Thursday, 24 September 2009


On the Tuesday evening news on the RTS SAT channel that we managed to retrieve on our satellite recently, I was deeply shaken by what I heard Croatian businessman Željko Kerum said about my people.

I recently heard a good deal about this man. Željko Kerum is the founder of his own supermarket chain that bears his name throughout Croatia called KERUM. He is also the mayor of the Dalmatian city of Split. And having been in Gračac recently, I was quite proud to have a KERUM supermarket on my own street opposite the post office there. It's on a very busy location traffic-wise, and as such is very practical. And of course, I liked that supermarket because lots of people go there everyday and the women who work there are also very helpful! ;-)

Anyway, he was interviewed by popular Croatian TV host Aleksandar Stanković on Nedjeljom u 2 ("Sunday at two"), a program on HRT, the Croatian national TV and Radio channel.

Regarding Serbian businessmen like Miroslav Mišković intending to invest in Croatia, Stanković asks him, "Can Serbs purchase market chains in the Croatian market?", to which he replied, "As far as I'm concerned, I wouldn't allow [it]."

(But I wonder why he needed to ask him that. Isn't it just an accepted norm in business and finance that it's not important who your ancestors were but whether you can do the job right?)

When pushed to offer a reason, he explains, "Because Serbs have never brought us any good, therefore they won't even now! Not only them, but also Montenegrins and Serbs. And whoever [deals] with them, afterwards, they won't pass well".

Then, when asked would he agree to a Serb being his son-in-law, he answered, "No way. There's no chance. There never was, nor will there be … in my family."

Now, not only has he revealed that he harbours prejudiced views about Serbs, but when the host asks him, "then why did you bother to help many Serbs (in Split) if they're [such bad people]?", only then does he realise that, "Good and bad people exist", and that about himself, "I'm a good person, and those people I helped are good people"! Nevertheless, "Everyone should know where his place is". How enlightening!

What an embarrassment for the people of Split, if only all of them realised it.


Željko Kerum did issue a written apology following this incident. In it he says, "Exclusively, because of my unresourcefulness in that type of provocative discussion, I said words that I regret and because of which, I ended up looking like something I never was - a racist, nationally intolerant and exclusive".

But in his apology above, he actually contradicts what he said in the interview. Asked why he wouldn't like Serbs in his family, he replies, "Because that's how we're raised!" See what I mean?

But something else also surprised me. It looks like Kerum won't face any legal action against him over this.

Zagreb's Municipal State Attorney's Office, after reviewing the recording of the mayor of Split Zeljko Kerum's appearance on HTV's show "Nedjeljom u dva", and given his statement (referring to the apology), confirmed that there is no basis for action as Kerum's statements are not characteristic of the crime of racial and other discrimination or other criminal acts which are prosecuted ex officio, stated the State Attorney's Office today.

The attorney maintains that there is no basis for further action, because his statements and answers were obviously not conveyed with the aim of propagating national hatred, or with the aim to influence the will, intellect, emotions and passions of viewers.(See here in Croatian)

What?! Not racist?! Are they joking??!!

Kerum would never be allowed to get away with such comments here in the UK.

Let's say a Protestant politician from Northern Ireland who holds a ministerial position, i.e. an official job working for the local or national government, said something similar about Irish Catholics. Afterall, there was a conflict there not so long ago that lasted much longer than any recent conflict in the Balkans. Of course, both Protestants and Catholics lost loved ones in "the Troubles", as they call the decades-long conflict there. But if this hypothetical Protestant politician stated that Catholics there never brought any good to Ulster, and that he would never accept a Catholic marrying one of his daughters, what do you think would happen to him in response to such remarks?

He would be forced out of his job! Simple as! There is no justification for such comments, regardless of the history of the region or people's actual experiences from that period.

And just so we're clear, there would make no difference if it was the other way round, if the shoe was on the other foot. Let's say it was a Catholic politician who said that Protestants never brought any good to Ireland and that he wouldn't want his daughter marrying one of them. He would lose his job likewise. And of course, in both hypothetical situations, both incidents would cause a scandal each nation-wide!

