Dusan Reljic, senior researcher at the German Institute for International Affairs and Security and CDRSEE board member, lead a panel discussion on Serbian-German relations at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung organized conference, Serbia and Germany – Asymmetrical Reality. The conference was co-organized by the Belgrade-based Center for Foreign Policy and lead by its director and also CDRSEE board member, Aleksandra Joksimovic. The conference engaged senior Serbian government officials, German representatives, civil society, and academics in a public dialogue aimed at analyzing the historical context and recent developments of Serbian-German relations.
The panel on historical and political relations which Mr. Reljic moderated included academics, journalists, and public officials from the two countries. While many contrasts and comparisons aiming to enhance lines of communication through political and civil channels were drawn from the discussion, Ivan Ivanji, a renowned Serbian author, offered particularly valuable insight. Having lived and traveled throughout Germany over many years, he recalled his difficulties in understanding Germans throughout various parts of Germany despite fluently speaking the language. He contrasted the existence of these local dialects with the common understanding and similar language that people of the Western Balkans speak despite consisting of several countries and separate national identities. The ensuing discussion focused on themes of reconciliation and how Germany can both be credited with insisting on Serbia addressing its past, as well as being more understanding of what it means to reconcile following conflict.