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Bosnian Azra Nuhefendic wins "Writing for CEE 2010"

  • Report on resumption of Belgrade-Sarajevo rail link honoured
  • Pavel Kohout reports on his life between Hitler, Stalin and Havel

Bosnian author Azra Nuhefendic is the winner of the European journalism prize "Writing for CEE 2010". The journalist, who has lived in Italy since 1995, was awarded the prize in Vienna Monday evening. She won the prize, which includes prize money of EUR5,000 and which has been awarded by Austria Presse Agentur and Bank Austria for the seventh time already, for her report "Der Zug" ("The Train") in which she describes her experience during a journey by train from Belgrade to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. This year’s guest speaker at awards ceremony was author and former CSSR dissident ("Charta 77") Pavel Kohout, who most recently published his  autobiography "Mein tolles Leben mit Hitler, Stalin und Havel" ("My Wonderful Life with Hitler, Stalin and Havel").

The starting point of Azra Nuhefendic‘ report is the reopening of the rail link between Belgrade and Sarajevo which had been suspended since the Bosnian War (1992 to 1995) broke out. "After 18 years, a locomotive with three wagons is running again: One wagon comes from the Republika Srpska, one from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the third from Serbia." The reopening of the rail link is full of symbolic power. It is a stylistic device to Ms Nuhefendic to approach the bloody collapse of the multinational state of Southern Slavs and the associated creeping genesis of interethnic hate.

What was behind also was a "construction of who is different", Ms Nuhefendic said in her acceptance speech. She started by telling the story of former Yugoslavia she experienced herself and ended with the present. When the first signs of war emerged clearly in her former home country, Ms Nuhefendic – born in Sarajevo – lived in Belgrade. Although she was not a practicing Muslim, her belief increasingly became what made her "being different", the author remembered. At the beginning of the 1990ies, the political instrumentalisation of nationalist feelings finally led to preparations for war.

Ms Nuhefendic used examples from the more recent world history to explain what a mystery it sometimes is to "be different".  "I am often asked what the difference is between the people in former Yugoslavia, how you can see who is who. But neither an obvious nor a hidden difference is necessary to construct "what is different." To me, coming from Europe, Indians and Pakistani look the same. But they have been enemies for almost one century", she said.
Azra Nuhefendic today lives in Trieste. She works for various media and has been awarded with many prizes for her articles and reports from and on Southeast Europe. The journalism prize "Writing for CEE" aims at a journalist debate about European issues and European integration across all borders.
"Europe’s future fundamentally depends on the speed and the sustainability of the moving together of our home continent. And it also depends on the future willingness of single national states to overcome themselves for common interests", Bank Austria CEO Willibald Cernko said at the awards ceremony. "The media and journalists are playing a very important role since experience shows that borders vanish from maps faster than from people’s heads!"

The list of award winners includes Czech journalist Lubos Palata (2004), Bulgarian author Diana Ivanova (2005), Bosnian journalist Sefik Dautbegovic (2006), Austrian author Martin Leidenfrost (2007), radio journalist Anna Koktsidou (2008) who was born in Greece and raised in Germany as well as Austrian "investigative journalist" Florian Klenk last year.

Members of the jury, the composition of which is varying, include Czech communications scientist Milan Smid, Slovak publicist Michael Berko, communications consultant Ildiko Füredi-Kolarik, Slovenian author Joze Hudecek, Polish journalists Igor Janke and Pawel Bravo, former Czech presidential advisor Jiri Pehe, Hungarian radio journalist Julia Varadi, Bulgarian author Janina Dragostinova, communications consultant Silvana Lins as well as Ambros Kindel, head of foreign policy at APA and jury spokesman.
Visit http://www.apa.at/cee-award/ to read the text of this year’s winner and other outstanding articles about European integration. Reproducible photos of the award ceremony are also available for download from this web site. The photos can be printed free of charge.

You can also find this press release on www.bankaustria.at.

About UniCredit
UniCredit is a major international financial institution with strong roots in 22 European countries and an overall international network present in approximately 50  markets, with 9,600 branches, and more than 161,000 employees as of 30 September 2010.

In the CEE region, UniCredit operates the largest international banking network with nearly 3,900 branches.

The Group operates in the following countries: Austria Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary,  Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine.


For further inquiries:Bank Austria Press Office CEE 
Tiemon Kiesenhofer, Tel. +43 (0) 50505-56036 
E-mail: tiemon.kiesenhofer@unicreditgroup.at

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