The European Union has worked since its foundation to achieve border integration. Nevertheless, the creation of new borders and the strengthening of existing ones still occurs, especially within cities. Now that national borders are more permeable and less confining than ever due to globalization, the strongest conflicts are related to urban space.
A case in point is Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus, the country that presides the European Union from July until December 2012. Divided cities are both cohabitation laboratories and battlegrounds. Journalist portray the day-to-day reality of people living in Nicosia (Cyprus), Belfast (Northern Ireland), Mitrovica (Kosovo) and Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
What these cities have in common are borders that were born from conflict. In each, social, ethnic and religious collectives feel that their community in those territories should be exclusive. Even so, there are also members who would like to overcome the past and define a common future, beyond differences.
The project will be divided into four parts:
1. Nicosia The stories of Greek and Turkish Cypriots who recently have recovered bodies of relatives missing since military clashes in the 60’s and 70’s, a portrayal of political and social life within the temporary European Union capital.
2. Belfast Certain elements of the Protestant-Catholic conflict have the potential to generate constructive dynamics that could overcome recurrent violence. This is illustrated through the accounts of former IRA soldiers making their living nowadays thanks to “Troubles tourism”, as well as the Catholic and Protestant urban artists known as the Peace Walls painters.
3. Mitrovica Mitrovica’s bridge on the Ibar River has become not just a physical symbol of the clash between Albanian and Serbian communities, being the place where some Serbian teenagers vent their frustration through violence, but also a metaphor of division for the entire city. This part tells the story of these youth, known as the “bridge generation”, and the work of one organization that strives for reconciliation through music.
4. Mostar Croatian Catholics and Bosnian Muslims aged 16 to 25 are the first generation to have grown up since the Balkans War. Their expectations, goals, opportunities and values often reveal the conflict between the two “Mostars”. This city is an example of the strategies taken to foster coexistence. The Ottoman bridge of Mostar, for instance, destroyed in the war, has been rebuilt. It remains to be seen if the same can be done for community integration.
The Pascal Decroos Fund for Investigative Journalism is a project of the independent non-profit organisation Journalismfund.eu established with the purpose of keeping the memory of Pascal Decroos alive and continuing his life's work. Contact
Pascal Decroos Fund for investigative journalism vzw Rozenweg 4b B-1731 Zellik Belgium