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Drvar, 24. 11. 2011. Transcript – Life Histories Focus group with former soldiers (Army of Republika Srpska, Serbs) What are your memories of the former Yugoslavia


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Drvar, 24.11.2011. Transcript – Life Histories - Focus group with former soldiers (Army of Republika Srpska, Serbs)

What are your memories of the former Yugoslavia: Where were you then? What did you do? Could you compare it to the situation today?

It is a hard question!

I saw some good times before the war. I played football: I started playing as a young boy and played until the war started. It was much better than today. We were well off; we were able to earn money and we had everything we needed. Then we had war and lost four years of our lives. What for? To live as we do today: there are no jobs and even the ones who do have jobs are not insured; there is no future in this country. If something happens to me in the woods, I would have nowhere to go; I do not have health insurance and would not be able to go to the doctor's. Actually, I could go to the doctor's but I would have to pay… It is not as it used to be. That's it, in general.

My name is M. L., I was born in 1965; I am somewhat older and remember the good times better. As he has just said: we lived well, we were not concerned with finances or politics, whatsoever; it was a normal life. I am glad that I was a part of those times; I know that people try to avoid words nostalgia and Yugonostalgia, but I can proudly say that, for me, it was a good period… It was a good country, a beautiful country, which offered everything to every normal person: a good life, without concern for the future and perspective, free education, free healthcare, right to work and other things that should be guaranteed to a normal person. It would take long to mention all the good things from that period, as it would take long to mention all the bad things happening today – it is inverse proportional. There were many good things back then and there are maybe even more bad things today. It speaks for itself about how and where we live, whether we are valued and respected. I am speaking as an ordinary citizen, an ordinary man. We have reached the bottom of human dignity; we do not have the right to work, the right to healthcare, the right to education... The rich get education, healthcare and education; only the ones with money can get it. For the rest, it is survival. How people manage to survive, I really do not know; we somehow cope and it is hard to understand how one can spend 500 KM if he has earned only 100 KM. It is an old story… However, I really do not see a perspective. I wouldn't want to philosophize and wouldn't want someone to think that all is grim. I would like to be an optimist; I actually am an optimist and would like to have grounds for the optimism but as the time passes I am more concerned that this doesn't lead to anything good. If I was younger, I think I would leave this country and go somewhere else. However, I am now middle-aged. I can understand the young people who are leaving, but it is the biggest defeat of this country and this system. That would be all.

My name is R. D. I was born in 1969 in Drvar; I may call myself an aboriginal. I would like to say two things. Firstly, when it comes to the memories of the old times, former Yugoslavia and good lives they have just said all that needs to be said. Back then, we had freedom, which is the basic thing a person needs: freedom to move, live and so on; It was good while it lasted. The war came and, as most of the others, I stayed here and did not flee. I wasn't planning to joint the war, I didn't favour the nationalists; I didn't even know much about it, names meant nothing to me. However, I can say that it was imposed on me. We all know what war means and I do not see who could have benefited from it. There was a sudden split. In short, I can say that it was a horror movie directed by certain people. They were sitting, drinking and having a good time while we, the mortals, ordinary people were going where we were going, not knowing who we were fighting against and unaware what it meant for us. Today I can see what it means for me, my colleagues and most of people in former Yugoslavia, or Bosnia and Herzegovina: we have no rights, no jobs, and can achieve nothing without connections or money and we can only hope that nothing will go wrong. I can only say that people should awake and start thinking clearly; people should talk to each others, just as the politicians at the top talk to each others and come up with solutions that bring us nothing. In the end, we have to go Sarajevo, Mostar, Bihać and Banja Luka, for whatever reason. We have to go to find jobs because there are no jobs here at the moment. There are several companies owned by ones who managed to achieve something and they decide on our daily and hourly wages and whether we will get a job and how we should live. In my opinion, we should talk to each others, all three sides included, in order to achieve something… to improve… especially the young people. That is all!

I have told you I wasn't in the war



At all? Well, yes, we had deserters, we had all kinds of...

Well, I can say I was a deserter. No, I won't say that.



