Southeast Europe, Russia: War, Peace, and Shared History

Global Voices Online
Sunday, April 6, 2008

In Vladikavkaz, the capital of Russia's North Ossetia, LJ user alan-tskhurbaev ran into a stencil graffiti, whose message (RUS) seemed somewhat unlikely for this North Caucasian region:

Kosovo is Serbia!

Referring to Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, whose leaders regard Kosovo independence as a precedent, Oleg Panfilov - LJ user oleg_panfilov, director of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations - posted this comment (RUS):

Wasn't there a second part - "South Ossetia is Georgia"?

LJ user alan_tskhurbaev replied (RUS):

Since the question is addressed to me and not to the author of the graffiti, I'll express my own opinion - South Ossetia is not Georgia even more than Kosovo is not Serbia. And here [in North Ossetia], you don't have to write it on the buildings - everyone knows it anyway.


Paris-based LJ user sebtinos stumbled upon a history textbook published by the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe (CDRSEE): "A textbook that teaches peace," he described it. Below are some of his thoughts (RUS) on the project:

[...] Sixteen historians from various corners of the Balkans have developed the region's joint history textbook.

The essence is simple. Albanian history textbooks teach that if all other peoples disappear from the earth, Albanian nation will continue to flourish. In Greece, high school students are being taught that "the fall of Constantinople" took place in 1453, while their Turkish counterparts learn about the "liberation of Istanbul." Students from Skopje, Belgrade and Sofia get to know the history of the "liberation from the Turkish yoke," while in Ankara they study the "dramatic and unfair war that put an end to the Great Ottoman Empire."

Indeed, there are as many versions of the Balkan history as there are nations living in this region. Each group is searching through history to find explanations of the present and arguments in favor of the national idea. Kosovo believes it has historical arguments to support its independence. Belgrade is convinced of the opposite. Today, every nation has its own view of the past and isn't really concerned with finding ways to co-exist in the present.


And it has occurred to me ... that, perhaps, the former Soviet republics should stop [...] re-writing history separately and finally publish something jointly.

In response to a reader, LJ user sebtinos added:

I had a chance to attend schools in four different countries: USSR, Russia, Ukraine and France. The views differ completely. It's not fair that the humankind has one universal history, but nations or individuals [do not share a common view on it.]

LJ user sebtinos also crossposted his history textbook entry to the ru_politics LJ community, and below are two reader responses (RUS):


Joint history is not good for the powerful elites [of each nation]. Makes it harder to manipulate [the population]. And the example you're citing is funded by the EU, not by Albania and Turkey.



I, of course, haven't read this textbook, but I suspect that it's written [in an extremely appeasing manner]. That is, all controversial topics are simply ignored.

All controversial topics have to be thoroughly discussed, however.

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