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PEOPLE SAY YES FOR PEACE

September 11, 2006
AFTER ALL: BOSNIAKS, SERBS, CROATS WANT TO LIVE WITH EACH OTHER

United Nations Development Program – Research Results

Translated from Oslobodjenje

Children holding hands for peace.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.”

Bosniaks – the most tolerant

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.

  1. Shaina
    September 11, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks for the article Dan.
    It was really enlightening. I’ve writen a brief article on the upcoming elections, and it seems that there is a lot of nationalist rhetoric being thrown around by the politicians (at least in the British/American media articles).
    However, the article you posted shows a different aspect of the elections, and that is that a great deal of people in Bosnia do not want their country to be split into two, but want to continue to live together.

  2. Srebrenica Massacre
    September 11, 2006 at 11:06 pm

    Thanks Shaina,

    If there is any errors in translation (spelling/grammar), please let me know via email.

    Cheers!

  3. Owen
    September 11, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    There’s hope. Good!

  4. Kirk Johnson
    September 13, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    What great news. What a wonderful way to refute the nationalists and the bigots.

  5. Owen
    September 17, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    Good news here, but looming terrible news elsewhere – unless something urgent is done to persuade the Sudanese Government to accept a UN peacekeeping deployment and in the interim prolong the mandate fo the African Union force, the situation looks very grim in Darfur.

    Today was Global Day for Darfur, on the anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the “Responsibility to Protect” declaration providing the legal and ethical basis for “humanitarian intervention” in a state that is unwilling or unable to fight genocide, massive killings and other massive human rights violations.
    Ready and waiting is the prospect of a desperate catastrophe when the African Union mandate in Darfur runs out in 13 days time and the Sudanes government refuses to allow the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force.

    The Global Day for Darfur aimed to push national governments to act as members of the internationa community to act rapidly to prevent a horrific deterioration in an already awful situation.

    For those with a fast enough internet connect there’s a fifty minute clip filmed by the Aegis Trust from this morning’s event outside the Sudanese Embassy in London (followed by a march to 10 Downing Street via Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square)

    http://astream.com/live/aegis/

    First ten minutes are Darfuris calling for UN deployment (with pictures of the demonstration being filming inside the Embassy – behind the camera to start with, later on the white building with the metal-barred window), then various speakers to the rally included Adam Hussein, escapee from Darfur, Susan Pollack, survivor of Auschwitz, Beatha Uwazaninka, survivor of Rwanda, and preceding Beatha Uwazaninka at just after 34 minutes into the clip, Kemal Pervanic, survivor of Omarska, drawing the lesson from Bosnia for public concern to push the need for action over Darfur up the politicians’ order of priorities.

    Anyone who wasn’t able to attend a meeting for the Global Day can go and sign the petition to the Secretary General of the UN and to the Prime Minister by going to the bottom of the page at

    http://www.dayfordarfur.org/Events/London_UK.htm

    “I, alongside people and organizations from around the world, call on my President or Prime Minister and the international community to:

    * Strengthen the understaffed and overwhelmed African Union peacekeeping force now. We must offer extra help to the African peacekeepers already on the ground.
    * Transition peacekeeping responsibilities to a stronger UN force as soon as possible. The UN must deploy peacekeepers with a strong mandate to protect civilians.
    * Increase aid levels and ensure access for aid delivery. Shortfalls in aid continue to mean that people are at risk of starvation. Humanitarian organizations must have unfettered access to all who need help.
    * Implement the Darfur Peace Agreement. For the violence to end, all parties to the agreement, in particular the Sudanese Government, must live up to their responsibilities.”

  6. Owen
    September 17, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    Sorry, I gave the link to the Darfur petition via the London Event page. It’s there, but the main page is at http://www.dayfordarfur.org/index.asp

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