The history of the Pula Symposia not only reflects the developments in medicine, but also in cultural and social aspects of the societies in our part of Europe. Based on the common medical education and on the same cultural background, the Pula Symposia were inaugurated 15 years after the Second World War. The conference language was German, as a link of that generation, with simultaneous translations to the languages of other participating nations. With the change of generations the attendance was decreasing, as the new generation had their postgraduate training mostly in England, the USA or the English speaking countries.
Two other developments in the region will have an important influence upon the future development of the Pula Symposia.
- In 1965 Diego Fontanari, Hans Kugler and Helmut Lechner established the Venetian Symposia with the idea of creating cooperation within the Alps and Adria countries, serving simultaneously as a platform for scientific exchange between the German and Italian speaking communities. This was, in a way, a predecessor of the idea of European regional cooperation, which will be later institutionalized in this region as the "Alps-Adria Working Community".
- In 1973 Helmut Lechner (Graz) and John Logothetis (Thessaloniki) founded the South-East European Society for Neurology and Psychiatry (SEESNP), based on the common education and collaboration with neuroscientists in the United States. The Society has been located from the very beginning in Thessaloniki (Greece), introducing English as a common language for international medical scientific exchange, having regular biennial conferences in Austria or Greece.
After the sudden death of Gerald Grinschgl, in 1985, Lechner and Barac were elected Secretaries General. A new organization started cooperation with the South East European Society for Neurology and Psychiatry, with the Alps-Adria and the Venetian Symposia. The common language, English, enormously simplified mutual understanding and the problems of organization: the scientific Program was enlarged and high international standards achieved. So the Symposia were extended to one whole week. The main idea of the "Pula School" has been continued, with numerous innovations: postgraduate courses, satellite symposia, and workshops. Some of the discussed topics became the basis of scientific research and projects, like the project on dementias in the Alps-Adria region, while at that time special attention of scientists became devoted to the problems of brain aging. The active participants were coming from South East and Central Europe with eminent speakers from the distant countries and the USA. The Symposia became so attractive that nearly 1000 participants attended them.
According to the mentioned tradition, in 1986 the Alps-Adria Neurosciences Section was established for fostering better scientific and professional collaboration in the region, for the first time under the leadership of Diego Fontanari (Venice), and since 1995 of Leontino Battistin (Padua). In 1988 Battistin organized in Padua a scientific meeting on dementias with participation of colleagues from the region. In 1989 on the initiative of Lechner, Battistin, Barac and Hrastnik a meeting took place in Ljubljana in order to establish a regional scientific project on "Brain aging and dementias", which was in 1991 already partly approved, but the beginning war in Yugoslavia did not even make possible to start it officially.
We should at least mention here all the Members of the INPC Kuratorium during the past period to the our days (in alphabetical order):
B Barac (Zagreb), L Battistin (Padova), V Brinar (Zagreb), V Demarin (Zagreb), E Dimitriou (Thessaloniki)*, S Dogan (Zagreb), V Dolenc (Ljubljana), O Eichhorn (Graz), D Fontanari (Venezia), E Frauchinger (Bern), H Ganner (Innsbruck), F Gerstenbrand (Innsbruck, Vienna), G Grinschgl (Graz), G Gross (Bonn), G Grosser (Padova), Lj Hotuijac (Zagreb), F Hrastnik (Ljubljana), G Huber (Bonn), Ch. Ierodiakonou (Thessaloniki)*, P Kartin (Ljubljana), V Kostić (Beograd), J Kugler (München), M Kujiš (Pula), W Lampar (Graz), G Lanner (Klagenfurt), A Lavrič (Ljubljana), H Lechner (Graz), Z Lacković (Zagreb), G Lanner (Klagenfurt), Z Lević (Beograd), F Marguth (München), S Milohanić (Rijeka), V Muačević (Zagreb), I Nazor (Pula), B Neundörfer (Erlangen), E Ott (Graz), G Paal (München), V R Paunović (Beograd), N Peršić (Zagreb), G Pizzolato (Trieste), T Pogačnik (Ljubljana), C M Poser (Boston), W Pöldinger (Basel), T S Prevec (Ljubljana), A Radoš (Pula), H Reissner (Wien), J Ristić (Beograd), N Rizzuto (Verona), W Scheid (Köln), A Stammler (Köln), O Sinanović (Tuzla), O Stochdorph (München), D B Vodušek (Ljubljana). - *ex officio, Representatives of the SEESNP
We would also like to thank to the former Corresponding Members of the Board for their contributions to the goals of these meetings in the early phase of the development of the Symposia: G Ambrozy (Budapest), R van den Bergh (Leuven), P Berner (Wien), P Bresser (Köln), E Csanda (Budapest), R Dietze (Berlin), D Ercegovac (Beograd), N Grčević (Zagreb).
