At the invitation of the Ambassador of Canada as a patron of this years colony, diplomats from the embassies of the USA, Australia, India, Belgium, Brazil, Switzerland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Norway and the EU, with the leaders from the cities of Pirot, Sombor and Novi Pazar, and the participation of the Commissioner for Equality Protection, visited the 4th International weavers’ colony that was organized by Ethno Network in Stara Planina, in partnership with the cities of Pirot and Sombor, NALED, the US Embassy and local crafts cooperative „Damsko srce”.
On the first day of the colony, diplomats visited the Roman fortress Momchilov Grad, renovated in a cross-border cooperation project with Bulgaria and with the support of the European Union. After the fortress, the guests went to the Nišava Valley ethno complex, which offers guests the authentic ambiance and gastronomy of southeastern Serbia. On the second day of the visit, the diplomats headed to Stara Planina and in the center of the village of Dojkinci their host was Golub Cirković, a former retired engineer of the local tyre factory, and since recently the owner of a local cafe offering craft beer made by using Czech technology. Diplomats toured the cultural center that was renovated at the initiative of the local community with the help of architecture students from Belgrade - the once-dilapidated center was transformed into a “rural living room” with walls decorated with thematic panels, and floor painted in the patterns of Pirot kilims. During the ceremonial program of the colony, diplomats awarded the children with certificates for the best art works with kilim motifs and enjoed the beauty of Stara Planina in a jeep ride through the nature reserve and a visit to the Tupavica waterfall, followed by lunch at the restaurant Vrelo.
During the colonys ceremonial program, Canadian Ambassador Kati Csaba stated that handicrafts are an integral part of the cultural and tourism offer that brings income to rural women and helps their socio-economic affirmation. „As a patron of this years colony in Dojkinci, I invited my fellow diplomats to support the activities of Ethno Network through participation in the colony and the purchase of kilims and handicrafts made by rural women to help preserve the beautiful Pirot kilim as a cultural treasure of Serbia.”
Weavers’ colonies, established with the support of the former Australian Ambassador Julia Finney and the diplomatic community, have grown into a unique format for the preservation and promotion of traditional kilim weaving, as well as of the tourist offer of the cities of Pirot and Sombor, enhancing their image and recognition in general public and among decision makers.