Southeast Europe

Southeast Europe has seen a great number of actors on the local and international level working to assist the regeneration of its war-torn societies. However, despite considerable efforts, sustained peace in the region is far from guaranteed. War-related grievances and traumata must be addressed with restorative approaches; trust- and relationship-building take time and require the inclusion of all war-affected actors. Building on our long-term involvement and partnerships in the region, we support and assess initiatives at the local, national and international level. Engaging civil-society actors is crucial in dealing with the past and striving for reconciliation. We are currently exploring the capacities of victims’ groups and veterans’ organisations to contribute to these peacebuilding processes.


In addition to and in between implementing research and practice projects, we engage in a broad range of publishing, consulting and networking activities.

The volume Transitional Justice and Reconciliation – Lessons from the Balkans, ed. by Martina Fischer and  Olivera Simić, has recently been published. The book presents empirical studies, theoretical discussions, and practical experience from initiatives for dealing with the past in the region of former Yugoslavia. It engages scholars and practitioners from the region, as well as international experts, to reflect on the achievements in transitional justice and obstacles that characterise efforts to deal with the past.  Contributors: Tamara Banjeglav, Dinka Čorkalo Biruški & Dean Ajduković, Klaus Hoffmann, Vesna Nikolić-Ristanović & Sanja Čopić, Jelena Subotić, Miodrag Zivanović, Will Bartlett, Briony Jones, Martina Fischer, and Olivera Simić.

With Programme Director Martina Fischer as a member of the scientific advisory board, we provide advice to the EU-funded research project “Developing alternative understandings of security and justice through restorative justice approaches in intercultural settings within democratic societies” (ALTERNATIVE Collaborative Project). The project is based on an action research methodology and assembles knowledge about processes of restorative justice and conflict resolution in selected, security-sensitive areas, while placing a particular focus on intercultural settings. Conference (Leuven, 16-18 November 2015)>

At the conference Dealing with the Past in Spaces, Places, Actions, and Institutions of Memory: A Comparative Reflection on European experiences (Berlin, 18.-21. October 2015) Martina Fischer joined a panel with other experts (scholars and practitioners) from Europe, esp. Western Balkans, Turkey and the US to discuss the potentials, limits and linkages of activities on dealing with the past, driven by state institutions and civil society actors.

In July 2015, Martina Fischer moderated a workshop at the conference Memory, Justice and Reconciliation in Sarajevo, fostering an international exchange of experiences in dealing with the past. The event included a visit to the memorial site Srebrenica-Potočari. 

The workshop Guilt and Reconciliation in Societal Conflicts with guests from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland and Germany formed part of the 35th German Protestant Kirchentag in Stuttgart (3-7 June 2015).

Berghof Grantees from ther region

At the grantee meeting held at the Berghof Foundation in Berlin on 19 November 2015, Slaven Rasković (Dokumenta Center, Zagreb, Croatia) presented preliminary results of his project : “Innovative Conflict Transformation in Vukovar and Knin”. The project is focusing on sensitive post-war areas in Croatia which have been severely affected by the 1990’s wars and continue to struggle with the legacies of past violence. Grantees' Conference 2015 >

Marina Gjorgijoska (Center for Civic Initiative, CCI, Prilep, Macedonia) presented results of the project “Youth Engaged in Circles of Trust” (funded by the Berghof Foundation) at the BF’s grantee conference on November 21, 2014, Berlin. Grantees' Conference 2014 >

CCI has analysed the obstacles and perspectives for conflict transformation in Macedonia. They assessed the attitudes of young people in a 12 months project that gathered youth in “circles of trust”, concluding that only a minor part of the young population is of the opinion that the conflict has been transformed. Both, in the Slavic Macedonian and in the Albanian community a relevant percentage of young people feel either threatened in their identity by the “others”, see the conflict protracted or enshrined in the legal and political system, or perceive a risk of its escalation.

Completed Projects

  • Western Balkans: Dealing with the Past more >
  • War Veterans for Peace more >
  • Reconciliation in Practice more >

From Other Programmes

  • History, Memory and Identity more >

Selected Publications

  • Martina Fischer & Olivera Simic (Eds.): Transitional Justice and Reconciliation. Lessons from the Balkans. 2016. London: Routledge. Book >
  • Martina Fischer & Ljubinka Petrović-Ziemer (Eds.): Dealing with the Past in the Western Balkans. Initiatives for Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. 2013. Report No. 18. Hardcopy >
  • Martina Fischer: Transitional Justice and Reconciliation - Theory and Practice. 2011. Handbook Article. PDF >
  • Martina Fischer (Ed.): Peacebuilding and Civil Society in Bosnia-Herzegovina – Ten Years after Dayton. 2007. Münster/Hamburg/London: Lit-Verlag. Book >