Diary of the Festival: Getting around Europe with “TripAdvisor”, Georgian Cooking class, EU and Media, Discussion about the European Future. Days 3, 4 and 5

3-5 Days of the European Intercultural Festival were marked by a meeting of the admirers of the “City of the Sun” with a German historian Thomas Bohn, a keen researcher of the “socialistic” context of Minsk; public discussion about the European future by leading Belarusian and foreign experts; travelling with “Tripadvisor”; traditional Georgian Khachapuri cooking class; tips for journalists covering the activity of EU institutions.

The ways of planning a cheap travel around Europe were discussed by the guests of the meeting “TripAdvisor: Travel to EU and countries of Eastern Partnership” in the youth center “Fialta”. Experienced travellers, invited to the discussion, gave a lot of tips about how to book cheap flights, get a multiple-entry Schengen visa and told about the opportunities of staying not only in hostels and hotels, but using the service CouchSurfing and Airbnb. Travelling with low costs, volunteer projects and international training – these are only a few topics covered during the meeting.

In the informal atmosphere with a cup of tea the young travellers discussed the peculiarities of travelling around Europe, including the Nordic countries. The participants of the meeting had a possibility to know the basics of hitchhiking, learn about foreign funding opportunities for travel support available for Belarusians and interesting sights which are not mentioned in most travel guidebooks. To see more photos please click.
The historical aspects of Minsk and its influence on Minsk dwellers – this is only one of the themes of a new book “The Minsk Phenomenon” presented by a German historian Thomas Bohn. In this book Thomas Bohn expressed his view for Belarus and its capital through the eyes of a casual observer. For a long time the researcher has been studying archives, learning the history of the city and processes of local urbanization. All these topics - the pre-war Minsk, formation of “socialistic city” and changes in its historical part – were discussed during the lecture. As in his books, Thomas used a lot interesting hints to muse on – about the city of Sleep and the Niamiha river, that means “insomnia” if to translate it from Lithuanian; about the influence of architecture and in particular “wide avenues” on self-consciousness and temperament of city dwellers; about the Belarusian national character and its background that according to the researcher is rooted in Belavezhskaya Pushcha with its heroic aurochs, and in depth of towns and villages, full of legends about the “partisans”. Photo album in full is available here.

The discussion “without metaphors” about the development of foreign policy in Eastern Europe was held on Monday. Its participants – Belarusian and foreign experts and analysts talked about the current international security modes and efficiency of the EU policy in Eastern Europe in terms of the Ukraine crisis. The photo album is available here.

The public lecture by a specialist from Loughborough University in London Dorina Baltag took place in Mogilev State A. Kuleshov University. Dorina shared the experience of Bologna transformations in Moldova with academic teaching staff and gave examples of its influence on universities.

Hrant Kostanyan, an Associate Research Fellow at Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels held a lecture for the 2nd and 4th year students of the Belarusian State University. Its theme - “New EU Foreign Policy Architecture” has much in common with his latest book about the first 2 years of activity of the EEAS (European External Action Service). During the lecture the author of dozens of academic publications helped the students to understand the background of European political situation and interaction between the EU institutions. In a special master class for Belarusian journalists the European expert presented a system of the EU political decisions making and discovered the peculiarities of media work with EU institutions. The participants also discussed the adoption of key sanctions against Russia and vote structure for certain resolutions by the members of EU. The photo album is available here.

Apart from the politics, the guests of the European Intercultural Festival managed to get acquainted with the national Georgian cuisine. On Tuesday the chef of the restaurant “Batumi” Soso Stefnadze together with a famous Georgian writer Dato Turashvili gave an exclusive master class on original khachapuri making. The participants had a possibility to learn the recipes, try the national Caucasian cuisine and even see the comedy “Love with an Accent”. The movie tells about contemporary Georgia and love stories which could happen only in Caucasus, and Dato Turashvili is one of its scriptwriters. According to Georgian traditions of hospitality the organizers of cooking class treated all the guests to national Georgian drinks. Photo album of the event is available here.