Annotation: Serbia, from the middle of the 19th century, developed its institutions and structured its society following the European model. The choice the Serbian elites made, was to disregard the autocratic pattern of the neighboring Austria-Hungary, and to build a truly democratic society that suited the egalitarian character of Serbia, where peasant freeholders constituted an overwhelming majority of population. The Radical party from the 1880-ies onwards posed the foundation of Europeans style democratic institutions that were later developed in a multinational environment of Kingdom of Yugoslavia before 1941. The changing pattern of the political life and social order in second Yugoslavia, obliged, involuntarily, the Serbian part of communist Yugoslavia to abandon its European tradition, only to reestablish close ties on cultural level from the 1950-ies and especially from 1960-ies onwards, as soon as the Serbian elites had the once again the right to travel abroad.
The last years of communist rule in Eastern Europe had surprisingly disastrous effects on Serbia, when Tito's disciples led Serbia, and other Yugoslav republics in the chaos of ethnic strife. The long agony of communism and national strife in ex-Yugoslavia permitted the Serbia society to reestablish its ties with Europe only after the democratic change that intervened in autumn of 2000. The long journey towards Europe, and, if we may add, the process of rediscovering its European roots, continues even now in Serbia.
The building of Serbian society on European, or shall we say, democratic principles, was a long and complex process that went on simultaneously on political, cultural, and social level. It was a difficult process that was hindered by difficulties due to the multinational character of Yugoslavia after 1918. The tendency of sacrificing the democratic principle for the sake of national homogenization, or the indisputable priority the communist gave to their type totalitarian society, were to major obstacle for the continuity of ties and exchanges between Serbia and Europe.
The participants in the proposed panel will try to analyze the watershed movements in the relations of Serbia and Europe in a wide chronological perspective from the 19th to the 21st century.