A group of researchers supported by PERFORM published a series of 8 articles in Albanian and Serbian daily newspapers, examining the historical relations between Serbs and Albanians to try to understand how the figure of the enemy was born, how it evolved during the common history and how it came to become the constitutive element of how two nations see each other.
Jelena Loncar, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, wrote about the Follow Us initiative, which brings together women members of parliament and other public figures from Serbia and Kosovo with the aim of establishing a dialogue and building trust in order to promote peace, reconciliation and tolerance. She states that while the first gatherings were organised by OSCE five years ago, today these meet ups are more spontaneous and frequent both in Belgrade and Pristina. The dialogue is centred around a belief that while the governments may sign peace accords, it is those affected by these decisions that can truly forge long-lasting peace between nations.
Famous playwright from Pristina, Mr Jeton Neziraj, wrote an article about Faruk Begolli, a famous Yugoslav actor from Kosovo who was one of the iconic figures of Yugoslav film industry during the 70s and the 80s of the previous century. Begolli studied and lived in Belgrade, but he later went back to Kosovo and founded a school of acting in Pristina. As Mr Neziraj stresses, Begolli, together with another Kosovo actor Bekim Fehmiu, was one of the rare figures respected and celebrated equally in Serbia and Kosovo.
Aleksandar Pavlovic, Research Associate at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade, wrote an article entitled “What Can Germans and the French Learn from Serbs and Albanians”, which was published both in Koha Ditore in Albania and in Danas in Serbia. In the article, he talks about the erroneous perception in the West about the Balkans being a “powder keg of Europe”. He points out that Serbs and Albanians have been living peacefully side by side since the Middle Ages and that the national conflicts date only back to 1990s. It is therefore, the author feels, politically incorrect to perpetuate this image of centuries-long conflict and animosity between the two nations.
The rest of the articles published in Albanian and Serbian:
“Serbs and Albanians through Centuries” by Aleksandar Pavlovic
“Leaving the Snake’s Nest” by Sasa Ciric
“Serbian-Albanian Dynastic Connections in the Middle Ages” by Dusko Lopandic
“Albanian in Belgrade: Department of Albanian Language in the Context of Ethno-Political Conflicts” by Marija Mandić, Ana Sivački and Valdete Osmani
“Religion and Identity in Kosovo: Historical and Modern Pilgrimage Practices” by Srdjan Atanasovski
These articles were written as part of the project Beyond Enmity: Changing Serbian-Albanian Perceptions supported by the Swiss Embassy in Pristina and SDC project PERFORM, implemented by Qendra Multimedia from Priština and the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory from Belgrade. The initiative builds on the results of the project “Figuring Out the Enemy: Re-imagining Serbian-Albanian Relations” implemented by the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in cooperation with partners from Kosovo and Albania, and with the support of another SDC project – Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP).