Enes Güler studied Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design at the International University of Sarajevo. After graduating the faculty, he started to work as an art director in Grafikstok which produces new ideas for the graphic design and advertising sector. Enes also has his hands in cinema. He has short movies, commercial videos and short documentaries.
Another and major interest of Enes is Literature! He is Editor-in-Chief of Balkan Literary Magazine ”BAŠKA”. Baška is the magazine which is delivering to Balkans and Turkey. In this perspective, Baška is a unique magazine and holds the major literature power and connects Turkey and Balkans.
He is also doing his master regarding the Balkan Research on Social-Political Sciences in the International University of Sarajevo. He is a columnist of a daily Balkan website.
His article have been published in three books: Okçular Tepesi (2016), Şiir Defterinden 40 Şair (2016), Geçmişten Günümüze Balkanlarda Türkçe (2017)
How do you perceive the way Sarajevo instruments the minority issues? How efficient are the minority policies taking into account the recent past of the Balkan federations?
Sarajevo is defined as Europe’s Jerusalem. It is very realistic from a tourist point of view. Indeed you can see places of worship of the three great religious as well as the congregations. No one will object to this definition. In Yugoslavia, multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity are known to be the places where they live the most. This could be a source of pride for a city. We should say that minority rights are important by saying that this definition is true today, saying that Muslims, Orthodox, Catholics and Jews live in this city. In Sarajevo, there are other minorities other than the communities I consider. And even more so for me, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country in which Muslims are a majority but the other elements are also not minorities. But we must also say that the war changed some things. For example, after the war in Sarajevo, East Sarajevo, a region where the Serbs had lived intensively, a sharper line emerged. I do not think there’s anything as natural as this to happen.
As we know in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are autonomous republics of the Serbs within the country. This republic has certain boundaries in the name of the Dayton Agreement. This autonomous structure, called “Republika Srpska’”, is independent in itself. The Bosnia Herzegovina Federation has a structure in which the Bosniaks and Croats can decide. Croat majority municipalities can use their special Croatian flags. In such an environment, we can say that Bosnia’s minority rights have an unprecedented tolerance in the world. In the Balkans, something called cultural autonomy is being tried. I can count Serbia, Albania and Croatia among the countries that have tried it.
What we call cultural autonomy is to give minorities in the country as much freedom as possible in their own tongues and cultures and to help them in need. This may look good at first, but I doubt that the intentions are righteous. I will give an example from Serbia; By not teaching The Serbian language to Albanian minorities living in the country, they actually isolate them from inside and push them to move away from Serbia, ensuring that they are closed down in daily life. At least the results are in this way. Actually, it’s about politics of divide and rule. The same is done in other countries to minorities. Freedom is given to minorities also causes one side to break the adaptation to their country. So it is very difficult to answer this question. But effective, yes, effective.
According to Dayton Agreement Bosnia was supposed to be the South-Eastern adaption of Switzerland. To which extent do you consider that the things have happened so?
First of all, Dayton is a failed project! We’ve been observing this very well in the past 23 years. According to Dayton, many things were expected to change positively. But Dayton was an agreement signed before anything else to end the war as soon as possible. The people still see Dayton as a ceasefire and want it updated. In this context, as with many things, the adaptation to Switzerland was also a rather unsuccessful anticipation. Bosnia and Switzerland are neither politically, religiously nor historically alike. This phrase is not scientific and is irrelevant to the realities of the region. Perhaps there is a similarity in the implementation of the cantonal system in Switzerland, maybe we can suit that system to Bosnia, that is all. Pragmatic expressions may not always work if the issue is the Balkans and especially if it is Bosnia.
Related to the way Bosnia was imagined back in 1995, how do you see the interethnic relations nowadays? Does separatism still play a part in the Bosnia`s everyday life?
Bosnia and especially Sarajevo were described as the most multi-ethnic region of Yugoslavia. The war preparations that started in the countries that left Yugoslavia at the time, even Serbia’s threat to Slovenia, then the official war on Croatia, did not convince the Bosnians that war would go to their countries. Even though there was news regarding the conflicts, there was still no such expectations. So we can not say that there was separatism at that time. In a place where separatism was at least a certain group took precautions. Despite all this happening around, if the war still came as a surprise, nobody would have expected such a shape. After the war, it is possible to say that many things have changed. Now people are expecting everything from each other but not in a paranoid way. Some of them have a sense of revenge, some suffer is still fresh. They are more cautious and are no longer naive. So yes, even some neighbourhoods are separate. As I mentioned in the previous question, Serbs live in the east of Sarajevo, and these lives are isolated and far different from the centre Sarajevo.
Which are the main coordinates of the Bosnian democracy? Are there any threats they may dismantle the democratic regime?
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zlatko Lagumdzija has a saying; ”I do not believe there is even a theoretical chance that seven political leaders can agree on the judgment.’’ Bosnia and Herzegovina have the world’s most advanced democracy. So, neither elected nor the not-selected may enter the parliament. Rotation is done in football clubs but also works in Parliament of Bosnia Herzegovina. The Prime Ministers and Presidents are constantly changing. This is one of the greatest dilemmas of the Dayton Agreement. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country that wants to enter the European Union, is trying to reach this road by going one forward two back! The EU membership process, which was frozen in 2013, resumed the year we passed. The biggest threat to the democratic regime is (will be ironic but) the Dayton Agreement, which is also the core of this system.
