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INFO::: Transitional Justice > Facing the Past > Opening a Dialogue on the Recent Past 'within' the Serbian Society > Text



supported by the Fund for an Open Society, OSI


Bosnia-Herzegovina: A part of the Serbian
national project


The second conference in the series, realized with the assistance of the Fund for an Open Society under the project "Opening a Dialogue of the Recent Past 'within' the Serbian Society"


Source:, July 3, 2007, 16:08:37

Is There an End to Serbian Delusions of Bosnia?

By Zelimir Bojovic


Historians Latinka Perovic and Olivera Milosavljevic told today's conference "Bosnia-Herzegovina: A Part of the Serbian National Project" - organized by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia - that Serbia's nationalistic elites still strongly aspire to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Such aspirations, as they put it, considerably jeopardize Bosnia's society. For her part, Sonja Biserko, chairwoman of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, suggested a revision of the Dayton Peace Accords.

Sonja Biserko underlines that the issue of Bosnia-Herzegovina is crucial for all future processes in the Balkans, which is why the international community should take a more responsible and by far more clear-cut attitude towards Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"In brief, that's the topic that sublimates, so to speak, all regional developments over the past 15 years but also the international community's inaptitude and inadequate behavior," said Biserko.

Historian Latinka Perovic says that the present-day problem of Bosnia-Herzegovina can be hardly understood outside the context of the Serbian nationalistic ideology "the sum and substance of which is the Greater Serbia project." "That substrate remains the same for two centuries now. Though it suffered three actual defeats in the past century, this substrate is kept alive in people's minds," said Ms. Perovic.

Latinka Perovic pinpoints that today's Bosnia-Herzegovina is "in a blind alley" and will hardly find its way out without an intellectual and perceptional endeavor to analyze the developments that have brought about its situation. Such processes, say Perovic, necessitate serious historical analyses, rather than historicism that predominates today.

"Historicism emerges whenever something is taken as the truth today and something else tomorrow. Historicism relativizes the significance of accumulated knowledge and leads to intellectual degradation that surrounds us today. That intellectual degradation leads to moral indifference and hinders proper perception of the ongoing developments," said Ms. Perovic.

Historian Olivera Milosavljevic pinpoints that almost no new rationality adjusted to the modern age has taken root in the Serbian society.

"All we have now is what a few truly believed in 100 years ago. The myths of the so-called historical and ethnic rights, and epics, as the sources of historical truth, which used to be mobilization auxiliaries in early 20th century became the only argument and purpose of mobilization by the close of that century."

For Latinka Perovic it is the absence of the process of facing the past in the Serbian society with its warring past that is problematic not only for the Serbian society but also for further democratic processes of Bosnian society.

"From the angle of the science of history, we are still far from taking the stock of the Bosnian war and accepting it was an aggression against an internationally recognized state, a war that resulted in the most heinous crimes, and that is the Greater Serbia idea that still refers to it as a part of Serbia's epic and heroic past, and postpones punishment of those crimes. And without punishment of the crimes, the Serbian society would never recover its morals. The absence of accountability fosters the process of disintegration in Bosnia, but also hinders Serbia's progress, leads to all her misunderstandings with her neighbors, destabilizes the entire region and blocks integrative processes," said Ms. Perovic.

This is why Sonja Biserko takes revision of the Dayton Accords imperative. According to her, the revision would turn the society of Bosnia-Herzegovina into a predominantly civil one, which would cut down the aspirations of Serbia's nationalistic elites.

"The purpose of the Dayton Accords was to put an end to the war. Unfortunately, they cemented Bosnia's system by ethnic principle, that is along the lines of partition. Therefore, the revision of the Dayton Accords aimed at integrating Bosnia as a functional state would simultaneously put an end to Serbian delusions of Bosnia," said Biserko.





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