Roundtable of the Center for History, Democracy and Reconciliation

March 26, 2009, Rijeka, Croatia

On March 26, 2009 in Rijeka, Croatia, the Center for History, Democracy and Reconciliation (CHDR) held a scholarly roundtable. The event was organized by the Department of History and the Department of Cultural Studies of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Rijeka. The session was attended by the faculty and students and representatives of the media. Also in attendance, were the Consul of the Republic of Serbia, Hon. Mira Jegdić, and members of the regional Serbian People’s Council.

Following the brief welcoming remarks of the host Elvio Baccarini, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy in Rijeka, the chair of the roundtable, Vjekoslav Perica, Associate Professor from the Department of History (Rijeka), opened the session and presented the participants of the roundtable. Then, Darko Gavrilović, Director of the CHDR, Head of Department of History at the Faculty of Philosophy in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Associate Professor at the Faculty of European Legal and Political Studies (FEPPS), Sremska Kamenica, Serbia, introduced CHDR, its history, mission, and talked generally about the Center´s projects.

Vjeran Pavlaković, Assistant Professor from the Department of Cultural Studies (Rijeka) spoke more specifically about the projects of the Center from the past year, which included the Myths and Stereotypes of the Nationalism and Communism in Ex-Yugoslavia, the Second World War and the National Question in Ex-Yugoslavia, as well as the Serbo-Croat Relations in the 20th Century. These projects, among other things, attempted to approach the sensitive issues from the recent regional history from a diverse set of viewpoints and disciplines. Pavlaković also briefly introduced a research project that he is currently coordinating, titled Collaboration and Resistance in Yugoslavia during World War II: Myths and Legacies, Josip Broz Tito, and the National Question, as part of the larger project of the CHDR, called Facing the Past – Searching for the Future.

Mila Dragojević from Brown University, USA, discussed her dissertation research that deals with the incorporation of post-conflict migrants in their respective ethnic homelands. She briefly presented the methodology and scope of her research in Serbia within the context of the recent CHDR conference on Refugees and Emigrants in the Former Yugoslavia, which was held in November 2008, in Novi Sad, Serbia.

Finally, Igor Graovac, from the Croatian Institute for History (Zagreb) talked about the issues related to victims in WWII and the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, as well as about the idea of reconciliation. Graovac emphasized one particular aspect of reconciliation – that of intra-ethnic dialogues among groups of different ideological orientations, which emerged during the efforts of historians from Croatia and Serbia who came together as part of the ten-year long initiative Dijalog povjesničara-istoričara. Gavrilović added that dialogue, in general, is only the first step in the longer process of post-conflict reconciliation. Reconciliation requires the sides of the conflict to accept their own past first, and only then to reach an understanding of the shared past.

The edited volumes of CHDR from past projects were distributed to the audience, as well as to the library of the Faculty of Philosophy of Rijeka. The following day, Graovac, Gavrilović, and Dragojević visited the Consulate of the Republic of Serbia, where the conversation about the outstanding post-conflict issues of the countries in the region of Southeast Europe, such as victims, war crimes, and refugees was continued with Consul Jegdić.