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My Hero Your Enemy:
Historical Narratives in National Identity Building in the CEE and SEE Region



The upcoming conferences in Ohrid and Prague are part of a continuing initiative that began with earlier conferences supported by the International Visegrad Fund. These include the "My Hero, Your Enemy" conference held in Prague in 2011 and the conference "National Identities in Central Europe in the Light of Changing European Geopolitics 1918–1948," which took place in 2015 at the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. These earlier events focused on exploring national histories and their connections to current political identity, as well as understanding the role of history in contemporary political discourses and teaching practices.

Building on these foundations, the "Understanding Matters: SEE Region as Battlefield of Narratives" conference in Ohrid and the "Lessons Learned from Historical and Political Disputes in V4 and SEE region" conference in Prague aim to extend and deepen these discussions. They will bring together experts, academics, and intellectuals to explore the dynamics of historical narratives in bilateral issues, with a special focus on the disputes between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, and Kosovo and Serbia.


Through sharing experience in the V4 region, the event aims to discuss the impact of historical experiences towards searching for understanding of historical processes within bilateral dynamics of the SEE region. National mythologies built on the key events of the 20th century still have significant impact on the dynamic of bilateral as well as regional relations in the SEE region. These events are extensively operationalized and instrumentalized in national political discourses without the aim of searching to understand “the other side”. The disputes between North Macedonia and Bulgaria as well as Kosovo and Serbia are complex and deep and the situation may easily escalate due to provocation or even a misunderstanding. Sustainability of difficult bilateral compromises entail at least tacit approval by societies in large. Learning from the past experience with other bilateral and regional disputes and agreements such as theVisegrad collaboration is an important contribution for better understanding of processes in the region and creating space for mutual understanding. Within bilateral and regional relations, there has been a general lack of dialogue and dialogue facilitation, and little good practices from other countries have been used.

Understanding Matters: SEE Region as Battlefield of Narratives


April 16 - 18, 2024, Ohrid, North Macedonia


The event will be dedicated to bilateral issues between North Macedonia and Bulgaria and Kosovo and Serbia with contribution of experience from V4 region. It aims to create a platform for discussing the intricate dynamics of historical narratives in bilateral issues, particularly focusing on the disputes between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, and Kosovo and Serbia. This event will bring together experts, academics, and intellectuals from the V4 and SEE region, including contributors from the V4 region. The agenda includes panels and roundtables that will explore various aspects of national identity building, the legacy of Yugoslavia, and the challenges faced by journalists in these contexts.


Day 1 

Panel I: Reflection of HistoricalNarratives in CEE and SEE Europe

Panel II: Early 20th Century: National Identity Building in Context of Multiethnic Societies

Panel III: Legacy of Yugoslavia in SEE Region

Round Table I: Lessons Learned and Example of Good Praxis

Table II: Journalists Caught in a Trap


Day 2

Panel I: How to Channel Nationalists Aspirations 

Panel II: Case Study I: Dynamics of Dispute between North Macedonia and Bulgaria

Panel III: Case Study II: Dynamics of Dispute betweenKosovo and Serbia Participants


Lessons Learned fr
om Historical and Political Disputes in V4 and SEE region


June 19, 2024, Prague, Czech Republic


This conference is designed to build upon the discussions from the Ohrid event. Participants will engage in dialogues to distil key learnings and develop strategies for mutual cooperation within the V4 and SEE region. The panels will focus on overcoming historical disputes, establishing new historical narratives, and methods for reconciliation in the Western Balkans. The Prague conference aims to consolidate the insights gained in Ohrid and foster ongoing collaboration and understanding among the dynamics of bilateral relations in the region.

The event is dedicated to discuss key takeaways from the event in Ohrid and formulating synthesis for mutual cooperation in the V4 and SEE region. 


Panel I: How to Overcome Historical Disputes –Lessons Learned from V4 Participants

Panel II: New Historical Narratives in the V4 and SEE Region

Panel III: Ways of Reconciliation in Western Balkans Participants

Panel IV: How to Channel Historical Narratives, round table discussion presenting takeaways from Ohrid


Organising committee:

Dr. Michal Vít

Ljupcho Petkovski

Lubomír Pšenka 

Marta Szpala



For logistical information: 


Project partners:


The project is implemented with generous support of the International Visegrad Fund.

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