It is nice to dream. It is nice to aspire. Trouble arises when our dreams and our aspirations tend to become somebody else's too. And that is exactly what has been happening to the Croatian nation (I am not going to talk about the other neighbouring nations). There are those who still dream the Yugoslavian dream and wish it would become a reality. It needs not be called that, it can also be named the Western Balkan dream or something along those lines. If someone represents different ideas, they scowl and label everything as nationalism, reactionism or something alike.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina everything is yet more sharply defined. The dreamers from all spheres seem to have found their heartland here. They compete with each other who is going to have a more exuberant dream. Years later, they cold-bloodedly admit they were wrong and move on as if nothing has happened. Let me just mention the recent statement given by the American Ambassador. For the first time the Dayton has been criticised. However, there has been no mention of punishment for those who imposed it, nor is there the urge to redress the wrong done. Therefore, the process is miming, running..., and we are slowly getting older and becoming more tired. What we have left is hope in new, fresh blood.
Will the young generations of Bosnia and Herzegovina have a chance to become the pillars ot future society? It we are those who let hope die out, hardly! Unemployment is great, the international community keeps introducing new blueprints of our social life, there are protests in schools, there is no difference made between the victim and the culprit, court proceedings are increasingly beginning to look like theatrical shows for the mob in different kingdoms, big, hollow words... The smallest Croatian nation is struggling most in all this. It has been cornered into an entity with some others who can outvote them at any time, it is not allowed to enjoy the rights which even the minorities in different European countries have. It is being lectured on multiculturalism, while the English, its great advocates until recently, have already started pushing it away at the big door out of their country, before the eyes of the Croats the Yugoslav past is placed, although the Council of Europe has condemned all the evils of totalitarian communism. Forcefully the social and cultural aspects of life have been disintegrated, and, along with the religious aspect, they represent the essence of human existence on Earth. Because of all that, talking about culture necessarily means talking about the social happenings and vice versa.
History passes by, and the Croats have still not realised their right to have radio and television channel in their language. I am bored of repeating, but nonetheless I will do it again: the Serbs exercise their right through the radio and television stations in Republika Srpska, Bosnians through their majority representation in the B&H Federation. And it would be so simple to set up three radio and television channels on the level of the whole Bosnia and Herzegovina, for each nation one channel. That would be a much greater contribution to peace and coexistence than what we have at the moment. I would just press the button to see what is happening at my neighbours', the other two nations. Under the present circumstances we waste our energy proving that black is black and white is white.
Neither do the Croats have much trust in the newspaper agencies. Formerly they had their own, and then they were ordered to reorganise it into a new one which still needs to be established. Furthermore, the Croatian language, like in the time of Yugoslavia, yet again has gone underground. If someone accidentally uses his/her word, or God forbids starts insisting upon it, first one receive a reproving glance. The rest follows soon after. The adults handle those situations much better than the younge generations. They seem incapable of understanding why something is referred to differently in different situations. Those with more experience explain that, sooner or later, they will come to understand the difference, there is really no need to rush things.
The International Community als understands that there is no need to rush things, so it has left Mostar as a permanently opened issue. Just how many words have been spoken in defence of that attitude!? How much their bank accounts have increased thanks to their peace-making task in this town!? And all for nothing! Those who think, say that the opposite is not possible. It is impossible to violate one's democratic rights more easily as Mostar has a special status in the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina. There, the election rules applied everywhere else are not valid rules, it has its own, special ones. When there are elections conducted under such rules, difficulties arise in everyday life. Reality turns to be different and it cannot be squeezed into somebody's selfish dreams. Let us just mention one of the "gems": the merging of schools. They say that it is irrational to have two schools in two different languages. Let us merge them under one roof and give them some shared subjects. Parents and pupils then come to a conclusion that the next step will be the abolishing of their school and melting the same into a new one with the curriculum in another language. Very democratic, really!
When talking about art and culture the idea is to promote those who miss the past times "when we all understood each others", those who talk about "our" language, "our" school, "our" art, "our"... By doing so they are trying to create a virtual reality and silence the voices which wish to speak about true art and the culture of the Croats, Bosnians and Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They say that those true voices would be a kind of segregation. I fail to understand, unless segregation is when the British and French, as others too, live in separate countries. For them, in other words, "ours" has fully understandable meaning. They go on and on saying that if we want to join Europe we must be like others. Ok, we want to be like the English, French, Dutch, Italians... then why are we being deprived of that?
Here I would like to mention the help that Croatia has offered every year to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is actually a financial aid for different cultural, art, media and similar projects. One question buggs me: why are the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina again queuing for something? Sometime ago we were told that we are queuing for an opinion and that we should go to Zagreb for it. Today, when we want to be self-reliant, we are accused of insufficient cooperation with Zagreb, of weak grouping. Where to go? The self-confident ones just brush off and try to find their own way.
The Croatian intellectuals are not silent, even though it may appear so at first glance. Yet again they give us some hope by establishing the Association of Croatian Intellectuals in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is understandable that they had to encounter difficulties. However, they steadily and quietly tackle them. They are not moaning, but are trying to eliminate the piled up obstacles. They are calling for unity and harmony, good neighbourly relations, courage to start using one's own head. I am really interested to see how they will do in future thanks to all this! Still, I believe they will be strong enough and will fight off all the opposition they come across.
Colonialism has fallen, so has Nazism and Communism, and all the totalitarian ideas are going to fall regardless of their guise. I hope that the Croatian nation, as well as the other two nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, will rise to the surface wiser than before. Often their justified longing for freedom and progress has been misused. It is time to put an end to it. The condition is to disperse all the unreal dreams and abandon all the unreal expectations.
Most (The Bridge), 3-4, Društvo hrvatskih književnika / The Croatian writers’ association, Zagreb, December 2006, pages 64 – 65