"Hopefully there will be soon peace in Ukraine, and another attempt at reconciliation in Western Balkans. Even as mostly symbolic and commemorative practices, these endeavors proved that they improve social trust and reduce interethnic tensions. There still remains the question about the purpose and long-term goals of such reconciliation efforts. In my 2021 book, Reconciliation and Last Days, published in Belgrade, Serbia, I argue that postwar reconciliation projects make sense, provided there is a new beginning for wartime enemies, that is, the peoples, faiths, and states in the region. In other words, the purpose of a longer period of peace and stability is socio-economic development and a hopeful future. Yet, if social decay continues, and if societies continue to look to the past and lose human capital, reconciliation becomes pointless--except, perhaps, as a ceremony accompanying a prolonged collective funeral, leading to extinction of these small European ethnic nations that missed all chances and opportunities. The conflict beyond war has lasted far too long. The nationalist myths and new collective identities constructed against “the other” in the immediate neighborhood cannot be changed, no matter how moving commemorative practices and nice words are. To make matters worse, a demographic catastrophe has been unfolding for decades, as young people are leaving en masse to seek jobs and permanent settlement in the West. Tito’s unified Yugoslavia was far from a perfect society, yet it was a future-oriented country, with greater economic resources and a positive international reputation. After its collapse, as Tim Judah observed in his 2019 article “Bye, bye, Balkans,” the new states of the region have been dramatically running out of their human capital.79 That is to say, the peoples and faiths of Western Balkans may never see a new beginning, to make the reconciliation rituals future-oriented incentives rather than a long farewell."



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.