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Alterzbischof Otcenasek

Pro Oriente

Commission for Southeast European History

This interdisciplinary and inter-religious committee, established by PRO ORIENTE in 1996, endeavours to foster peace and reconciliation between peoples and religious communities by reviewing the history of Southeast Europe, which was experienced together but has been interpreted in different ways.

Historical Background

The military conflicts connected with the disintegration of Yugoslavia impelled PRO ORIENTE to use its relations with the Orthodox and Catholics, with the Serbs and Croats to promote reconciliation and the re-establishment of peace. To this end, PRO ORIENTE organised irenic initiatives (initiatives of reconciliation) between Orthodox and Catholic bishops and experts from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Austria. The participants deemed the review and reassessment of the common history of Southeast Europe an important precondition for future coexistence in this region. As a result, the internationally composed interdisciplinary Commission for Southeast European History was created.

Methods and Aims

The aim of the research conducted by the Commission for Southeast European History is to contribute to the review and reformation of the understanding of history held by the people of this region, in the conviction that a scholarly – and particularly a historical – approach is of eminent importance when dealing with the traumatising events in the former Yugoslavia. Two committees were established to this end: the initiative group, which was a consultative body, and a commission. The purpose of the initiative group was to define current problem areas, provide general scholarly consultations, and represent the commission in public. In the mid-nineties the initiative group was dissolved and its functions were delegated to the commission.
The commission is responsible for implementing the research programme and selecting the members of the commission and institutions to be entrusted with the organisation of the planned scholarly meetings. It also assesses the results of these meetings. The commission consists of a representative circle of scholars from the historical and social sciences, political science, linguistics, and theology from Southeast Europe, Germany and Austria.
At its meeting from 17-18 January 2014, the Commission for Southeast European History redefined its aims and established its scholarly strategy for the upcoming years.

The currently defined aims are as follows:
The PRO ORIENTE - Commission for Southeast European History deals with the social and political effects of the factor religion in Southeast European history and thus contributes to a positive handling of the region’s cultural diversity and to reconciliation within social and international relationships in the region.
It does so particularly with regard to:
- Religion, culture and the economy
- Religion and political socialisation in Southeast Europe
- Lines of conflict and overcoming conflict in Southeast Europe

The results of the meetings that took place in Austria, Serbia, and Romania are published in a series entitled: PRO ORIENTE - Schriftenreihe der Kommission für Südosteuropäische Geschichte, published by Peter Lang Verlag

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