By conveying such discomforting opinions like that in the public domain, you are tarring people with the same brush, or as we say where I come from, "trpaš sve ljude u isti koš". Saying how this nation and that nation is like this and that, because its members at some point in the past did this and that to another, is unpleasant and hurtful to the members of such targeted communities. And of course, it creates a bad image for the person saying such things.

I can understand why people who have been affected by wars harbour such feelings of hatred and resentment for people from other tribes, ethnic groups, regions or countries. But if you are in a position of high authority, with which you represent all the citizens of your town/city/county/district or wherever, like Kerum is for Split, you have to be very careful with what you say, and even more careful how you think about things before you respond to whatever comes your way!


Business is supposed to be the means by which a variety of people come together to do trade with each other. Of course, many people the world over would rather talk about business than politics! And yet, this very successful entrepreneur and mayor of a city has such disappointingly prejudiced views about the nation to which many people he himself has done business with belong to. And of course, many Serbs live in Split too and many of them probably voted for him to be their mayor! How must they feel this week?

And NO! No-one should use history, whether recent or ancient, to justify such unpleasant statements, especially in a country that is trying to move forward and away from war-time politics and ethnocentric belligerence.

And yet it's shocking and bemusing that he could even think that Serbs have never brought any good to Croatia. He must have forgotten about Nikola Tesla, who invented the very current through which his microphone worked on that programme, into which he could air such vile and nonsense about his people!

And therefore, I end this article thus:


Excerpt of the interview with the inflammatory comments:

External Links
From (in Croatian):

From B92 (in English):

Friday, 11 September 2009

Is my blog nationalist? Should I change its name?

Can anybody who looks at my blog really say that my blog in any way supports nationalism, let alone advocates a particular form of nationalism?

I, Alan Jakšić, have edited this blog for just over two years now. I have explained many times that I am a Croatian Serb who lives in the UK who has left-wing liberal tendencies - and such inclinations I have shown in my writing on countless blog posts - and I wish to use my blog to talk my people, the Serbian minority of Croatia, especially about our lives, our history, our culture and our present situation in our homeland; and I also want to write about Diaspora Serbs, like myself, where we are in the world, what we're doing with our lives, etc.

However, it has come to my attention that one of my relatives thinks I advocate on my blog a "pro-nationalist opinion". That was the biggest insult I could ever receive. It's like, because I'm a Serb and I write about Serbs, my blog must be nationalist, and therefore, I must be inclined towards nationalism in some way myself! Imagine how much of a blow it is to receive such an ignorant comment like that, and worst of all, from one's own close relative.

That is worse than judging a book by its cover; that's misreading its cover altogether!

And to another issue: should I change the name of my blog?

Why do I ask that? Well, the problem is, just like with the misunderstanding related above, calling myself an Anarchist might give people a sense of uncertainty about me and what I might be! Because a lot of people don't really know what Anarchist ideology is actually about, they often wonder why I gave my own blog such a name in the first place.

So just like openly calling myself a Serb might arouse suspiscion in other people, I suppose calling myself an Anarchist might make me look like even more of an odd person!

So my two questions to anyone who visits my blog are as follows:

1. Is my blog a nationalist blog, that advocates nationalism because I'm a Serb?


2. Should I change the name of my blog from "Balkan Anarchist" into "Alan Jakšić" perhaps?

Please, please, please, write down your comments under this post! I don't usually do this kind of thing, but because I'm doing this now, I really really need to know what you think about my blog and what you think I should do about the name of it. Thank you!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Segregation in Bosnia's schools, a strange but sad story

Recently, I came across an article on the Traverse City Record-Eagle website regarding the segregation of children based on ethnicity in schools throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Click here to read it)

Now, I have heard about this situation before, as I remember when the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles actually opened a new school for Bosniak and Croat children in Mostar. And I remember it being mentioned that those children will be taught in same school but not in the same classrooms, which disappointed me. But I never realised how bad it really is!

