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When I was informed that I’d won a scholarship to attend Euroepan Forum Alpbach honestly I didn’t have any knowledge about the event. After meeting with the team from the Club Alpbach Belgrade who presented the whole concept to me, I realized how much the event itself is an educational, academic two-week event, but also has a really fun side to it as well… and it is in fact a factor of integration of European academic minds working on spreading the values of tolerance, freedom, neutralism and human rights. This is also great place for lobbying and presenting the potential of your country since many officials from different European but also non European governments are annually present in the small ski center but also internationally important place at Tirol named Alpbach.

Since 1945, Alpbach has been the venue for the Alpbach European Forum, an annual two-week conference of leading figures from the worlds of science, business, the arts and politics. The Forum and the participation of so many people who have shaped the thinking of their times has given Alpbach the nickname, "The Village Of Thinkers." The first conference hall in Alpbach was built in the mid-1950s and named after the Austrian poetess Paula von Preradovic, who wrote the words for the Austrian national anthem. The plenary hall was named after the physicist and Nobel Prize-winner Erwin Schrödinger. He lies buried in the Alpbach cemetery. In 1999, the new Alpbach Congress Centre was opened, together with the 55th European Forum. With its combination of exciting architecture and a minimum environmental footprint, the main architectural feature is a spiral shaped gallery with floor-to-ceiling glazing for a unique view of the spectacular mountain backdrop.

At the suggestion of Alfons Moser, Mayor of Alpbach from 1945 to 1979, the Council issued a local planning law in 1953, which made the traditional style of architecture in Alpbach mandatory for all new buildings.

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Tyrolean Farytail

European Forum Alpbach 2009

Night. Train station in Belgrade. The train for Vienna is waiting on platform. Crowd, suitcases, bags, food, kisses and many an ones thief. Second class compartment. I have decided to travel all by myself. This is going to be a pleasant journey. Being drowned in sea of sleepy people, after two hours of driving, I became bored… So I am looking all around the place… Faces are different then those traveling by trains for Bulgaria, Istanbul… These are, somehow, ‘better dressed’ and, I am laughing quietly, ‘in Viennese style – so cultural and enlightened’. Seeing smile on my face, half gray women seating across me became curious: ‘So, girl, where are you going to work?’ Insulted, I explained her that I am the student of Faculty of Political Sciences, traveling to symposium, and that I still believe that world could become better place. I am not definitely someone eager to work abroad. Then she became mocking: ‘You still do not know a thing…’

Heroes of this story are not Ban Ki-moon, Martti Ahtisaari nor Erhard Busek, but granny Ljubica and her ‘Granddad’ from Velika Plana. ‘Me and my granddad left 40 years in that Austria, we have been ransacked and we used to work like niggers. We were only 20 when we moved there and we stayed longer then we had planed… Year by year, just to make for the car, just to make for the house, and that is it.’ I took out of the bag some leaflets for my symposium and I started to write… ‘And I was asked by my friend Regina if it was the truth that Serbs were eating small kids, just imagine, they have never known a thing about Serbs’ granny Ljubica continued her story. ‘There is no chance for our Serbian guy to succeed in Vienna. That was not done by anyone since Nikola Tesla. And for all that time we were in Schwarz; we have worked there and now we finally had enough strength to retire… And live these few years left in Serbia… But there, in Schwarz, we had everything… One was able to go visit someone in hospital at any time, and not only for a few hours, like the case is with us. You should change that if you were in position, when you become politician!’ she started to shout.

This dialogue, where I was only nodding my head and asking, became interesting for one young lady, who ‘desperately wanted to inform me that salary of one Viennese ladies maid is one thousand and seven hundreds euros and that my education will not be worth a thing if I do not have enough money. It was really important for me to hear that if you are working at some Miss Elena in Bregenz, you will make her wild cat sleepy if you by putting some Rakija under her nose. I dispose with million more pieces of information regarding King’s funeral, because granny Ljubica gave cobalt’s plate to his widow… But that all had happened before ‘Our lovely Yugoslavia’ became fragmented. And then farewell moment has arrived.

Everyone on his on road… Me – to Tyrol. Mountain national village, Alpbach, not far away from Innsbruck was looking the same as in the cards. You could keep the fog on your hands and, as Milana says, ‘grass is impossibly green’. After spending two days in place from fairytale, where you could run in to one of thirty ambassadors within the UN on streets while having a walk, I forgot about stories from the train. Lectures, discussions, lobbying and meeting were advantages of this small place. Members of Initiative Group Alpbach Belgrade were shining while performing national anthem ‘Good of justice’ on international evening. The main topic of this-year European Forum Alpbach was ‘Trust’. I used to have a lot of doubts and remarks regarding this beautiful topic. I started to ‘believe’ in knowing important people, in shaking hands and in idea that no one has interests, they all just want to learn something new. I started, just as Ban Ki-moon, to ‘think’ that we will all between ourselves start to build bridges on trust. However, not everyone gets an opportunity to meet as many interesting people… And just at the moment, when I was getting ready for one of the most important receptions, my phone rang. That was granny Ljubica from Schwarz calling to ask how one Serbian child found its place within occupiers…?