3. December. 2014. | 06:28

Reconciliation through Culture and Art is Possible

Cooperation between Serbs and Albanians in the field of culture is possible: the ideas are there but they just need to be materialised. This was one of the conclusions from the debate held in AKTIV Art Center in Mitrovica on the 26th of November which discussed the topic, "Through culture and art towards reconciliation in the Balkans."       

The panelists of the second debate organized by AKTIV within the Mitrovica Social Club project were: the Executive Director of the Center for Peace and Tolerance and Alternative Cultural Centre in Gračanica, Nenad Maksimović and the Executive Director of DokuFest in Prizren Eroll Bilibani.

At the beginning of the program the guests were welcomed by AKTIV’s Program director Branislav Nešović who briefly reminded everyone present that the purpose of Mitrovica Social Club is to offer a platform for open discussions on the topics of public interest.

Eroll Bilibani announced that a young filmmaker from Belgrade will be making a film about Mitrovica and that filming is scheduled to begin in December.

He exlpained that "it will be a film that may contribute to the process of reconciliation in the Balkans. Reconciliation is a big word and we should have in mind that it is in fact a process and that it takes time. However, I believe that we can use culture and through cultural activities and cultural organizations move towards reconciliation." 

Bilibani also spoke about the success of DokuFest in Prizren, which has become a brand in time and supported it by saying that thanks to that project they managed to open a cinema in Prizren after 15 years of not having one. He also recalled that prior to 1998 the city had two cinemas. He said that "at the moment, this is the second cinema in Kosovo which does not show only Hollywood blockbusters, but also documentaries and the like" 

Nenad Maksimović said that Alternative Cultural Center, which he is the manager of, has organized 65 cultural events in Gračanica in the past year alone, pointing out that he is quite annoyed by the fact that the third major actor in the equation of reconciliation, the Kosovo Serbs, are always ignored.

Maksimović said that "the past practice of cultural and artistic initiatives that have emerged here is the reconciliation between Kosovo Albanians and the members of Belgrade circle or “the second Serbia” i.e. people from NGOs, "which primarily have no relationship to Kosovo and Albanians." He noted that previous activities and cultural exchanges between Belgrade and Priština, had persistently avoided Kosovo Serbs as a relevent factor. “This is something that we have to change” stressed Maksimović, noting that artists, who, in his opinion, do not have freedom of expression in Kosovo, must be liberated from the constraints  attached to socio-political and national cultural workers. He explained that "the cooperation between us here has been missing" 

Both panelists concluded that cooperation between Serbs and Albanians in the field of culture is possible and that the ideas exist, but that they should be materialized and that artists must have more personal courage.

AKTIV’s project, Mitrovica Social Club, envisages a series of debates which will be held twice a month from November untill March and it is funded by the U.S. Embassy.