Affiliated with the University of Nicosia
Reflections from the Balkans
By Andreas Theophanous
Andreas Theophanous is a professor of Political Economy at the University of Nicosia and Director of the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs
article is prompted by some of the issues, ideas and thoughts that were
advanced and debated during a two day conference entitled
Reconciliation and Human Security in the Balkans
organized by the European Center for Peace and Development (of the
UN-established University for Peace) in Montenegro on October 30-31.
notable idea that very obviously stems from the fierce and violent
collapse of the former
It would be an illusion to assume though that this
observation only concerns the Balkans.
Indeed many parts of the world suffer a substantial human
security deficit with
fundamental human rights including the basic right to a dignified life
Conflict between countries and within countries has
always been a characteristic of international relations.
Not surprisingly one of the topics in current international
affairs is how to overcome ethnic conflicts within countries and to
arrive at acceptable solutions which are conducive to a peaceful and
prosperous future. A major
step toward that outcome is reconciliation; in its turn this concept
entails important steps.
These include an acknowledgement of historical facts, a readiness to
accept responsibility for wrongdoings in general and to apologize for
inflicting pain and by extension to ask for forgiveness; this of course
is, or should be, a reciprocal process.
Ideally, it will also entail accepting the sincere apologies of
the adversary and thereby offering forgiveness.
above all reconciliation entails a readiness to arrive at a common
vision for the future. In
this regard it is an illusion to assume that signing an agreement
necessarily implies that reconciliation has been achieved and the
“promised land” has been reached!
It is indeed tempting here to raise the question of how close we
really are to true
of reconciliation in
Last but not least it is important to understand that although the
Dayton Agreements contributed to ending a very bloody
civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, they have not led to a political
arrangement and to a constitutional structure which contributes to a
normal political life. On
the contrary, the constitutional structure which is based on
ethno-nationalist pillars has not resulted, at least so far, in the
emergence of common institutions.
It is indeed notable that to the present day there has not been a
population census because it has not yet been agreed how one should be
conducted! And several
diplomats as well as academics put forward the view that in the absence
of an international peace force there would be renewed tensions.
From a theoretical perspective the idea that interethnic peaceful
existence will have a better chance to be promoted and consolidated - if
the political system revolves around a set of common values and
objectives, has been put forward repeatedly and forcefully.
This theoretical proposition as well as the overall record of
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