Croatian-Serbian relations in the 20th century. century: Political and cultural cooperation
International scientific meeting “Croatian-Serbian relations in the 20th century” century: Political and cultural cooperation” held from 22. until the 25th August 2010 in Golubić.
Scientists, politicians and filmmakers from Serbia and Croatia met at the meeting, who contributed to the improvement of Croatian-Serbian relations with their work and presence.
The contribution of scientists could primarily be noticed on the basis of carefully chosen topics for scientific papers in the field of Croatian-Serbian cooperation in politics and culture in the 20th century. century.
Politicians contributed through the agreement of politicians from the Friendship Group between the Croatian Parliament and the Serbian Parliament, the Democratic Union of Croats of Vojvodina and the Serbian People’s Council in Croatia.
With their work, the filmmakers touched on some of the most interesting, but also important topics related to the improvement of common life in the areas of the two countries, Serbia and Croatia.
In order to continue the scientific and political Croatian-Serbian dialogue , the organizers and creators of the meeting, Darko Gavrilović , Janko Veselinović and Davor Pauković tried to gather in Golubić scientists and politicians who have different views on the mentioned topic. In this way, they would initiate conversations in public.
This scientific meeting was jointly organized by the Center for History, Democracy and Reconciliation – Novi Sad, the Association for History, Cooperation and Reconciliation (AHCR) – Obrovac, the Balkan Trust for Democracy – Belgrade and the City of Obrovac , with the help of a large number of donors.
Conclusions from the meeting "Croatian-Serbian relations in the 20th century - political and cultural cooperation"
The participants proposed further guidelines for scientific and research work in these areas.
A joint statement of politicians and scientists related to the development of political relations between Croatia and Serbia was made. The statement included further research and the impact that politicians and scientists could have on the wider community based on the results achieved.
Cultural cooperation within the framework of Serbian-Croatian relations
Scientists agree that culture was and is today one of the most important forms of cooperation between the two countries. Culture connects them not only since the time of gaining their independence in the nineties and at the beginning of the 21st century. century, they are already united because of the common history they shared in the two Yugoslavias.
Contrary to cooperation, which is partly caused by living in a common state, there are also disagreements. They are much larger at the moment and are deeply rooted in the societies of the two countries. Disagreements were present throughout almost the entire 20th century. century. They are encouraged, in the first place, by enthusiastic scientists.
Therefore, it is obvious that touching the past in this way creates problems for regional cooperation and for the successful improvement of the policy of regional stability and reconciliation.
However, it should be recognized that the renewal and strengthening of cultural cooperation was more an expression of the personal initiative of cultural workers than of political structures.
Since 2004 year we can talk about the normalization of relations, within the framework of cooperation in culture, between Croatia and Serbia. In the beginning, writers contributed to it. At the same time, we must not forget that the establishment of cultural cooperation was hindered by those cultural workers who were or still are nationalists and who had the support of the media during the nineties until 2004, and sometimes even later.
The foundation of building relations in culture should be based on a common past and the absence of a language barrier. State institutions should create prerequisites for that.
Political and regional cooperation within Serbian-Croatian relations
When it comes to the brief history of regional cooperation since the nineties of the last century, it should be noted that scholars agreed that the constitutional provision from 1997 in the Republic of Croatia prohibited regional cooperation with the Balkan countries. But politics since 1999. it started to change and move towards regional cooperation. The reason for this is the European Union, which persistently insists on cooperation in the region.
The influence of the EU on cooperation and the pressures exerted by it had a beneficial effect on the thawing of political relations. This does not mean that the cooperation was voluntary and that the people came to it willingly. This kind of cooperation was maintained at the level of high politics with some examples from the world of culture and science where individuals achieved good relations.
Since 2004 until 2008 between Croatia and Serbia, there was a moderate development of regional relations, according to scientists, and they worsened due to the recognition of Kosovo by Croatia. Only since 2008. cooperation between the two countries has improved significantly.
The scientists concluded that political cooperation as well as cultural cooperation between the two countries are not crucial for the stability of the region, but they are extremely important. Especially when it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The example of that country also shows the thawing of political relations in the region, and culture is recording certain successes, primarily when it comes to filmmaking and the music scene.
For the process of reconciliation in the region, for the improvement of political relations, but also for gaining trust among the until recently warring population, it is not enough to improve political cooperation and cooperation in culture and science. Apart from the mentioned, it is necessary to make significant changes in the media. In journalism, in the region, the process of confronting the past was not carried out, since none of the journalists was responsible for spreading war propaganda.
Scientists believe that in other areas of public life there have been no confrontations with responsibility for war crimes. There were no adequate lustrations in those areas. The process of dealing with the past is unthinkable without the existence of public services that will be outside the influence of nationalist policies.
In the end, the scientists concluded that dealing with the past within the framework of certain social sciences (history, political science, sociology, law, literature) should begin as soon as possible.
To begin with, a minimum consensus is needed regarding the interpretation of the past, such as the wars of the 1990s. century.
The joint work of scientists (experts on Croatian-Serbian relations) with politicians from the Friendship Group and representatives of minority parties should be a prelude to a serious consideration of the reasons for withdrawing charges of genocide.
The tension in the cooperation between the two countries cannot be reached if the open issues to improve relations are not addressed:
- the issue of the return of refugees,
- war crimes trial,
- solving the issue of missing persons,
- return of cultural goods to Croatia,
- corpus of minority rights,
- solving the demarcation issue between two states,
- overcoming problems concerning the claim and counterclaim before the international court in The Hague
- and the development of economic relations.
These issues must be resolved quickly in order to avoid a cyclical crisis in these areas.
The gathered politicians from the Friendship Group and representatives of minority parties agreed that it is necessary to approach further improvement of cooperation. In order to achieve this, more intensive meetings and exchange of experiences are necessary before the meetings of the joint interstate board of the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Serbia.