18th Annual Report
You may download the report here
At the time of writing of this Introduction, the European Union has designated a billion (!) dollars for strengthening its external borders against the rivers of Syrian, Iraqi and other refugees from the Middle East; Hungary has put up walls and barbed wire to be the guardian of the Schengen area, and Croatia and Serbia are practically at war. The war is one of words, but even this verbal war is keenly felt by anyone trying to cross not just the Croatian-Serbian border, but also the borders of these countries with Bosnia and Herzegovina. It seems completely impossible to predict what will happen in two months, not to mention in the next year. However, indications of this situation can be found already in our report for last year. Then, as now, the only thing we can do so as not to feel helpless before the violence, both that of war and structural violence, racism, fear and prejudice is to do the best we can and as we deem correct. Instead of giving in to defeatism, we should bear in mind that the world, or at least our Balkan region, would be a much worse place without efforts to build a lasting peace. In that spirit, we present the 18th annual report on our activities for the period of September 2014 – September 2015.
This past year was marked by activities stemming from our last Training for Trainers, so this year, with an expanded circle of associates, we were able to organise for the first time a multilingual peacebuilding training for citizens of Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo, and were once again after a long while able to work with students through the Peacebuilding Training for students from Bosnia and Herzegovina. New activities shall be forthcoming so that in October we will have workshops with secondary school pupils from divided cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as continuing our cooperation with students in November. In the past year, we also did much to strengthen exchange and cooperation with our colleagues and partners from abroad. One of the outcomes was the International Dialogue “Memory, Justice and Reconciliation?!” held in Sarajevo from 10 to 12 June, with 50 participants from Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, South Africa, Canada, Kosovo, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Germany, Serbia, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. Another outcome was the translation of our manual “Reconciliation?! Training Handbook for Dealing with the Past” into Russian, to be published by the end of this year.
How an “ordinary” visit of a mixed group of war veterans to an official commemoration and to sites of suffering can make a crucial difference when it comes to the narrative of the 1992-1995 war in BiH is poignantly illustrated by the example of Velika Kladuša and Laništa, which will be presented in the pages of this report. As experience has shown us, peace actions by veterans are of particular importance in the processes of establishing dialogue, building peace and trust. You can read more about this in a publication available through our website “War Veterans in the Process of Constructive Dealing with the Past”. This year, we again participated in the commemoration to honour the civilian casualties killed on the bridge over Velika Morava during the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. We are still waiting for the right opportunity to have our mixed group of war veterans visit sites of suffering in Croatia. Namely, such actions cannot be organised without support from the Croatian side.
Research and documenting sites of suffering and memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the 1992-1995 war covered more than 80 memorials and unmarked sites of suffering. Considerable difficulties we faced in the process of gathering data on monuments have somewhat derailed our efforts and plans, but the research has been completed, the publication is in its final stages, and we expect it to come out at the beginning of 2016. All the material with photographs and fact sheets about the memorials will also be made available to the public through a dedicated website that will serve as a base for further research.
The research on the fate of ethnic Germans from the Podunavlje area in Vojvodina following World War II has also been completed. Using archival materials, historical studies and research, literary works and media reports, but also through conversations with persons who have experienced these events or have investigated these topics, we tried to given an overview of their presence, their lives and their disappearance from this region. This publication will also be published at the beginning of next year.
Although it is not counted among our official activities, and is based more on the personal will and motivation of most of us from CNA, we were in Prijedor this year to attend the commemoration at Hrastova Glavica, in Trnopolje and Omarska. This is important for us because of support to local organisations from Prijedor that we have been working with for years, but also for ourselves, and the insights we can gain at such places, by meeting people and dealing with past events.
As for 2016, we have a lot of plans, some are new, but some have been in the making for a long time. But first, we invite you to look through what has marked this past year for us. We look forward to your feedback, reactions, criticism, but also your support, all of which we find useful.