Excerpts from the contents of the bulletin “Multi-ethnicity and development” (Bulletin no. 5)
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COMMON CULTURAL-HISTORICAL HERITAGE SHOULD BE DRAWN OUT FROM PUBLIC OBLIVION
Interview with Branimir Janković, assistant in the Department of History of the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, and secretary of the Preparatory Committee of International Scientific Conference of “Desnica’s Encounters”
In Zadar and in the Tower of Stojan Janković in Islam Grčki have recently been held the seventh “Desnica's Encounters“, dedicated to the literary giant Vladan Desnica in whose work the numerous values of Serbian and Croatian culture are united. By “Desnica’s Encounters” and the project of restoration and development of his home in the housing and fortification complex of the Tower of Stojan Janković (cultural good of the Republic of Croatia) it is aimed, among other things by various programs, at contribution to the improvement of condition and international relations in returnee environments. Primarily because his example shows that common history is not just a history of conflicts between members of different ethnic groups, but also a history of mutual cooperation and interaction – cultural and human one in concrete time and concrete place. “Desnica’s Encounters” and the Janković’s Tower show to participants and observers that all those who from Croatian and Serbian side scientifically, culturally and socially work on that common heritage, in the environment in which happened the war-conflict in 1990s, in that way in fact testify to the possibilities and values of modern multiethnic cooperation.
This year's “Desnica's Encounters” were held on theme “Intellectuals and war, 1939.–1947.” How do you see the contribution of intellectuals to our actual post-war processes, primarily to the return, restoration of accommodation objects, revitalization of life and coexistence in war-stricken territories?
In this year's “Desnica's Encounters”, seventh in order, which have been held continuosly since 2006, in the centre of interest of participants from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Czech Republic and Poland was a question of the role the intellectuals of different ideological options played in the traumatic World War II as well as their latter relation toward it. Such central theme necessarily implied the talk of a number of questions such as responibility, engagement, intercession, silence or pasivness of intellectuals during that war and the other ones. Of course that those questions are also inevitably present in the sensitive post-war period when it is necessary to pay a lot of delicate attention to the process of insurence of the return and the building of coexistence. The role of intellectuals, especially those who are present in public or act publicly, is also rather important there. I am of the opinion that the range of responsibility stretches from careful and responsible use of words in public whenever the questions of the return and coexistence are on the agenda of politics and public, through the recognition of social importance of those questions and paying the full attention to them, to participation in various activities which positively contribute to them, whether in their own profession whether in cooperation in some other areas. It also seems to me here that continuous turning of attention to the themes of return and coexistence should be the answer to passiveness and disinterest for the others, which is so often the case in wider Croatian society or, however, as an answer to the action of those individuals who their own intellectual and public engagement direct exclusively toward dominant political themes for which the government spreads the interest of public, while the themes of return and coexistence remain aside as less “attractive” ones. Fortunately, there is always a significant number of individuals – not just intellectuals and experts – who, having recognized the importance of the question of return and coexistence, intercede for them in different ways. While doing so they also have to deal with the necessity of work on those opinions and attitudes which on the problems of return and coexistence look with distrust and refusal – and especially on those which publicly delegitimate the cooperation and the possibility of coexistence of diversities – as well as the work on articulating the common, multiethnic and plural history and culture. Such work is necessarily directed toward long-term projects. The experience of “Desnica’s Encounters” testifies to that very reliably.
By revalorization of cultural heritage to conciliation and socioeconomic development
“The project of Janković’s Tower: historical locality, creation of sustainable development of the region Ravni Kotari” was initiated through financial programs of the European Union at the end of the year 2011 and in it, beside the University of Zagreb as a host of the project, also participate the University of Padova, Centre for peace-studies, the Society for restoration and revitalization of the Tower of Stojan Janković, SKD Prosvjeta, Conservational Department of the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Croatia in Zadar, and Ethnographic Museum in Beograd. Such, on the one hand, international perspective also manifests itself in the preparation of establishment of International University Centre in the rooms of the Janković’s Tower which enters in scientific and academic corpus of the project whose part the former work of “Desnica’s Encounters” also belongs to. On the other hand, the participation of institutions and associations of various orientations has been expressed in multiple aims of the project, from revalorization of cultural heritage of the Janković’s Tower, through reliance on the common cultural heritage in the processes of reconciliation and the building of peace, to the use of its potentials for the socioeconomic development of the region Ravni Kotari, most of all in the aspect of touristic contents and family entrepreneurship. Some of those components, as in the scientific aspect of the project also, are continuation of former projects and all that which in the meantime has been done on the locality of the Janković’s Tower, that stratified historical and cultural heritage rich in symbolic meanings, but also in very real developmental potentials.
Europeanization of minority-rights in Croatia: finished or has yet to take hold?
(......) In recently published comprehensive report on supervision (so called monitoring) of the European Committee is determined that Croatia advances in adoption and execution of European legal acquisition, but that before the accession it is necessary to fulfil another ten clearly defined tasks. Among them there is not even one relating to the realization of the rights of national minorities. That does not mean that the Committee has not, in the first report and this second one on supervision, analyzed the condition of minority-rights and pointed out to the areas that still considers the problematic ones. It is about the unachieved relative employment of minorities in public government, continuous exclusion of the Romanies who live in extremely hard life conditions in which process in the areas of education, social protection, health care, employment and issuing of personal document to the Romanies is required a more ardent participation of the state institutions. Moreover, in the report on monitoring the word has been sent to the authorities that they need to continue to cherish the spirit of tolerance towards the minorities, especially towards Croatian Serbs, and to take measures of protection of those who still can be exposed to threats or discrimination, hostility or violence.
(......) The fact is that the Republic of Croatia by its accession to the European Union as a new member-state will not be subject to the politics of conditionality any more. However, that does not mean the Croatian authorities will be allowed to endanger or degrade the minority-politics in any way. Although in the last months could be heard that because of the membership in the European Union there will be changes in the model of financing of minority-associations, even if it comes to it, it will be because of the decision of the home-authorities and not of Bruxelles. Namely, the minority-politics is something which does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Union and every member-state carries it out in the way it decides and wants itself. It would be disastrous that Croatia when at last enters in the Union does not continue the positive trend of the development of the minority-rights which adorns it in the last twelve years. Our experiences in minority-politics have already been recognized as a good product which Croatia can not only be proud of, but which it can also “export” as an example of a good practice for the future member-states as well as the present ones. Moreover, Croatia remains the signatory of the Framework Convention for the Protection of Rights of National Minorities of the European Council and it owes to carry out its regulations through its own legislation and by means of institutions.
(......) Democratic values upon which the Union is built will be realized only in the society in which the discrimination based on affiliation to a national minority is clearly and promptly sanctioned and in which dominates the climate of tolerance and mutual respect among all citizens. I have already interceded in many places that such society is not being established only by listing or by mere execution of minority-rights. Democratic values live in the hearts of the citizens who are tolerant, a do not hate; who cooperate, and do not exclude; who understand the different needs and learn about them, and do not justify their own ideological attitudes by superficial knowledge and stereotypes. Such citizens are being “raised” by the state institutions such as schools, public media, political parties and the declarations of political leaders. Since I still rarely meet them in everyday life, I am sure that the Europeanization of values in our country has yet to take hold. The European Union has showed us the direction in which we should go if we want the society of peace and prosperity. Nobel Peace Prize this organization was recently awarded, no matter how much disputed by some, also speaks in favour of a fact that exactly the supranational alliance managed to pacify once belligerent sides and to create the coexistence which many sides find useful. Will we go that way in our country does not depend on the Union but on our institutions, but also on every one of us citizens.