Language dispute active again

Language dispute active again

It has been established as a very unpleasant tradition, that every beginning of August the political life in BiH is reserved for dispute about the name of the language of Bosniak people in RS.

Years ago, a group of parents of pupils of an elementary school near Banja Luka, protested because authorities ban the name “bosanski” (“Bosnian”) language in the curriculum. Instead of that, authorities insist on the construction “language of Bosniak nation”. But, at the same time, they didn’t ban the name of Serbian language and don’t insist on a similar construction for this language. The problem seems technical but, in fact, is linked with the deepest feelings of national membership in BiH.

The problem is that RS officials and education authorities just don’t want to allow Bosniaks to use the name “Bosnian”, which implies citizens of Bosnia, regardless of nationality, as the name of their language. Bosniaks, former Muslims, are not keen to give up from idea that “Bosanski” language is their original language. They refer to various conventions adopted by BiH which determine that the members of the particular nation can chose the name for their own language.

The dispute has gone so far that parents of Bosniak pupils in RS schools take their children from the schools and enrol them in schools in Federation BiH, which recognize “bosanski” language. RS officials, regardless of political party, repeatedly emphasize that there is no such thing as “bosanski” language in RS Constitution and that there it is determined as “language of the Bosniak nation”. Therefore, there is no chance for the change because it would represent a violation of RS Constitution. Bosniak officials, again irrespective of political parties, are convinced that “Bosanski” language is the language of the Bosniak nation and blame RS for violation of human rights.

Representatives of international community in BiH were, until now, out of direct involvement in this dispute. But it seems that this situation has dragged on for far too long and that the international organizations are losing their patient. Head of OSCE Mission to BiH, Jonathan Moore, said on Tuesday in Banja Luka that Bosniaks have the right to name their language as they want.

He added that Bosniak children in RS are discriminated, because in their school report cards the language is not determined as it has been decided.

“Bosniaks have the right to say that their language is Bosnian. For decades, it was a practice for the language of the Bosniak people to call their language Bosnian. The Franciscan Monastery in Fojnica has a Bosnian language dictionary from the 18th century”, Moore said to the media in Banja Luka.

However, right after his statement was published, many comments were made since the name “Bosniaks” was adopted for BiH Muslims during the last war 1992-1995. Therefore, the “Bosniaks” didn’t exist in the 18th century.

The Office of the High Representative (OHR), announced that official documents in RS must recognize Bosnian language as the official language of the Bosniak people. OHR base their reasoning in the Dayton Peace Agreement where stays that this document was written in “bosanski, srpski i hrvatski” language.

“Accordingly, the Peace Agreement recognizes the three official languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, on 6 June 2016 the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) accepted the decision of the Constitutional Court of BiH which determines that the constituent peoples and others have a constitutional right to name their language, and that the RS Constitution does not challenge that right”, said OHR.

The PIC Steering Board invited all levels of government, including the RS authorities, to recognize this right equally for all constituent and others peoples.

“The official documents of the RS must recognize the name of the language given by Bosniaks in the RS as Bosnian and therefore enable the Bosniaks to enjoy the same constitutional right to call their language as they wish, as well as other peoples in the RS”, OHR announced.

Seems that politicians from all sides, including international community, forget that the only victims of their dispute are the children that will once again be enrolled in schools out of their permanent place of residence./IBNA