These years were considered as important because of the Balkan Wars, the nationalist fragmentation of the former Ottoman empire, and because they sow the seeds of the conflicts in the region that were to recur throughout most of the 20th century.

Athens Conference, 5 - 7 May 2005

The fourth conference, on the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, was held in Glyfada, a suburb of Athens in May 2005. The conference was jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the Division of International Organisations in The Greek Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs. It was attended by 53 participants and observers drawn from 23 countries, including all of the countries of the region.

The aims of the Conference were to:

  • provide a European overview of the roots, causes, consequences and significance of events and developments during 1912/13;
  • compare national and regional historical perspectives, drawing on the latest research;
  • explore the impact of these events on everyday life;
  • provide opportunities for participants to discuss and access primary and secondary source materials on the events of 1912/13 that would enhance a comparative and multinational perspective on developments.

The presentations, working group discussions and the round table discussion with all of the presenters raised a number of issues about teaching the Balkan Wars to upper secondary school students and first year undergraduates at University:

  • How best to approach the legacy of the Balkan Wars and how to convey the ways in which those wars have shaped people’s understanding and expectations of each other?
  • How to move beyond describing what happened during the conflict to also be able to help students to understand the dynamics of the overt and covert influences of the Great Powers at that time?
  • How best to convey to students the changing historiography of the Balkan Wars?
  • How best to make comparisons between the Balkan states in 1912-13 and the same region again in the late 20th century without over-simplification and anachronism?

The conference also ran a history simulation on ‘The Balkan Crisis: 1908 – 1913’

Presentations made during the Athens conference

The keynote lecture "The Great Powers and the Balkans: 1878 – 1914", given by Professor Ioannis Koliopoulos, Professor of Modern History at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki.

Other presentations included:

  • "The Balkan Wars of 1912-13: Their effect on the everyday life of citizens", by Dr Helen Gardika-Katsiadakis, Research Centre for the Study of Modern Greek History, Academy of Athens;
  • "The Balkan Wars of 1912-13: A Russian perspective", by Professor Arutyun Ulunyan, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow;
  • "The Balkan Wars of 1912-13: A Bulgarian Perspective", by Professor Ivan Ilchev, Faculty of History, Sofia University;
  • "The Balkan Wars (1912-13): A Turkish Perspective", by Professor Halil Berktay, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sabanci University, Istanbul;
  • "The Balkan Wars of 1912-13: An Austrian Perspective", by Professor Karl Kaser, University of Graz, Austria.