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Group picture at ESI 10 years anniversary conference. Photo: Jonathan Lewis

Group picture at ESI 10 years anniversary conference. Photo: Jonathan Lewis

10 years of ESI

July 2009

In summer 1999 a group of friends gathered in Sarajevo and decided to set up a new institution to analyse international policy in the Balkans. Thus ESI was born.

Ten years later a much larger group of friends, from across a much larger Europe, came together in Istanbul to discuss the lessons of the past decade (1999-2009) and how new ideas might shape the next decade of Europe's evolution (2009-2019)

We came together in a colourful building full of modern art, which reflected both the diverse composition of our staff and our eclectic approach to research methodologies, but built solidly on Byzantine foundations, in the heart of the old town.

At our event Michael Thumann and Amberin Zaman, correspondents for Die Zeit and The Economist, respectively, explored Turkey's ongoing democratisation. Nicu Popescu presented the latest ECFR report on the European neighbourhood. ESI Causasus analyst Arzu Geybullayeva spoke about challenges to democracy in Azerbaijan. ESI analysts Kristof Bender, Besa Shahini, Verena Knaus and Alex Stiglmayer spoke about the challenges facing enlargement in the Balkans.

In bullet-points, this is what ESI looks like in the middle of 2009:

  • ESI is bigger than ever. We have 25 researchers and supporting staff, most of them full time.
  • ESI is more spread out than ever. Our staff is dispersed across 10 countries in Europe, from London to Baku.
  • ESI is more international than ever. Our team holds the following passports: Albanian, American, Armenian, Australian, Austrian, Azeri, British, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Kosovar, Polish and Turkish.
  • ESI is more multimedia than ever. We produced our first ever documentary film in 2003 (15 min on Central Bosnia, called Bosnian Story), our second, looking at the situation in the divided town of Mitrovica, in 2004 (22 min, called Chronicle of a Death Foretold). In 2008 we worked on no less than 8 films, and 10 of them (52 min each) were broadcast for the first time in 2008.
  • ESI has reached more people than ever before with our analytical stories and analyses: so far, more than 4 million people have seen our films.
  • In 2008 and 2009 ESI organised events across the whole of Europe: in Berlin and Paris, in Rome and Barcelona, in Brussels and Prague, in Tirana, Istanbul and Baku, in Yerevan and Tbilisi.
  • ESI's website is more visited than ever before. In 2006 the average number of visitors every day day was 750. At the time of our 10 year anniversary it was 3,800.
  • Today there are 31,000 subscribers to the  ESI newsletter. This compares to 12,000 in 2006.
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