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National homogenisation and the destruction of the civil society

The process of national homogenization in Bosnia and Herzegovina is increasingly persuading the idea of full rights for the constitutional or state-forming nations, while at the same time, the rights of minorities are being violated even in the basic and founding interpretations. Such a manipulative concept asks for an adjustment for all the new and added members, and thus, it is thus very important that this idea is spread and implanted from ‘an early age’ especially in the interest spheres of target groups, like the educational system and the media.

On June 1, 2015, Boris Divkovic Foundation organized panel discussion on topic ‘The Consequences of the National Homogenization Process’ in Banja Luka. The panelists at this discussion were Srdjan Susnica and Snjezana Grbic from Banja Luka, and Vibor Handzic and Predrag Kojovic from Sarajevo.

The aim of the panel discussion was to emphasize the importance of conciliation, coexistence and compassion, as well as to analyze the burden of culture of remembrance still carried by the young generations. Among the participants of the discussion and the citizens of Banja Luka, there were also the representatives of journalistic, social, political and theological milieu, as well as the students of the University of Banja Luka.

During the two-hour discussion, the panelist have, with the interaction of citizens of Banja Luka, spoken about the similarities and differences in culture, customs, language and religion of the people who live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as about the reasons and causes of having politics of national homogenization. The main attention of the panelists and participants of this discussion was at the social phenomenon of auto-destruction that happens in the society when negative influence from ethnic and confessional differences is drawn, combined with the rule of the right-wing politics in the public discourse. In such framework, current national elite tries to question the existence of civil orientation, and presents it as irrelevant in ethnic, national and religious context. Tendency of such political views represents, at least, the denial of all rights that civil orientation offers, for the obligations and behavior prescribed by the national orientation. In both cases, the affiliation recommends the activities in order to achieve higher and more specific goals. National homogenization, however, is not looking for the activists, but for the followers who will, with the implanted unified thoughts, attitudes and acts, advocate for the advanced privileges and rights only on the basis of the dominant ethnic group they belong to.

The consequence of the national homogenization is full fragmentation of the social unity and leads to the ‘ghettoization’ of certain social groups, which even further leads to the xenophobia and other subversive phenomena. Such divided society causes political instability which, on the bottom line, does not bring any prosperity to anyone, but the vulnerability in existential, social, economic, educational and every other sense’, said panelist Vibor Handzic, Master of Political Science.

According to the Handzic’s words, there is no doubt that B&H can change; however, it is of crucial importance to permanently solve the consequences of the homogenization on national and ethnic grounds. Handzic pointed out that the consequences and the process of national homogenization need to be talked about with as many citizens of B&H as possible. Also, it is of vital importance to present and explain the causes of the national homogenization in B&H and review the specifics of the previous social systems of the region.

In the early 1990s, there were massive democratic political changes in Balkans. Socialism in the multicultural and federal countries rapidly ended with the help of nationalism. Moreover, with the disappearance of socialism, the system values have also decreased, which further lead to the collective identity crisis and necessity for new values search. One of the reasons why nationalism in ex-social countries has found solid grounds is the common base of nationalism and socialism – collectivity. Members of the political elite, former followers of the ideology of socialism, see their only possibility to maintain power in joining the nationalistic movements. Such turn over can lead only into two directions: keeping the power and exhausting the country’s resources for the personal goals regardless of the higher and moral principles; and denial of all requirements of the minorities who try to protect their national identity as effective as possible. The evidence in maintaining both directions is in presenting every requirement of the minorities as the direct attack on the national identity of the national state. As B&H is, according to the local elite, ‘ethnically dirty’, the political leaders have swapped the power of state nationalism/patriotism, which directly reflects on the state, with the ethnic nationalism, which directly connects with the nation.

Process of national homogenization in B&H protects more effectively the idea of full rights of the constitutional people, whereas the rights of the national minorities and others are violated even in the basic interpretation. In B&H, the process of ethnicity in politics is the most evident as majority of the population has seen the society transformation as the opportunity of strengthening the national state. Such a manipulative concept asks for an adjustment for all the new and added members, and thus, it is thus very important that this idea is spread and implanted from ‘an early age’ especially in the interest spheres of target groups, like the educational system and the media.

The panelist Snjezana Grbic, student of the Department of Political Science of the University of Banja Luka, sees the center of the national homogenization in the educational system, and she emphasizes that depolitization of the education in B&H would influence greatly on the solution of this problem.

‘In order to build a country which will see me, you, him and her as a person first, and then as a name on the paper, we need to think, talk, write and educate ourselves about these problems and processes. The greatest problem for the youth in B&H is the education, and everything that derives from it. Existing educational systems of B&H have not progressed since the end of the war, nevertheless, they greatly remind on everything that was present here in the 1990s. When it comes to the national and ethnic point of view, current educational systems are even worse than those practiced during the war. They should never be the grounds for the politics that make young people clueless followers, who do not expect any responsibility from the leader they follow’- said Grbic.

The conclusions of the discussions are that the process of the national homogenization has the direct impact on the destruction of the conceptual idea and the possibilities of the civil society. Due to that, the opinion is that the resistance to this process and the devotion to responsible politics should be required from the B&H society which is, or will be, directly affected by the leadership of the politics of national homogenization.

‘It is not the first time that the consequences of the national homogenization are discussed in Banja Luka. Even right after the war, there were numerous meetings of the intellectuals, NGO activists, and journalists from Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar and Bana Luka, who raised the same questions and looked for the answers. However, the problems of the earlier meetings were the fact that the same participants were always invited, and their social orientation was never questionable. Thus, it is very important that a new generation of young people speaks about this topic in Banja Luka, especially since they are very open and ready to talk about all the disadvantages the nationalism has put on their generation’, said Gordana Katana, the journalist.

According to the participants of the discussion, the first step in this fight is to organize public discussions, presentations and dialogues with the citizens of B&H, especially with young generations who are most manipulated with. In that sense, organizing such panel discussions is just one of the steps that Boris Divkovic Foundation will do for the civil rights movement, equality, co-existence and solidarity, as well as for the responsible politics and improvement of the political practices of B&H.