The Central European Initiative (CEI) is the oldest and largest of the sub-regional co-operation initiatives that emerged in Central and Eastern Europe after the collapse of the communist system. It was founded by Austria, Italy, Hungary and Yugoslavia in 1989, and extended in 1990 to five and in 1991 to six member states (changing its name to Pentagonale, then to Hexagonale). In 1992, after some former Yugoslav republics joined the organisation, it was renamed the Central European Initiative. It is currently made up of the following 18 Member States: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. The CEI's aim is to work for cohesion in Europe, taking into account the potential long-term risks of new divisive factors which potentially mitigate against the stability and security of the region. CEI is orientated to provide and enhance, wherever possible, efforts designed to strengthen the capacities of the least advanced member states, ie those with the greatest need for accelerated economic development. CEI incorporates 18 Working Groups, including Working Groups on Culture, Information Media and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.
CEI has granted its patronage to some ongoing programmes and institutions, promoting co-operation activities among CEI member countries, among them the Vilenica International Writers’ Gathering in Slovenia. Another important traditional international cultural event which has benefited from CEI patronage is the Mittelfest International Theatre and Music Festival in Cividale-Čedad, Italy, which includes a range of Slovene performances.