Are you ready for a big change?
“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love, once you’ve heard their story.”
They were my first days on school when the Kosovo-Serbia war was flared up. A lot of families escaping from war had come in our houses, in Macedonia. As a new starter in the great world of education, i was really curious why do they are fighting about. What they can’t share? Aren’t there some ‘white-haired grandfathers’ to solve this dispute?! ‘i should have found a solution to them, to the people living close to us’, i was dreaming. i grew up with that curiosity and now i’m glad to have the opportunity to write and serve on this long path.
No doubt the Balkans, in terms of demography, is one of the most heterogenic regions in the world. Having this in concern, it is significant that the region carries over sensitive equations and proportions. It’s one of the most influenced places by the French revolution-welded and then “Hitleristically” (in a fascist way) improved nationalism, or if applicable, an “ethnocentric nationalism”, which has been and unfortunately still continue to be one of the common poignant factor on the international relations between the housing states. But what’s more tragic in these terms, is that civil society has always been and is the victim of these policies.
As a consequence of these policies, in its recent history, the Balkans has faced many wars and various crimes. They were mostly conducted in the name of ethnic belonging, and much fewer, in religion hatred context. Naturally, as every war and its derivative crimes (genocide, unidentified murder, etc.), the ones in Balkans have produced their traumas to a massive amount of generation, respectively. The region has interiorized deep sociological disequilibrium, which still remain the reality of our societies. To clarify, Balkan societies have gain abnormal consequences in psychological sense. Considering what i’ve observed from experience with them, it is nearly impossible to provide a stable reconciliation process with elder generation which is the exact mass of wars or their derivatives.
In this background, the most concerning point is that current policy-makers in Balkans are generally using this sociological disequilibrium as a tool on their policies and for their personal political future. It is well known that in countries where the economic conditions are not in its root or incrementally decreasing, the politicians know very well to use the card of sociological values such as history, nationalism or religion, in order to gain support from society. This works clearly good in societies with low level of education. In this regard, division within societies and thus, the poverty in every manner seems inevitable.
Even though there are quite suitable opportunities to improve the political conditions, such as EU integration process, the region’s policy-makers are not suiting to it yet. The recent political conflicts which have already raise the nationalist streams again and again, causes the negative identity construction (Benhabib, 1996) within societies. In this regard, Western Balkans countries are EU candidate, but still challenging to take steady and successful steps on the integration process.
Therefore, we need a new phase of policy which will be based on values such as human rights, multiculturalism, reconciliation, liberties, and thus, not see them as criteria “imposed” by EU. We can never reach a steady reconciliation unless it is seem as a “requirement” for EU integration rather than a “will” for a better future with inter-ethnic dialogue and harmony. We need changes firstly in society and education. And in terms of education, the family life is our first school. Considering this, we, the Youth Reconciliation Ambassadors, are the most critical generation, because we are just in the middle between our current political situation, which is full of grudge towards the past and incrementally imposing clashes through nationalism, and the new international political system, which is based in dialogue, reconciliation and cooperation. Thus, i strongly believe that we, the Youth Reconciliation Ambassadors, are the ones to change the current situation and mentality of societies. One of the most impressive things for me was to see this “will” at each of the ambassadors’ eyes. I have deep hope on our generation that it is ready to see “the dirty history” we experienced as a “past to deal with and overcome with a reciprocal will and sincere dialogue” rather than a “national heritage” to be left to nephews and nieces.