Germany meets Serbs to counter academic isolation

September 24, 1999

Germany's main higher education and research bodies have held talks with Serbian academics to try to revive a dialogue in the wake of Nato's war on Serbia.

The Rectors' Conference, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the German Academic Exchange Service and the Max Planck Society wish to support Serbian higher education and research without backing President Milosevic's regime.

At a meeting in Bonn, Serbs representing institutions in Belgrade and Novi Sad stressed that the autonomy of research and teaching was a pillar of stability and security in southeastern Europe.

The Serbian academics, among them Vojin Dimitrijevic, director of Belgrade's Human Rights Centre, warned that the country's political regime was isolating its universities. International links would help reverse the trend.

Representatives of Germany's higher education and research system noted that for institutionalised collaboration with state-run institutions there must be academic freedom. However, individual contacts between German and Yugoslav scientists and scholars could be promoted.

International agencies expect the University of Pristina to reopen next month despite the absence of Serb staff and students. The university is beginning to acquire equipment, but books are lacking. Brian Young, a consultant who was instrumental in shipping computers to the university, said the English department needs books and learning materials. Donations can be made to:

The University of Pristina (Kosova/o) Book Appeal, c/o Barclays Bank plc, Bedford Business Centre, 111 High Street, Bedford MK40 1NJ. Account number 20 05 74, 7031333.

The list of books and more Pristina-

related material can be found on www.thesis.co.uk

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