In order to make the future of the Pula Symposia sure and to acknowledge the contributions of many eminent colleagues to the goals of the Symposia, the Kuratorium founded in 1998 the Scientific Advisory Board. After nearly 10 years of its existence the members of a Board are the eminent representatives of European medici9ne: Z Ambler (Pilsen), L Deecke (Wien), R Erkwoh (Erfurt), R Fahlbusch (Erlangen), V Folnegović-Šmalc (Zagreb), H P Kapfhammer (Graz), H Katschnig (Wien), J Klosterkötter (Köln), M Kocmur (Ljubljana), S Loga (Sarajevo), N Mandić (Osijek), Lj Moro (Rijeka), G Ocić (Beograd), B Richling (Salzburg), E Rumpl (Klagenfurt), H Sass (Aachen), L Toresini (Portogruary), Z Trkanjec, S Varosanec (Bruck/Mur), M Wender (Poznan), K Wilheim (Rijeka). The Kuratorium is being constantly broadened with new active neuroscientists and eminent clinicians.
I Nazor and A Radoš deserve credit for their efforts to maintain the contacts of the Symposia with the host town and the Istria.
We have to thank all personalities and institutions that supported our activities which have formed the traditional Pula Symposia as the international place of scientific exchange in neurology, psychiatry and the related branches of science. We highly esteem that the 30th anniversary was under the auspices of the Austrian Federal Minister of Science and Research Dr. Erhard Busek, the Federal Minister of Health and Public Service Ing. Harald Ettl, the Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs Dr. Walter Geppert, the President of the Styrian Goverment Dr. Joseph Krainer, the Lord Mayor of the City of Graz Alfred Stingl and the Executive Council of the Parliament of the SR Croatia. The South-East European Society for Neurology and Psychiatry and the Working Community Alps-Adria have become the framework in which this scientific and deeply human activities could develop. At the Jubilee Symposia (10th, 20th, 30th) the highest representatives of the then Socialist Republic of Croatia, as the Patron on behalf of the Yugoslav Federation, participated at the opening ceremonies, greeting the foreign guests and the participants. We should mention some of the Croatian political personalities which were supporting the Symposia in those times: Ante Marković, Petar Fleković, Antun Milović, Boško Popović, Božidar Gavazzi, Mladen Radmilović.
We want to stress the important contribution of Mr Stjepan Mesić, who addressed the participants in 1990 at the opening ceremony of its 30th Jubilee Symposium as a first Prime Minister of the Croatian Government, very soon after assuming his office after the first democratic elections in Croatia during the still existing Yugoslavia.
The representatives of the Republic of Austria, the city of Graz and the Country of Styria have been always actively supporting the Pula meetings, and their representatives, as well as the representatives of the Austrian public and political life, have been always present at the opening ceremonies, stressing the importance of this scientific collaboration as a symbol of the traditional connections among nations and people in the region. Already at the very beginning, during the preparations of the first Pula meeting, the Consul General of the Republic of Austria in Zagreb, Dr. Johannes Dengler, took part and was present, delivering a speech to the participants at the opening of the first Weekend-Symposium in 1961, continuing this tradition for many years.
