Flags, banners, pop stars and slogans - on the face of it, elections in Bosnia are just like those in most other countries. But Bosnia is far from a normal European country. With all its different layers of government and divisions along ethnic lines, politics is a complicated business. Here’s Jan Zlatan Kulenovic of the Youth Information Centre
"Unfortunately we have 14 governments, 16 parliaments, 142 municipalities, 121 ministers and it's generally a bureaucratic rigid system."
"I don't think nationalism is really bad. I mean it's good to feel your own nation, to love it, to cherish your culture and everything. It's just the word is brought to a level where it's equal to fascism which is really not the case. I mean I really like who I am. I feel very comfortable in the shoes of being a Serbian girl, and I like my family, my culture, all the beliefs that we really respect and everything, but they just see it as something wrong."
Reform negotiations between the more nationalist Serbs and the other newly elected Bosnian politicians are going to be closely followed by the international community, to see if the conditions for the handing over of power will be met. One area where reform would have a real impact on everyday life is education. These students are part of a new multi-ethnic school project in the city of Mostar. Srdjan, a Serb from Zvornik, describes the reaction of his friends when he told them he was going to be educated with other Bosnians of different backgrounds.
For most Bosnians, schools are divided. In many cases the same buildings are used by two sets of students from different ethnic backgrounds. They either use different entrances or swap students, teachers and text books half way through each day. Mirna Jancic is the development director of this multiethnic project in Mostar. She says the country needs to find ways for children to integrate or it will store up more ethnic trouble for the future.
"The dangers are not so much that you will have people, future leaders of Bosnia, who will disagree on what happened, but they will have been educated according to a principle that denies the possibility that what they believe is wrong. Children are educated never to question authority or the truth of what they're being taught as part of their textbooks."
Education is just one area where Bosnia remains a divided country. The country's newly elected politicians have a difficult task ahead if they are to fashion such division into a more normal country. Some, with the support of their voters, obviously don't want to. But whether or not ethnic divisions remain, with other concrete problems to deal with such as a faltering economy and high unemployment, Bosnia's voters of every type will be hoping their politicians will find enough common ground to make a difference.Listen to the report:
Monday kicked off Nobel Prize week in Sweden, when the country enjoys international coverage of the awards , the pinnacle of achievement, left to the world by the Swedish inventor of Dynamite Alfred Nobel back in 1896 to reward scientific and literary development.
There are two things that come to mind when you think of Romanian education. On the one hand, really good specialists most of whom are now in America or in Western Europe and on the other hand an education infrastructure which has been completely neglected in the last 16 years. RRI’s Iulian Muresan went to see Bucharest’s largest student campus at the beginning of the school year.
Growing numbers of Britons and Germans take advantage of Poland's expanding private health sector to have their teeth fixed cheaply, or to perform cosmetic surgery. 'This medical tourism has taken off in a big way in the historic city of Krakow, which is a destination of many low cost airlines. Radio Polonia's John Beauchamp reports from Krakow. This report is by John Beauchamp.
After Ireland, Italy, Sweden or Spain, France could become the next country to introduce a blanket ban on smoking in public areas. That’s what a parliamentary committee recommended this week, after five months of consultations with doctors, tobacconists, and trade unions. According to government figures, some thirty five per cent of the French population uses tobacco, and sixty six thousand die of smoke related illnesses every year. The measure would be enforced from September next year at the latest, though the committee held open a possible delay till summer 2008 for some establishments, including night clubs and restaurants. The tobacco lobby reacted with outrage. But Radio France International’s Nick Champeaux says smokers in Paris are already making the mental adjustments.
"Journeys of Franz Kafka" is the name of a new internet project in which award-winning Czech photographer Jan Jindra follows in the footsteps of the literary great, taking black and white pictures of many of the places Kafka visited. One of the project's aims is to dispel the idea that the German-speaking author never left Prague; in fact he travelled rather extensively, around the Czech Republic and to countries such as Germany, France and Italy. Radio Prague's Ian Willoughby has the story.
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