Youth reconciliation ambassadors
Ready to overcome past
„And by my faith, if you but do as I intend, and do what is right, then peace and good order will reign in these parts as in the rest of Europe“.
(Petar Petrović Njegoš II, Prince- Bishop of Montenegero: Letter to the Pasha of Skadar, 23 July 1844)
European idea lies in the desire to prevent further conflict among European nations. This original idea of European Union should be applied at the territory of Western Balkans, that is, that European integration of this region should provide stability, economic and political growth. European Union interests in Balkans are not static, but change with the circumstances. Main goal of European integration is stabilisation of the region, so we certainly see relative influence of European Union in countries of former Yugoslavia in different political and societal levels.
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) traditionally had very dynamic relations with EU. Yugoslavia was the first Socialist country formally to recognise the importance of European Economic Community. Diplomatic relations between these two markets started in early “60s. SFRY had privileges for exports of agricultural products also cooperation was established in different areas, including science, technology, transport, telecommunications and others.1 All this was frozen after 1991, when EU introduced negative measures (sanctions) against Serbia and Montenegro. Sanctions against the FRY had effect on the entire region, not only on economy, but also these sanctions had huge impact on psychology of people, they started to recognise themselves as enemies, because of bad political decisions of their governments. The central idea of Yugoslavia was brotherhood and unity, but after Tito’s death national revival started to overrun the region. The disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and ensuing years of conflict had created atmosphere among people that is known as ′ethnification of politics′. Ethnification of politics is term which was first used by philosopher Clause Offe, it describes enormous political and social crises among civil society. It means that every decision in society has ethnic background. The ills of ethnic politics have strong causes and weak curses.2 During the war in former Yugoslavia ethnicity played role of division, and it was used in service of political mobilization and collective action. We see that the ′ethnification′ of politics is outcome of powerful forces, it cannot easily be washed away and what is more difficult for this phenomenon, there are not universal institutions or agreements that would guarantee peaceful coexistence of ethnic groups. Question that is very popular these years in our region is, did we, after almost twenty years of ending the war, overcome ′ethnification′?
Answer to this question cannot be ′yes′ or ′no′, we see certain progress, but there are lot of things to do. There are many bilateral issues between neighbouring countries, one of them are border issues and problem of missing persons. But another issue is emotional trauma and it’s related to citizens of these states. From a general point of view, every state has its own ′truth′, which makes process of stabilisation difficult, but we have to emphasize willing of politicians to solve these problems. Although situation is better than 10 years ago, we still see that neighbouring states see themselves as enemies, hate speech is often heard during sports matches…Process of reconciliation should not only be reserved for politicians, but also for civil society, ethnic reconciliation is the most important thing that should be done here. There are three phases after radical changes in society, there are very important for our process of reconciliation: 1. Constitutional changes; 2. Normalization of politics; 3. Rebuilding civil society;
Rebuilding civil society is the most difficult task to do, it includes decency, gentility, reliance on own power. As a student of third year of Faculty of political sciences, I consider that is my obligation to give contribution in solving this mission. Taking part in programme ′Youth reconciliation ambassadors′, where group of young people started to rebuild civil society, I met people who are willing to overcome that unlucky ′ethnification′ and are ready to create Balkan who will become successful region. During programme we had argumentative discussions, we talked about our history, accession to EU and feelings that this war caused among people. People I met during this programme are people who will, one day, lead region towards peaceful politics. Also, I realised that I want to learn more about anti-conflict politics. After programme each participant had to spread things that he/she learned during this programme. I had chosen to give lecture about reconciliation in high school, because I considered that is very important that children learn both sides of a story. I was very surprised in positive way, because children are ready to cooperate and they don’t think about neighbouring states as enemies, process of rebuilding civil society is getting much better every year.
