Published on 22 November 2023
Timișoara, a landmark of Romania’s democratic history and the designated 2023 European Capital of Culture, provided an apt setting for the event. The conference reflected the city’s enduring commitment to freedom and progress, resonating with the spirit of democracy that surged through its streets in 1989.
This prestigious event was attended by a wide array of participants, including diplomats and rectors from European universities. Distinguished guests included His Excellency Emil Hurezeanu, Ambassador of Romania to Austria, and His Excellency Martin Eichtinger of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs. Dominic Fritz, the Mayor of Timișoara, joined participants, along with university leaders such as Prof. Marilen Gabriel Pirtea, Rector of the West University of Timisoara, Prof. Cornel Cătoi, Rector of the USAMV Cluj-Napoca, Prof. Daniel David, Rector of the Babeș-Bolyai University, and Prof. Romiță Iucu, Rector of the University of Bucharest.
The conference also welcomed international academic leaders like Prof. Stefan Koch from Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Prof. Zdravko Kacic from the University of Maribor, Prof. Dietmar Meyer from Andrássy University in Budapest, Prof. Toni Shekerdzhieva-Novak from the Prof. Asen Diamandiev Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts in Plovdiv, and Prof. Querim Querimi, Rector of the University of Pristina.
The DRC’s four decades of fostering inter-institutional cooperation, academic initiatives, and joint projects were retrospectively examined at the conference. Discussions also focused on the current European higher education structures and envisioned future directions. A critical topic was the impact of the Russian invasion on Ukrainian universities, including their operation during wartime and the resultant academic migration.
A notable event highlight was the unveiling of “The DRC Initiative Fund”. The conference also featured the Danubius Awards 2023 ceremony, recognising outstanding doctoral students from DRC member universities, showcasing the spirit of academic excellence.
The event was not just a celebration of an anniversary but a reaffirmation of the enduring values of education, democracy, and culture in shaping the European collective future.