Panel Discussion

The politics on the global level is based on the international relations which in fact it’s about interpersonal relationships and one of the key factors of achieving and improving these human relations is effective communications. On the hand, the ethnic identity although important is not the only and solely belonging which the person has. Therefore the issue how effective communication affects inter-ethnic reconciliation is topic of many studies, books and discussions, especially in the Balkans. The wars of Yugoslavia provided the international community with a dramatic example of how ethnic conflict can cause regional instability. These conflicts remind us of the permanent relevance of ethnic conflict for international politics. The tragically dissolution of Yugoslavia and the wars as consequence, have illustrated also that one of the reasons why these conflicts happens was because political leaders fails to communicate and cooperate in order to manage crises and conflicts. The main question hereby is; what went wrong? What causes ethnic conflicts? Surely, there can be many explanations of reasons such as ethnic nationalisms, economic crises or political manipulation of diverse national leaderships. But the crucial point, that of communication and cooperation is often underestimated and not well studied. Therefore, the process of reconciliation requires to finds the channels and models of getting divided ethnic groups to communicate and eventually cooperate together for the common future. It’s easier to say as to do (in German there is sentence leichter gesagt als getan) but it is not possible. We heave experiences from other countries and societies which have found their Modus Vivendi and have developed a successful process of reconciliation. One of the best examples is certainly Elysée treaty between France and Germany and signed between President Charles De Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Also in the Balkans, there are several agreements achieved between divided ethnic groups and the communication is well established, to name here interethnic relations between Macedonian and Albanians, Albanians and Serbs in central part of Kosovo and others communities.

So, what is important in this process, firstly and most importantly is to believe strongly that the reconciliation is possible and to be committed in order to benefit both sides. Second, is to find ways to communicate effectively as well to find issues where the cooperation is possible. And last but not least, is to transform self-interest of ethnic groups into the common interest of all citizens. In this process the role, not only of political elites but also media, civil society, scholars and business communities is crucial. Therefore the language and behavior must be that of peace and tolerance not of xenophobic and nationalistic sentiments. Nobelprize winner for Peace and one of the leading peacemakers on South-African reconciliation process, Desmond Tutu use to say; “If you want peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” In this sense, effective communication is not only the means of ethnic reconciliation but also its ends. Thank you very much and hope that this paper has made you to reflect about language and communication we use in everyday life and how that could contribute to improve interethnic relationships.

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