"New initiative of the Secretary General"
In 1996, the Secretary General launched a programme of co-operation with the newly independent countries (of the former Soviet Union) to extend co-operation with these countries without reducing the Organisation's efforts to help other central and eastern European countries making the transition to democracy.
Under this programme, activities were undertaken in the field of history teaching aimed at reforming history teaching and preparing new history textbooks in countries that had just become member States of the Council of Europe or were candidates for accession (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine).
The activities were implemented in cooperation with other European institutions and non-governmental organisations, and a first round of stock-taking seminars was held to:
- analyse the specific contexts and developments that had occurred since 1991 and their incidence on teaching and teacher training;
- discuss in which way the Council of Europe’s previous expertise in history teaching could provide support.
The initial focus was on the content and support of teaching as well as on teacher training.
Enhanced Graz process and Stability Pact (starting 1998)
The Graz Process was initiated under the Austrian EU presidency in 1998. It was aimed at promoting democratic and peaceful development in South Eastern Europe by supporting and co-ordinating educational co-operation projects in the region.
In June 1999, at the EU's initiative, the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe was adopted. Its aim was to provide support to the countries of South Eastern Europe "in their efforts to foster peace, democracy, respect for human rights and economic prosperity in order to achieve stability in the whole region".
Education and youth were identified as one of the priority areas of the Graz Process and was put in charge of the co-ordination of the Task Force Education and Youth within the Stability Pact. As more countries and organisations had joined the Graz Process in the meantime it became the Enhanced Graz Process (EGP).
In November 1999 an expert conference of the EGP in Sofia defined the objectives, principles and action plans of six working groups, in which half of the members came from South Eastern Europe, each group being lead by international institutions. The Council of Europe became the coordinating institution for the working group on History and History teaching, under which framework numerous cooperation programmes were launched.