Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Southeast European History

Ruža Fotiadis

Ruža Fotiadis

“Traditional Friends and Orthodox Brothers“ – Greek-Serbian Relations


The notion of a special relationship between Greece and Serbia and a feeling of attachment due to historical and cultural factors has been and is still fostered in the public and scientific discourse of both countries. Especially during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, and against the background of Greek support and humanitarian aid for the Serbian side, the idea of a traditionally good friendship was perpetuated in the media.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, I aim at analysing the ideological content, the manners of identifications and impact of this so-called “Greek-Serbian Friendship” on both societies. The focus of this project will be on the transition period after the end of the Cold War which saw, in Serbia as well as in Greece, a wide range of ruptures, new cleavages and reinterpretations of this relationship.

Through discourse analysis, this project will seek to examine the capabilities of rhetorical strategies based on the “emotional” and the potential for political mobilisation of this friendship discourse. Moreover, ideas, protagonists and networks will be placed in their social and cultural contexts in order to identify how these contexts relate to the circumstances of their emergence, their inner dynamics and their respective mutual influences. In doing so, special attention will be given to the ruptures and new cleavages that result from the postulated friendship and the actual everyday praxis.

The aim of this research is make a contribution through the study of the Serbian-Greek case to larger debates about the logic of friendship and enmity, group building processes and media techniques to emotionalize public opinion. The research questions of this project are: What does “historically conditioned solidarity“ mean? On which grounds is this assumption based? Who are the agents and what are the means of its transmission? And finally, how does this idea of cross-national loyalty unfold its plausibility, attractiveness and mass appeal within a society?

The project is implemented by the GWZO  (University of Leipzig) and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).