So it has become a tradition that the highest representatives of the Republic of Austria, in the former times mostly the Consuls General in Zagreb, now the Austrian Ambassadors in the Republic of Croatia, have been regularly opening the Symposia. The Austrian partners supported the Pula meetings in many ways, being the leading partner in the organization, ready to help in many ways, making possible during the war in Croatia the reduction of congress fees for participants, thus enabling establishing firm human contacts.
The older participants will never forget the speech of the President of the Styrian Parliament, Mr Wegart, as a representative of the Republic of Austria in 1993, expressing the best wishes to the future of the Pula Meetings for their scientific, professional and humanistic role in Europe and in the region. The representatives of the public life, as well as the politicians from neighboring participating countries, primarily from Austria and Croatia, have been always giving their constant and continuous support, realizing the importance of these meetings. In line with this, very early has developed the tradition of famous receptions given by the Lord Mayors of Graz and Pula in the evenings of the Symposia.
Due to the war beginning after the changes in the former Yugoslavia during 1991, the Symposia were greatly endangered. The 31st Symposium was scientifically a great success, but the number of previously registered participants significantly decreased. One terrifying event, killing of one passenger by a tank of the so called "Yugoslav Army" in Maribor (Slovenia), just before the Symposium, prevented a number of participants to come, giving up in the last moment. As the war was raging in Croatia in autumn and winter 1991/92, the 1992 Symposium was transferred to Graz, as one of its founding cities. By the decision of the UN Security Council forbidding all collaboration with Yugoslavia, including science and sports, participants from the Milošević's Yugoslavia were not allowed to attend the meeting and the members of the Kuratorium from Belgrade had to be temporarily suspended. A report on the 32nd Symposium held in Graz was published in one of the issues of the "World Neurology", the official newsletter of the World Federation of Neurology. At the opening ceremony in Graz, the representatives of public life in Austria expressed their readiness to help and their wish that the Symposia return to its host city - Pula, which, fortunately, came true already in 1993. The 33rd Symposium hosted about 200 participants, and the following Symposia were constantly growing in number of participants, up to the Jubilee 45th Symposium in 2005.
A great appreciation goes to our friends in many neighboring and distant countries giving always a needed support, necessary for obtaining the achieved results: creating the nearly five decades long scientific exchange as a milestone for the 21st century. Such developments and relations were helping to overcome the artificial barriers among nations and peoples, with small but important contribution to freedom and democracy. In August 1991, at the first signs of the threatening war, on the initiative from Zagreb, all the leading neurologists from the then Yugoslavia, among them several members of the Kuratorium, readily accepted to sign the "Appeal of neurologists from Yugoslavia for peace and human dignity, against war, hatred and violence"**, trying to stop the beginning war. Although this effort unhappily brought no results, it stayed a demonstration that collaboration of humanistically oriented intellectuals morally surpassed criminal inciting of nationalistic intolerance and hatred.
The Pula Symposia is the best example of interdisciplinary collaboration in the field of neurology and psychiatry: originating from the same scientific and cultural roots, the two disciplines on the territories of Central and Southeast Europe got new perspectives for more intensive scientific and professional collaboration and for international postgraduate education, with scientists throughout the world.
The 45th Jubilee Congress, at the beginning of the New Millennium, was organized under the high Patronage of the President of the Republic of Croatia Mr. Stjepan Mesić, as a sign of high appreciation of the host country, Croatia, for the scientific and human contribution of these meetings. At the same time, the Patron of the Jubilee 45th Congress was also Dr Benita Ferrero Waldner, the EU-Commissioner, Brussels, for the first time representing the European Union. The fact that the World Federation of Neurology also endorsed the 40th Symposium was an important credit for the past and future of international scientific activities of the INPC.
From 2010 the 50th INPC Congress is held under the high patronage of the President of the Repubic of Croatia, Prof.dr. Ivo Jospiović.
Articles regarding INPC -
1. Boško Barac - Five decades of the international neuropsychiatric Pula congresses (1961-2010)
2. Boško Barac & Vida Demarin: Six decades of the Pula neuropsychiatric meetings - from neuropsychiatry to borderlands of neurology and psychiatry: brain and mind
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