La situazione di conflitto strisciante in Europa inaugurata dalla guerra in corso rende più strategici che mai i Paesi dell’Europa Centrale e Orientale, mettendo in evidenza il problema del ritardo nell’ integrazione europea dei Balcani Orientali.

Questi Paesi, oltre ad avere avuto un peso particolare nella storia del Continente (dalla Civiltà Danubiana alla Grecia, dagl’Imperatori Macedoni all’Euroislam, da Venezia alla letteratura romantica, dalla ex-Jugoslavia alle migrazioni), sono caratterizzati, più che dalla pretesa storica ostilità reciproca, piuttosto dai caratteri comuni fra le loro identità.

Al Convegno di Sebenico sulle Strade Europee della Cultura, abbiamo proposto di creare quattro nuovi percorsi, capaci di rappresentare quatto immagini dell’identità balcanica:

Il percorso dell'Illirico

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Il percorso dell' «Oltremare»

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Il percorso delle Milletler

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Il percorso di Mestrovic

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Cultural crosspoint  and tourist destination

Riccardo Lala                  
Associazione Culturale Diàlexis

I thank the organizers for this excellent occasion to stay in this wonderful city of Sibenik, meeting so many people interested in cultural projects across Europe. The timing of this meeting is very well chosen: at the heart of a tragic conflict spreading at the center of Europe, in a moment when the peoples of Western Balkans are still swindling between peace and war around a question of cultural heritage: the history-ladden Kosovo Polje, fatherland of several ancient peoples of the Balkans, and sacred to all of them.

As Ismail Kadaré correctly outlined, Kosovo is a part of the soul of all Balkan peoples, giving an example of how European culture il polyhedric and overlapping. To which “nation” belonged Diocletian and Constantine, Maximinus and Kliment, Sokollu Pasha and Ali Pasha, Juraj Dalmatinac and Nicolò Tommaseo, Nikola Tesla and Ivo Andric?

For preventing further conflicts, Europeans should reconsider European Identity in such a way as to include the ones of each of their different Macro-regions-, and, in first instance, the ones of Western and Eastern Europe-.

Western Balkans simply mirror, in an outstanding way, this general situation of Europe, with their overlapping identities, and should be considered, therefore, as a sole, complex, tourist destination.

I am here to represent a group of entities in Italy which is working around a platform  devoted to the Future of Europe, with a section for Western Balkans. You know that the Conference on the Future of Europe of the European Union has just been closed, on the verge of the Ukraine War, without any relevant result. Our idea is to revive the platform, no more as sterile arena where to discuss cold institutional formulas, but, on the contrary, as a forum for allowing Europeans to express their creativity in different areas of culture, utilizing a platform which already exists. It was worked our by the University of Torino: its name is “First Life”. In the field of culture it is easier to find a common ground than in the areas of geopolitics, law and economy.

As stresses ofte by the Pope, Europe’s  identity is “multifaceted”: a synthesis of her different -regional, national and local -overlapping- identities (see my book “10.000 anni d’Identità Europea”, I volume, Patrios Politeia, Alpina, Torino, 2006).

Overcoming the present conflicts will be possible only if European Identity will become apt to include the reasons of the different European “macro-regions”, as well as of its numberless conflicting cultural traditions..

The “East” has contributed heavily to shape European Identity. Western Balkans mirror that multifaceted history. Contrary to modern simplifications implying a supposed ethnic homogeneity of each European nation, contemporary studies have shown a stratification of cultures in the Western Balkans (Danube civilisations, classical world, different schools of Christendom, of Islam and of Jewry, Adriatic Republics, Mitteleuropa, nations and people) which makes cultural tourism in this region of Europe extremely challenging. Let’s remember just some classical works which outlined this theme: the second book of “De Bello Civili” (Julius Caesar); Chapters 29-38 of “De Administrando Imperio” (Constantine VII Porphyrogenetus); “Eschyle, ou le grand  perdant” (Kadaré);Viaggio in Dalmazia (Floris),”Poemi illirici” and “Iskrice” of Tommaseo; “Na Drini ćuprija” (Andrić)…

Personally, I think that new cultural routes alongside Western Balkans may be of paramount interest, not only for Balkan people, but for the whole Europe, as a path towards a deeper understanding of Europe’s Identity and to the living experience of their togetherness.

Just as an example, I could propose:

A  European “Route of Cyrill and Methodius” of the Council of Europe already exists. Other interesting E-Routes could be created through Western Balkans:

-a Route of  Illyricum (Pula, Zadar, Split, Daorson, Durrës, Apollonia, Butrint);
– a Route of the Milletler (Krujë, Prizren, Višegrad, Sarajevo, Mostar, Stolac, Počitelj);
a Route of  the Oltremare (Venezia, Istra , Ancona, Kotor, Urbino, Durres);
-a Route of  Meštrović (Zagreb, Otavice, Šibenik, Split, Lovćen, Beograd).

Albeit Western Balkans  are already now a vibrant crosspoint of tourism and culture, their importance could, and should, be emphasized via joint efforts in the study, debate, publishing, promotion of this common heritage:

-background activities devoted to sponsoring, promoting. organizing and financing the ongoing studies on the unitarian history of the Balkans;

-the publication of book series devoted to the above;

films about the region, such as “Illyricum” of  Simon Bogojević-Narath;

platforms devoted to the promotion of Western Balkans as a whole;

-consortia for joint European Projects.

The European Movement and the University of Torino, together with Associazione Diàlexis, are jointly developing a package of European projects devoted to enhancing the cultural integration of Western Balkans between themselves and with the rest of Europe, including books, film, courses and networks. Such projects should be supported by a new platform devoted to the future of Europe.

In particular, Associazione Diàlexis is working on the Book “De Illyrico et Moesia”, Percorsi culturali nei Balcani Occidentali, aiming at pointing out to the importance of culture for the integration of Western Balkans into Europe, as well as to the contribution of Western Balkans to the common European Identity.

Taking into account the problems of distance and cost, specially in this period of systemic crises, special attention will be devoted to online activities, not as a substitution, but as an integration, of live experience.

I am here also with the ain to foster a participation from people of all countries who have convened here, from one side, to the final form of our book, which will be presented at the Torino Book Fair in May (where all of you are invited), and, from another side, to a series of further projects, starting from the Four Cultural Routes, but going on with a series of other projects, and utilising the resources of Horizon and of Jean Monnet.