no Slavic Spring in sight…

I said I wouldn’t talk politics. I lied.

This place never – ever – ceases to amaze me. I think we’re the only city in Europe that does not directly elect its mayor. We ‘the people’ have no say-so whatsoever in who will represent us in the city we purport to love so much. So much for Bosnian democracy.

Led by the media shepherds, we continue to loyally follow, discuss and argue within the narrow confines of this political farce. When did we stop thinking out of the box? When did we stop thinking period? The city council, which at this point (in my humble opinion), has zero legitimacy, is for some reason mandated to be our voice and choose a mayor. They haven’t been able to do so for five months. Many of the these city councilmen/women were not even able to muster a few thousand votes in a city of almost a half million. How on earth did they earn the right to represent us or select this city’s mayor? Ne znam.

If we would have the option of directly electing our mayor, the people would decide in one day. One day. But five months on we have a total blockade of the city. We are supposed to be a European City of Culture next year to celebrate 100 years of Europe’s triumphs and tribulations. It was almost a century ago that Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo. That sparked the bloodiest war of all time. But the aim of this anniversary is to celebrate the progress of Europe as a union and, inshallah, the end of Europe’s bloody conflicts. They chose Sarajevo to do so. A perfect time to pull us out from the bottom of the barrel. Apparently we like lurking as low as we can go so much we’d rather flounder about down there as long as we can. What gluttons.

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We have a shitload of work ahead of us. It is estimated that up to a million visitors may come to Sarajevo next year. Leave it to us to miss the boat on this once-in-a-lifetime event. Many EU embassies here in Sarajevo already have commissions and committee’s set up to organize events for next year. Their work has already begun. We haven’t even begun to think about the daily business of this city let alone the monumental task of organizing an entire year of events.

We have an airport with a drastically reduced capacity due to the loss of several key airlines like Malev, British Airways, and Swiss Air. Our airport taxes are so high and our government so obstructive that we are the only European country with no budget airline connecting us to the west. (I don’t consider Germany Wings to be budget at all).

We have no where to park tour buses and no plans to resolve that issue. We have no plans to increase security, particularly in the old town where tourists will flock to. With the social and economic state of this city, I fear the con-men, thieves, and pickpockets will be out in droves. The major tourism fairs such as ITB (Berlin) and WTM (London) have come and gone without this city’s presence to market what should be the greatest year of events since the Winter Olympics of 1984. Tour operators plan their itineraries a year in advance not a few months before. Again, we miss the boat on this one.

Passengers who do manage to find a flight into Sarajevo will have to be clairvoyant or telepathic to know that the Tourism Information Center is about 100 meters away from the exit gate. In fact, the info booth is at the entrance of the airport instead of the exit. Bosnian logic. There are also no airport shuttle buses to and from the city. Our posteni taxi’s charge exuberant prices that the government chooses to ignore, adding insult to injury.

We don’t have a website dedicated to the theme or to highlight the events of next year. We don’t even know what events there will be. We don’t have a planning committee or a liaison between the mayor’s office and the EU embassies here in Sarajevo. All of this because we don’t have a mayor. All of this because our public servants do not know the meaning of public or servant. All of this because we have a joke of a government. And yet the fierce debate is not based on these questions but rather which left-right coalition (I prefer the term backward-ass) should appoint their peon in our names. If I’m not mistaken neither of the current candidates speaks a foreign language either. That’ll make for smooth communication with the diplomatic corps and the long list of delegations that will pay homage to Sarajevo and its place in Europe.

I know the Slavic Spring will never come. We are too lazy and apathetic for that. This government understands this well and has mastered the virtue of patience. They can stall and wait out any protest, strike or discontent…knowing that it won’t be too long until we go home, turn on the boob tube, light a cigarette, and watch the news cursing and kicking for its entirety.

The question is not whether this or that candidate should or should not be mayor. The question should not be is Nasa Stranke playing victim by abstaining from the deciding votes. The question is when will our community realize the responsibility of being in a democracy. Nothing is going to be handed to us. We must take it, for it is ours to take. By being passive observers and eternal whiners we will get exactly what we deserve: no mayor; a government that more resembles a circus; and a moral crisis that continues to wear and tear at the very thin fabric that holds this society together.

We need a serious head check. It’s time to go to work people. Time to go to work.

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