Christian Travelers Guide + pretty

Watching Bosnia

My 'About Me' blurb tells me that I am still watching and loving Bosnia even though we are back in England. And this is true, I am. But over the summer I've taken my eye of the ball a bit with events in the Balkans and now I've gone back to have a bit of a look it is all systems go.

So, to recap. The Bosnians are going to have an election in October and the fun and games are really starting to begin. Bosnia, the poster child for the post conflict state until about 3 years ago, is demonstrating exactly why rebuilding a nation after a conflict is such hard work and takes such a long time. Whereas 3 years ago people were by and large pretty positive about the direction their country was moving in, now there is a real worry and deep concern that it is slipping backwards into a quagmire of nationalism, division and deep mistrust.

At no time is this more evident that in the run up to an election. The peace agreement that bought the Bosnian conflict to an end installed a political system that unintentionally encourages nationalism (each group is guaranteed a certain number of seats, so all any group has to do is to win the votes of their own ethnic people - there is no reward to be gained for trying to appeal to Bosnians as a whole). Partly due to this, partly due to the system of veto and regular rotation of key posts between the different groups and partly due to the endemic and systemic levels of corruption in the state, the Bosnian political framework is gridlocked. Whilst the politicians bicker between themselves the country gets stuck; can't move forward so has started to slide back.

As the election approaches so the nationalist parties, keen to ensure the votes for their own people, ratchet up the nationalistic rhetoric. Sure enough, that is what is going on now. The Serbs are agitating for a referendum for independence. The Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) are crying foul. The media (often owned and usually influenced by the politicians) has been labelled 'biased and highly unprofessional'. All in all, no one is holding their breath that these elections will produce a result that will change the current political mess.

Martin Bell put together a programme for Radio 4, which you can listen to here on IPlayer, which examines what happened in Bosnia post Tito. The most interesting part for me was the assertion by a senior Bosnian Serb politician that all this nationalism, the posturing, the beating of chests by politicians is all secondary to the real issue; corruption. For the people of Bosnia don't want another conflict. They don't want to live in a country that is seen as the black hole of Europe. They want to move forward, to join the EU, to live on an economic par with their neighbours Serbia and Croatia. But the politicians are making so much money out of corruption that they, the actual people with the power to really change the country, are deliberately holding the country back to ensure that their own private cash cows are milked for as long as possible.

I have to say, from what I have seen of Bosnian politicians and the political system, that assertion is probably true. And that is the tragedy for all the people living and working in Bosnia, making their own personal journeys out of the conflict.

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Watching Bosnia + pretty