Varying interpretations of historical events are often the source of disagreements and conflicts, and the Balkans is no exception. Many current divisions in the region have been caused or aggravated by opposing views on modern history, especially in the last three decades.
In Kosovo, Albanians and Serbs both claim the territory as their own, focusing on different aspects of the status Kosovo had as an autonomous province in the former Yugoslavia, and even before then. And their views differ largely on what the status of Kosovo should be now - an independent state or a province of Serbia.
These differences contributed to the armed conflict in 1999, after which the territory was placed under UN administration. Negotiations about Kosovo's future status are now ongoing.
"But no matter what the future status is, Albanians and Serbs, as well as many other ethnic groups, will still live here," says Maike Verhagen, Youth and Education Programme Officer with the OSCE Mission.
The archaeological camp
Charged with strengthening democracy in Kosovo, the OSCE Mission is an integral part of the UN administration. It is helping build inter-ethnic confidence to enable members of all communities to live peacefully side by side. Part of these efforts is an annual multi-ethnic archaeological youth camp.
For three years, young Albanians, Serbs, Roma and others have gathered for two weeks at the beginning of the school year in September to dig for remains of the ancient Roman city of Ulpiana.
"Every time we come back to the camp, we learn about our common cultural heritage," says Kemajl Luci, an archaeologist from the Museum of Kosovo and the camp's co-ordinator. He set up the camp with OSCE financial support.
"The aim is to make young people understand that the history of Kosovo is not just a matter of the last hundred years and to help them see how much they all have in common," says Kemajl.
He explains that many different groups have occupied this territory over time and the people living there now should be proud of and preserve their common cultural heritage.
Learning about a common past
Jehona Ferati, an 18 year-old Kosovo Albanian, was one of the first teenagers to attend the camp in 2004 and she keeps coming back. "For me this is a unique opportunity to learn more about our common history and find concrete evidence of ancient cultures."
At this year's camp, 50 young people - 33 Albanians, 12 Roma and 5 Serbs - unearthed remains of Ulpiana's public works such as cemeteries, a basilica with mosaic flooring and the city gates.
"As we uncover more, we get a better picture of how people once lived here," said Marigona Ademi, who also attended the camp. "The old structures we find are common to all people living in Kosovo."
Jovan Cepkenovic, a Kosovo Serb from Gracanica, a village midway between Pristina and Ulpiana, joined the camp for a second time this year. He heard of the opportunity through the Red Cross office where he volunteers. "I come here to preserve the history of the area," he says.
The only difficulty Cepkenovic mentioned was a language barrier. Kosovo Serbs have traditionally spoken little or no Albanian, while the younger generations of Kosovo Albanians speak no Serbian. Still, the camp's participants managed.
"It is a bit hard to talk to everybody here but we use our hands and legs to mimic what we mean," Cepkenovic says. And when more help was needed, a few Albanians who spoke some Serbian and Roma would interpret.
Judging by the sight of these young people working together, it is hard to imagine any barriers that would prevent them from living peacefully side by side one another.
"Events such as this one send a positive signal, but we still witness cases of ethnically-motivated violence in Kosovo," says the OSCE's Verhagen. "We hope that by working with young people and providing them with access to quality education, we can make positive steps towards inter-ethnic reconciliation."