of partnership between Southern Serbia and French cultural workers. This agreement defines a common framework for the activities of the City of Nis and the French Institute, more specifically its branch in the city.
- The representatives of the City of Nis participated in the two-day Association of European Cities of Culture (AVEC) Conference in the Hungarian town of Szombathely, City of Nis is a full member of AVEC.
- Organized by the Embassy of France in Serbia and the Directorate for Agriculture and Rural Development of the City of Nis, the seminar “Rural Development Policy: A Means of Economic Development in the Service of Local Communities” was held. Representatives of local self-government units and rural development support institutions from the Nisava, Pirot, Toplica, Pcinja and Jablanica districts had the opportunity to learn about the opportunities and challenges in using pre-accession funds for rural development and to exchange good practices with their French counterparts.
- The representatives of the City of Arles, Mr. Christian Mourisard, Assistant Mayor for Tourism and Cultural and Historical Heritage, paid an official visit to the City of Nis. The cities of Arles and Nis maintain special cooperation relationships in the field of presentation of historical and cultural heritage in the context of local economic development. This cooperation, initiated by the French Embassy in Belgrade, has received financial support from the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs in the area of strengthening the capacity to manage cultural and historical heritage. The delegation’s visit from Arles is a continuation of the decentralized cooperation established with the City of Nis and the Mediana City Municipality on the valorisation and management of cultural and historical heritage. The cooperation is related to the presentation of the French local administrative apparatus for the management of architectural heritage, as well as organizing meetings of students of the Strasbourg School of Architecture with students of the Nis University faculty of Construction and Architecture and a seminar with the Strasbourg School of Architecture and the selection of sites for the application of the method of architecture-archeology defined by professors and students Faculty of Architecture in Nis.
- At the proposal of France’s Ambassador to Serbia, Jean François Terral, a delegation of the association “Cités Unies France” led by its President Charles Josselin is visiting Nis. The “Associated Cities of France” is an organization that brings together around 500 local communities in 15 of the 22 French regions, and the aim of their visit to Nis was to explore the possibilities of developing decentralized cooperation between France and Southeastern Europe in the fields of rural development, tourism, new technologies, culture and other areas.
- The Honorary Consul of Serbia to France, Robert Liris, handed over a letter from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Paris with the initiative sent to Serbian anthropologists as well as to the National Museum in Nis on future cooperation in the field of archeological research. The Honorary Consul Liris has for many years promoted, among other things, spa tourism in Serbia. He suggested closer cooperation between Niska Banja and the French spas.
- Thereception was held at City Hall for 10 post-graduates and two professors from the University of Provence-Aix-Marseille in France. The purpose of their stay in Nis is to become acquinted with the architectural heritage of Nis, as well as to continue the cooperation between Nis and Arles in the valorisation of the historical heritage of the city. Otherwise, this group of students is tasked with developing a detailed study of the facilities within the Fortress in Niš, all with the aim of using the full potential of these sites. At the same time, they are tasked with proposing a program to improve the physical condition of the Fortress.
- The representatives of the French Cultural Centers from Belgrade and Nis participated in the conference entitled Directions and Modalities for International Cooperation of the City of Nis in the Field of Culture. The conference is part of the project “Development of the Program Basis and Promotion of the Nis City Office for International Cooperation in Science, Education and Culture”. The first day of the conference was the final step before the establishment of the Nis City Office for International Cooperation in Science, Education and Culture. Its purpose was to hear, after initial internal consultations, the opinions and suggestions of important partners outside the city – representatives of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, cultural attachés of embassies and cultural centers in Serbia, representatives of the donor community and local experts in the field of cultural policies. The second day of the conference was dedicated to presentations and exchange of experience in the field of research, protection, valorisation and promotion of the cultural heritage of Constantine cities: Trier (Germany), Arles (France), Milan (Italy), Izmit (Turkey), Carnuntum – Petronell (Austria), York (United Kingdom) and Nis (Serbia).
- At the City Hall in Nis the French Ambassador to Serbia Jean François Teral delivered the official decision of the Government of the Republic of France and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia on the appointment of Sasa Miljkovic as Honorary Consul of France in Nis. Jean François Teral expressed great satisfaction that France would have an official representative in Nis in the future. On this occasion, it was announced that the formation of a bilingual division was initiated at the Svetozar Markovic”grammar school with the lessons in French. In this way future French-speaking students will have the opportunity to become beneficiaries of scholarships awarded by the French Republic.
- The City of Nis has joined the Association of European Cities of Culture (Alliance de Villes Européennes de Culture – AVEC). AVEC is an international network of 30 cultural and historical cities from 11 European countries, accessed so far by cities from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Serbia. The network was formed in 1997 with headquarters in the French city of Arles. The headquarters of this Association are located in Tours, France. AVEC today brings together cities and territories of European countries that have a rich history and cultural heritage, and are dedicated to using their heritage as a good base on which to build sustainable cities, that is, as a vector for sustainable development. The goal of joining the Association is to adopt European standards of quality in managing the cultural and historical heritage of the city, as well as managing current cultural creativity and developing them in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. The common goal of the Association members is to build European regions based on respect for diversity and interaction between cultures. One of the most important goals of the members is to make local heritage one of the major potentials for economic, social and cultural development of cities and territories in the spirit of the AVEC Charter, which obliges members to respect European standards in the management of cultural and historical heritage, including, inter alia, protection of cultural property from commercial misuse.
- The French Cultural Center in Nis opened. The French Institute in Serbia is an integral part of a worldwide network of more than 100 French institutes; its mission is to build new roads between France and Serbia through culture, education, innovation and knowledge. The successor to the French Cultural Center in Belgrade, the cultural and educational operator of the French Embassy, the French Institute has its headquarters in Belgrade, Nis and Novi Sad. It realizes projects (alone or in partnership) in the fields of art, culture, teaching and promotion of French, higher education and research, and is also dedicated to young people, cultural and social innovations, as well as debates on many major contemporary topics.
- The City of Niš received ten buses from the Paris-based public transport company RATP.
- At the reception for Ambassador Gabriel Keller, the arrival in Nis of French language lecturer, Miss Severin Bleze, was announced who would work for six months with French language professors in Nis schools. This co-operation will continue in the form of seminars for French-speaking professors in Southeast Serbia and a jazz concert organized by the Belgrade-based French Cultural Center.
- The delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of France visited Nis and had a meeting with city officials.
- Electricity Distribution Company in Nis received three transforming stations from the French government. By installing ten-kW transformer stations, local low-voltage equipment was amplified in the three most vulnerable areas in the city. New substations have significantly improved electricity supply.
- The delegation from France, headed by Ms. Yves Dange, Deputy Mayor of Shinon and Suzanne Rousselot, President of the General Council of the Upper Rhine Province, visited Nis and, during this visit, closer cooperation between the cities of France and Serbia was highlighted. The idea of the French Government is a partnership on an equal footing and direct contacts between cities in order to have as much mutual cooperation and realization of certain projects as possible.