More than 88 per cent of citizens in four Bosnian towns believe that the reconciliation process will “heavily influence the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, a research shows.
The Centre for Empirical research into Religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the University in Edinburgh have carried out a joint research project in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar and Bugojno.
The study, called “Reconciliation and Trust Building", found that Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks all believe that reconciliation is important to the future of the country.
The results of the research were presented in Sarajevo on Monday, October 29.
Even though all the citizens the researchers talked to believed in the importance of reconciliation, whatever their ethnicity, the research team says that there were differences between the responses of the majority ethnic group and the minority ethnicities in each town.
The majority ethnic population demonstrates greater trust in the reconciliation process, the research shows, while the minority ethnic groups have a lower level of trust.
Differences are also evident in the views that the different groups expressed concerning the importance of politics and religion to the reconciliation process.
“The research shows that when we speak about the leadership of the reconciliation process, the participants expressed most trust in educational institutions and less trust in religious leaders and victims associations. Politicians and journalists were the least trusted,” states the report.
The research also showed a “scale of values” that citizens believe is important for the reconciliation process. The participants identified the most important factors for reconciliation as understanding, peace, social progress, security and trust. Apologies were rated the least important factor.
Ivan Cvitkovic and Vahdet Alemic, both Bosnian professors, have written reviews of the research and highlighted the importance of the subject for a Bosnian society in transition.
“The research confirms the view that the population believe that reconciliation, peace and societal progress are necessary”, said Alemic.
The Bosnian Centre for Empiric Research of Religion and the Edinburgh University say they will continue with their research.
They intend to organize meetings with representatives of the academic community, civil society organizations and religious communities to gather feedback on the survey results and exchange information.
“The end goal of this research is to make the reconciliation process and the rebuilding of trust more effective and sustainable”, the organizers said in a press release.