LOSERS AND KARADZIC'S HOSTAGES
Slowly spreading through Republika Srpska and among Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the conviction that they are, in fact, the biggest victims of Radovan Karadzic and his policies.
Unlike the foreigners who are wont to say that "peace won in Bosnia and Herzegovina" and that war criminals will end up in The Hague, there are many people who would say that "Karadzic won" there and that "whether he will go to The Hague and when" is less important.
The conviction is slowly spreading in Republika Srpska and among Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina that they are, in fact, the biggest victims of Radovan Karadzic and his policies. The paradox is glaringly obvious. Karadzic's political idol, Slobodan Milosevic, is in The Hague, together with Momcilo Krajisnik. Biljana Plavsic is serving her sentence in Sweden, Nikola Koljevic committed suicide, Ratko Mladic is a fugitive, and Karadzic himself has been hiding in the hills for eight years. However, the reality in BH today for the followers of Milosevic and Karadzic is devastating.
Before the war, people used to say that Sarajevo was "the largest Serbian city in Yugoslavia after Belgrade." Almost 200,000 Serbs lived in the city and its environs. The last thing one could say about their general status at the time was that it was worse than any of the others. Social, economic, political and other positions Serbs held in Sarajevo fell, more often than not, in the category of privileged, rather than that of no value.
Nowadays, less than five to seven percent of Serbs live in Sarajevo. According to estimates, more than 100,000 Serbs left the city in a first wave after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords. Huge pressure on them to leave was exerted from Karadzic's headquarters in Pale.
The regression of the social structure and almost total impoverishment of the social elite among Serbs in Sarajevo is apparent today. One could count on one hand the number of university professors, managers in major public companies, politicians, doctors and artists of Serbian ethnic origin who still live and work in the city. In the past two or three years, there has been a certain, virtually imperceptible revitalization of this stratum, but it is nowhere near its pre-war situation.
There are many towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina where Serbs paid a very high price for Radovan Karadzic's policies. Drvar, a town that used to be almost exclusively inhabited by Serbs, is today struggling to achieve the return of some ten percent of its pre-war population. In Mostar, Serbs were always an important factor in cultural, political and economic life. They have been reduced to insignificance there today. It is the same in Grahovo, Bugojno, Travnik, Jajce…. Even in Tuzla, the town that has managed to preserve the multi-ethnic structure and atmosphere to the greatest degree, Serbs are the main losers.
Apart from the ethnic statistics, Karadzic's policies have left a strong mark on generations to come. The consequences will be hard to eradicate. Miodrag Zivanovic, a lecturer at the Banja Luka Faculty of Philosophy, makes some devastating observations about the young generation in RS in an interview for SENSE. In his view, the student body--not only at universities, but in the school system in general--exhibits a high degree of nationalism, the result of the "war-time education" they have received in the past ten years.
"There have been some essential changes in the consciousness of the people… The ethnic communities started to hate each other and in BH today, nine years after Dayton, the gaps separating ethnic groups are greater than at the time when a physical war was being waged there," Professor Zivanovic warns.
The generation whose education included Radovan Karadzic’s “ideas” has grown up, and many of those who consider the person accused of the most serious war crimes to be a hero have played a decisive role in the process of its growing up. This generation has been infected with the virus of inter-ethnic hatred. Their social consciousness is in a clash with the values of a united Europe and the truths determined at the Tribunal in The Hague.
An illustration of perhaps the most devastating truth about the price that Radovan Karadzic's followers pay and will continue to pay for a long time to come was seen in a report from Banja Luka broadcast by the BH television. A student from Banja Luka--young, healthy and well-groomed--was asked whether he would like to go abroad to study. He proudly tells the camera "he has no intention of learning a foreign language because that is a measure of his patriotism."