In 1995, only two years after the advent of the “Europe and the Balkans International Network” (EBIN), a number of newly-connected scholars from all over the world worked together to found IECOB, l’Istituto per l’Europa Centro-Orientale e Balcanica (the Institute for Central Eastern and Balkan Europe). In December 1995, the organisation was granted full non-profit status in Bologna, Italy. IECOB has since received strong support from the University of Bologna, the European Commission, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Region of Emilia-Romagna, and the City Councils of Forlì, Cervia and Bologna, as well as from the main banking foundations of Emilia-Romagna.
The IECOB has its headquarters at the University of Bologna, Forlì Campus. In recent years, ties between the IECOB and the University have strengthened, largely due to their collaboration in building the Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Research and Studies on Eastern Europe (MIREES) program. Strategic cooperation increased, and in 2002, the IECOB merged with the University of Bologna. In response to and support of this merger, scholars founded a consortium called the Centro per l’Europa Centro-Orientale e Balcanica (CECOB, the Centre for Central Eastern and Balkan Europe).
IECOB’s close connection with EBIN gives it a unique international perspective that informs the execution of all of its initiatives. Members of EBIN act as IECOB’s International Academic Board, ensuring that the Institute remains firmly situated in a global context.
IECOB has established strong relations with other institutions as well, including the Italian Foreign Trade Institute, the Italian Diplomatic Institute, the Central European Initiative (CEI),The Virtual University of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (UniAdrion), and the Conference of European Rectors (CRE). IECOB is also connected to major international organizations, including UNESCO and the World Bank.
Since 1995, IECOB has organized an annual Summer School in Santa Sofia Italy in collaboration with CEI and the University of Sarajevo. The MIREES program has become what it is today thanks to a fruitful collaboration between the Institute and the University of Bologna. In past years, IECOB has also provided special graduate programmes and vocational courses, often capitalising on their connection with the University. Through all of these initiatives, IECOB has made positive contributions to the educational experiences of countless graduate students. Many alumni of IECOB programmes enjoy excellent careers in their home countries and abroad; their success in the field has contributed significantly to the expansion and promotion of the comprehensive network of scholars, politicians, and professionals that IECOB so values.
In connecting such a wide variety of individuals and institutions, IECOB has found itself at the epicenter of a wealth of diverse information on topics ranging from politics, economics, and law to language, culture, and diplomacy. As such, it can consider itself a leading institute for research and training regarding Central Eastern and Balkan Europe.