What is your vision of the freedom of speech and media freedom in Bosnia? Is there any constraint that journalism is supposed to overcome?
I am not as competent as to answer this question. Because I am not a journalist in Bosnia and I have lack of experience in this context. I have not experienced any restriction or sensor. I can only say my own observations. Also, I have to confess that I did some research on this question. First of all, I can say that there is a more free press than my country Turkey, as a result of the fact that journalists use a more liberal language as well as a more comfortable language. In any part of the world, we have concerns about talking about a completely objective press. In Bosnia also there is press that supports some and acts aggressively to some.
I do not know how they do it abiding the principles of journalism. But based on the research I have done, I can say that in Bosnia has the best liberal media laws in the region. Unfortunately, the economics hit the media. The situation is affected by the economics. In order to retain their jobs, they often make compromises at the cost of professional journalism. Also, sensationalism has a big part of the Bosnian media. The readers are targets for clicks and advertising revenue tends to be a driving force of journalism today. But if you wanna be the remarkable journalist, all the felicities are possible.
What is your opinion on the balance between minority autonomy and state integrity? Is this balance and utopic desideratum or it depends on the mutual good intention to build a functional multicultural state?
Bosnia and its neighbours have experienced this before. The name of this country was Yugoslavia. There used to be a very beautiful country, they called it Yugoslavia. I suppose this is the utopian desideratum that mentioned. But there are people who call this beautiful country a ‘’project’’. So there are people who see Yugoslavia as a good but unlucky project. Sometimes needs to have an ambition in order to save a beautiful country, by blowing underneath rather than holding it.
Should we consider Maria Todorova`s Balkanisation still impacting the political and societal climate in the Balkans?
I find the resemblance between Maria Todorova’s description of Balkanization and Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations. Balkanization was born as an American project. Balkanization was the name of breaking down a place. Maria Todorova made a description and analysis of it and revealed the inner face of this disgusting politics.
The author was talking about a Balkan ghost circulating in Europe in the book of Imagining the Balkans. As if the Balkans are diseased, it seemed like being Balkan was a bad thing to carry that culture. Unfortunately, this definition is still badly used by the West, and yet it is both politically and socio-culturally effective. Some Balkan countries do not want to be referred to as Balkans and are trying to get rid of it. This is a very painful paranoid. It can not be as tragic as for being ashamed by yourself. This definition is used even for the middle east. Now political science and international relations are using this definition in their literature. It is tough!
How do you characterize the political and cultural representation of the minorities in Bosnia? Do the minorities manage to safeguard their identity?
Apart from Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are 17 different minorities. Of course, the most well-known of them are the Jews and Romans. According to the Dayton Agreement, the parliament can accept Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs, which are the core elements of the country. But a Romani Dervo Sejdic and Jewish Jacob Finci wanted to enter the parliament. According to Dayton, it was not possible! So they went to the European Court of Human Rights. And the European Commission gave ultimatums to Bosnia and Herzegovina to solve this problem. Unfortunately, a decision was not reached, and Bosnia’s European Union candidacy was suspended at that time. The Dayton Agreement block minorities the right for representing themselves in the parliament also blocks the ways that they try to solve this issue regarding this manner. Therefore, minorities are left to tolerate the political elements of the three main elements in the country. But despite everything, we can not say that they are excluded socio-culturally. There is no attempt to assimilate anyone among the peoples.
Sarajevo was presented in the by the Yugoslav authorities as Yugoslavia`s most cosmopolite city due to the ethnic and religious diversity. Have the war experienced fragilized this ancestral equilibrium between the communities?
The war is absolutely affected. As I mentioned earlier, the distinction in cities is now more pronounced. But this is not an exaggerated dimension, still, life goes on.
Traditionally, there has always been a cultural, political and socials proximities between Balkan Muslims and Turkey. How does this interaction look like nowadays?
Nothing is as natural as the Balkan Muslims see Turkey that the country closest to them. Both historical ties and geographical proximity, of course, make this possible. Moreover, Turkey is culturally closer to the Balkans than any other Muslim countries. Many Arab investments in Bosnia, the intense cultural activities of Iran, have never dropped the popularity of Turkey. Not only kinship ties but also Balkan Muslims and Turks resemble each other. Today we see a Turkey that has a more active role in the Balkans than in the past.
The Balkans are constantly being mentioned in the Foreign Policy. Investments are being made, universities are being established, institutes are being opened. The most foreign countries that Turks travel are the Balkan countries. Although this is good, many mistakes made us upset. Everyone who loves the region thinks that they can take responsibility for sake of the Balkans. The lack of education and experience is our biggest handicap in the Balkans. Unfortunately, it is also because we are doing things that will bring bad consequences to our region that we love very much because of our wrong moves. Fortunately, we have a great deal of credit and the tolerant Balkan people protect the faithful Turkish people.