Artists and Academics to Help Reconciliation in Region

Art and education should be used to bring about reconciliation in the region of the former Yugoslavia, a Sarajevo round table heard.Bosnian and regional academics and artists have met in Sarajevo on Friday to discuss their role in the regional reconciliation following the 1990s wars.

Dino Mustafic, a Bosnian director, told BIRN it is time to create a “peace platform” in the region and honour each and every war victim.

“In the past few years there have been books, movies and plays that have helped us see a common vision…I know that in art there is a lot of empathy and compassion for victims. We must not forget any victim. They are the ones hit the hardest by this hate speech coming from political circles which divides us,” said Mustafic.

He added that reconciliation is vital for future generations because “denial and false culture leads only to war and division”.

“My fellow artists and professors want a dialogue and not a backward society which would isolate us from European standards”, said Mustafic.

Florence Hartmann, a former Hague Tribunal prosecution spokesperson and author, agreed with this assessment claiming that in the past ten years political elites have done much to deny crimes and “actively fight against reconciliation”.

“The work of courts is limited, they decide on individual guilt but they do not give a framework of the events. This is why education and art are important,” said Hartmann.

Professor Zoran Pajic pointed out that victims in Bosnia and the region are extremely unhappy with the result of war crime trials before the Hague Tribunal and the local judiciaries.

“We need to find a way to live with the past and not in it. We should initiate a wide ranging debate in all walks of life in Bosnia on facing facts from the recent past, with the view to normalise relations among different ethnic communities,” said Pajic.

Natasa Kandic, the director of the Humanitarian Law Center, a Belgrade based NGO, explained that there is a resistance to the idea of reconciliation in certain circles in the region.

The region today, according to her, has no vision on how to achieve lasting peace and make sure there will not be another war in 50 years.

“The artistic community is engaged. Art seems to be aware of its obligation to display the past with emotion and truthfully in order to learn lessons. This is what we need, to hear the point of view of others, even though we might disagree it,” said Kandic.

The participants of the round table, which was organized by the local NGO “Transitional Justice, Accountability and Remembrance”, gave their support to the creation of the Regional reconciliation RECOM initiative.

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