Bosnian Croats see merger as threat to identity

November 10, 2000

Bosnian Croat students in Mostar have staged protests against plans to amalgamate its two universities - one on the west bank of the Neretva river, with mainly Croatian students, and one on the east bank favoured by the Bosnian Muslims.

Merging the universities was proposed by international peacekeepers in Bosnia. Grga Saric, a student of the Croat Djemal Bijedic university's agricultural faculty, called it "global interference of international politics". Bosnian Croats, he said, had the right to be educated in their own language, and the university's autonomy must be respected.

As part of an initiative by Richard Holbrooke, US ambassador to the United Nations, a number of Bosnian federal institutions are moving from Sarajevo to Mostar.

Bosnian Croats see this not as a means of bolstering their position within the state, but rather as a threat to their ethnic identity.

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