Why Bosnians are so angry at their government

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Some of the images coming out of Syria in recent days caught our attention. I'm talking about what's happening in Homs, the country's third largest city. It's a city under siege, its citizens trapped inside with virtually no food or services until a tenuous truce allows them to flee. Those scenes look a lot like Bosnia during the war there in the 1990's. Today, Bosnia faces a different dilemma. The nation that emerged from the ashes of the Balkan wars now faces massive unemployment and government corruption and big protest. Elvira Jukic is a reporter with the online news outlet Balkan Insight in Sarajevo.

Elvira Jukic: Everything started on Wednesday actually, in Tuzla, where workers started complaining. They have been complaining for months about these companies that they used to work in, which was privatized. They were ripped off and closed after privatization.

In support to Tuzla, many people started gathering in Sarajevo and other towns. On Friday, the situation escalated and when there was news in the media that the building of government in Tuzla was set on fire - the same happened in Sarajevo in a matter of minutes. From time to time, there had been fights between the protesters and the police. I was there the whole time and I could see two or three police cars being on fire and everything was -

Werman: As you say, it sounds really messy, chaotic. You were in these protests on Friday - I gather it took several rounds of back and forth of aggression between protesters and police before you started getting a sense of what these protests are all about. So what are they all about?

Jukic: People are angry. When I talk to people in the streets - the protesters - everybody said that they had had enough of this type of government, this way of being in power.

Werman: What does that mean? What type of government? What are they doing that people are so angry about?

Jukic: They are reluctant and incompetent politicians. One of the largest problems is corruption. Also, when I say corruption, it's not just that some politicians are taking money from some public procurements or whatever. They are acting in a way where you cannot get a job after you finish university. You have to have somebody who is a friend or family to get a proper job.

Werman: Right, nepotism. How much of this trouble - nepotism, corruption, unemployment - how much can you trace back to the war in the 1990's in the Balkans?

Jukic: This looks like the anger of the people has been accumulating over the years because after the war was over in '95, there was several years of reconstruction and after that period, people expected something new, something which would bring them basic elements of a normal life. That didn't happen, so it all led to the moment when thousands who lost their jobs, who don't have an opportunity to work and earn for a living, have decided to go out into the streets and say, "We've had enough."

Werman: Elvira Jukic, a reporter with the online newsgroup Balkan Insight, speaking with us from Sarajevo. Thank you very much.

Jukic: Thank you too, Marco.