17 November 2008
"Return to Europe" at the European Commission in Brussels
Knut Neumayer, Alexandra Stiglmayer, and Olli Rehn
Knut Neumayer, Alexandra Stiglmayer, Gisela Gauggel-Robinson (Head of the Communications Unit at the Enlargement Directorate-General), and Olli Rehn

On 17 November European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn watched the Albania film of the ten-part TV documentary series "Return to Europe" at a screening for European Commission staff in Brussels. He said he was impressed with the film and added that he would like to contribute to a wide dissemination of the "Return to Europe" films as they are an important tool in communicating enlargement.

ESI Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer and Knut Neumayer, Programme Director at the Austrian ERSTE Foundation, gave an introduction to the Albania film and provided background to the film project. Its goal is to challenge conventional wisdom about the Balkans and to stimulate discussions.

Commissioner Rehn welcomed the opportunity to see the film on Albania. He said that Albania is sometimes overlooked as attention tends to focus on more troublesome Balkan countries, and that it suffers from a bad image, but that the country is making progress on the way to EU membership.

The aim of the series is to acquaint viewers with the region and its peoples, their recent past and their struggle for a better future in Europe. The series has been jointly produced by the Austrian TV production company pre-TV, Austria's public broadcaster ORF and the German-language satellite channel 3sat, in cooperation with ESI, which provided its expertise. The film project has been initiated by ERSTE Foundation, which has also provided funding.

Over the coming weeks and months, the European Commission plans to show all ten films to its staff if interest continues to be high. The Commission's 50-seat cinema was fully occupied for the first two screenings, of the Serbia film on 13 November and the Albania film on 17 November. On 19 November, the Bosnia film will be shown.