Carinthia, Alps-Adriatic, Southeastern Europe

The ethnic conflicts in bilingual Carinthia - essentially the long-lasting lack of acceptance of the rights of the Slovene ethnic group - can only be understood and overcome in a transnational context. For this reason alone there is a need to turn to the Alps-Adriatic region, which is often euphorically described as the intersection of three cultures and language groups. However, it is still shaped today by the fact that it was one of the main scenes of the "Great War" with the subsequent drastic border changes, as well as the scene of the Second World War, renewed border changes and expulsions. The peoples of this region are connected by a painful history as well as by ethnic mixtures. Only if we come to terms with this past together can we lay the foundations for a lasting peace. The term "Alps-Adriatic" plays a productive role here - as a resolution to dare a new beginning. "Alpen-Adria" is thus the embodiment of a political idea, the focal point of wishes and longings for alternative forms of coexistence. 

The multilingual, mixed-population, ever-changing Alps-Adriatic region is a miniature European Union. A cross-border regional cooperation is not meant as a solitary development, but as a building block for a federative democratic Europe in the common "homeland earth". 

We must preserve and use the treasure of diversity and the appreciation of diversity that the Alps-Adriatic idea represents. We have more experience here with borders and their changes, with the idea of the border itself and with the necessity of crossing borders than almost anywhere else in Europe. We have a wide range of experience with transnational cooperation, which also took on organized forms with the founding of ARGE Alpen-Adria in 1978. As residents of the region, we have developed "border competence": "Senza Confini/Brez meja" is a slogan against racist differentiation and for the courage to work together. 

Turning the (neglected) border area into a new heartland, renegotiating the rules of the game between the periphery and the center is an important concern of transnational regionalism. This means a new understanding of the relationship between the local, the national and the international, as it arises simultaneously in many parts of the world in times of globalization. However, the long-term task is to create an Alps-Adriatic peace region. Peace research can make an important contribution to this.


The conflict over the rights of the Carinthian Slovenes as well as dealing with the reappraisal or non-reappraisal of National Socialism in Austria and especially in Carinthia always played an important role in my work and also led to my participation in the construction of the "Monument of Names". in Villach and the founding of the Villach Remembrance Association ( This topic also plays a major role in cooperation with colleagues in neighboring countries. 

My involvement with the Alps-Adriatic region originally arose from the need to develop a regional approach to peace policy work, which in the early 1980s in Austria was also completely dominated by the German debate about the NATO double-track decision. In my opinion, however, this did not take enough account of the situation in neutral Austria, which was (and to a large extent still is) confronted with stations of weapon systems and often even nuclear weapons on all of its borders. This was particularly true of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, the "powder keg" of Italy. With this in mind, we established close contacts with peace activists in Friuli and Slovenia, but also in Hungary, Croatia and Germany.

Villach proposal – neutrality policy from below 

(A Program for the Peace Movement, 1983)

As a reaction to the realization of the massive armament around Austria, I worked out the appeal against "nuclear weapons on our doorstep" for the Villach Peace Committee in 1983, which soon became known as Villach proposal became known: the demand for a nuclear-weapons-free and militarily thinned zone around neutral and weakly armed Austria, especially the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free Alps-Adriatic region as a first step towards a nuclear-weapons-free Europe. The program of "active neutrality", a component of Bruno Kreisky's policy, was thus filled with life by civil society. The Villach proposal was signed in a very short time by around 50 groups, organizations and numerous, sometimes very prominent personalities from Austria as well as a large number of organizations and peace activists from neighboring countries. Nevertheless, the plan, intended as an offer to the Austrian peace movement, was rejected by a majority. The main reason: The proposal not only criticized NATO, but also the Warsaw Pact. But the Independent Peace Initiative (UFI) supported and promoted it Villach proposal. In any case, from 1984 it became the focal point for transnational cooperation in the Alps-Adriatic region.

Peace movement Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia

(civil society cooperation since the 1980s)

This cooperation between the peace groups found expression in seminars lasting several days, in which fundamental questions were discussed, and in mutual invitations to peace events. The plan also came up to set up a joint magazine, which, however, proved to be unfeasible. So the Villach Peace Committee decided in 1986, alone and only in German, that Quarterly alpe-adria to release. It existed for 15 years, until the year 2000. Political and civil society developments of this period are documented in this journal. The civil war that accompanied the collapse of Yugoslavia was undoubtedly the most drastic event and threw back the peace movement, but did not mean a break in cooperation. Some issues of the journal are reproduced here in the original:

Alps-Adriatic alternative

(An organizational mainstay of peace work, 1990s)

