Cultural Diplomacy

My Hero Your Enemy: Historical Narratives in National Identity Building in the CEE and SEE Region

Project description:

The series of international conferences initiated over a decade ago that included: the “My Hero, Your Enemy” conference held in Prague in 2011 and the conference “National Identities in Central Europe in the Light of Changing European Geopolitics 1918–1948,” which took place in 2015 at the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. These earlier events focused on exploring national histories and their connections to current political identity, as well as understanding the role of history in contemporary political discourses and teaching practices.

Building on these foundations, the “Understanding Matters: SEE Region as Battlefield of Narratives” conference in Ohrid and the “Lessons Learned from Historical and Political Disputes in V4 and SEE region” conference in Prague aim to extend and deepen these discussions. They will bring together experts, academics, and intellectuals to explore the dynamics of historical narratives in bilateral issues, with a special focus on the disputes between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, and Kosovo and Serbia.

Through sharing experience in the V4 region, the event aims to discuss the impact of historical experiences towards searching for understanding of historical processes within bilateral dynamics of the SEE region. National mythologies built on the key events of the 20th century still have significant impact on the dynamic of bilateral as well as regional relations in the SEE region. These events are extensively operationalized and instrumentalized in national political discourses without the aim of searching to understand “the other side”. The disputes between North Macedonia and Bulgaria as well as Kosovo and Serbia are complex and deep and the situation may easily escalate due to provocation or even a misunderstanding. Sustainability of difficult bilateral compromises entail at least tacit approval by societies in large. Learning from the past experience with other bilateral and regional disputes and agreements such as theVisegrad collaboration is an important contribution for better understanding of processes in the region and creating space for mutual understanding. Within bilateral and regional relations, there has been a general lack of dialogue and dialogue facilitation, and little good practices from other countries have been used.

Project partners:
• Slovak Debate Association
• Institute of Political History
• Villa Decius Association
• Institute for European Studies
• NGO Aktiv
• Eurothink
• Human and Social Studies Foundation Sofia


International Visegrad Fund

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