Institute for European Affairs is focusing on negotiations between Serbia and the EU as well as on strengthening the capacity of all sides involved in the process. Given the complexity and long duration of the process, the Institute brings together a large number of professionals and external experts with whom organises trainings, debates and other forms of capacity development. We want to contribute to enhanced understanding of Serbia-EU relations. The Institute provides multi-perspective trainings in order to enable active participation of professionals and citizens in the decision-making processes. The Institute actively advocates for fundamental reforms within the EU integration process and in cooperation with partners working on strengthening Serbia's capacity to face the challenges of the global world through collective action. The overall objective is active membership of Serbia in Euro-Atlantic framework for the benefit of all citizens.

My contribution to the regional reconciliation

Happiness, smiles, friendship, love, prosperity, smiles faced and satisfied citizens, utopia…What are those words? What do they describe? For whom are directed? –Enmity, hatred, discrimination, separation, disorder, wars and mass murders. Dozens words but one region, called Balkan. Chronologically the words were changing. Sometimes the first were second and the second first, sometimes opposite, than again from the beginning, closed circle which is always turning around. But always, and absolutely always the focus was directing to the second. Why? –Because the history imposed to us, it was meant to be, the others are guilty, they started first, and many many more unjustified claims without argument with whom “the others are guilty”, “we are innocent, we are damaged, we are always right”. And to be worse, that way and that story we are showing to the youths, to our children, and exactly in the years in which they learn, understand and they are building the base of their life and wall between their friends and enemies. We are limiting their view, the understandings and perception for future, and we are destroying them with history. It is not big problem that what I will tell to my children. Big problem is what all fathers will tell to their children. Typical brainwash to whole generation. They, which should be carrier and creator of future indirectly become puppet of one old system and…and history. The history is science for the past right? So, why then I with support of the past I should create the future!? The past is past, the history is history, I will remember, I will not forget but I will keep them locked in one dark box in the basement, my thoughts will be directed to future and my benchmark will be successful countries and citizens of West Europe.

Somebody will say “the youths are driving force in one society”. Objectively it does not look like that. In front of us are always politicians, ambassadors and other population’s representatives that are doing public functions and interaction between countries. But for sake of truth, we have advantage too with which we can give our contribution in reconciliation process. OF course, we, such as youths have to have the support of older generation which also was and witness to all Balkan’s happenings and events.

The hardest part of reconciliation is finding the beginning. If we can to visualize the future and to imagine how our relations potentially will looks like (no anxiety, stress) it can be additional motivation that we should start with reconciliation faster as possible. We never have to wait for others to make the first step. Maybe they will never have the courage to do that or maybe they think the others will never forgive about everything they have done to them. Ultimately, forgiveness is just choice, not any feeling which one day will overcome us and feel that. For all things which happened in the past we were not aware and much less responsible for them. We cannot be angry to someone about something for which another person is guilty and triggered the strings.

Every operation, every job and every issue that we are troubleshooting we should start from the beginning, so this process too. The beginning of reconciliation process I am watching it in the early ages of people, in the time of their educational development and formal teaching. The state has an obligation to transfer the formal education objectively and unbiased, and the pupils and students along that need to engage in informal activities outside of school where they can expand their view of life and to “think outside the box”. When I say objectively and unbiased I think on the books, especially history books in which should not be inserted national failures for which allegedly the culprits are the others – timeless enemies. The history that glorifies national in front of real might increase the national spirit in citizens in itself but it is losing in neighborly cooperation and relations and leads to a deterioration of the situation.

There are many different events where the youths can join such as trainings, seminars, intercultural events and competitions. On this events the youths can learn a lot about their neighbors and to take a look how the real picture looks like presented with my first words. Also, there are a lot of nongovernmental organizations which primary goal is to establish truth and breaking down the wall of prejudices built up of representatives of the past and constructed of history.

If we do not give contribute, all of us, to give help to youths in their early ages to understand the beautiful side of mutual cooperation and reconciliation then the whole process we are  procrastinating more and more and one lost year now in the present, we will pay it with additional 10 or even more years in the future.

The seminars and trainings can help a lot. From then we cannot expect to make a “boom” but step by step and on long term they can be the main factor for breaking down, not to all but a lot of prejudices, which me personally, I consider for progress.

Improving the economic welfare of citizens can also have an impact on reconciliation in the region. Baring in mind the average salaries of citizens and rate of unemployment in the Balkan countries we come to the conclusion that the Balkan is one poor region. I consider this as a problem for reconciliation process because much poorer population is you can much easier to manipulate with them and through various advertising directly or indirectly you can put on the nationalism of home state accompanied by hatred to other (neighboring) countries due to some political or socio-economic issues, and of course – the history.  If citizens have a secure job, respectable salaries, can pay their monthly bills and afford a comfortable life then in them is waking sense and feel of patriotism which is characterized by love and passion of own country and doing all those things for good for the state (and of course, there are settled neighborly relations and cooperation) against nationalism where the relations and cooperation are the last choice.

I can say that the regional competition and sport are having the crucial involvement in whole this process. The competitions together with student exchanges inter states with disrupted relationships and the states between were fought wars and had mass murders can step by step built the stability in the region transferring the experiences and pictures from one country to another.

Also the sport is powerful tool for making friendships. It is “hammer” which is breaking down all the barriers on the way for reconciliation and in the same time it can make iron relationships in everyday life. I think constant friendly national competition between states can be backbone of the whole situation and process. Of course, the contribution should be correlative and twofold. On one hand the people have to participate, the other to be maintained by promising government bodies and third the other states have to do the same.

And for the end, we have to remember something. This is about us. Remember that – THIS IS ABOUT US! Not everyone is at the same point on the path to forgiveness, so while we are ready to let it go and move on with things the others may still be feeling “We are right and they are wrong!”. If that is the situation we are facing we have to focusing on us. We have to do what we have to do to be true to ourselves. If we can walk away feeling that we have done what we can to mend things but the others are not interested then I am afraid to say but, we are going to have to leave it, for now. We cannot control anyone else no matter how hard we want it and no matter how hard we are trying. We have to rebuild. Once we have everything out on the table and have heard and acknowledged the other’s feelings, perspectives and hurts, it is time to start rebuilding that relationship. This may be awkward at first and require a lot of hard work. Regaining trust can be tough and may take a long time. We have to start with small step and keep moving forward. We do not have to revisit the past. If we are at this point, the past should be resolved.

And YES, I am for reconciliation!

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