Overcoming History, Becoming European? politics of the Past and European Union Accession in Bulgaria and Serbia

Wentholt, N. M., 2019, [Groningen]: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. 329 p.

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Violence, during war time of through large-scale repression, leaves societies scarred. How did European Union (EU) accession influence political dealing with the past in Bulgaria and Serbia (2000-2012)? Both countries experienced repressive socialism. Serbia additionally has a war past.
The EU, it appears, was not consistent in addressing historical violence, especially repressive socialism. Nevertheless, Bulgarian and Serbian political parties – from left to right – claimed that EU accession required to either confront or forget their violent past(s). Some parties demanded justice to become a worthy EU member state; others made the exact opposite argument and propagated forgiveness in light of the European future.
It is actually not that strange to connect the European future and violent history. The EU’s story of who we are today is rooted in how we interpret history. Specifically, it stems from our supposed triumph over fascism ánd (a recent addition to the story) over communism. The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize confirmed this identity.
But Brussels has little control over the use of these stories. Nor could the EU fully control how parties would interpret its inconsistent policy. Sometimes, (imagined) demands of EU accession indeed helped achieving arrests of Serb war criminals – ending up in The Hague. EU accession was also essential in opening the archives of the Bulgarian socialist secret services. However, this dissertation warns that right-wing Bulgarian and Serbian political parties have used and still use EU accession to kick-start nationalist historical revision.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
Award date28-Oct-2019
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-1947-3
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-1946-6
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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