Home Page
news 05 Jan 13

Kosovo and Serbian Experts Discuss History

In a lively debate, historians from Kosovo and Serbia agree that the written history of the two nations can include many different perspectives.

BIRN Pristina

In the second episode of the TV debate series “Tema”, two historians from Kosovo and two from Serbia debated on the topic “Is it possible to write history without insulting others?”

Jusuf Buxhovi and Enver Rexhaj from Kosovo and Cedomir Antic and Momcilo Pavlovic from Serbia often agreed to disagree during the debate, but they all emphasised the need for mutual cooperation between Kosovo and Serbian historians.

The four historians participating in the debate, which was organised by Internews Kosova and BIRN, acknowledged that in the past, the history of the two nations was written recklessly.

In addition, they noted, many biased books have been used in the educational institutions of both countries. Because of this, they said, urgent intervention is needed to review the historiography of both nations based on accurate scientific data.

The men agreed that both sides lack scientific objectivity in the writing of the countries' histories, while the Kosovo academics argued that this is made further difficult by an “embargo on relevant documents” by the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Historian Jusuf Buxhovi said that Kosovo is in a situation where it hasn’t yet produced many history textbooks, let alone works that could confront what he called the nationalistic and hegemonic literature written by some Serbian historians.

“In 1944, the third elaboration of Vaso Cubrilovic was published and addressed to Tito. The program was accepted and he was appointed Minister of Forestry. The genocide in Kosovo was conducted on the basis of this program. Gentlemen, these are the facts. We have some 40-50,000 recorded victims,” said Buxhovi, and added that Serbia owes Kosovo an apology.

Antic, meanwhile, said that history should not be pulled down to the political level with requests for apologies. He argued that if equal arguments are applied, without double standards, the results would not be satisfactory for either side.

“If you don’t admit that your history has been forged, that someone may call you a Serb-turned-Turk, who was then turned Arnaut, then don’t request that the heritage of King Milutin, which was raised during the medieval Serbian state, be called Kosovo's heritage. It may be in the territory of an independent Kosovo, but it cannot become the cultural heritage of Kosovo,” said Antic, who holds a post at the Institute of Balkans Studies of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts.

Rexhaj, the director of the Archaeological Institute of Kosovo, argued that the cultural and religious heritage of Kosovo was appropriated by the Serbian Orthodox Church, while the former Serbian despots were in fact vassals of the Ottoman Empire.

According to him, Serbian despots were in full Ottoman service, as there was no Serbian state at the time, but rather a union of nobles. Rexhaj urged a thoughtful examination of the written history of the two countries.

“We in the Balkans are small states. We have produced many great histories. We have produced reckless publications. Today, to start compiling accurate history we have to turn to the revision of history. To identify acceptable references, not just from Serbian or Albanian historiography, but to find a balance from European historiography of the Balkans as well,” he added.

Pavlovic, who is the director of the Institute of Modern History, said that the problem between Albanians and Serbs on the issue of history lies with the interpretation of facts and assessment of certain events and processes.

“It would be fair to mention that the perspective of Albanians is this, while the perspective of Serbs is that. To me this is legitimate- the so-called multiple perspective approach. There must still be limits, because not everything between Serbs and Albanians is disputable,” he added.

The four historians also agreed that history textbooks should not contain hate speech, and shouldn’t hesitate to tell the truth, both in Serbia and Kosovo.

Irrespective of the significant differences between the opinions of the four men, they all offered to cooperate and share information and documents in their further scientific research.

The premiere of the debate will be aired on January 7 at 22:30 on RTV21.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Serbia - Kosovo Relations: Latest Headlines

kosovo-police-director-arrested-in-serbia-09-29-2016 news 29 Sep 16 Serbia Arrests Kosovo Police Director for ‘Terrorism’

Kosovo police’s director in the Mitrovica area, Nehat Thaci, has been arrested at a border crossing by the Serbian authorities on terrorism charges, although the specific allegations remain unknown.

basketball-court-sparks-mosque-row-in-kosovo-09-28-2016 News 29 Sep 16 Basketball Court Sparks Mosque Row in Kosovo

Rumours that Serbs planned to build a basketball court on a site where a mosque once stood in the divided northern town of Mitrovica have upset some Kosovo Albanians.

pristina-students-with-actions-against-orthodox-church-09-19-2016 news 20 Sep 16 Kosovo Students Protest Against Serbian Church

Kosovo students have been protesting against a Serbian Orthodox Church that stands on the Pristina University campus, claiming that it is a symbol of Slobodan Milosevic’s repressive regime.

pristina-students-against-the-orthodox-church-in-university-campus-09-16-2016 news 16 Sep 16 Pristina Students Demand Orthodox Church Demolition

A group of students at Pristina University has demanded that a Serbian Orthodox church that stands on the university campus should be demolished or turned into student facilities.

serb-census-in-kosovo-north-stalls-over-political-deadlock-09-08-2016 news 09 Sep 16 Serb Census in Northern Kosovo Faces Obstacles

While a draft proposal for a census of Kosovo's northern, Serbian-dominated municipalities awaits parliament's approval, a Kosovo Serb leader has warned that the community may refuse to take part.

serbs-deny-pressurizing-kosovo-govt-over-border-vote-09-02-2016 News 02 Sep 16 Serbs Deny Pressurizing Kosovo Govt Over Border Vote

A Belgrade official and a Kosovo Serb leader denied claims that they demanded concessions in return for supporting Pristina’s now-delayed border demarcation deal with Montenegro.

serbian-victims-memorial-profaned-09-02-2016 news 02 Sep 16 Serb Victims’ Memorial Vandalised in Kosovo

Unknown vandals wrote threatening graffiti at a memorial to Serbs killed in July 1999 in the Kosovo village of Gracke e Vjeter/Staro Gracke, just weeks after it was visited by President Hashim Thaci.

kosovo-war-ex-prisoners-fear-arrest-in-serbia-08-22-2016 Feature 25 Aug 16 Kosovo War Ex-Prisoners Fear Arrest in Serbia

Kosovo Albanians detained during wartime by the Serbian authorities still fear that they could be re-arrested, as the case of a man held last week at the Croatia-Serbia border highlighted.

biden-kosovo-and-serbia-to-advance-reconciliation-08-17-2016 news 17 Aug 16 Biden Urges Kosovo to Seek Reconciliation with Serbia

Speaking in Pristina, US Vice-President Joe Biden said that Kosovo officials should work toward normalising relations with Serbia in order to make progress towards joining the EU.

biden-calls-serbia-and-kosovo-to-intensify-dialog-08-16-2016 News 17 Aug 16 Biden Offers Condolences for Victims of NATO Bombing

US Vice-President Joseph Biden offered condolences to the families of 1999 NATO bombing victims and urged Serbia and Kosovo to resolve open issues during a visit to Belgrade.