Successful evaluation in Bosnia

December 16th, 2011   Best practices | Bosnia and Herzegovina | The Balkans

Representatives of the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation recently visited Bosnia to initiate an evaluation process of all projects on the Balkans managed by the Foundation. How does the cooperation work? What effects, if any, have been reached? What might be done in a different way? Following two days of meetings and discussions the conclusion was obvious: members of the PDP are convinced that the cooperation with the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation is a positive force on numerous levels.

Close to the border between Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina lies the village Gradiška. The houses along the main street look like houses in any village in Central- and Southern Europe. That is, if it wasn’t for the bullet holes that serve a reminder that this village is not like any other village. This was recently a war zone. From 1992 to 1995, this part of Europe was haunted by a civil war between Serbs, Muslims and Croats, a war ended with the Dayton agreement. The conflict in Bosnia started with the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, with the result that more than 250 000 people were killed and 1.6 million were forced to leave their homes. Still today the memories of the war are part of everyday life in the constituent republic of Srpska and its capital Banja Luka.

Mladen Ivanic, to the right, and Igor Crnadak at the PDP head quarters.

“Welcome to PDP. How may we be of service? asked Mladen Ivanic, chairman of PDP (Party of Democratic Progress/Partija demokratskog progresa) the cooperation partner of the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation in the republic of Srpska. Since shortly PDP is part of the political opposition in Srpska, following two years of coalition with the Social Democrat Party. Next to him is Igor Crnadak, deputy defense minister (his successor has not yet been named. Though, this doesn’t seem to constitute a problem since, as Igor Crnadak said “we all agree on EU and Nato membership”). Both are convinced that is will be easier to run the upcoming election campaign in September, as PDP is no longer part of the government. When asked about the cooperation with the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation, they emphasize that it has been profitable to PDP, on all levels within the party.

Representatives of the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation recently visited Bosnia to initiate an evaluation of the projects managed by the Foundation on the Balkans. How does the cooperation work? What effects, if any, have been reached? What might be done in a different way? The cooperation partner PDP was most accommodating and ready to answer. The cooperation is ongoing since the beginning of the millennium. It is obvious for an observer that the trust is mutual. Hugs are exchanged as well as kisses on the cheeks – three times as customary in Bosnia.

During two days in March the Foundation met with representatives of the PDP women organisation, youth organisation and the party leadership. Numerous PDP members have during the years taken part in education under the management of the Foundation – both in Bosnia-Hercegovina and in Sweden. “Many things have changed during these years,” explained Dijan Cekic, MP representing PDP. ”This is a young democracy,” she adds.

”I have learned a lot and got to know women working in politics – that I keep in contact with and exchange ideas with” said Marinela Stankovic. She has taken part in the Foundation’s education, both for women and for youth. In her opinion, best practices, are important, mentioning a Swedish MP speaking at a conference.

“She told us about her experiences. It is useful to learn how women have worked their way into politics and solved the problem with combining career, family and politics.”

Marinela Stankovic meeting representatives from the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation

The attitude towards women in Bosnia-Hercegovina is often mentioned by the PDP-politicians. In a society with a patriarchal structure it is hard to attract women to take on higher political positions. “Time and education” is needed for Bosnian women to get more involved in politics, according to representatives from the women’s organisation. They expressed a conviction that the work of the Foundation is one of the reasons that the PDP women of today is “better organised” than they used to be.

“Though, we ought to have taken your advice on building networks to strengthen our organization. The men in the party leadership did so and have had more success,” said Zora Malesevic and her colleagues.

”Women must support each other,” explained Bojana Vezmar from the PDP youth association. She is eager to tell about a successful anti-smoke-campaign organised by the PDP youth. This being an example of the hands-on-politics that are widespread among political parties on the Balkans. Travelling mammography units and education on domestic violence are examples of such achievements.

“We have learned a lot and gained valuable contacts,” said Nikolina Bosnjak who is part of the PDP youth association in Banja Luka. The association has recently been re-organized and she hopes that working in committees will be successful and a model for PDP youth around the republic of Srpska. The change was inspired by education managed by the Foundation. She and her young PDP friends are confident that the cooperation is important to get the participating Bosnian youth to “catch the fever”.

The most important and obvious result of the cooperation, said Goran Bera, is that a candidate from the youth organization – with the support of young people – was elected member of the local council in Banja Luka. When asked what else the Foundation can do for the PDP youth the answer is imminent:”Support education in the English language.”

Zoran Djeric is chairman of the PDP Executive Board and former minister for the interior – described the positive effects of the cooperation between PDP and JHS – policy and organization. This goes for everything from convincing the leadership to go-from-door-to-door during a political campaign, to inspiring the party to plan activities further ahead. . “Today we need help to work with information, for example media management and production of printed material.”

Zoran Djeric concludes “The cooperation with the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation infuses optimism-into our party. It is important as we realize that we are not alone.


Text: Elisabeth Precht; Translation: Evelina Lorentzon/Elisabeth Precht

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