You can, so that you would be able to tell your story. Your story is also interesting, you were born here…

I can answer this question but when it comes to questions regarding the war…



It doesn't matter. You can tell us where you were and what happened; you also have a point of view. We already talked to people whose stories were probably similar to yours. ,

Well, fine, I will say a few words about life in the former country of ours.



And compare it to life today.

Well, there is much to say about life in the former country, in which we did not know who was of what ethnicity; we were all the same, we had the same rights and normal lives. There was no social revolt and every citizen was able to get a job, have a vacation at the seaside or in the mountains, we had cars and normal clothes and food, unlike in today's country, the one that doesn't take care of its citizens, where people are hungry, socially vulnerable and have no social or health insurance, school kids have no right to textbooks and so on. I think that this is not the right way and if we continue like this, it will not turn out well. As the colleague has said, if I was younger, I would leave, looking for a place with normal conditions for life. However, at this age, I am forced to stay and the ways of survival here should enter the Guiness book. To live without a job, it is a… I returned here 10 years ago and haven't been able to find a job since. If I want to earn some money, I have to work for a private company, who decides on how I breathe, not only how I work. It is unlike in the former country, when I could go to work, work for 8 hours and go home as a normal person. Today, I do not know what normal is anymore. All the values disappeared; what is worse is that human values have been lost and I can not see how we can go on in a country like this. I really don't.



Can you (maybe you can continue) tell us where you were when the war started and what happened later on, until you came back here?

Well, I was here, in Drvar, when the war started. Actually, I remember well that I was in the street when I heard that the war started. I could not believe that a war could have happened in a country such as Yugoslavia, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, where only 15 days earlier people kept flags on stadiums and shouted: Yugoslavia! I could not understand how come. I spent the entire war in Drvar. I didn't participate in the war! I didn't and I am really proud of it today. I look at the people who participated in the war, who lost much more than I did; someone lost father, mother, brother, sister or someone else… What can I say to them? I spent two months outside Drvar, I came back because I couldn't stand being in another country while my country was in war. So I came back. At the end of the war, I…



Could you be more precise? Which country did you go to?

I went to Italy and I came back here after two months because it wasn't logical to me that there was a war in my county, although I didn't participate.



How did you manage to avoid mobilization?

I was medically incapable.



Could you please give full answers, because my questions will be deleted from the final record?

Oh, OK! I did not participate in the war because I was medically incapable. I was medically incapable but I still was imprisoned and arrested; however, I endured and did not got to war. I did not want to go to war because I did not know who it was against, who it was for and what it was for. Nobody was able to explain it to me, so I did not want to go. I was arrested because I did not want it. However, I was excused from army due to medical reasons and I was in Drvar when the war ended. In August 1995, I fled to Serbia and it was hard there; I can not say whether it was harder here or there. I spent 7 years there as a refugee and it was a bad, bad experience. I returned in 2002 and I have been wandering around Drvar ever since. I can not get a job while the ones with money, connections or physical strength can. And we, the ordinary mortals...



What were conditions here like during the war, from your point of view? Was there… How could one get resources? Was there a black market? How did you manage?

Well, the black market was flourishing, as in all other parts of the country. There was war and it was hard to find fuel, cigarettes or other things. The black market flourished in Drvar. The one who managed to sell something at the black market, managed to survive.



How were you surviving?

Well, I was well off, so to say. My wife is a Muslim; her parents fled to Germany and they helped us somewhat. I have relatives in Italy and they also assisted us, through some channels. That's how I managed to survive. I worked during the war but there was no salary; we were given a sack of flour or something instead of salary. That's how… For example, at the beginning of the war, people in the army were getting something… However, later on, it was same for them as for all the others.



The same question for all of you.

