Latest News from Transitions (TOL)

Recent Events

Because the EU is a homeland for the Roma

Transitions is proud to have hosted a series of launch events in May across Central Europe for our Roma documentary project, Our Dream.

Our Dream is a collection of five films, each of which covers one Central European country and illustrates the problems that Roma communities in Europe continue to face. They were produced as part of“Europe: A Homeland for the Roma,” a joint effort by Transitions and six other partners in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and the United States.

Journalists, NGO representatives, experts, academics, students, politicians, diplomats, and others attended the screenings. Audience responses were overwhelmingly positive, and post-screening discussions, which included the filmmakers, proved fruitful for participants and creators alike.

At the Prague event – held with our Czech partner, Romea – we screened the Czech segment, Because There is Hope, which tells the story of a veteran Roma activist, Jožka Miker, who leads a group of Roma teenagers to strive for equal social status and greater acceptance of the Roma. The boys use rap and hip hop music to effectively become youth activists and community representatives. Around 60 people attended the screening, predominantly young people.

In Bratislava, MEMO 98, the project partner from Slovakia, screened the segment Home is Home. This film tells the story of Roma villagers in Krásnohorské Podhradie, who work to overcome prejudice in the midst of anti-Roma, extremist-led protests. It was attended by several journalists, including TV crews from the Slovak public broadcaster RTVS and Gipsy TV, who interviewed the filmmakers and producers.

The Hungary event was held in a trendy, shabby chic “ruin pub” – a fitting Budapest venue given that this chapter, Fading Notes, is the story of Hungarian Gypsy musicians, who were once famed for their restaurant performances. As the fall of communism brought about privatization of cafes and restaurants and subsequently increased taxes, many of the new establishment owners could not afford to hire Roma musicians. Fading Notes gives real accounts of Roma community members who are trying to preserve the tradition and revive Gypsy music in Hungary.

“We had a full room, mostly people whom we have not met before, and even those who popped in, stayed until the very end—which was quite rewarding,” said Ilona Moricz, a representative of the Center for Independent Journalism, the project’s partner in Hungary.

All five segments were filmed by creative teams of Roma and non-Roma journalists in cooperation with senior producers, including Rich Beckmanand Josh Meltzner, from the United States. The project is co-funded by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme, with further support from the ERSTE Foundation and the Open Society FoundationsProgram on Independent Journalism.

TOL’s Caucasus teams convene in Turkey

It’s rarely easy crossing the dividing line that separates regions that have been in conflict for years or even decades. But a group of 26 young people from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the breakaway regions of South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Abkhazia took that important step early last month. From 9-13 May, they met on “neutral” territory, in the seaside city of Kemer, Turkey, for a workshop led by GO Group Media, our implementation partner in Georgia.

The meeting gave participants a chance to network, share challenges and successes, and learn and practice critical mobile journalism skills. They also got to discuss their respective roles as journalists in making and keeping peace in their communities and across the region.

“I liked the fact that nearly all participants turned out to be much more open than I was expecting,” said Diana Petriashvili, the lead trainer. ”For instance, I was expecting possible challenges in terms of relationships between Georgian and Abkhaz participants, Armenians and Azerbaijanis. However, they all easily became friends and worked very well together.”

Supported by the Visegrad Fund, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, this training was an integral component of TOL’s project “Multimedia and Minorities: Empowering Journalism to Promote Reconciliation in the South Caucasus.” The overall objective of the project is to impel the media in the South Caucasus to play a major role in promoting regional peace and stability through responsible reporting.

Watch out, California. Moldova is the new Silicon Valley.

From 2-4 May, 20 young people from across Moldova attended Summer Camp 2.0, the final event of the second edition of the New Media Academy in Moldova, presented by TOL and our local partner, MediaPoint.

The enthusiastic teams worked intensively to solve problems and develop online projects for their home cities and municipalities. They spent hours designing local news websites, which the team members themselves will manage.

“This event united us and our desire to create a worthwhile project for our cities,” participant Anton Vica said.

In just the camp’s two days, the seven projects achieved online engagement with more than 1,500 fans on social networks.

If you have a moment, please check out the new websites for Balabanesti,CahulMereniIaloveniSingerei, Salcuta, and Floresti.

Summer camp 2.0 was a component of TOL’s “Developing New Media Skills in Moldova” project, a jointly funded initiative of the NED and the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Foreign Ministry.

Featured Content

Transitions Online ( often showcases the work produced through our grant programs. Some of the highlights from May include the following stories:

30 May 2014

Nagorno-Karabakh and the Crimea Principle

By Russia’s logic, who has the right to decide the fate of the disputed region?

By Mina Muradova

29 May 2014

Not Giving, Till It Hurts

In Russia, being asked to donate to charity is viewed more as attack than an appeal.

By Galina Stolyarova

16 May 2014

A Homeless People

A gripping work of history traces with breadth and compassion the Circassians’ brutal expulsion from the Caucasus.
By Rebecca Gould

13 May 2014

Kyrgyzstan Ends Uzbek-Language University Entrance Exams

As graduates prep for the crucial tests, those from the country’s largest minority wonder if there is any point in taking them.

By Chingiz Toloev

7 May 2014

The Lost Sounds of Maqom

A small band in Uzbekistan is trying to wrest a traditional musical form from its contemporary, Westernized version.
By Dengiz Uralov

6 May 2014

Tongues Untied

After years of delay, an effort to teach Romani in Serbian schools may be gaining steam.
By Uffe Andersen

Current Projects

Azerbaijan and Moldova

Promoting the use of new media and social media among journalists, civil society organizations, and young people.
Improving the quality of environmental investigative journalism while increasing the impact of the environmental movement in Russia.
Education Reporting
Using distance learning courses, workshops, and other resources to improve reporting on education-related topics.