First "Introduction to German law" block seminar held in Skopje

The first "Introduction to German law" block seminar took place in Macedonia over the weekend of 20 to 22 November. It was organised by the IRZ together with the Faculty of Law in Skopje. Since very few law students in Macedonia speak German, the seminar was held in the Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian languages, unlike similar events organised by the IRZ in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, which take place in German. Serbo-Croatian is the lingua franca used and understood in Macedonia for communicating with neighbouring countries. It was important for all those attending the conference to be able to hold direct discussions without interpreters. This also meant that no important information was lost due to seminars being held in English, it often being the case that no suitable specialist vocabulary exists in English for continental law institutions.

The IRZ was able to appoint speakers with extensive training in German law, including Prof. Zlatan Meskic, whose qualifications include a PhD from Vienna in European consumer protection, and Prof. Slavko Djordjevic, who has completed various studies in Germany, including at the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg and the Faculty of Law in Passau. The third speaker, also German-speaking and trained in German law, was Dr. Alexander Spasov, a lecturer at the Faculty of Law in Skopje, who was also responsible for the organisation on behalf of the faculty as a project partner.

Thanks to their own training in the law of one of Yugoslavia's successor states, the speakers were also able to point out the differences between the law in the participants' home country and German law in a way that was targeted towards the participants.

During the event, extensive use was made of interactive working techniques and the case method. Topics included consumer protection and aspects of law that are relevant to the current economic situation, such as transfers by way of securities.

The 20 participants, who were decided by a selection process because of the huge amount of interest, worked very hard and expressed the wish for further activities in this field.

The IRZ promotes the study of German law in Southeast Europe in many different ways. Young law students in particular are addressed, in order to form a lasting basis for German law as a "law of orientation" in the future development of the respective national laws.

New newsletter on the ECtHR in Macedonian and Albanian

Contributors of the conference were: Dr. Stefan Pürner, IRZ; Danica Djonova, moderator, Office of the Government Representative; Kosta Bogdanov, Macedonian Government Agent before the Strasbourg Court (from left to right)Contributors of the conference were: Dr. Stefan Pürner, IRZ; Danica Djonova, moderator, Office of the Government Representative; Kosta Bogdanov, Macedonian Government Agent before the Strasbourg Court (from left to right)

One of the IRZ's main activities in Southeast Europe is to disseminate information about the ECtHR case law. The IRZ cooperates closely with the Case Law Information and Publications Division / Division des publications et de l'information sur la jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court, but also with national bodies.

The first joint newsletter of the Office of the Macedonian Government Agent before the ECtHR and the IRZ was presented in Skopje on 20 October at a well-attended press conference at the Ministry of Justice.

The newsletter not only contains judgements passed against Macedonia, but also other decisions about topics relevant for the Macedonian judiciary and Macedonian authorities.

The newsletter "closes a gap in Macedonian legal literature", as Agent Kosta Bogdanov put it, which is also shown by the great interest of the media at the press conference. The presentation of the newsletter was also covered by newspapers and Internet portals such as besides several TV and radio stations. All media unanimously emphasized the great importance of the Strasbourg Court's case law for the national courts.

Besides the media the press conference was attended by many court presidents and representatives of other legal organisations.

ECHR highlights exemplary cooperation with IRZ

As previously reported in this context several times, the team of the Southeast Europe project area at the IRZ has for many years worked closely with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. As part of this cooperation, the IRZ and the ECHR issue joint publications, for example on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and on the case law of the ECHR in the national languages of Southeast European countries. The IRZ also offers basic and further training events in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, with the involvement of judges from the ECHR.

In the March edition of its "Information Note on the Court's case-law/ Note d'information sur la jurisprudence de la Cour", the Court cites the work carried out in cooperation with the IRZ as a good example of joint activities. The extensive report draws particular attention to the publications already produced as a result of this cooperation with funding from the Federal Foreign Office, which are also available to download from the Court's website as PDF documents. The latest example is the Serbian edition of the handbook on European anti-discrimination laws.

The article also underlines the significance of human rights in other work carried out by the IRZ and introduces the two magazines co-published by the IRZ in Southeast Europe, "Nova Pravna Revija" ("New Legal Review, NPR for short) and "Evropsko Pravo" (European Law, EP for short), as well as the specially dedicated website for questions on anti-discrimination. Both of these magazines are funded by the Federal Foreign Office using the German contribution to the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. The website was set up within the framework of a regional project on anti-discrimination law, which was supported by the Federal Foreign Office with funds for the promotion of human rights.