When the war started… I was in the Yugoslav People's Army, in Kičevo. So I did not perceive it as a war. When I was first summoned to go to Vrtoče, I did not go. Then I received the second summons, inviting me to report to the sports centre in Drvar. I thought it was a drill, as we the ones we had in Yugoslav People's Army, I did not realize that I was going to war and the word war itself was strange to me, at the time. So, I answered the summons, thinking I would take part in a kind of a drill. It was February 1992 and the war was already going on in Croatia. There were many refugees around; some of them passed through Drvar, going to Serbia, others stayed here. I perceived it all as a kind of drill, I could not grasp it… I could not apprehend what war was. Months passed, my first destination was Crni Lug, near Grahovo, towards Livno. There were 5 or 6 of us in the group. We were military police, regulating traffic; we were told that our task was to control who passed, when they passed… I had no real contact with conflict or war. People were passing, their names weren't significant at that moment, but it was the beginning. I was on the Serb side and we were then told to stop it; I do not remember the exact date, but we were told to stop the Serbs going to Livno (the residents of Livno) and tell them that something bad can happen to them there. I found it funny at the beginning. I have never experienced anything like it: I was not taught to resent people of different religion or ethnicity. I didn't know. There is a story from that period… People living in Drvar were all Drvar people for me. There were Muslims and Croats, but I had not perceived them as such. I knew their names and surnames but I did not know that they were… I did not know what it meant. Therefore, at the beginning of the war, it seemed strange and funny to me. I was somehow lost in it all, I did not understand until the first victims happened, until the first person got killed. Drvar is a small place and we all knew each others; it was horrible for me because I knew everybody, if not in person than by appearance. When the first person died, it was terrifying for me and I started realizing what the war meant. It meant something that took people's lives! I participated in the war. It brought us nothing good, nothing good happened. We were struggling to survive, without electricity and many other things. The ones who had relatives in another country (for us, the other country was Serbia) received small packages from them; that's how we managed to survive. If you did not have anyone to send you a package, it was harder. Therefore, what can I say? Till this day, I have not been able to understand what it brought me, what happened. Whatever happened, happened… During the war, I was only thinking about the day when it would end, when they would say that it was enough. We could not even shower and we did not have normal lives. Before the war, I was 19 or 20 when it started, I had a really good life (I do not know who hadn't) and, suddenly, the lights turned off and there was only darkness. That is how I perceived it. I was waiting for the lights to turn on, for it to end. During the last months of the war I was constantly thinking about that moment, wondering if I will be able to behave normally again: to get up, go to work, come back home and live my life. As a matter of fact, I was not living during the war, I still can not grasp it… that period is lost for me. The time passed, but it wasn't there. It was all black. On September 31, 1994, I left the war and enrolled into studies; it was the only way out of it, the only way to save my head. I could see that there was no point to it. I went to Serbia and worked there till 1998, when I returned, first to Republic of Srpska; I came back to Drvar in 2000. What then? Nothing! I struggled to survive; I could see then what things were like. I was thinking about why it all happened. I could not find a job; I had a ruined house and could not get into it. Luckily, there was a job opening in Livno. I started working as a driver, although I am a forestry technician. I am still here today; I haven't had a job for the last two or three years. I am at the bottom, struggling to survive. Then, after all that has happened, I ask myself where I was and what I was doing? I talk to Bosniaks and Croats and I have come to conclusion that the normal people think just like I do. I worked with them after the war and never had any problems. Of course, there are always exceptions; there are people who think differently. However, it ended and I am where I am. I do not have a job. I talk to my comrades and we see that the ones with money and authority are in charge again. What should we, ordinary people do? Should I leave? I have a family now and it would be hard to go to an unknown place...

You have no social security provided by the state? It is a fact that you participated in the war; aren't there some benefits for war veterans?

No, I have no benefits for being a veteran, I've never had. I am forgotten by everybody. I have to manage by myself. So, I have never had any benefits, I haven't gotten anything from anybody and haven't been treated as a veteran.



You did not desert? You have mentioned that your house was ruined when you came back… how did you manageto… Do you live in that house now?

In 2000, when I came back, I applied for donation to repair my house.



Where?

Well, at the municipality; we applied at the municipality. Only in 2009, I received a donation. My house was repaired, but not fully. I still can not live there. I need additional finances to complete the works; I do not need much but I do not work… I struggle to survive. My wife has a job. I can not start living in my house; I am currently a subtenant. So… I do not know, I do not know… I still hope, the hope is still alive… I hope for the better.



You can say whatever you want… We also have questions regarding demobilisation… We can merge questions to make it faster.

