Serbs and their problems in Mostar marginalised

Serbs and their problems in Mostar marginalised

Sarajevo, January 21, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

Very often Mostar was and still comes under the focus of the public in BiH and the region in relation with political battle between Croats and Bosniaks. The city suffered a big destruction during the war in BiH and one of its symbols, the Old Bridge, was devastated. The conflict between members of these two nations is very deep and there is no sign that it will be over very soon. But, so much attention has been paid to this conflict that it is almost forgotten that more than 29,000 Serbs lived in this city before the war.

In an attempt to bring the Serb community out of the margins and enable them to decide about their fate, Serb member of BiH Presidency, Mladen Ivanic, organised a meeting in Mostar. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Serb people in the joint BiH institutions and the Association of Serbs in Mostar. On the press conference after the meeting participants said that they discussed possible solutions for more active involvement of the Serbs in the decision on the Statute of the City of Mostar, as well as BiH Election Law amendments.

“One of suggested solutions is to establish a separate election unit with dominant Sebs, who would elect a certain number of representatives of the Serb people. Another solution can be the division of the City Assembly into two parts – one which is elected by parity and the other elected by the principle of “one man – one vote”. A third solution could be the formation of a special body that would have jurisdiction specifically over the budget, since it is the issue that interests most Serb returnees in Mostar, Ivanic said.

He added that they will wait to see the offers by two dominant parties in Mostar, HDZ (Croat) and SDA (Bosniak) and then try to find solutions for representatives of the Serbian people. He noted that more than 9,500 Serbs are registered in Mostar, and about 5,000 really live there, so it is necessary to find a solution in the Election Law to ensure influence of the Serb community in Mostar.

The chairman of the Coordination Committee of the Association of Serbs, Dusan Golo, said that the meeting was a continuation of the activity that has been going on for three months in order to solve issues of vital national interests of Serbs in Mostar.

“We realized that we must alone find solutions for our problems, in order to identify the best solutions and took into consideration the interests of the Serbs in Mostar starting from the constituency of nations in the Canton, in which Serbs are not really a constituent nation. Serbs from Mostar were not involved in discussions on the Election Law although this process must include representatives of all three constituent peoples, Golo said and added that they are trying to engage in these talks, in order to decide upon their destiny.

He said that the Mayor and the Chief of the finance department in the Municipality Governments decide about the budget and this make it seem like the Serbs do not exist.

“MPs of two other nations are governing all spending from the budget. We do not have this right because we are not a constituent nation and that is why we are never taken into account as a relevant factor in Mostar. The only financial support we get is from the RS and Serbia, said Golo and pointed out that, before the war, in Mostar there were 23,905 Serbs and 12,000 who declared themselves as Yugoslavs, “most of whom were Serbs.”

Milan Dunović, vice president of Federation BiH, said that participants agreed that all citizens must all be equally represented in governing institutions.

“We have a situation that the Constitution of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton is not harmonized with the Constitution of the Federation. It is the responsibility of the prime minister and the Assembly of the Canton and it was supposed to have been done a long time ago. It is an important question and we’ll insist on it in the future”, Dunović said.