As we have seen above, despite the fact that war in Western Balkan ended almost twenty years ago, there are still tensions between countries in the region. Region is still undeveloped, it has the highest unemployment rate in Europe and the primary reason that region did not progressed is lack of cooperation between states. Progress only can be seen at the level of political elites, because of that is very important that we have more programmes such as ′youth reconciliation ambassadors′, good relations should be achieved at the level of citizens. Citizens need to feel closer to each other, especially young generations who grew up during war period. I am very grateful that I took part in this programme, because I can know proudly say that I am ambassador of reconciliation and one day because of my colleagues and me this region will prosper.
Education, both formal and informal, is key to overcome darkness of ethno-nationalism. War that happened in former Yugoslavia is product of people who were not ready to cooperate and their individual interests were priority above national. We have to learn that ethnic should never be dominate in politics, we have to always remember what misfortune that kind of politics brought to this region. Forgive, but not forget, that is the path that will lead this region to better future.
1 Duško Lopadić, Jasminka Kronja „Regional Initiatives and Multilateral cooperation in the Balkans“, Bg., 2011
2 Claus Offe „Varieties of transition: The Esat European and East German Expirience“, 1997
MALI KORACI, VELIKE PROMENE
Balkan je turbulentno područje Evrope, često interpretirano negativnim kontekstom kao „narodi koji prave probleme“. Međutim danas, kada je prošlo skoro dvadeset godina od sukoba na prostorima bivše Jugoslavije, može se reći da su zemlje u regionu dostigle stepen političke zrelosti i svesne su da je proces pomirenja na Balkanu jedan od najbitnijih političkih koncepata.
Jedan od ključnih izazova, osim procesa evropskih integracija, jeste suočavanje sa prošlošću. Proces pomirenja podrazumeva da građani u regionu, a ne samo članovi političkih elita, shvate koliko je ovaj proces bitan. Obrazovanje tu ima ključnu ulogu. Jedna od organizacija koja je shvatila koliko je bitno govoriti o ovom procesu mladima jeste „Omladinski odbor za obrazovanje“, a program koji organizuje ova organizacija naziva se „Omladinski ambasadori pomirenja“, koji ima za cilj da mladima iz Srbije, Bosne i Hercegovine, Makedonije i Kosova, kroz edukativni program pokaže kako se treba suočiti sa problemima iz prošlosti, kako ih treba prevazići i kako pospešiti saradnju među ovim teritorijama. Program, koji je održan u decembru 2014. godine, obuhvatao je tri osnovne teme: EU, istorija, proces pomirenja u regionu. Mladi ambasadori su imali prilike da prisustvuju predavanjima najvećih stručnjaka iz ove oblasti i da kroz argumentovane rasprave diskutuju o regionalnim problemima.
Uz sve teškoće sa kojima se suočavaju zemlje regiona, proces pridruživanja Evropskoj Uniji i politika pomirenja predstavljaju ključne političke koncepte, od kojih nijedna zemlja, bez obzira na različite stepene u procesu približavanja Evropskoj Uniji, neće odstupiti. Međutim da bi Balkan postao deo Evrope, prvo mora poraditi na međusobnom dijalogu i ekonomskoj saradnji. Podizanje nivoa političke kulture, kolektivno osvešćivanje i napuštanje politike koja je zasnovana na predrasudama „mi vs. oni“, podrazumeva dug proces koji se ne može dogoditi odmah, ali mora da postoji volja naroda da se problemi koji su povezani sa događajima iz prošlosti prevaziđu. Samo na taj način Balkan će uspeti da se pomiri ne samo sa samim sobom, nego i sa ostatkom sveta.
Prostoru Balkana je potreban duh mladih ljudi koji su spremni da zajedno gledaju u budućnost, a da događaje iz prošlosti ne zaborave, ali oproste jedni drugima, kako bi zajedno napredovali, ne samo na nivou država, već kao čitav regoion. Mladi ambasadori pomirenja su spremni da ove izazove prihvate i svesni su činjenice da tolerancija, saradnja i dijalog nisu samo apstraktne ideje, već konkretna sredstva koja će učiniti da svest o miru građani Balkana shvate kao uslov bez koga nijedna država ne može napredovati.