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Students' unanimous vote for the Declaration - BiH is a country for all of us

Press release , Photo: East West Bridge

JAJCE, November 23 (FENA) - It is time to correct the shortcomings of the Dayton political system and overcome all obstacles that burden us to build a more successful future, is the common message of 112 students from several universities in six cities - Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Bijeljina, Brčko, Tuzla and Mostar.

In October and November this year, the East West Bridge Association in Bosnia and Herzegovina organized six workshops at universities in the above-mentioned cities as part of the project "Strengthening the Power of Cooperation", in order to start a story with students on reforming the Dayton Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and finding solutions to current political and socio-economic issues.

Lectures and workshops aimed to provide students with knowledge and experience from leading BH experts in the field of constitution building, negotiation and diplomacy.

Among other things, students were able to listen and learn from Ambassador Jakob Finci, Ambassador Igor Davidović, Ambassador Draško Aćimović, professor Lamija Tanović, professor Zlatko Hadžidedić, professor Slavenko Grgurević, professor Dražen Barbarić, President of East West Bridge International Jovan Kovačić, the project coordinator Robert Jovanović, young advisor Damjan Jugović and others, the organizers said.

The closing meeting for 18 prominent students was held in Jajce, from November 20 to 22, when they had the opportunity to harmonize the text of the declaration on their vision of the political and social order of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to propose solutions to current problems in our society.

The US Ambassador Eric Nelson addressed the participants in Jajce at the opening, saying that he has high expectations from young people in BiH and that reforms should be encouraged by citizens and elected officials, and that they must be guided by the principles of dialogue and compromise. 

For many participants, the meeting in Jajce was the first meeting with peers from another state entity, and the first experience of debating essential topics for each individual. The students reached a high level of agreement on the political system, economic reforms, the fight against corruption, the education system, the departure of young people, the media, the health sector and the environment.

In the end, they said that they want to contribute to stability and peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its path to a better future, a fairer and more functional state structure, in which all peoples and citizens have equal rights and equal chances for all.

Igor Davidović said that the students were given the opportunity to observe the complexity of such an endeavor in their efforts to create a projection of the future setup and functional form of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"On the other hand, after a series of workshops held in six cities in BiH, the need for such expression of their own attitude of young people has become quite visible and unquestionable. The project of the East-West Bridge in BiH, which is the organizer of this gathering, I presented to the workshop participants theoretical and practical approaches to shaping negotiating attitudes in a complex environment, but also methods of practical negotiations," said Davidović.

Zlatko Hadžidedić emphasized that the Dayton Agreement was an act that formally ended the war, but the principle of ethnic separation and creation of ethnically clean territories was incorporated into the Dayton Constitution, and the introduction of that principle at the Lisbon Conference was the reason for starting the war in the first place and the only way of creating such territories on the territory of BiH.

"As long as this principle is present in the order established after the Dayton PA, in Bosnia and Herzegovina the war goals of ethnic separation and encirclement of ethnically clean territories continue to be achieved by non-war means, but also through violent, pseudo-political means," said Hadžidedić.

Dražen Barbarić pointed out that Bosnia and Herzegovina has nowhere to turn to but towards a permanent dialogue.

"There is no greater richness than respecting different views and attitudes about the same, even if in the initial stages we dug into opposing narrative trenches. Any form of opening up a democratic deliberative space is a step away from the latter and the creation of a qualitatively new situation that can generate an overlapping consensus. Without an open and honest conversation between young people and the mutual rapprochement of political views, this country is doomed to life of suffering or a complete disaster," he believes.

The project confirmed the strong creative and revolutionary potential of young people, Slavenko Grgurević emphasized.

"This project is a reflection of the situation in the region, but also the importance of cooperation for the necessary development of the civil sector as the main motivating force for public sector reform. Their mutual cooperation is a mechanism of change. Young, quality people in places where decisions are made in public affairs are the key to that cooperation. The selected best young people recognized in this project should be prepared for jobs in the public sector through their further work in the EWB," Gregurević added.

Robert Jovanović expressed great satisfaction and said that it was a wonderful experience for him as the coordinator of this project, to have worked with all these young people, prominent students from six universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina that have shown a high degree of tolerance and mutual respect through these workshops.

"The views and conclusions they presented and agreed in Jajce in the form of a declaration on the future of BiH have been reached by consensus in a very short period of time during the three-day work, on a number of very important issues and measures that can improve the situation in BiH.

We got the impression that this text, which the students adopted together, could be further improved and made even better, and supplemented with new proposals for measures from other important areas. Of course, none of what they came to as conclusions in an advanced workshop after all the lectures, is to be put on them as blame if some conclusions are incomplete or in some segments, they are insufficiently precise. But we can certainly congratulate them on their openness and readiness to think together about all the difficult problems that the Dayton Constitution has brought us, and they, as young people, live in that framework today and suffer great damage through a number of aspects," said Jovanović.

This workshop, he adds, singles out the unique attitude of students as a step forward in public space, as empathy for the residents of Brčko District whose student representatives pointed out the great discrimination of people and citizens from the Brčko District who do not have a basic human right to be elected as members of the BiH presidency.

So, in addition to all the known judgments from the Strasbourg Court that speak of discrimination in the Brčko District, the fact is that they have been denied that right because they are not allowed to give representatives of any of the constituent peoples as a member of the Presidency.

Jovanović concludes that the East West Bridge in BiH can thus serve as a platform for civil society for a broader discussion on all these issues in the coming period in order to eliminate all shortcomings and reach a model of a fairer and more functional state structure, in which all peoples and citizens would have equal rights with equal chances for all.

(FENA) S.R.