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High Representative at the Symposium on Art and Reconciliation at King’s College London

The High Representative Valentin Inzko was in London today for consultations with the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), holding meetings with Deputy Political Director Jill Gallard and Head of the Western Balkans Department Andrew Page. He also met with Baroness Arminka Helic, in the House of Lords.

“Following the elections, governments need to be formed as quickly as possible and on the basis of agreements on concrete policy priorities that will affect ordinary people,” the High Representative said at today’s meetings, adding that “improved education, job creation, more serious anti-corruption efforts and improved public services are areas where people expect to see change.”

The High Representative used the opportunity to thank the United Kingdom for its continuous and unwavering support to the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina and towards the country’s efforts at Euro-Atlantic integration.

While in London, the High Representative also spoke at a conference on “Art and Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community” at King’s College.

“The newspaper columnist Dario Dzamonja wrote a piece during the 1992-1995 conflict in the former Yugoslavia that described waking up on his birthday. It was early spring and there was no heating; for breakfast there was dry grey bread; preoccupied with wartime worries, his family had forgotten his anniversary. As he drove to the newspaper office, a sniper’s bullet whistled across the windscreen, missing him by inches. He raced for the cover of some nearby buildings and as he did so he thought: Oh well, at least someone is thinking of me on my birthday! There are people all across the former conflict zone who will identify with this idiosyncratic response to the bleak reality of war,” was stated by Inzko.

“Sometimes all you can do is see the bright side. But I think what is happening in this vignette may be more significant than that. Humour doesn’t simply make a difficult experience more bearable; it has the capacity to undermine the very same forces that make that experience difficult in the first place. If the object of small-arms fire is to instill terror in the civilian population, Dzamonja’s whimsical response clearly defeats the object. Instead of terror, there is a form of ridicule. And ridicule is a powerful function of art, especially when it is deployed in a political context. A common characteristic of those who were in power in the Eastern bloc between the 1940s and the 1980s was their monumental humourlessness,” Inzko added.

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