My story is somewhat different, more specific and I may say even more interesting. In 1988/89, I was half-professional football player and I was not living in Drvar. I played in many towns in the region, including Knin, Kotor and Požarevac. In August of 1991, I went to Bosanski Šamac to play for their club. I had spent eight or nine months there and then the war started. Of course, the championship was cancelled and we were all sent back to our homes; there were many players from other towns. We did not know if it was only temporary madness, if it was going to end in five, ten or twenty days. They sent us home saying that things would probably calm down and the championship would continue. I somehow managed… It is a long story; a movie could be made on how I managed to get back to Drvar. There were blockades, everyone was guarding their village and there is a mix of villages from Bosanski Šamac to here; mix in terms of ethnical structure. There were barricades: Croatian, Serbian and Muslim. People were surprised that we managed to get to Drvar alive, me and a colleague of mine. When I arrived, they were mobilizing people. Since I had been away, I wasn't summoned. All my friends were drilled and mobilized. I felt bed since they were all soldiers and I was not. There was mass euphoria and I guess it is what made me volunteer to participate in that war. Although, I had no idea what war meant; I have always resented fire arms and I still do. It started innocently, somehow jokingly, until they started sending people to the front. I had the luck to be stationed in the town, thanks to some connections I had from my football days… I was mostly guarding some facilities and did not go to the front. I did not encounter the real war. I even somehow ended in prison for 15 days, for being too relaxed so to say, for having fun and making circus; I was among the first prisoners here. My unit guarded storehouses, sport centre (since the firearm warehouse was there)… so I was mostly situated there. In the meantime, you start seeing things and realizing facts; the euphoria decreases and you see things clearly, things you couldn't have dreamt about. War, dead people and other things on the one hand and war profiteering on the other; I can not say I witnessed it but I could see what was going on. Huge amounts of money were involved in the black market of fuel, guns, cigarettes and other things. It makes you frustrated, you volunteered because of some… they imprison you because of several drinks and having fun, they keep you in a hole as if you were a war criminal. If it was the way to treat a person who volunteered to be there… I did not like it. When I realized it all after a year or so, it was June-July 1993, I contacted some of my acquaintances and got an invitation to come to Belgrade and play football there. I somehow managed to get dismissed from the army. I do not know how I made it, there is probably someone watching me from above. So, in summer 1993, I went to Belgrade. I found a club there to play for and stayed in Serbia. During the war, I had no close contact with my parents and others who stayed here. We were in contact though; I know that it was hard for them, that they were on the edge of hunger. There were supplies for the army; soldiers weren't hungry, but ordinary people were in trouble. My parents told me all about it. They were on the edge of hunger, it was unthinkable. I was lucky for not having to go through the atrocities of war and I can understand the ones who participated, who survived, who saw others getting killed or wounded… I do not want to compare myself to… I respect human suffering and tragedies and the ones who, unfortunately, had to go through it. I believe that 99% of them were forced to join the army, they were forced… People soon realized that there was no point to it, that it was a waste of life, the waste of everything. So, my impressions on it are not the same as impressions of these people who spent the entire war here, who went to the front and survived all kinds of trauma. I have heard a lot from my colleagues, I feel as if I have been through it with them, with my family and colleagues; some of them were wounded and directly participated in the greatest horrors. They now can see where it brought them. I have never asked to be seen as one of them; they have survived 3 or 4 years of war and I can not ask for anything for the little time I spent here. I would never do that! I think that those people need to be helped, the ones who were through atrocities, who were wounded or lost a close family member, whatever side they were on. It is well known that people had to go to war, regardless of where they were, without even knowing the purpose of it. They need to be helped first, because we are not all the same. The country surely does not pay enough attention to them. You know what is paradoxical in Drvar today? When I came back here in 2000, I played for the local club. At the time, there was little domicile population here, the majority were settlers from the Middle Bosnia; it was politics. All the people who fought in HVO (Croatian Defence Council) are quite well off. That country took care of them. The ones who lost members of immediate families have some benefits and pensions; as well as ones who participated or were wounded. It was a different point of view. I am not sure about the situation on Bosniak side, but I know that the soldiers of Republic of Srpska are being absolutely neglected; they are at the bottom. It is the paradox. They all fought for their people, for their ethnical group; at least we were told that we were fighting for it, although it had nothing to do with reality. However, that ethnical group, that people, that country should repay it, since they served it... or the governing ethnical authorities who are, of course, always in power. This is what frustrates me the most, what hurts me. Also, we have not learned the lesson from all that. Today, the same people, who simply changed their clothes and their hats, tell the same stories and blow smoke. They are in power again and remain in power telling the same stories that had led to the war. During electoral campaigns, they make promises but they do not promise jobs or solutions of problems; no, their main speeches refer to us being endangered. They are constantly trying to make us believe that we, as Serbs, are endangered; Croats are told the same by their leaders. And they constantly win elections based on that. I simply can not understand it. Have I asked them to defend me? I do not need them to defend me, I am not endangered. I am an individual and I will manage. I just need them not to block or obstruct me. All I need are normal conditions and I will manage.

