PEOPLE SAY YES FOR PEACE
United Nations Development Program – Research Results
Recently published results of UNDP‘s research in Sarajevo Oslobodjenje have shown that Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs of Bosnia-Herzegovina want to live together, but don’t want to have close family ties.
According to this report, majority of Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats are willing to share land with other ethnic groups, live with different ethnic groups in their neighbourhoods or send their kids to ethnically mixed schools. However, there is a very low percentage of people who are ready for ethnically mixed marriages.
According to the war-time statistics, there were 120,000 ethnically mixed marriages in Sarajevo alone. Today, 29.8% of Bosniaks on a territory where they form majority, approves marriages with Serbs; while 32.5% of Croats on a territory where they form majority approves ethnically mixed marriages with Serbs. On the other hand, 31.41% of Serbs where they form majority supported ethnic marriages with Croats, while 27.5% of them supported ethnic marriages with Bosniaks.
Interestingly, other minorities on all three ethnically diverse regions of Bosnia-Herzegovina support marriages with all three ethnic groups, including having family ties with “other” people; the exceptions were Bosniaks and Serbs who live on a territory with Croat majority.
Prof. Jusuf Ziga is not surprised by the results of this research.
“For me, these were expected, but also encouraging results.” – says Ziga and explains that considering recent past of Bosnia, the fact that around 30% of citizens is still ready for ethnically mixed marriages and many more for life together “indicates that the readiness to appreciate and accept others has survived despite all odds, and it is still alive as a social value.”
UNDP has concluded that Bosniaks are most ready than all to live together with other ethnic groups in all three ethnically diverse regions of Bosnia.
87.8% of Bosniaks are willing to live in same country with Serbs, and 94.8% of them with Croats.
76% of Croats are willing to share land with Serbs and Bosniaks.
58.9% Serbs are willing to live with Bosniaks and 60.9% with Croats in a territory where Serbs form majority.
Almost in equal percentage, Bosniaks want to have Serbs and Croats as neighbours, while percentage of Serbs who want other ethnic groups as neighbours is somewhat higher. Croats would rather share land where they form majority, than live with other ethnic groups in their neighbourhood.
When it comes to sending kids to same school with other ethnic groups, that number is even lower in Croats, although satisfactory: 66.5% of Croats approve sending their kids to same school with Serb children, while 63.5% of Croats are ready to send their kids to school with Bosniak children. Percentage of Serbs who are willing to school their children with children from other ethnic groups is somewhat smaller, however, 65% of Serbs do support mixed schools.
Consequences of Conflict
When the UNDP researchers asked citizens would they mind if their boss was of other ethnic background, the number of those who answered positively continued plunging. Bosniaks would rather have a Croat, then Serb boss. About 50% of Serbs would neither mind having a Croat, nor Bosniak boss.
Although differences are not huge, the research has shown that Serbs and Croats would rather share land, neighbourhood, school, and even a marriage among each other, then with a third ethnic group – Bosniaks.
Prof. Ziga finds reasons in religious differences, especially when it comes to marriages.
“The fact is that the consequences of conflicts can be felt even to day. And the fact is also that these conflicts were bigger among Bosniaks and Serbs, than they were among Serbs and Croats. But, although there are differences, it should not be forgotten that Serbs and Croats have same religious foundation and I am not surprised they have more readines for common marriage.
However, differences are minimal, even when it comes to this supersensitive question.” – says Prof. Ziga, who thinks that UNDP results show that BiH society has strength for revitalization, but they also have need for community living.”
Serbs – the most unattached to Bosnia-Herzegovina
While they wish to preserve common life among each other, ethnic groups have not developed enough feelings of attachment to common land. The exceptions were Bosniaks, while that feeling is somewhat weaker among Croats, and the weakest among Serbs – only 20% of them say they feel strong attachment to Bosnia. However, attachment to Bosnia among Serbs and Croats is much higher if they live in a community with Bosniaks.
Support for joining European Union
Serbs are more committed for European Union than to their own land. According to UNDP statistics, 61.4% of Serbs, 74.8% of Croats, and 88.4% of Bosniaks on territories where they form majority support Bosnia joining European Union. In 80% of cases other minorities expressed strong or somewhat strong support Bosnia joining European Union.