2017 kicked-off with another two regional launches of the new JHP workbooks in Zagreb on 17 January and in Sarajevo on 19 January.
With an audience consisting of members of the Diplomatic Core, International Organisations, CSOs, NGOs and history teachers, the two new JHP volumes were presented in Sarajevo. After introducing the books as a tool for students to sharpen their critical thinking skills thereby preparing them to become future active citizens who use dialogue in order to avoid future conflicts, Ms Zvezdana Kovac, Executive Director of CDRSEE gave the floor to panelists who began a fruitful discussion: “History should not be in the hands of politicians and teachers should be supported given their difficult task of teaching the recent past in a balanced and fair way”, said Ms Mirella Rašić, Head of the team for Political reporting and Policy Analysis from the European Commission Representation in Croatia. Mr Hannes Swoboda, Chair of the Board of Directors of CDRSEE, highlighted the importance of the workbooks in promoting dialogue on this period, while Prof. Neven Budak, University of Zagreb, Member of the History Education Committee of the CDRSEE and co-editor of the new JHP Workbooks, characterized the project as a peace initiative that doesn’t aim to relativize history but to promote critical thinking among students and the general public. Mr Krešimir Erdelja, Secretary of the Croatian Association of History Teachers – HUNP, spoke of the beneficial cooperation between the HUNP and the CDRSEE that made it possible for eight workshops to be implemented in Croatia and a regional conference to be organized in Vukovar.
At a symbolic venue – the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo – the launch of the new workbooks took place in a room packed with journalists, members of many international and civil society organizations, diplomats and teachers. Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative, reminded the audience that the people of the region have much more in common than they believe and that all stakeholders should provide more support for the next stage of the project, in particular, support for the translations of the workbooks into the local languages and support for the training of teachers. Dr Katz, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for History University of Sarajevo and Source Committee Member, praised the team spirit that prevailed among those who produced the books and stressed its importance in overcoming difficulties. Mr Ibričić, History Teacher and Source Contributor, highlighted the importance of the regional JHP workshops organized by the CDRSEE given how they improve the skills of teachers and provides them with the opportunity to interact with counterparts from other countries in the region. Mr Tuzlić, Journalist and Coordinator for Joint History Project in BiH, expressed his appreciation of being a member of the JHP since its inception and urged all stakeholders to support the project given its potential in making a difference for future generations in Bosnia and throughout Southeast Europe. Lastly Ms Kovac, after providing a brief background on the JHP, expressed the importance of the Ministry of Education’s support and cooperation and how these are both indispensable for the running of the project.