This is an exciting year for the CDRSEE, a year which will prove that 18 years of diligent work of our respected Board of Directors, CDRSEE staff and numerous experts who have collaborated with us from the very beginning, was worth all the effort. The crown of our work, along with the anniversary of the 5th Okruzenje/Vicinities season, is the completion of our two new history workbooks. Two volumes on the most recent history (from 1945-2008) are being reviewed by eminent historians and experts, and we are happy to announce that the first critics prove that we did well when we dared to tackle the closest and the most painful period in modern times. We accepted the challenge and we confidently push ahead with it.
Real reconciliation after the wars of 1990s has never happened in the Western Balkans — and by this I refer to the reconciliation that can be brought to life if and only if we face what we have committed and what really happened. By producing the two new volumes, we are happy to contribute to such a mission.
The books are almost ready for printing, as the corrections that have to be made after reviews are meaningful but minor. Here is the first impression of one of four expert readers, Maria Todorova, a reputable historian and Gutgsell Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: “Let me first say, how much I am in favor of the Joint History Project initiative and how much I admire the efforts to put it in practice. After the success of the 4 existing volumes -- the Ottoman Empire, States and Nations, the Balkan Wars, and the Second World War -- comes the period after the Second World War, usually defined as the Cold War, as well as the contemporary period, what the Germans call Zeitgeschichte. As a whole, I think that it achieves much of what is behind the ethos of the whole project, namely to present to students different sides of the same problem, to make them think and weigh different approaches and viewpoints. In many ways, these are the more difficult volumes because of the enormity of material that has to be sifted and because of the closeness of the period and the strong memories or opinions bolstered by lived experience. I have been particularly impressed by the pedagogical side: the aptness of the QUESTIONS and TASKS which beautifully integrate the sources offered for interpretation.”
By carefully designing the steps for reconciliation in the Western Balkans, we are optimistic that an understanding of the past will be useful to avoid repetition and will be a guide for a better future between the nations of the Balkan region.