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The road to reconciliation that is based on the 20th – century history is shown only to those who have reconciled with their own past.

Shared Narrative is one of the possible directions to reconciliation that requires each participant to leave behind one’s own biases and prejudices.

Taking this path means going toward the past from which we can learn something for our future.

PhD. Darko Gavrilovic,
Director of CHDR

Background ideas

From the beginning of the 20th century, the process of modernization of the societies in the Western and mid Balkans (i.e, ex – Yugoslav countries) was focused on the state. At the same time, civil society was forgotten. This continuing lack of civil society in the region requires the urgent initiation of projects that will change the current post-conflict situation. During the 20th century, the peoples of the former Yugoslavia survived two world wars that both divided and united them, and were characterized by war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing. They shared a common history in two Yugoslav states which ended in fragmentation and the creation of new national states. Unfortunately, the most enduring and bloody of the ethnic crises at the end of the 20th century in Europe occurred in Yugoslavia, where in 1991 festering differences once again resulted in war, barbarity, hatred, fear and rampant chauvinism.

Because of that, we would like to create a Center for History, Democracy and Reconciliation (CHDR). Our project will promote a multinational, multiethnic and nonpartisan history to help the process of democratization and reconciliation in our region. We will seek to dispel the public myths about historic legacies in our societies divided by ethnic conflict. This project is very important for people in our region. It will help in understanding each other and to accept differences, promote similarities in cultural, religious, social and political life. Furthermore, this project will challenge the chauvinistic history which helped foment violence in the former Yugoslavia.  


The central theme of work in the Center for History, Democracy and Reconciliation (CHDR) is to foster cooperation in the divided region and to promote democratic values and reconciliation. The CHDR will have a modern, democratic political influence on our societies which emphasizes tolerance. The establishment of this Center, and its future work, will contribute to the creation of a more positive political climate in the region that is much closer to Western standards of democracy. The CHDR will work on changing the dominant collective and patriarchal identity into an individual civil identity by expanding the presence of civil society in the former Yugoslavia.

How to attain the goals

1.  Initiate research projects on political and social history, with a special emphasis on the history of Yugoslavia in the 20th century and the broader southeast European region. In the next three years, CHDR located four different project groups that it will support:

a. World War Two, including topics such as the role of fascism and antifascism, divided memories of the conflict, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The rise of nationalism in the 1990s and historical revisionism have made these issues relevant once more.  World War Two is still one of the most important dividing points in process of reconciliation and restitution in our region. At the same time, this is the one of the most important aspects of the work of the CHDR.

b. Myths and stereotypes of communism and nationalism which are still alive in our region. Some historians still use these myths and stereotypes in their scientific work. CHDR will encourage researchers on the project “Myths in politics and modern history” to challenge these controversial aspects of the past which have been repeatedly manipulated for political purposes.

c. The Establishment and Disintegration of the Yugoslav States will include research topics on the Yugoslav state between 1918 and 1941, and Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1991. Areas of focus will include the different viewpoints in the organization of the Yugoslav states, different and competing national interests in the framework of one country, factors of unity and disunity, and the impact of various economic interests.

2. The CHDR will work on history teachers’ education through cooperation with organizations such as the George Eckert Institute on history school books. The CHDR will promote alternative history textbooks in cooperation with non-partisan publishers in the region. Our activities aim to develop training through modern history textbooks in providing additional innovative teaching materials for parts of the history curriculum which particularly relate to the development, acquisition and application of democratic values, as well as critical and analytical thinking skills. We want to promote intercultural education which aims at a mutual understanding between pupils from different backgrounds, which combats nationalism, discrimination and racism, and fosters positive images of others in the region. The CHDR would foster cooperation with between research projects and the educational system (for example, “World War II – antifascists and fascists” can contribute to making history school textbooks).  In attention to work in that direction, the CHDR will work with teachers in the region, and organize round tables, seminars, workshops and presentations for them. As mentioned previously, the results of the research projects will be published in our journals (The Polis Culture and Journal of CHDR).

3. Media promotion will be the one of the most important parts of our work.  We will strengthen the network among the different media organizations in the region in the course of promoting the CHDR’s work. In that sense, media liaisons for each country will help to arrange visibility of the CHDR in the press, and preparing and informing the media about the CHDR’s various projects, public events and journals (Polis Culture, published since 2003, and the Journal of CHDR). The goal of the journals will be to publish material after each round table or conference in the region. The CHDR’s website will provide information about the Center’s steering committee, research fellows and donors, results of round tables and meetings, articles and news from various media. The information will be placed on web site as written documents, audio recordings, photos and digital video.

4. The CHDR will make connections with parties and politicians in our region who have a willingness to cooperate with the Center and support its ideas. This cooperation will generate support for the CHDR’s work, and ultimately disseminate the democratic and tolerant values into the political arena.

5. The CHDR will promote religious dialogue between the different religions and confessions in our region. Furthermore, the Center will work on strengthening the multicultural and intercultural relations that provide protection for minorities. The inter-religious dialogue will likewise function through round tables, meetings and the Center’s various publications.  

These are five strategies that the Center for History, Democracy and Reconciliation will adopt in the effort to promote tolerant and democratic values in the societies in the region. The CHDR will work closely and with support of The Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR) in Salzburg, Austria.  Together, they will work with educational and public policy institutions to organize and sponsor historical discourses in pursuit of accountability, acknowledgement, and the resolution of historical disputes.


Above all the societies in region, historians and pupils will be the beneficiaries from this project. The project and the Center will help them in dismantling the nationalist ideological processes of the past two decades and bring them much closer to the democratic values of European societies. We find that the making of the modern democratic society in region will open the possibility for faster economic development and long term stability.


Suočavanje sa prošlošću – put ka budućnosti; Istorija Jugoslavije u 20. veku
Hrvatsko – srpski odnosi; Politička saradnja i nacionalne manjine
Facing the Past, Searching for Future – The Twentieth Century Yugoslav History


Suočavanje sa prošlošću – Put ka budućnosti; Istorija Jugoslavije u 20. veku
Skup o srpsko-hrvatskim odnosima u Obrovcu u Hrvatskoj
Sučavanje sa prošlošću, istraživanje budućnosti – Prvi naučni skup srpskih i albanskih istoričara