Kemal Kurspahić, the famed editor of the Bosnian daily Oslobođenje from 1989 to 1994, has written an article for Radio Free Europe’s BCS language site Radio Slobodna Evropa that engages with the question at the end of Bosnia Remade: did ‘ethnic cleansing’ succeed? Below is a translation of the opening paragraphs.
Speaking Bosnian: A Fate of ‘Yugoslavia in Miniature’
Kemal Kurspahic (Radio Free Europe)
The authors of the just released book Bosnia Remade, professors Gerard Toal and Carl. T. Dahlman, in opening chapters of these fascinatingly docummented analysis of the violent remaking of Bosnia Herzegovina point to a symbolic trasformation of the meaning of the phrase “Yugoslavia in miniature” that was used for years to describe Bosnia. In the decades of AVNOJ Yugoslavia the phrase had a positive meaning, highlighting the central role of Bosnia Herzegovina in promoting ethnic diversity and living together – including the ideologically mandatory “brotherhood and unity” – but in the years od the dissolution of Yugoslavia that became the ideological argument in promoting and justifying ethnic violence. It was then that the phrase “Yugoslavia in Miniature,” as interpreted by Radovan Karadžić and his followers, started to be used as a sort of curse in arguing that if Yugoslavia couldn’t survive as a multiethnic state no one should force the people of Bosnia Herzegovina to live together.
The authors offer at least two reasons why it wasn’t right connecting the fate of Yugoslavia with that of Bosnia. First – they point that Bosnia Herzegovina was much older as a geopolitical space than Yugoslavia, dating from the tenth century, and second – that Bosnia unlike Yugoslavia wasn’t a collection of different entities but a “place with its own culture and identity.”