In 1999, the Ministers of Education of South Eastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Slovenia, "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and Turkey; plus Austria and Hungary, as initiator of the Graz Process and co-chairman of a working group within the Stability Pact respectively) attended the first informal conference in Strasbourg and reiterated the importance of the Council of Europe's work in history teaching for the region.


In the wake of the deadly conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, all the countries of the region agree that one of the prerequisites for stability, alongside the advent of democracy and economic development, is an education policy based on mutual understanding, respect for others, tolerance and human rights. But educational reforms are often very difficult to introduce and have to take account of the complexity and the idiosyncrasies of the region to achieve their aims. Armed with the experience of educational issues it has accumulated since it was founded, the Council of Europe has joined in the project for a Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe to help these countries to reorganise their education systems and is also involved in various international activities geared to the same aims. “ […]

After the war, the need to intensify efforts to promote education geared to pluralism and dialogue as a means of countering hatred and animosity gave some legitimacy to the idea of stepping up the Graz Process through new assignments and increased resources. The Sofia Conference recommended that this plan of action should include history and history teaching in particular, but also the education and training of teachers, education for democratic citizenship, the management of cultural diversity and the organisation of higher education.[…]

Looking beyond clichés and smoothing out controversies

For too long the history taught in schools has been cast rigidly by the textbooks of another age, riddled with jingoistic or aggressive clichés, and dispensed with no sense of critical-mindedness, and too often it has been the breeding ground of a narrow-minded nationalism, quick to nurture hatred rather than foster exchange and dialogue between peoples. The revision of history textbooks and syllabuses, begun in western Europe right after the end of the second world war, particularly under Council of Europe auspices, helped to appease old enmities between countries and dispel the misunderstandings and prejudice which fuelled age-old rivalries. Today, South Eastern Europe is as much in need of a way of defusing history as the protagonists of the last world war in the wake of 1945 and all the ministers agreed that history teaching should be used at last as a unifying force and not a weapon".

Final declaration


Ideas based on the debates, the experiences recounted and the needs expressed