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Beyond Enmity: Changing Serbian-Albanian Perceptions

How do we improve the political, academic and cultural cooperation between Serbia and Albania? This and other related issues were discussed at the two events in Pristina and Tirana organised by the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory (IFDT) and PERFORM.

With the aim of presenting plans for the continuation of the project “Beyond Enmity: Changing Serbian-Albanian Perceptions”, IFDT researchers presented the trailer for a documentary movie on Serbian-Albanian relations that will combine engaging interviews, historical documents, archive footage and point of views of ordinary Albanians and Serbs to try to understand the emergence of the enmity between the two nations. The movie is part of a wider project that would include an educative web portal with a video database, interviews and rich educative content about Serbian-Albanian relations. 
In Pristina, the event focused on issues surrounding the Kosovo UNESCO bid and the status of Serbian religious and cultural heritage in Kosovo. The panellists that included Shkelzen Maliqi, Advisor to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, and Serbian human rights activist Sonja Biserko, argued that this question should not be seen only from the point of sovereignty, but through the actual legal and overall cultural status and rights that Serbian heritage enjoys in Kosovo. According to the former Greek ambassador and current adviser to the Kosovo Government Dimitris Moschopoulos, the 2015 Kosovo UNESCO bid failed because its representatives fell short of persuading the international community of their full dedication to the fulfilment of all legal measures in this respect. 

“The cultural heritage of Kosovo belongs to both Serbs and Albanians, and then to the world as well, and it should be part of both nations’ identities. Unfortunately, this issue has not been treated this way by either side because the politicisation of this issue that has been going on for three decades has hindered applying a reasonable approach to the cultural heritage of Kosovo”, said Sonja Biserko, President of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia.

At the event in Tirana, discussion revolved around the questions of Serbian-Albanian political, academic and cultural cooperation. Odeta Barbullushi, Albanian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, stressed the importance of cooperation between Serbia and Albania despite their differences about the Kosovo issue, and expressed her commitment in promoting this cooperation. Asked by an EU representative from the audience what could be done more, Sasa Ciric, journalist and literary critic from Serbia, replied that there should be stronger support for translations from Serbian to Albanian and vice versa, and emphasised that the current level of cultural exchange is poor and unsystematic and relies on actions of inspired individuals. 
This initiative supported by PERFORM builds on the results of the project “Figuring Out the Enemy: Re-imagining Serbian-Albanian Relations” implemented by the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in cooperation with partners from Kosovo and Albania, and with the support of another SDC project – Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). 


*Photos in Pristina by Driton Paqarada / KOHA Ditore
*Photos in Tirana by Armand Habazaj