Project Aest Ovest
After years of silence about the dramatic events experienced by the people along the Italian-Yugoslav border before and after World War II, in 2004, the Italian Parliament passed a law instituting the "Day of Remembrance" (celebrated on February10). Now, official celebrations and school activities commemorate the killings by the Yugoslavian partisans of thousands of civilians primarily of Italian ethnicity, in September 1943 and May 1945, known as foibe (pits), together with the exodus of Italian population from the Giulia and Dalmatia regions during and after WW II.
From an opportunity for a new and finally shared interpretation of history, the Day of Remembrance has turned into a problematic anniversary both on the national and the European level. The diplomatic incident involving the Italian and Croatian presidents on the commemoration in February 2007 demonstrates the difficulty in constructing a shared narrative about the tragedies alongside the border.
The first attempt of a joint historic reflection, such as the one emerging from the work of the mixed Italian-Slovenian historic-cultural commission formed in 1993, had been forgotten. The public debate is carried on with complete indifference to historiography created over time. Generally, the debate fails to contextualise those dramatic events in the broader frame of contemporary European history.
The promotion of a shared memory of the dramatic events which had taken place along the old Italian-Yugoslav border intends to establish together with the new and with the future EU member states a common cultural and political space based on inclusive European citizenship, ready for a common transnational future.
With the project AestOvest, Osservatorio sui Balcani aimed to disseminate the rich material produced in recent years by associations, media, institutions, on the theme of the border between Italy and Slovenia, and on the composite reality of Istria. The project publicises documentaries, didactic material, exhibits, books, in-depth analysis, and audio interviews. Everything is published on the Osservatorio's website, together with interviews, articles, and news reports produced by Osservatorio's editorial board and correspondents.
In June 2008, we will present the multimedia DVD ToEastWest, a program of study covering the history, the places of memory and the present european border, produced for Italian high school students. It will be available - also on-line - for the school year 2008-2009.
The project is implemented with support from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education and Culture, program "Europe for the Citizens".