Most people still vote for them, how come?

The media, the masses... some things are weird, we all know that. If it wasn't so there wouldn't be so much money around media; they are all eager to have power over the media and have everything under control. If someone keeps saying, day after day, that there is a sea in Drvar, I guarantee you that, after a two or three months, 80 % of people will know that there is a sea here. Not we, who are living here, but everyone around will think that there is a sea in Drvar. What is my point? If someone keeps telling you: "You are endangered, you are endangered, you are endangered..." and if they keep inventing artificial crises saying that the other side obstructs them because they hate them and that we must defend ourselves and be unanimous, for the sake of national interests. What then? I mean, who could believe it! A simple person would be satisfied with economic stability; they do not need anything else. They need to be able to live and feed their families and all the other things are… I mean, I can not understand how they can think any other way. How can one be hungry and poor and still believe the stories of being endangered on ethnical basis. How can one think like that, how can he be such an idiot, to be fine with not having a job and still feel that he is protected by the ones in power, who told him that he has to vote for them because he is endangered based on his ethnicity. This is the key to the problem; the fact that such stories are still being believed into. They do not focus on economy or advancement, but only on that. For as long as it is so, we will have the same situation. Maybe there are other people who think like I do but they are minority and for as long as people do not see it, we will not progress; it is the key to all other problems. Once we resolve it, once we change the way we think, we will be able to change our lives. Therefore, we only need to change the state of mind of the people and our lives will change. That's all.



Well, when the war started, I was in Drvar. I was somewhat younger; I was discharged from JNA (Yugoslav People's Army) in June 1991. Six months after, I was mobilized in military police. We weren't expecting a war, we didn't know, we were playing football here. On April 1, I went to Bosanska Krupa, in a uniform, to play football. People saw me and told me that I shouldn't go there in the uniform; I was young, I didn't know that the war would... The war started eight days after that football game. We were all connected, we were friends. I was goalkeeping for their team, in Bosanska Krupa, I knew them and thought that they wouldn't do anything to me. Well, I was mobilized. To tell you the truth, I was through lot during the war. I was wounded three times and I have no benefits. I sometimes was angry; I would come to Drvar from the front and see people living from the black market. They used to sell me one cigarette. I had no cigarettes; I had to buy one by one. At the same time, certain individuals were earning good money, I always say it openly. I felt bed because, while I was bleeding in trenches, they were black marketeering and having fun. What's worse, they took all the credit. They still live here and now they own stores. I was wounded three times and I have nothing of it. Thankfully, it doesn't matter much, but my health has deteriorated, my psychic health especially… My shoulder healed, as well as my leg; it all heals, but psychologically… I can not feel well when I see the ones who were spivs and influenced our life here… I was spending 10 days here, between goings to the front and felt like a beggar and they had everything. It is never easy… I do not like to talk about the war much; I would rather talk about how they have been treating us, the veterans, after the war. I was also a refugee in Serbia, I played football and I brought my family to find them some jobs there. It was all more or less fine until we came back to Drvar. Now, we do not have jobs or anything. In Drvar, if you are not a member of the ruling party, you are nothing. We can say what we want, but it is so. Before elections, they give people sheep or cows and people vote for them. Everybody knows that. They say it openly, in the meetings: "You will get a sheep if you vote for me". On the other hand, we… I am not interested in politics; I have never voted, except in 1991. I do not vote and that is why we are where we are. We have been returnees here in Drvar for a long time; many demobilized soldiers came back to their homes because of nostalgia. We haven't be able to find jobs but there are some who come back and instantly get jobs in the public sector. We have nothing, I keep saying that. I go into the wood and do all kinds of jobs; thank god I am healthy but for how long? I have never been employed and the 4 years in war are my only years of service. What will happen to me when I get old? I can work now, but I have no insurance or pension contribution. I earn money for my boss and he pays me; luckily I have a good boss, but I am not insured. It is the greatest problem here, we live day by day. Tomorrow, he can tell me that he doesn't need me anymore. What then? I would end up in the street. I worked during the summer; there are no jobs during the rainy season. I have a child, and I am thankful for it, but I also have to provide for him. A child can not understand that you do not have money, you must provide for him. However, for as long as these people are in power… all they care for is themselves. I have to ask for help, my apartment downtown leaks. I told them that I was a veteran and they told me that it was my choice. And if I hadn't gone to war, they would have imprisoned me. They now ask me who made me join the army. I said that noone did but I didn't want to go to jail. We can not go on like this… this is… if you are not in the ruling party, with the ones in power in this town, you have nothing, you are a beggar. If only people would get together and do something… All the prices go up and the price of our work goes down. They pay less to us so that they can get more… At the same time, ordinary people… I always speak openly and this is how things in Drvar are, 100 %. I do not know about other towns, but I presume that it is the same if you are not…

