Kelsey Bristow

Kelsey Bristow (Bosnian Women – BOSFAM): At the time of her fellowship, Kelsey was a rising senior at Georgetown University majoring in English and Justice and Peace Studies. Kelsey’s interest volunteering began at High School when she worked with at-risk children in Appalachia. Kelsey as one of two undergraduate students in the 2009 cohort of Peace Fellows and worked closely with her advisor at Georgetown University to turn her experience in Bosnia into a thesis paper.

What Would Tito Do?

29 Jul

Since the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide has passed, things have slowed down here at BOSFAM.  Well, slowed down in regards to preparing for presentations, events, etc., but have been busy writing proposals.  BOSFAM and AP’s goal is to have a Srebrenica weaving center up and going by July 11 next year for the 15th anniversary.

About a week and a half ago, the EU Commission recommended Serbia, Macedonia, and Montenegro’s citizens to be able to travel freely with in the EU without visas.  This is HUGE.  A common frustration among my friends here is that they cannot travel or it is very hard to obtain a visa.  And of course, I bet you noticed BiH is absent from that list of countries.  Well, okay, BiH’s politicians need to get their stuff together, that is blatantly true.  However, since Croatia has already been granted visa-free travel within the EU that means Croats living in BiH can travel freely if they hold a Croatian passport (which, even if a person has never lived in Croatia, he can receive a Croatian passport).   And now the same will be true for Bosnian Serbs.  Now the only ethnic group (well, not only – we cannot forget the Roma) not able to travel without visas is the Bosniak population.

This situation seems questionable to many Bosniaks.  It has already heightened tensions in the country and many people are questioning why BiH has not been granted visa free travel.  Some groups claim that the EU is anti-Muslim and the EU commission left out BiH for that purpose.  Others are plain frustrated that their neighbors can enjoy a seemingly basic freedom to travel, while they can only enter a handful of countries without visas.  The EU commission claims that the decision to leave BiH off the list of consideration for visa free travel was not due to the religion or ethnicity of Bosniaks, but rather because the politicians in Sarajevo have not been able to come to conclusions and pass measures required for visa free travel.

I gotta say, though, I agree with and believe the EU commission.  I’ve already made clear my stance on Bosnian politicians in previous posts.  But looking at the situation objectively, BiH does not meet the standards to gain visa free travel in the EU.  Perhaps this situation will force the politicians in Sarajevo to act in the best interest of their people.

So, we come back to the title of my blog, “What Would Tito Do?”  Tito has come up a lot in my conversations lately, especially in regards to visa free travel, unemployment (over 35% unemployment in BiH), and living conditions.  There are very different perceptions of Tito in Tuzla.  Most people my age and a bit older see the time Tito was in power as a golden age for all of the former Yugoslavia.  According to a friend, his parents didn’t have to pay for health care or even their housing.  However, there was definitely a bitter side to Tito’s rule.  His communist regime was without a doubt oppressive.   Suppression of religion seemed to only increase nationalist sentiments by the time he died in 1981.  These, like much of my impressions, are just that – impressions, but not absolute fact.  Perhaps people are so frustrated now, because they see the current ethnic tensions more oppressive than the “Golden Age” when employment wasn’t as much of a problem and ethnic groups were seen as “equals.”  And unfortunately for me, it’s hard to defend the current politicians and their policies.

Posted By Kelsey Bristow

Posted Jul 29th, 2009

1 Comment

  • Owen

    July 29, 2009


    Hope you’ll tell us some more about the proposals for the weaving centre at Srebrenica.

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