Bosnia and Herzegovina, like no other country in Europe, has a thousand-year tradition of coexistence of different religions and cultures, and with such experience, the European Union needs Bosnia, since EU strives to become that. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, two worldviews collide. One is inclusiveness and coexistence based on the proclaimed European values of human freedom and respect for everyone’s uniqueness, and the other view is nationalistic, which believes that a single nation of the same religion, language and culture, must live exclusively in one territory. In that regards, Bosnia and Herzegovina reflects the future of Europe, and depending on which concept supports, Europe will show what it wants to become.
The main topic of this year’s 16th Bled Strategic Forum is the future of Europe and its resilience to challenges. These challenges are essentially very simple, and that is the struggle of multiculturalism against nationalism. The European Union is primarily composed of nation states, so the very construction of a new society, where different nations should live under one roof, has been a challenge since the moment when unification began.
That is why the key country for the expansion of the European Union in the Balkans is precisely Bosnia and Herzegovina, both in essence and symbolically. The nationalism imported into Bosnia and Herzegovina tried to kill multiculturalism through systematic destruction, killing, rape, displacement, and ultimately genocide. The culture of coexistence of diversity is largely wounded in this European country, but not destroyed. Nationalists could also learn a lesson in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that it is possible to defend the ideas proclaimed in the European Charter of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, where everyone has the right to be different in its originality. The Bosnian man is essentially free and has a different profile from the purely nationalist view of life that dominates in some parts of Europe.
The Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, which is very strange, at this year’s forum in Bled, presented his thesis that: “Serbia is a key country for the EU. The truth is that European countries need Serbia more then Serbia needs EU membership.” Is Mr. Orban right or not, it can be easily checked by reviewing historical documents.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the First World War began in Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by the change of world order. At the end of the 20th century under the command of regime in Belgrade, aggression was carried out against multicultural Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the first time in history, the Genocide Convention was violated in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for which Serbia was condemned. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was attacked by same forces violating the fundamental idea of the European Union. At the same time, from 1992 to 1995, the basic idea of the European Union has been partially defended in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
How, then for Orban, Serbia could be a key state in the sense of an enlargement of the European Union to the countries in the region? Perhaps Prime Minister Orban does not know that under the command of Serbian General Draza Mihajlovic, systematic crimes were committed against Bosniaks in Eastern Bosnia, Sandzak and Montenegro during the World War II. Everything was evidenced by documents ordering the burning of villages and the complete liquidation of the population. There are also reports on the execution of tasks! An example is the dispatch of the Serbian officer Zaharija Ostojic from January 1, 1943, who informs General Mihajlovic that the issue of Muslims must be resolved in various ways, so one of the ways is that the people from Sandzak must be slaughtered. Two days later, on January 3, 1943, General Mihajlovic ordered his units to clear muslim population from the city of Cajnice, followed by the burning of the village and the killing of 411 women, including 21 children, for which there are documented names and surnames. In the Bijelo Polje, city in Montenegro, 33 villages were burned, 1,000 women and children were killed. On February 13, 1943, one of the commanders, Pavle Djurisic, sent a report to General Mihajlovic informing him that, among others, 8,000 elderly people, women and children had been killed in the cities of Priboj, Cajnice, Pljevlja and Foca. The report also stated that “all Muslim villages were completely burned so that none of their homes remained intact. All property was destroyed except livestock, grain and shade. During the operation, there was a complete destruction of the Muslim population, regardless of gender and age.”
The same policy of destroying the non-Serb population continued during the last aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina, with new perpetrators inspired by the same old ideology. The genocide in Srebrenica, which, according to the verdict of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, was committed by the “Army and Police of the Republika Srpska”, when 8372 boys and men were liquidated, represents the continuity of the ideology of Greater Serbia. Genocide was also committed in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it was not ruled in The Hague.
Serbia did not go through a catharsis, but even today it continues its policy by other means, endangering stability and peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo. With its constant provocations and provocation of tension, the regime from Belgrade is blocking the enlargement of the European Union. On the other hand, by supporting multiethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe is saving itself! That is why, essentially and symbolically, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the most important country for the European Union at the moment. Orban said that European countries need Serbia more then Serbia needs membership in the European Union. If this is acceptable to the European Union, which we believe is not true, then we could conclude that the countries of the European Union see Serbia as a model to follow. At the end, we want to believe that Prime Minister Orban did not know that there is a continuity of Serbian policy that is disastrous for Europe itself.