In your opinion, in the last 10 years, has the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in general improved or deteriorated. What is the role of the international community in all that? How much has the international community contributed to it, whether the positive or negative?

The positive thing in Bosnia is that human relations improved. We can now go to Cazin or to Bužim and people welcome us there. We haven't even mentioned the war. We are welcome there and it is the only positive thing in the past 10 years. The international community has probably had something to do with it, I am sure they have. However, in terms of economy and human rights, it is a disaster. I mean, human rights in general are not the problem but I want to be able to live from my work, it is all I need. I want to be able to earn enough money so I can live till the end of a month. I do not need to get rich and live like some do; I do not need an expensive car, only a normal life. I want to live a dignified life, that's what's most important. However, it is a good thing that human relations improved. There are some organizations… We took kids to Sarajevo Kid's Festival… it is an international organization; I can not remember its name. They took 2.000 kids to the Festival and it was nice to see kids together, it was great. It has been the best thing in the past 10 years



What's your general conclusion on the rest of the questions? Is reconciliation possible and how? Do you, as a war veteran, believe that reconciliation is harder for ex soldiers?

Well, not really. I think that we were all forced to take part in it, it was imposed on us. OK, maybe there were exceptions; there were some extremists, but the ordinary people… I have talked to people and come to conclusion that maybe we respect each others more, the ones who were in war on both sides. He respects me more than someone who fled or deserted and I respect him more. We fought for our peoples; we did not know the goals, it was imposed on us… Anyways, I find that it was fairer to go with your people… I think that it has never been so between us but it all depends on the politicians. They impose it on people, to go to stadiums and shout: "Kill Serbs" or "Kill Muslims" or "Kill Croats". It will keep happening, as it happens everywhere. It is our mirror. These days, if you want to initiate something, you let sport funs start it.



Those are mostly children, who were born after the war?

Yes, but they are poisoned by it; they get some money and that's it. On the other hand, we… I was in the war and was wounded three times and I do not do it. I mean, I can understand everything; we work with people from other ethnical groups, Bosniaks and Croats, we mingle and have fun together. We are OK with each others, we are all there to earn some money and that's it. We are not the problem; we are older and more experienced and we see things from a different perspective. We are thinking: "Who would go to the war again?!" I wouldn't, ever again. I would not agree to live through it for another four years even if they killed me. I think that other people think the same, at least the ones I've talked to.