Consider this school in the town of Stolac in the south of the country:

It's shortly after noon, and teenagers who were taught their capital is Zagreb, in neighboring Croatia, are streaming out of Stolac High School. In an hour, their classrooms will be filled with children who have learned that their capital is Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Fourteen years after Bosnia's 1992-95 war, youngsters from Muslim Bosniak and Roman Catholic Croat families attend the same schools, but are separated from each other and learn from different textbooks.


The Stolac school is an example of Bosnia's postwar emphasis on "two schools under one roof." (My Emphasis in bold)

Same school, different textbooks; two schools under one roof. For a moment, I thought of China's and Hong Kong's 'one country - two systems' system of governance. But then I remembered that the people of China and Hong Kong are not the ones whose children are subjected to such degrading and disgraceful segregation in their schools, let alone do they face other serious post-war problems as the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina do!

Carrying on with the article:

With the Bosnian Serbs already holed up in their own part of the country, critics say the Balkan nation's school system is one of the worst examples of segregation in Europe -- one that's producing a generation ripe for manipulation by nationalists.

Tiny Bosnia is home to just 3.5 million people, yet its schools are governed by 14 ministries (!!!), many run by people who favor segregation. Vedran Zubic, a high school teacher in the capital, Sarajevo, sees the separation as a continuation of wartime nationalist rhetoric.

"We have a generation of young, intolerant, ethnically isolated and ethnically overfed pupils who are being used as weapons of nationalist politicians," he said. (My Emphasis in bold, exclamation marks and larger font size)

WTF??!! 14 ministries of education in one country of less than four million?!

And yet the worst thing for Bosnia's future is precisely that this state of a affairs, as far as education in the country is concerned, is producing a generation of "young, intolerant, ethnically isolated and ethnically overfed pupils", who are as such "ripe for manipulation by nationalists", and thus "[usable] as weapons of nationalist politicians". And not surprisingly, this strange and shameful situation is desirable by many in the war-torn country, seeing as this is a "continuation of wartime nationalist rhetoric", as noticed by the respectable Mr. Zubić mentioned above!


However, it is very easy for me and other people who live outside of Bosnia to criticise and abhor such an education system, spewing my disdain for it on a blog I maintain on a computer two thousand miles from the country!

The sad truth is that this system of segregation in Bosnia's schools was instated by the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) to meet the educational needs of children of families returning to their hometowns and villages, from whence they were expelled during the war. In fact, schools in many places in Bosnia have followed the example set in Stolac.

But let me explain this situation in simple terms for those who haven't lived through inter-ethnic conflict, nor have any close relatives affected by such wars. In the Stolac example above, the Muslim Bosniak families returned to their hometown from which they were thrown out of by Bosnian Croats. They want their children to go to school there, obviously, but they don't want them to learn from textbooks filled with the pro-Croat literature that they find offensive, and they don't want them to be taught to look at neighbouring Croatia as their 'domovina' ("homeland").

It's the same situation throughout Bosnia for members of other ethnic groups: Bosnian Serbs or Croats that return to towns and villages from which they were expelled either by Bosnian Croats, Muslims or Serbs, don't want their children to be exposed to the nationalist rhetoric that they dispise of the ethnic group whose members persecuted and humiliated them during a war that destroyed their lives and even took away their loved ones.

Therefore, Bosnian Serb, Croat and Muslim/Bosniak children only learn about their own people's culture and history (according to their nation's historians), and virtually nothing about the culture(s) and history/ies of their closest neighbours.

Not only do they learn conflicting views of history and military conflicts therein, they are also taught that they are separate peoples typically with a history of victimhood listing their neighbours' numerous transgressions against them; they are also taught to believe that their ethnic groups have very unique cultures, which practically means that they have completely separate cultures from each other; and to top it all off, they are even taught to think that they speak separate languages from one another!

This kind of education system is akin to brainwashing! But it is the kind of education system created for a divided and deeply traumatised population scarred by a war that destroyed the sense of common identity they used to have before.

Unfortunately for Bosnian society, this creates "three sets of citizens who do not know anything about the others, have no intercultural skills", who also lack "critical thinking skills" necessary to avoid future outbreaks of war.

Read the full Record-Eagle article here: Segregation lives in Bosnian schools - Country's ethnic divisions are evident, Dated 25th August 2009.