Imagination is always stronger than science. It has the power to deceive, take and enslave us in its own subconscious, alienating us from the painful and inherited reality and the overwhelming problems and disagreements. However, about history, it is said to be a science that is always full of surprises. She always prepares us in order to surprise us again. Can history exist without imagination? Or, how close / distant is the boundary between historical reality and imagination? Inherited problems, unresolved issues, collective memory, territorial aspirations, national myths and categories that are more and more visible in our Balkan imaginary / real vision. When we talk about ‘the other’, we create an imaginary world. A world we like and a historical narrative that we desperately desire and practice, while not paying attention to the scientific and factorial background, as well as to the other people’s tickling emotion.
The education system is the insinuator and the main generator of what would be a national matrix or a separate historical code, unique only to us, which we carry and build within ourselves, through the whole educational process. Nevertheless, it often happens the case that history becomes a function of the imagination and creates an alluring myth that magnifies “ours” and minimizes or humiliates “theirs”. This condition has created radical processes and ideologies over time that are still visible today under the veil of “nationalism”, “neo-fascism”, “racism” and so on, and we still live it in 21st century as active stakeholders.
Is there a way to avoid unwanted historical narratives? How can we stop the process of constant indoctrination from our youngest age? History has confirmed and tried to find the desired method, but has it been successful? In addition, the potential success always depends on both sides. Unresolved historical issues, in order not to succumb to the imaginary ruling, as a result of long-standing wars and disagreements between nations, were packed in a variety of forms. Joint interstate committees have resolved and are still resolving bitter historical issues with the aim of achieving mutual understanding between nations and different ethnic, cultural and religious groups. Europe proudly cites the example of Germany and France as a successful formula for resolving historical problems. Stimulated by youth organizations after World War II, in both countries, where the “European” prevailed before the “national”. Then followed the German-Polish Commission, Czechoslovak, Austrian, all the way to the countries of the Far East, Japan-China-South Korea.
And all this confirmation of the prevail of the historical over the imaginary, these days, has also been pointed out by Professor Halk Pingel, of Georg Eckert, Institute for International Textbook Research, Braunschweig, Germany, to a small but selected audience in Skopje. He shared his experience as a member of the German-Polish Commission on the resolution of open historical issues in textbooks, emphasizing how should historical education look like in the era of globalization. Pingel is a mediator in overcoming the historical differences between Skopje and Sofia.
The Macedonian-Bulgarian Commission is under a strong political pressure. Piegel says it is normal for politicians to set timeframes and push for faster resolution of disputes. What is reminiscent is that political support is the main link in bringing the two sides closer together. The speed of resolving any dispute depends on the politicians’ willingness to agree. He recalls that such disputes often last for decades, and some, remain in the dead ends for decades.
The professor does not possess a magic wand, which tells us that he is not in the speaking terms with “imagination”, and his historical relevance is widely known. How much can we hope in the success of the eventual resolution of bitter historical issues, taking into account, the complete politicization of the process? How difficult is it to negotiate under unequal timeframes, pressed with time deadlines? In addition, should history ultimately be an obstacle to one’s future? How much has the work of the anti-Bulgarian Committees increased the mood in our country or vice versa? The answer to all these questions is yet to be seen.