I agree that maybe the only positive thing in the last 10 years is this improvement in human relations. Things have calmed down; normal people are beginning to forget traumas and tragedies. However, it all depends on the individuals and what personal tragedies they've been through. I can not expect someone who lost his family, who was in a concentration camp or whose father, mother, brother was killed by a Serb to love me. I can understand that as much as they want to be normal and reasonable, the fact that a member of my ethnical group did it to them remains in their subconsciousnes. They will probably never accept me as they would if things were normal. I can understand that and it is fine with me; this applies to all three sides. Therefore, there will be problems with those people. The ones who have not been through such things, who did not have personal tragedies, find it normal to move on, to put things back to their place and to communicate and live normally. Our people, I am talking about the ones like myself, have started thinking like that soon after the war. However, there were situations when I felt it. People who suffered such tragedies are suspicious and it is normal. It will take time for them to get over with; actually, they probably never will. That is normal and could have been expected and it is positive that the rest have managed to built normal relations. Another positive thing is rehabilitation of the infrastructure, aided by the international community and donations. However, I am sceptical when it comes to their role and all that. I follow it in the media, newspaper and TV and it seems to me that noone ever does anything unless they have a background interest in it. Therefore, rehabilitation of the infrastructure in some towns is an improvement but I fear that the background to it is something else, that it has to do with something else. However, we will at least have several new buildings here and there. What will happen in the future? Whether the West still thinks that they are the protectorate to this county or whether they need a place to dispose their nuclear waste, we do not know. One needs to have more political knowledge to understand it. However, knowing the history and state of mind of the West, I see that their politics for thousands of years aimed only to conquer, enslave, harass and exploit its own and all other peoples. I can't find anything benevolent in it and I do not see how someone in England or Germany cares for my well being. Maybe there are normal people like us, but it is not about normal people, it is about global issues. It is about global issues of countries, governments and all kinds of organizations that are being used as covers. I would need to know more about politics in order to be more specific, but it doesn't seem benevolent. They haven't brought much good to anyone and I do not expect that we will be an exception. They enslaved Africa and the entire world, they killed Indians and all domicile population wherever they could find a way to exploit the land. They came to Bosnia to help me and before that they had prepared the war, they threw the war in. I am somehow sceptic! I am not convinced in their good intentions. Unfortunately, our people, our politicians depend on them; they like things as they are and they accord their petit interests with them, implement it and use it for manipulation. They actually both use manipulation to keep things as they are, to maintain the status quo. How come that a normal country, normal people can not form a government for 14 months? How come that the three members of the Presidency can not agree, that they even can't sit together? I can not believe that it is because of extremism; it is all about interests, the interest spheres. The international community, with its legitimacy, could do a lot; they do things to the certain extent which suits them and then they stop. Therefore, this is still a cauldron and we are being slowly cooked at its bottom, while they eat from the top. This is a rich country and I am sure that they have interest in it. We are rich, we can live by ourselves, unless they send us their nuclear waste, export cheap manpower and import rotten products – infected meat from Europe that noone else would take; this is what they need this country for. They didn't like strong Yugoslavia and they will not like strong Bosnia, strong Serbia or strong Croatia… they are lying to us. All their talk about investments and plans is a lie; if they had wanted a strong country, they would have supported Yugoslavia. It is clear. They do not want me to have 2.000 EUR salary, they surely do not want it. They want me to have a 20 EUR salary, that's what it's all about.