With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the independence of Slovenia and Croatia, I saw the conditions for a new step in transnational cooperation. This step was the founding of “Alpen-Adria-Alternativ. Association for Peace, Human Rights and Intercultural Cooperation” (Graz and Villach, 1990–2000), together with Doris Pollet-Kammerlander. It was an Austrian association, but with close connections to organizations and individuals in all Alps-Adriatic countries. Important political personalities from South Tyrol, Slovenia and Hungary were represented at the founding congress in Graz. The association organized seminars, studies, projects on cross-border intercultural cooperation, intercultural learning and peace education, including the "European Youth Academy" (1993-2001), and it also developed a lively publishing activity. (See also the field of work peace education)

Alps-Adriatic Peace Region – the work of the ZFF

(Interlinking of peace work and peace research, since 2005)

New opportunities opened up with the founding of the ZFF, which from the outset defined the Alps-Adriatic region as a central field of work and established contact with the partner universities. The most important milestones:

  • 2008: Conference Multilingualism, transculturality and education. Regional development of the Alps-Adriatic region in a global perspective. Program folder:
  • 2009: Organization of the Summer Peace University in Tarcento (together with the Universities of Udine, Koper and Klagenfurt). See also: Bettina Gruber/ Daniela Rippitsch: Learning beyond the limits. The Alps-Adriatic Summer Peace University. From a culture of war to a culture of peace in the Alps-Adriatic region. The Peace Lookout. Journal of International Peace and Organization, Volume 85, Issue 3/2010, pp. 101-119.
  • 2011: Publication of the book publication based on the seminar in Tarcento Model Peace Region Alps-Adriatic? Learning experiences in a European border region (Edited by Bettina Gruber/Daniela Rippitsch).
  • 2011: International conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the start of the war in ex-Yugoslavia 20 years later. War(s) in Yugoslavia. 20 years later. Was(s) in Yugoslavia.
  • 2012: Book publication “Carinthia is by the sea. Conflict stories about power, trauma, identity” (edited by Wilfried Graf/Gudrun Kramer/Wolfgang Petritsch), in which the deep dimensions of the conflict about the rights of the Slovenian ethnic group are illuminated.
  • 2012: International Conference "Peace Education in the Alps-Adriatic Region".

Dealing with the Past: the PRAA Project

(Civil Society Austria-Slovenia, 2014-2020)

Another opportunity for action arose from a synopsis of the domestic and foreign policy dimensions of the so-called "minority conflict" in Austria and the controversies surrounding Slovenian history since the end of the Habsburg monarchy. This is how the Austrian-Slovenian project “Building the Peace Region Alps-Adriatic. Envisioning Future by Dealing with the Past. Promoting open and inclusive public discourse within Austria and Slovenia and between the countries”. The title says it all. It was an effort to find a common civil society Historical processing of the mutual relations and neighborhood of Austria and Slovenia - organized by a consortium of different institutions of both countries. In workshops, people came together who differed greatly in terms of ideology, age and gender as well as professional and field of activity. Nevertheless, the participants were finally able to choose two Explanations (file:///C:/Users/Anwender/Downloads/Building-PRAA-NEM4.pdf) communicate. The book Slovenia | Austria: Liberating Remembrance. Dialogic processing of the past (—%C3%96sterreich) is a presentation and at the same time a part of this project.

Alps-Adriatic Peace Manifesto

(A "program" of the movement, since 2018) 

A new upsurge in the Alps-Adriatic movement has been evident since 2018 with the event "War is over. If you want it”. This joint Italian-Slovenian-Austrian event to commemorate "100 years of the end of the First World War" gathered around 300 people in Klagenfurt and developed a new dynamic of contacts and cooperation that continues to this day. This is also because with the Alps-Adriatic Manifesto some kind of program and roadmap for future activities has been worked out. 

The manifesto was followed by the book of the same name, which reflects the intellectual efforts to create a region of peace in all three countries and is intended to spread this idea further. 30 personalities contributed their thoughts to the manifesto and the future of the region. (

Dialogic memory in educational practice 

(Common teaching materials for a transnational understanding of history in the Alps-Adriatic region, 2022-2023)

Unquestioned nationalist narratives still exist in the Alps-Adriatic region. Their spread is to be counteracted with the development of common, multi-perspective materials for school lessons in order to develop a transnational understanding of history. In a post-nationalistic joint regional history of the Alps-Adriatic region, a critical analysis of historical sources is encouraged and thus one's own understanding of history is challenged. In this way, empathy for the point of view of the "others" can develop, trust and insight can grow - a process that is open-ended. Historians, teachers and other experts from Italy, Slovenia and Austria are involved. Please refer:

Info: Alps-Adriatic region: teaching history in a new way: