Bagaric Discusses Bosnian Problems
The Southeastern Europe Society (EuroClub) hosted a lecture and round table discussion yesterday on "Bosnia-Herzegovina--Time of War and Peace" with speaker Ivan Bagaric, a member of the Bosnian parliament and of the Interparliamentary Union of Europe.
Striving to overcome his limited English and express himself beyond his written speech, Bagaric, a Bosnian of Croat descent, stressed the importance of interethnic and international exchange among Bosnia's ethnic groups.
Bagaric, a doctor by training and a former general of the Croatian Bosnian medical corps, used his medical experience during the war as a springboard to discuss methods of resolving and preventing future wars.
"I'm very proud to be part of a group who helped all, regardless of nationality [during the war between the Bosnians and the Serbian Yugoslavs], and do as much good as possible," said Bagaric, who also noted that half of Bosnia's doctors fled during the period.
Bagaric highlighted examples of interethnic solidarity which the international media did not adequately cover.
Countering statements that ethnic Croats desired the break-up of Bosnia, Bagaric said the ethnic Croat representatives actually constituted a crucial part of the two-thirds majority in the 1992 Bosnian declaration of independence.
At the same time, Bagaric openly acknowledged the deep problems that Bosnia is currently facing.
"Improvement must be step-by-step...but as of this moment, Bosnia-Herzegovina is strangled by its three parliaments. Political battles rage as [ethnic] Serbians try to dismantle Bosnia, while Muslims and [ethnic]Croats try to keep the federation together," he said.
Bagaric also said the damages from the war are not only political but socio-economic, with unemployment rates in Bosnia currently up to 80 percent.
"Today we have peace. [But] we need to make sure that refugees can return to their homes. Tomorrow, we need to increase employment." Bagaric said.
Bagaric ended his talk with a plea for institutions such as Harvard to help Bosnia receive international investment, and determination to keep hoping for the best.
"We need to dream of things that never were, and ask, why not?" Bagaric said
The organizers of the event said they felt Bagaric's talk was very important to Balkan issues.
Berislav Marusic '01, a Croatian from Zagreb who played a leading role in inviting Bagaric, said Bagaric served as a role model for crisis mediators.
"It's important to have doctors [in the military]....A doctor isn't violent, and can stop the crisis," Marusic said, referring to Bagaric's non-discriminatory medical treatment during the war.
Abraham Tsoukalidis '99, EuroClub's vice-president of public relations, said Bagaric's hopeful attitude made him more optimistic about Bosnia.
"These issues are starting to be discussed, and being able to hold a question-and-answer session [at Harvard] where there were Serbians and Croatians in the audience is great," Tsoukalidis said.
The EuroClub was established last October to inform the Harvard community about the varied ethnic groups of Eastern Europe and the need to support Eastern Europe's transition to democracy.
This Friday they will be showing the Bosnian film Time of the Gypsies at 6:15 p.m. in Science Center Hall D.