Vukovar, Cro: Where is reconciliation?

It has been a long time since the end of the war in Croatia, as well as in Vukovar, a town where the war in the Balkans started in 1991 and which was almost completely destroyed in the war. People were banished, many fled, relieved of the plague.
Vukovar has been a multiethnic city until the war, where more than 23 different ethnic groups lived, including the most numerous Croats and Serbs.
The city was economically powerful (Second by Economic Power in the Former Yugoslavia). Then came the economic crisis of the 1980s. Everything began to collapse, people became desperate and desperate for their sake, tried to seek guilty of all this. The tragedy was that they sought to blame people of other ethnic groups, creating hatred, opening Pandora’s Box, and destroying the communion that was built for decades.
And then … everyone lost everything, and hatred remained.
The war ended, people slowly returned to their homes, and the evil spirit continued to fly above people. Years passed, the neighbors no longer talked, closed in their homes, and did not even try to talk about everything that had happened to them.
The houses and the walls were built among the people. True, the walls were invisible, but they were there.
New generations of young people have come, whose parents have been subjected to hatred and distrust of “those”. Kindergartens, schools, bars, all shared “ours” and “theirs”. Everything went in the direction of no return.
However, young people appeared who tried to see a much wider picture, who realized that neither the “others” were much different. If they are the same, they have the same problems, they also have the same things they like, and they have a lot in common.
The walls began to crumble slowly, the first love was created, the bands sought guitarists who could play the guitar and not the nationality, but there were conflicts. This time not because of ethnic differences, but because of the girl …
New Generations in Vukovar have started to face new problems, this time together.
It has become common to all that they are not employed, that it is difficult to find a job and that the prospect has to look somewhere else in Ireland, Germany. That all must start from the beginning. Read more

Campaign for the Peace of Youth

The ” barrel gunpowder ” designation is increasingly marking the Balkans, the former hot peninsula, due to conflicts and wars. The phrase that was attached to the geographic territory ” mischief ” of nearly 550 thousand square kilometers has almost disappeared from the political discourse, literary or media discourse. The atmosphere of peace among the nations of this region, combining ethnicity, religion and different cultures, has left the old virtues under a strong armor. Today we have an atmosphere of peace and interaction, even though we
disagree with everything. Read more

Youth Against Violent Radicalisation

Radicalisation leading to violence among young people has become a growing issue of concern in Europe and its neighbouring regions, including the Western Balkans. There is a notable increase in hate speech in the social media, incidence of hate crimes and attacks on migrants, refugees and others that are, or seem in some way different, propaganda  and violent xenophobia, as well as a rise in religious and political extremism and in terrorist attacks. Read more

Freedoms Have To Be Won

Aleksandar Reljić is a journalist and the editor of the documentary program of Radio televizija Vojvodina. His short length documentary “Kosovo Nazdravlje! Gëzuar!” gathers the representatives of the “sides at war” on Kosovo, asking the question whether shared life among Serbs and Albanians is possible. “I would probably never have gotten into journalism if it hadn’t been for the wars on Ex-Yugoslavian territory, and if that hadn’t been a frustration that had to be channeled in some way – otherwise I would have burst. And I was bursting. The only remedy and true therapy was when I took on this job that allowed me to channel frustration”, Aleksandar explains. “I never thought I could change the world, I never had that sort of illusion”, but at least I shattered my own prejudice and helped base the opinion that, in reality, regular people don’t hate. Regular people live their lives, and they’re only (and exclusively) victims of propaganda”. Read more

Choose dialogue over empty monologues

My name is Ana Mullanji, a youth worker from Tirana, Albania, founder and director of Beyond Barriers Association working with youngsters since 2014. I remember my first visit to a Balkan country, in Serbia, when I was selected to attend a training course for trainers organized by European Youth Foundation. It was the first steps of my career so I felt lucky and privileged to be selected to attend such activity. Different to nowadays, during that period the possibilities for participating in such activities were limited and the visa regime travel in the Balkan countries was making the process even more complicated for Albanian citizens.  The idea to participate in that activity flattered me and without thinking twice I started the procedures for my visa. I was so happy for this opportunity that I wanted to share the news with all my friends. Read more

Nothing New in the Region of South East

In the lack of expertise offered by political analysts and sociologists, you might think – what qualifies me to write about reconciliation and coexistence in this region? I can point out two references – a citizen of Serbia and a civil sector activist. Furthermore, I won’t mention any legal regulations, strategies or signed documents, nor will I offer an expert analysis of the current social ambience with reference to the events of the last decade of 20th century and from the start of new millennia in the Western Balkans. This is a personal point of view and therefore some readers may conclude that this is an „abstract scribbling“. Read more

CS Initiatives – Impetus for Solidarity

In the framework of the transnational project Balkan Refugee Trail – A Pathway for European Solidarity[1], project partners from Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Austria conducted interviews with representatives of initiatives, supporting refugees, in order to gather experiences which have been gained and to give an insight into the past years’ civil society commitment. This article captures the Austrian perspective. Read more

Peace as antidote for bad governance

Conflict is the business of Balkans leaders – and business is good!
Anonymous internet comment.

One brief look at the situation in most countries of south-eastern Europe is enough to notice the painful similarities. Corruption, poor regard for rule of law, media serving interest of politics and shady economies. As if this weren’t enough, people continue to live with a feeling of imminent conflict despite over 15 years passed since last bullets were fired.  Take any of the countries; Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro or Serbia, and you won’t find any real democracy there. Even if they come to power through an (often debatable) election, the ruling elites then engage in any sort of activity, legal or illegal, just to maintain power. And if the everyday speculations, manipulations and various trickeries don’t do the job, they can and they will resort to the good old fashioned warmongering and blaming ‘bad neighbors’ any time they face a bit more serious threat. Read more

Dialogue and reconciliation

The path to reconciliation is a multifaceted, multi-layered, inter-active process with no specific time limit. It is not an absolute nor restorative but forward looking one, building new, stronger relationships reaching into the future. This wide-ranging project masterminded by the Bosnian Youth and Communication Center and other civil society organisations reflects this admirably. Read more