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.

“Path the road to reconciliation with truth”

In whole Yugoslavian political debate is just a few transition shadows between persistent and passionate partisanship and dull apathy. Our men in his sense knows both extremes: absolute faith or repulsion. Like a result of politic manipulation and those feelings final result- hate, especially for those similar and familiar. Civil wars between parties same nations and same country become here – worse and more cruel than the wars between other countries and different nationalities”. (Vladimir Dvornikovic “Karakterologija Jugoslovena”, Prosveta 1990.)

This quote from the “Yugoslav Characterology”, by Vladimir Dvornikovic, made me think, does it in reality eternal battles are made between us, familiar and similar? Is it this exclusively South Slavs way of exsistence? Or there are others who could fulfill those criteriums. How to speak about reconciliation when we really do not know, what actually cause the conflict?

To understand the problematic of this complex question, must wonder what does it happen inside of the head of man that made him capable of doing harm. Going in wars without even thinking that there must be the other way to solve complex situation. Those questions might ar not solely carasteric of Yugoslavs. There are many from Middle East till Africa that would like to know an answers. It is quite instructive, that even animals, that we consider less evaluated beings, are more human when it comes to killing subject. Even a chimpanzee when comes to a time to change the leader, he fights, but he never kills an enemy. But humans are justifying crimes done in the name of freedom. We find excuses that say is worth killing half million of kids in the name of democracy. This cruelty is often done with a hidden excuse of doing benefit. When in reality there is no any, except of the profit for some.

Those facts become even more difficult to understand when it comes to war inside of one country with its population. Once neighbours become enemies. Preposterousness that is caused by changed political disscurs. Those conflicts become more brutal, and looks like it is later harder to establish reconciliation. One is sure; with your compatriots you are sharing a present and building a future. In reality, they made a part of your past. Being able to forgive is personal exclusive right and can’t be forced. But bigger problem shows up, when question about reconciliation is mandatory for all it comunity. When needs to be done something that everybody does not feel and do not comport according to it. Guilty usually falls on one side whilst others are marked, as a victims.

Not just here in Balkans we are trying to make a step and reconcile. Many nations are facing their past and trying to find the least painful remedy for past. Well known is effort of South African Commission for the Truth and Reconciliation, who tried to establish something, what could be consider for a peace institution. Comission was body assembled in South Africa to investigate political crimes during the apartheid era. Victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution. Slogans “Make a path to reconcilation with peace” were posed on every interrogation. The Nobel prize winner and its representative Tutu was always emphasized importance of the relation between those two concepts. Truth and reconciliation. But not long time after having the result, many skeptic observers were right. Commission named for finding a path for victims and prepetrators, became known as “pushing the truth below the rug”, and a reminder that reconciliation may still be a distant goal in the new South Africa.

One more evidence of unsuccessful reconciliation was Rwanda. Conflict in this country was one of the bloodiest and destructive invasion and civil war that have ravaged several countries in the Great Lakes region. In the time when all the eyes of the world were pointed to events in Sarajevo, 1994 will be remembered for something more. Erik Hobsbaum noted that 20 century was marked with war. “He was thinking and living in war times, even when bombs didn’t exploded and guns didn’t fire”. (“The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914–1991” Eric Hobsbawm, 1994.) But eventually the conflict that happened in Ruanda did not deserved salvation of United States, Great Britain and Belgium. Not like ex-Yugoslavia countries did. Still is not clear why UN move troops that were sended there to help. Why they didn’t react to prevent crimes against humanity? Will the people who were killed ever forgive them? In Ruanda guilt fell on Hutus community who were accused of aim to kill and exile Tutsi population. In a nutshell, Hutus who were also killed by RPF are forgoten, and apparently does not counted as a victims. In addition, new government made a tribunals and puts the question of selective justice in their hands. “Victims are not the same here. We can speak about those who suffered a genocide but I have no right to say that my son was killed. Why my son is different victim than others”, said Hutu, surviver of a crime from the North of Rwanda, where many were killed by Rwanda Patriotic Front. (Heidy Rombouts, “Truth and Reconciliation: should the key notions be revised? Experiences from South Africa and Rwanda”, Institute for Development Policy and Menagement, University of Antwerp Belgium) There were a lot of other crimes occurred when the Rwanda Patriotic Front, (currently ruling political party) took a power over the country. Many others lost life, but justice and truth forgot about them. Tribunal for Ruanda for instance, never searched for those answers.

Granted just one side to have a role of victim, bringing to the conclusion that not all lives have a same value. Witouth having a right to know both side of the truth is risk for apathy. Warrning sides remains to stay as they were and it is ridiculous to talk further about possible reconciliation. The real question is, does this just feeding a new future conflicts? Could exists real peace till truth don’t take her place in society?

Anyone who emphasizes only one truth is actually puting reconciliation on very thin ice. As we could see example of South Africa, path, to make everbodey satesfied in reallity do just few. Is not possible to erase past and Rwanda knows it. Gandi once said that there is only one big truth and everyone has a little peace of it. And it looks like he was right. Those who want different future should not be satisfy with one and only truth. Unforunally in every battle there must be a “winner”, who often gets a role of a victim, playing it perfectly and denigrating the opponent, witouth thinking about post efects.

Maybe the quote from Dvornikovic is fine statement, but looking further on seems it is starting and ending with us, humans. No depending on our ourgins, identity and belives, we need to learn, understand and empasize. But first starting with truth. Just like this, we might success to prevent it happen again. Reconciliation looks like a big word, maybe we should leave it for the end. Maybe, until then, would not be bad to start with stoking knowledge and repairing all those broken relations and make a new ones. In the end, this is the only honest way to reconciliation.


Vladimir Dvornikovic “Karakterologija Jugoslovena”, Prosveta 1990.

Eric Hobsbawm “The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914–1991” 1994.

Edward Herman and David Peterson “The Politics of Genocide” 2010.

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