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"Writing for CEE" 2007 prize winners awarded

  • Martin Leidenfrost won with "The World behind Vienna", a feature-series published in the "Presse-Spectrum"

The Austrian journalist Martin Leidenfrost is the winner of the "Writing for CEE" Award 2007. The award ceremony for the prize sponsored by Bank Austria Creditanstalt (BA-CA) and APA – Austrian Press Agency took place on Wednesday evening in Vienna. For this annually assigned prize journalists from countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as well as Southeastern Europe (SEE) can hand in their texts. "The centre point of the work has to focus on the journalistic examination of the European integration", so Christina Wreth, head of “Identity & Communications” at BA-CA. 

At the Award ceremony Barbara Coudenhove-Kalergi, ORF correspondent and authority on Eastern Europe for many years, expressed her critical view on the "iron curtain in our minds" and referred to the "paradox situation", "that 18 years after the fall of the communism we understand each other less than before". 1989 people on the Wenzelsplatz in Prague demanded: "We want to be back in Europe" and in Austria there was great sympathy for the revolutionary movement in the former Czechoslovakia. But: "Our consciousness has not been in line with the development". This counts also for "persons engaged in the cultural and humanitarian sector", so Coudenhove-Kalergi: "The calculating managers of the economy have spotted the chances far faster."

In his texts the winner of this year’s prize, Martin Leidenfrost, tries to "make central Europe experiencable". The articles published every Saturday in the "Spectrum", a supplement of the Austrian daily "Die Presse" between October 2006 and September 2007, are covering the circle of a year with portraits in the style of personal features. Central point of the serial is the "central Europe between the Alps and the Carpathians, somewhere around the towns Vienna, Bratislava, Györ and Brünn".

Martin Leidenfrost was born in 1972 in Lower Austria. For three years he has been living in Devínska Nova Ves, a Slovakian border town, placed "on the gradual healing wounds inflicted by the iron curtain". He writes stories about this region, "which is arranged around four states, four languages and a dozen of ethnic groups". And nevertheless everything is around the corner, the author explains. The region has got various names, like "Centrope". But rarely ever does one of the inhabitants sense "this with frontiers corrugated area" as one organic region.

"I am Austrian and it takes me one kilometre to get to Austria, 30 kilometres to get to Hungary and 50 to get to the Czech Republic. From this perspective the whole area seems as a natural entity and it is this perspective, which I relate to", the author explains.

The second place of "Writing for CEE" got equally the Rumanian journalist Ana-Maria Luca with a reportage on emigrants, who leave their children back in their home country and – for the second time – the Bulgarian Journalist Janina Dragostinova.

Requests: Bank Austria Creditanstalt Communications CEE
Silvana Lins, Phone: +43 (0) 50505 56036
e-mail : silvana.lins@ba-ca.com