On today’s day in 1995, the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) gained peace after the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed. For those who were born that year, but also for the coming generations, Dayton was a chance for BiH to be better, for its citizens to build the future with their own decisions. Now, 26 years later, there is no stable and prosperous country. Here is the story of young people, the Dayton generation, who want to stay and witness the changes in BiH.
Slobodan Blagovcanin is a Dayton generation. He was born at a time when the victims of the aggression on BiH were adding up. But he was not poisoned by hatred and nationalism. However, he is aware of all the obstacles and issues that our country is facing: “As a young person who has not moved life, work, education, and other things from BiH, it is evident that the Dayton Peace Agreement sometimes looks a little like, as they like to say, especially on social media, a madhouse shirt that we have to wear.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, we had the opportunity to clearly see the weaknesses of state systems, he added – that is, the shortcomings of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The state is composed of many administrative units, and each of them floats in its own jurisdiction. As a result, almost all important decisions have been inconsistent for 26 years. They are questionable as well as the parity and equality of all peoples in BiH.
“I am very afraid to even think that we will live with the Constitution which is discriminatory, for the next 26-27 years. Itneglects our colleagues, friends, fellow citizens – Roma, Jews, “Blagovcanin added.
Enna Zona Djonlic believes that it is discouraging to mark the 26th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement and its Annex 4 without major changes in the BiH Constitution and to talk about the same topics and use the same rhetoric as in the 1990s: ”It is more than clear that the new Constitution must come from within the state and be created by the country’s youth.”
She is one of those who worked with common ideas to change the Constitution of BiH. She added that most members of the Dayton generation want to be agents of change, but are currently powerless: “Politicians have abused this Constitution and are using all their institutions for their own benefit, but not for the benefit of the state.”
State decisions are rarely made in favor of its citizens. That is why many go to look for better opportunities in the white world. Although many have a university degree, they give up their titles due to better conditions that their home country does not offer.
Tarik Cenanovic is also the Dayton generation. He was born just three days after the war in BiH ended. But during these 26 years, he says he has not seen any change for the better. That is why he went to study in Slovenia. However, after finishing his studies, he decided to return to his homeland: ”And, here I am now, forthe last 5 years and really try and fight to show others, young people, younger than myself, and also to those who have left – because I have, unfortunately, a lot of friends who have left BiH, and I somehow promised myself that I would do my best and give them the opportunity to come back again and see the light here in our Bosnia.”
That is why thousands of young people are leaving BiH. But, there are those who stay here, believing that it is worth fighting for a state that is not guilty of anything. Slobodan, Ena, and Tarik were asked what is the biggest problem in BiH?
Slobodan thinks the root of the problem in BiH is nationalist politics.
According to Tarik, education is the biggest issue – he claims that we are lagging behind 150 years in that aspect.
The perfect state for Enna would be where everyone would first identify as BiH citizens, and then talk about their ethnicity.
These three brave young individuals are proof that the Dayton Agreement had a purpose. They are an example of equality, struggle, and a positive outlook on life. In the end, they have a common goal. And many people could learn something from them.