Each full one-way bus out of BiH diminishes any remaining faith in European Union ideals

 Omer Berbić

I am not writing this column from the perspective of a political analyst, I am writing it as a young person.

A person experiencing changes in the way young people perceive the future perspective of BiH and its path towards the European Union.

Many say that BiH, as well as the region, is already halfway to joining the European Union. Although not formally-legally or institutionally, more through buses, individually, man by man. Truth be told, it’s not just young people anymore, but whole families who leave their homeland to the countries of the European Union for a better life. Today, when you look at those who leave, there are only two types of people who remain: incorrigible optimists, such as myself, and party uhljebs who find the ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’’ party system convenient.

Unfortunately, the incorrigible optimists are running out of arguments to stay. It used to be “Europe will come, it will be better here”. Today it has come to: “no place like home”. Admittedly, maybe it would be true if we had highways, jobs, career opportunities, no borders, political bickerings and threats of war.

This is not just us, that’s also true. There are two reasons for growing Euroscepticism.

First, the fact that the EU objectively does not have the capacity to absorb new states, nor does it want an unstable region in the European Union. This results in an appearance of overpaid bureaucrats in the EU centers in Sarajevo and Banja Luka, who, staying here, subsequently turn talented local people into bigger bureaucrats. The result –  EU money being spent on projects, predominantly in Sarajevo and Banja Luka, but without much luck in the fight against growing Euroscepticism.

Let’s take Tuzla Canton as an example, the most populous administrative unit, which receives, I would dare to say, crumbs of EU money compared to Sarajevo Canton.

In Republika Srpska, we can take the example of Bijeljina as a parallel to Banja Luka. Of course, people in the Tuzla Canton or Bijeljina will feel less attachment to the ideals of the European Union than those who have a great direct benefit from it. Naturally, this leads to a growing number of people outside the main centers who do not believe in the European Union.

Another reason is that many young people who would want us to join the European Union are already there. For the most part they do work outside their primary profession in the hope of creating a better future for their children. Each full one-way bus out of BiH diminishes any remaining faith in European Union ideals. Those who remain must think the way the party headquarters order them to. If the president moves to the left, they are Eurosceptics, if he is satisfied, they are Eurooptimists.

If the EU wants to restore absolute faith in its ideals, it should start applying them in practice. The space between Bascarsija and Ilidza is not all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that is how it needs to start to be perceived. They need to visit Sapna, Celic, Bosanski Samac… deliver aid when there are floods, visit many small places that live a difficult post-transition reality. Force the state to build highways where they are really needed and not exclusively from Sarajevo towards the sea. Create projects for non-governmental organizations beyond Sarajevo or Banja Luka.

Bureaucracy and overpaid bureaucrats of the EU centers will not restore  shaken faith in the European Union. The only way this can be done is through a strong and sharp turn towards the European values of solidarity and equality in any part of the country.


Omer Berbić, Vesalius College alumni, Brussels



*mock term for a person who has become a public sector employee through a nepotistic relationship or political party affiliation