During the Yugoslav wars nearly all the countries in the Balkans were using history to justify acts of war, mass murder, ethnic cleansing and even genocide. For that purpose the context of the history text books was changed in every country in the Western Balkans during the time of great turmoil in which the history text books were used as weapons for building national pride and demonizing “the enemy” by using generalizations, distinctions, putting label on” the others”, dehumanization and etc. People minds were filled with big ideas and slogans like Macedonia to India, Big Albania, San Stefano Bulgaria, Serbia to Tokyo…suggesting to the people from this nations that they are special and superior over the other usually neighboring nations and that they have a natural right to some lands they “owned” trough history. And they were calling on their natural (historical) right to reclaim those lands. This ideas keep the people proud of their nation and gave them “greater purpose” even in the hardest of times,. But this ideas also brought hatred between the people, people who were once neighbors , friends, co workers… Now were the greatest enemies just because they were “different”.
After the wars the reconciliation process between the nations and the people living in this nations was slow due to the state of denial about the things that were committed during the wars In the western Balkans. Politicians from some countries were even using this situation to even further the hatred just to gain some votes in elections. Methods like selective memory and self victimization were also commonly used at this times. But as the things were settling it was time to start the process of reconciliation among the nations and the people living in them. As years went by there was progress made in the process of reconciliation and cooperation among the countries, but recent events shows us (the provocation with the drone caring the flag of Big Albania and the response of the Albanian players and Serbian fans) that we still have to work a lot in breaking the stereotypes and ideas gain in the time of the turmoil in the Balkans.
In my opinion one of the methods that can make a difference is Multi-perspective history. With presenting multi perspective history especially to the young their stereotypes about the “others” gained from their parents may brake and with that new friendships, cooperation and tolerance between young people from this nations may develop. One of the key thing multi perspective histories teaches us is that there isn’t one truth but many of them, and that people from different countries have different ways of interpreting some historical events. A lot of the nation in the Balkans usually share common history, traditions, way of life but in the nation building process every nation selfishly tried to “patent “ this thing just their own and just classify all the other nations who share the same things as liars and copycats. Multi perspective history gives us the chance to think outside the box, and if this happens, first of all we will be able to tolerate the opinions of the others because there is no absolute truth only perception , secondly it will be easier for us reach compromise over certain events and finally there will be more opportunities for cooperation and support among the countries and the people in the western Balkans. In my experience there are a lot more things that are uniting us then dividing us but the one sided perception of some historical evens narrows our views and sometimes we are not able to see the bigger picture.
The countries and the people in the Balkans have a lot of common goals which will be much easier to archive if we are united rather than divided. If we implement multi perspective history it may broaden the views of the people, which can be one of the leading points in the process of reconciliation among people from different countries and with that to encourage the cooperation which will be of mutual benefit to all the countries from the region.