The key to a better future for Bosnia is to focus on unity, said experts and survivors in a panel marking the 25th anniversary of the official signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
In a webinar held on Monday December 14 hosted by Remembering Srebrenica UK, moving away from divisiveness was discussed by panelists as a means of creating positive change in Bosnia.
Political scientist and co-host of the Sarajevo Calling podcast, Dr Jasmin Mujanović, who was born before the break up of former Yugoslavia, made note to webinar participants that prior to the Bosnian genocide, one third of all marriages in the country were mixed.
“There are people such as myself who identify very strongly as being ‘Bosnian’ but not necessarily identify very much with any one particular ethnic group, if at all,” he said.
MP from the Social Democratic Party Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lana Prlić, who was born during the war in 1993, told the panel she believed in a more unified future for Bosnia that was less concerned with identity politics.
“I think that in ten years we will have a better country and that we will have a country of all its citizens, no matter which name and surname and ethnicity or religion they are carrying with them, and that we will have a lot of people who we will call ‘Bosnians’,” she said.
“I think that in ten years time we will be in a country where we’ll all be the same in front of the law…and I think that my generation is the one that we should look at in the sense of changing the political culture.”
The Bosnia and Herzegovina Country Director for Remembering Srebrenica UK, Elmina Kulasic, who at seven years old was imprisoned in the Trnoplje concentration camp, described her view on Bosnia’s future as “very realistic”.
“I think we have a long road ahead of us and I think the younger generation…that we will have to be louder, more determined and less afraid.
“But I am hopeful…that we can at least think of a brighter future in the next ten years,” she said.
Sarajevo Calling’s co-host Dr Mujanović, said he believes the opportunity for constitutional change is emerging in Bosnia.
“I think there’s a moment dawning upon us in which the prospect of constitutional reform are actually becoming a little bit more likely and a little bit more plausible than they have been in the past,” he said.
Ms. Kulasic added that to improve Bosnia’s future, garnering international alliance was necessary, but reliance on the international community to manage domestic conflict was not.
“We have to have international allies—we should not expect international communities to resolve the problems in Bosnia, but we should definitely work on having international allies and support,” she said.
Munira Subašić, President of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Žepa Enclaves, a survivor who lost 22 members of her family in the genocide including her husband, father, son, three brothers and two sisters, who contributed to the panel discussion via a pre-recorded and pre-translated video, said to create a better tomorrow for Bosnia, trust building and education were needed.
“In BiH there is not a lot of trust among people—we need to build trust, because without trust there is no peace.
“We have to teach our children love,” she said, and “we have to learn from the past in order to have a better and happier future.”
Ms. Subašić added that despite what she endured during the genocide, she is fuelled by a desire to achieve positive change.
“I often say, even though we have survived genocide and injustice from the world and Europe, 1995, and rape, a feeling of hate is not awoken.
“Something is awake in us to build a better tomorrow, to learn from the past and build a better future with our children.
“Enough of those walls, enough injustice, enough of dividing people,” she said.
Discussion during the webinar also evaluated the effectiveness of the Dayton Peace Agreementand the Belfast Agreement.
Written by Miya Yamanouchi for the Sarajevo Times