European Politics of Memory and Legal Reinvention of History in CEE

    • Belgrade 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Uladzislau Belavusau, T.MC. Asser Institute, The Hague / University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands


    This paper will look into the mechanics of legal prescription of certain historical memories in the selected country-studies of CEE. These memory laws and court interventions will be analyzed as a part of EU mnemonic space. Central to this reconstruction of the EU law and politics of memory are EU citizenship and prohibition of genocide denials. It can be drawn on two distinctive and sometimes overlapping paradigms. The first one embodies soft law that invites EU citizens to remember historical events and certifies “European” viewpoint on those events. Such events (e.g. commemoration of Holocaust, acknowledgement of communist atrocities, etc.) are often projected as common European memory via various resolutions of the EU Parliament. The second paradigm of memory-building straightforward outlaws the denial, trivialization and minimization of certain atrocities. Since the adoption of Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA, this second paradigm has become ever visible in EU law and politics of memory. After summarizing the arising EU law of memory, the paper will zoom into two CEE countries, which have been recently under critique of the dramatic decline in the standards of the rule of law, that is Hungary and Poland. The paper will compare various legal engagements with historical memory in these two countries from the fall of communism until the recent commemoration practices and restrictive legislative attempts to control collective remembrance. Finally, the paper will analyze whether these mnemonic practices in Hungary and Poland are compatible with European standards of freedom of (academic) expression, assembly, non-discrimination, dignity, and ultimately, the rule of law.