In my personal opinion regarding the past 10 years…. I think that solution depends on individuals, on how they think and how things are presented to them. However, the point of view changes when… You can present me what things are like in Livno, on Bosnian and Croatian side, you can present what they think of me, but until I experience it myself, until I face those people: Bosniaks, Croats, neighbours and until I myself talk to them, I will not know what they think of me. For as long as it is presented to me by someone in their own way, there will be no solution. Therefore, the international community… we must resolve the issues within our own house; they can not be resolved by anybody else. I know what things are like, I am here and noone from America, England or any other country can tell me; it is interference. In the last 10 years, I've visited many places in this region. I was in Sarajevo, Kakanj, Banja Luka, Zagreb, Split and talked to ordinary people: drivers, citizens, guards. I see that their point of view is not one presented in the media, a Bosniak – Muslim or a Croat does not hate me. I was here during the war. The first conflict I encounter was at the border of Livno and Drvar, at Crni Lug. After that, for the last 10 years, I have been working as a driver and I am the only Serb among 8 or 9 of us. I have never experienced anything bad from a Croat or a Muslim. I sat with them, we had coffee together. Talking to them, I saw no hatred. We were discussing about usual things, we were talking about how to survive. I am struggling to survive just as they do. The only difference is that I, as a war veteran, haven't been supported by anyone, nobody gave me anything; I have had nothing from the war. Some did get assistance and benefits. That is the only difference, but we weren't talking about who gave what to whom. It was a normal conversation and I haven't experienced anything bad, not even in Sarajevo… On the contrary, (I always talk about it), after going to Sarajevo, Mostar and Zagreb, I came back here, to Drvar, and maybe experienced something bad from one of my own people. Therefore, in my personal opinion, it is up to individuals. However, we should face each others; I need to face my neighbour in order to form an opinion on him, it shouldn't be imposed by somebody else who would impute their point of view to me. I need to meet my neighbour in person. I do not need a mediator. It is up to me whether I will accept it, after I experience it. If I experienced something bad in some town, I probably wouldn't go there anymore, but I do not need it to be presented to me by a third party, a foreigner eager to present my neighbour's point of view. Therefore, it is up to individuals. We do not need mediators. What reconciliation are we talking about? I have been there many times in the last 10 years, therefore I have reconciled; it is crystal clear. I have not experienced anything bad, I mingled with those people; we talked, ate and drank together. It is finished. On the other hand, I can say this: "I am not to be blamed if something happened, say in Sarajevo. Who shelled Sarajevo? I can not tell because I wasn't there and I do not want to make judgements. However, it is a fact that if the world, if the international community says: "Serbs are to be blamed."… How many Serbs are there? I wasn't there! Am I to be blamed? Everyone should be accountable for their own actions. So, what is this all about?

Excuse me, the battery is dead, I'll be back in a minute.

That was all, anyway.

I would like to say something about the previous 10 years.

10 years... role of the international community and reconciliation?

Well, I would like to say something about reconciliation first. I think that it has advanced a great deal! For example, M. and I are working with children up to 14 years of age at this football school and we have travelled to many towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina with them. We have never had an excess or a conflict, verbal or any other. We played in Una-Sana Canton league and were the only team with 80% of Serbian children and 20% of Croats and Muslims or Bosniaks. There have been no excesses whatsoever. We are normally accepted everywhere, if not better than other teams and it tells me that there has been a great advancement in reconciliation. As for the international community, I think that they did a great job on renovation of infrastructure and nothing else. In my opinion, the international community is even somewhat unnecessary here. I wouldn't go into details when it comes to politics because I am not interested in it. I am a politician though, so I wouldn't talk much about it. However, what I know is that thanks to the international community, donations and loans, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been renovated. I am glad that the people could get back what they used to have, in that sense. Whether the international community will stay here does not depend on the people but on politics. I wouldn't dare to predict whether they are going to stay here. With regards to the first question, it is my opinion that we should continue building reconciliation among peoples. In 1945, Germans were slaughtering us here in former Yugoslavia and yet, in 1949, we were gladly going to Germany to work there. Why wouldn't it be so here in Bosnia. I do not resent people in Sarajevo. For example, in 1999 I went to Sarajevo to obtain a visa; my daughter was with me and she was speaking in ekavian dialect, since she was a refugee in Serbia when she was a kid. When a lady working at a news stall heard her speaking, it brought tears to her eyes and she bought a chocolate to my daughter. Therefore, ordinary people are not against reconciliation, they are not… It is only up to politics. It is mostly manifested in stadiums, where young people are paid to do what they do. I think that ordinary people do not want that, I think that ordinary people want reconciliation. I know that it is hard to reconcile for those who lost members of their families: a father, brother, mother, child… but it also comes to an end. I mean, it has been long since the war ended and we should turn to reconciliation now, everything else will be easier then.



You are saying that young people are being paid to do it, is it something you know, or?

Well, for example, I have read in newspaper that there are certain individuals who give money to people at stadiums. I have also read statements by some experts in Banja Luka, who said that a manager gave money to young people so that they would do that. I think that it is not far from the truth. Why would I mind someone from Široki Brijeg coming here, to Drvar, to play? Why would I mind? I do not see a reason for me to mind it just because he is a Croat and I am a Serb. I do not find it logical! Therefore, I think that it has changed for the better, the reconciliation among us, and now we need to continue to build it. I also think that, if ordinary people are presented the truth, that they will accept it easily.



Would you like to add anything, Čazim?

No, I wouldn't.





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