Return to Europe – A ten-part documentary

Initiated by: ERSTE Foundation
In cooperation with: European Stability Initiative (ESI)
Publisher: pre tv, Vienna
Content: 5 DVDs
ISBN: 9006472012733
Year: 2009

“This remarkable documentary dismantles all cliches!”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Hop on and let’s take a ride across the south-east of Europe. What is so fascinating about this colourful entity called the “Balkans”? History is told on old Roman and Ottoman roads, in young urban centres like Tirana, in the mountainous countryside of Montenegro. With stories written by life – and based on the results of sound scientific research by the European Stability Initiative (ESI). “These are documentaries all citizens of the European Union should have the opportunity to see!” Giuliano Amato, former prime minister of Italy

Following an initiative by ERSTE Foundation and the scientific research conducted by the European Stability Initiative (ESI), ORF, ORF/3sat and pre tv co-produced Return to Europe, a ten-part TV documentary. Return to Europe gives people who have contributed to the region’s progress since the mid-1990s the opportunity to comment on their present situation: artists, lawyers, journalists, activists, mayors and football players tell their version of the story. With powerful images, these ten 52-minute episodes provide a new perspective on the present and possible future of the region.

To present the changing Balkans to a wider public we have embarked on a journey of discovery. Like many European stories, our trip starts in Rome, the eternal city. From there it leads across South East Europe as far as Istanbul, city of patriarchs and caliphs. We visit Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. We stop in Kotor on the Adriatic Sea, Novi Sad on the Danube, Tirana in the Albanian coastal plains, and in Thessaloniki on the Aegean Sea. It is a journey of colours: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water – dark blue in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus. Our journey ends near the Ottoman “Fortress of Europe” (Rumeli Hisari) in Istanbul, the region’s largest city since the 4th century AD.

Return to Europe / Balkan Express – The DVD collection
5 CDs/10 films, 10 x 52 minutes.
Available in English (Return to Europe) and German (Balkan Express).

This publication is available at ERSTE Foundation Library.

Florian Bauer

Director Social Finance, Sustainability and Innovation
Since 2023, Florian Bauer has been responsible for social finance, sustainability and social innovation at ERSTE Foundation. Prior to this role, Florian worked in the NGO & Social Entrepreneurship sector for more than 13 years. He led the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral NGO that works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in developing countries, and was Managing Director & COO of the Impact Hub Vienna. From 2020-2023, Florian established strategic alliances with key partners and helped to create innovative semantic technology solutions at Semantic Web Company (SWC), a leading IT company in semantic AI solutions.