The violent deaths of two young men have united Bosnians, crossing rigid ethnic lines. Could something finally be stirring in the divided Balkan country?
When we think of miracles and Bosnia, the first association that pops up is the appearance of the Virgin Mary a couple of decades ago in Medjugorje – an event that brought millions of pilgrims to the area.
However, a week ago, a much greater and more important miracle took place in Banja Luka, the capital of the Serb part of Bosnia (“Republika Srpska”), and then also in other Bosnian cities across the ethnic divide.
The miracle is not the elections which took place this Sunday. As usual, Bosnian elections (with all the accompanying irregularities) were marked by apathy and indifference, and just confirmed the tripartite division of the state along ethnic lines.
Today, the Serb part is more and more acting as a sovereign state, while in the Muslim Sarajevo, Islamization progresses, evidenced by how it’s more and more difficult to get a beer in a restaurant or bar, among other things.
Meanwhile, a specific form of the much-publicized PPP (public-private partnership) is flourishing in all of Bosnia: local political elites intertwined with half-legal private businesses, their rule legitimized as protectors of ethnic entities (Bosnians, Serbs etc.) against the “enemy.” In such a situation where poverty is everywhere and young people are migrating to Western Europe in search of jobs, nationalism thrives and defense of ethnic identity easily prevails over economic issues.
Lessons from past
The problem facing Bosnia is best exemplified by what took place a couple of years ago in Croatia. There, two public protest gatherings were announced: trade unions called for a protest against exploding unemployment and poverty (felt very much by ordinary people). At the same time, rightist nationalists announced a gathering in order to protest the re-introduction of the official status of Cyrillic writing in Vukovar (because of the Serb minority there).
[Extract. Appeared in RT on October 13th 2018.]