Debate in Banja Luka: Politics Consciously Manipulates the Wartime Past23. October 2012 - 10:19 — Dejan Georgievski
The building of culture of remembrance is the main condition for establishment of dialogue between states and citizens in former Yugoslavia, area that experienced the trauma of the wars of the 1990s, concluded the debate held yesterday, October 22, 2012, in Banja Luka, under the auspices of the “Ten Years of Banja Luka – Zagreb Regional Dialogue” conference.
Marijana Toma from the Humanitarian Law Centre from Belgrade, and NGO that has worked for the past two decades on the issue of documentation of crimes as contribution to the culture of remembrance, said that Serbian authorities do “everything in their power to prevent the culture of remembrance, manipulating the numbers of victims and dealing exclusively with the issue of Serbian victims”.
Professor of political sciences from Belgrade Čedomir Ćupić believes that such behavior by the Government should not come as a surprise, in view of the fact that the development of culture of remembrance brings up the question of responsibility which politics tries to avoid at any cost.
"For that reason, we don’t only have problem with events, of crimes that did take place, but we have the problem of interpretation of those events. So, we have a situation in which criminals are turned into heroes and that is no basis for building of trust which is the single most important requirement for coexistence. Without empathy for others, dialogue and tolerance, there can be no trust”, Ćupić warned.
Miro Lasić, professor at Mostar University, talked about the challenges faced by Bosnia and Herzegovina in the post-war period, and noted that the biggest problem for the country is that it can’t open the debate about the wartime past and the responsibility, in a way similar to what Germany did at the end of the 1960s.
"BiH has to get more civilized, we need to speak critically of ourselves, we have to say we are ashamed of what we did to our neighbours, our cities”, Lasić said.
Tihomir Cipek from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb sees as the greatest problem of the culture of dialogue in the fact that it is predominantly the civil sector, not the state, that works on that issue.
"A dialogue of that kind takes a long time and there is always the question how to transplant it into political discourse and then prevent from the state turning it into a political weapon. Here, in this region, we constantly face conflicting memories and different narratives lead to tensions. Mind you, the existence of those narratives is legitimate if we agree that a crime is a crime and needs to be punished”, Cipek concluded.
The three-day conference – it will conclude tomorrow, October 24, is focused on the topic “Banja Luka-Zagreb: On the Road to Europe”. Writers, media professionals, historians and experts in variety of fields will present their views on the achievements of democracy, security challenges at the beginning of the 21st Century, EU and its values, the role of media in reconciliation and trust-building in the region, and other topics.
The process of regional dialogue Banja Luka – Zagreb was launched by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Banja Luka Centre for International Relations more than ten years ago. (Source: klix.ba/6yka.com)
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