Round Table: Independence and the Fate of Minorities 1991-1992

It is 1 on Zlatibor. 12. 2007. held a round table entitled "Independence and the fate of minorities in 1991 - 1992." organized by the Center for History, Democracy and Reconciliation (CHDR).

Independence and the fate of minorities in 1991-1992

The round table held on Zlatibor aimed to invite scientists from Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to give a critical review and suggestions on the report of scientists entitled “Independence and the fate of minorities 1991-1992”. This report is part of the international project “Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies: A Scholar’s Initiative”. This large project brought together more than 200 scientists from the region and the world. It deals with historical, political and sociological controversies related to the breakup of Yugoslavia.

At the round table, the first published brochure was presented, within which two reports of a group of scientists from the aforementioned project were published. The title of the brochure is “War and minorities“. It is composed of two reports “War in Croatia, 1991-1995 ” and “ Independence and the Fate of Minorities, 1991-1992 “.

On the occasion of the first report, a round table was organized in Zagreb in October 2007 at the Faculty of Philosophy

The following participated in the discussion: Ph.D Ranka Gašić (Serbia), Ph.D Janko Veselinović (Serbia), Ph.D Darko Gavrilović (Serbia), Ph.D Ljubiša Despotović (Serbia) Ph.D Lazar Zolt (Serbia), Nebojsa Petrović (Serbia) Ph.D Boris Kršev (Serbia), Ph.D Vjeran Pavlaković , (Croatia) Vesna Ivanović , MSc (Croatia), Ivan Balta , PhD (Croatia), Edin Radušić , MSc, (BiH), and Elma Hasimbegović, MSc (BiH).

Conclusions from the round table: Independence and the fate of minorities 1991-1992

During the discussion at the Round Table, it was noted that the report should be completed when it comes to the structure and topic of the report. Suggestions were made regarding the sources used in the text. The lack of answers to some important questions was pointed out: when the constituent peoples became minorities and what was the status of Bosniaks. Recommendations are given when the terms “minorities” are used.

The positive aspects of the report were also highlighted: a good attempt at a balanced treatment of the role of the international community and the possibility that some theses will be helpful in further similar efforts.

The participants in the discussion pointed out that this problem requires consideration of the prehistory of the outbreak of the conflict and some historical events that preceded it.

When it comes to the older history of the countries of the Western Balkans, it was suggested that it should be explained:

  • historical roots of fear of minority status,
  • the ethnic concept of the nation that prevails in the Balkans and Central Europe, as opposed to the political concept of the nation that dominates in Western Europe,
  • as well as the older history of Serbian-Croatian relations.

It was pointed out that it would be necessary to explain the systemic factors of the former SFRY, economic, political and those related to the character of the federation, which induced the events of the early 90s. Yugoslavia should have been explained as a party state. On the international level, to point out the loss of its importance in the bipolar world as one of the factors that explains the behavior of the so-called international community.

When it comes to the historical approach, it was pointed out:

  • that it was necessary to explain why concepts from the past were not overcome in the period of socialism,
  • why the modern concept of the citizen was not developed,
  • why did retrograde processes occur after the fall of communism, instead of offering a positive alternative in the form of e.g. liberalism or social democracy.

It was established that it was necessary to look at the differences in the interpretation of the breakup: whether it is breakup or secession, why the SC resolution treats the crisis first as an internal conflict and from 91 as an interstate conflict, and the question of the right to self-determination.

A proposal was made to do a serious ideological profile of all the actors of the Yugoslav wars, especially Slobodan Milosevic, which would contribute to clarifying the political position of Serbia in these events.

The question of religious issues was raised, especially in connection with Islam. Finally, the merging of historical and legal aspects is proposed as the best approach to this issue.

National minorities after the war

At the end, concrete proposals were given on how to study the position of national minorities.

Several problems have been highlighted that need special attention:

  • the relationship between national minorities and refugees,
  • the problem of the constituent people becoming a national minority (example of Serbs in Croatia and Croats in Serbia),
  • the relationship between minorities and majorities in entities in BiH,
  • the consequences of refugees that led to a decrease in the percentage of national minorities in the total number of the population of the country in which they live,
  • the issue of political rights of minorities,
  • unemployment problem,
  • isolation of ethnic groups
  • and the strengthening of right-wing ideas in this regard.
The latest: