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the October 2001 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 48, No.
Perica Vucinic, Reporter
(Bosnia edition), Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, May 16, 2001.
On May 7, 2001, thousands of Serb protesters forced
the cancellation of an attempt to lay the cornerstone for rebuilding
the Ferhadija mosque in the now heavily Serb city of Banja Luka, Bosnia.
The violence left one Muslim dead and more than 30 injured. Serbs
dynamited the mosque during the Bosnian war (1992-95).
Comrades [Mirko] Sarovic, [Mladen] Ivanic, and [Dragan] Cavic [president,
prime minister, and vice president of Republika Srpska, respectively]
have apologized to Muslim believers. Never mind that they did not
apologize nor were they asked by any international office to apologize
to the majority of citizens of Republika Srpska (RS), who, because
of the violence directed against them two days before, were feeling
insecure and humiliated.
I do not know why they had to wait so long to announce the apology
that, since it was extorted [by the international community], was
deprived of its substance. Extortion coming from outside shows us
that there are no innate values, but instead values have to be externally
imposed. Disregard for the most basic values and principles has periodically
been evident in RS, revealing this society as aimless, chaotic, and
dangerous. And that is exactly what the stone throwing, howling, and
arson in the Ferhadija courtyard demonstrated: the victory of hate
over tolerance, of past over present, of madness over mind, of destruction
over constructiona victory of negative principles over reason.
The refusal to define events in that way, and the attempts to dismiss
the international communitys perceptions as politicization,
manipulation, and provocation, even if there
was a slight bit of truth in that, is a symptom of schizophrenia and
the failure to build political and civic structures as mandated in
the Dayton agreement.
Because, without its own values and principles, by waiting to have
values and principles introduced from outside, Republika Srpska does
not exist. Prime Minister Ivanics foot-dragging [after the violence
at the Ferhadija mosque], belatedly asking for the resignation of
his interior minister and then delaying his acceptance of the resignation,
is evidence that he has yet to establish government accountability
or the rule of law.
What High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch [the international communitys
top official in Bosnia] has asked for from leaders of RS are not conditions
for its survival, but conditions for its foundations. As long as those
indicted for war crimes enjoy the authorities protection, as
long as the biggest thieves flee the country, as long as most citizens
feel insecure, as long as murderers walk around unpunished, as long
as there is no stable economic system, as long as monopolists steal
from the citizens...Republika Srpska does not exist. Dr. Ivanic has
been given only a political place name that he has to fill in with
positive content. It is high time that the postwar authorities in
RS choose whether they want support from a destructive minority or
a constructive majority and decide their strategy accordingly.
By refusing to assume responsibility, to take a clear stand
on events, to identify and punish the masterminds of the violence
in Trebinje [where, a few days before the Banja Luka incident,
Serbs held a violent demonstration at a ceremony marking the
reconstruction of a mosqueWPR] and Banja Luka,
the authorities revealed that they are flirting with the principle
of negativity. Nothing positive has ever originated from such