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The third public debate within the project "Helsinki Charter: Promoting Serbia's Europeanization" realized with the assistance of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights

Kragujevac, June 18, 2010

The third public debate promoting the Helsinki Committee's bimonthly, the Helsinki Charter, was held in the Kragujevac City Library under the title "Europeanization: Accomplishments and Limitations."

Referring to the magazine's history and editorial policy, its editor-in-chief Seska Stanojlovic said the latter was based on two tenets, both of which in the function of modernization of the Serbian society. One of the tenets is facing the recent past, which preconditions renewal of the society's moral tissue, whereas the other the promotion of European values, implying the support to the process of the country's Euro-Atlantic integration. In this context, she elaborated changed circumstances and the process of self-examination within EU, which makes further enlargement more questionable than before. In the period to come all this will be challenging domestic actors and advocates of pro-European option, including the magazine such as the Helsinki Charter, to a "new creativity."

Addressing the audience, Chairwoman of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Sonja Biserko said Europeanization was a process Serbia itself had to work on, whereas local self-government and grassroots actors should contribute to it in accordance to their proper needs and visions of the future. She also spoke about the state's negative attitude towards the ICTY and trials before it - actually about the "official policy's" attempt to impose its interpretation of the causes and major actors of ex-Yugoslavia's disintegration ("international players" and "secessionist republics") on the society as a whole.

Such policy, said Biserko, considerably managed to undermine the proceedings before ICTY given that the "official version" about Serbs as sole victims - circulated by the media and promoted in a number of books - took root in the public and notably among younger generations raised and educated on such theses. Serbia was caught unawares by the global crisis itself calling for a new paradigm, said Biserko. However, under the pressure from economic crisis of its own, it had to opt for EU as the only realistic alternative. In this context and mostly thanks to EU's mediation, Serbia is nowadays more open to regional cooperation, she said. On the other hand, as Biserko put it, Serbia will not be able to reach the future unless it genuinely and responsibly confronts the past.

Speaking about the Helsinki Committee, historian Latinka Perovic said, among other things, that the organization's circle includes people seeking to dig deeper into the core of the developments leading to Serbia's alliance with "lies, plunder - and crime." Empathy with and proper understanding and full awareness of the proportions of the crimes committed are most important, she said, above all to the Serbian people but also necessary for the process of regional reconciliation. Ms. Perovic also spoke about the need for the Serbian society to undergo transformation towards modern economy, the rule of law and contemporary educational system. "Serbia needs to leave behind its dreams about territorial expansion, borders and the like, and focus instead on the issues of state-building and institution-building," she said.

All the three keynote speakers were interviewed by reporters for local media after the public debate.











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