Bosnia: Will the uncertain peace deal hold?
By Joseph Stashko
Almost 15 years after the Dayton Agreement, the future of Bosnia is still very uncertain.
That was the unanimous agreement by the panel at last night’s Frontline Club, comprising of Paddy Ashdown, Kemal Pervanic, founder of Most Mira charity, and chaired by Allan Little, the BBC correspondent who spent many years covering Yugoslavia.
If you couldn’t join us for this event, you can watch our video feed of the entire thing here:
Pervanic, a survivor of the Omarska concentration camp, spoke of his experiences during the Bosnian War, but also about what steps should be taken in order to establish long term peace in the region:
As a Bosnian, I have to vote for a Serb or a Croat. I want to vote for someone who votes for free healthcare, free travel, but currently we have people in power where the system suits them. That keeps them in power, and as a citizen I can’t change that with my vote. We need real leadership.
Lord Ashdown agreed, but added that “You cannot create a sustainable peace until the thin crust of those who ran the war are out of the way. Only then can you start to rebuild.”
He continued by saying that the EU must be able to risk a short term crisis by setting standards for Bosnia and adhering to them. Warning that there may be factions who are willing to disrupt the whole process of rehabilitation, Ashdown emphasised that Bosnia had to “draw a line and move beyond this”.
Both Ashdown and Pervanic agreed on the notion of historical honesty, that all involved parties had to admit their failings in the past and progress with the present.
Pervanic described his experiences in forgiving people and moving on:
Those who tried to kill you, they’re still humans. In the end, I succeeded in forgiving people, and I chose to move on from the past by helping to improve my environment, rather than feeling sorry for myself.
For more on how Pervanic approached his own resolution, listen to this Audioboo:
He was also appearing to promote awareness of his charity, Most Mira. The project is run by a group of Bosnian and English volunteers, and its’ goal is to provide opportunities for young people in the Prijedor region of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Pervanic finished by emphasising his disillusionment with the ability of politicians to create change, saying:
There is no will on behalf on politicians to make the change. You can’t just wait around for them to help you, you have to do it yourselves. That’s why Most Mira is relevant.
You can read more about his experiences of living in prison camps in his book; The Killing Days: My Journey through the Bosnian War.
If you missed the talk, you can see our Twitter feed below: