The Post-Conflict Research Center and Balkan Diskurs opened the three-day Peace Festival ‘22 in the Čardaci Ethno Village in Vitez to talk to young people, activists, and journalists from across Bosnia and Herzegovina about the importance of peace, counteracting divisions, and respect for human rights.
Velma Šarić, president and founder of the Post-Conflict Research Center, said that the goal of the Festival is to bring together young people from all over the country to work together to preserve peace at a time when their peers in Ukraine are living through the horrors of war.
“In the city of Vitez, in Central Bosnia, we gathered young people from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina. We want to learn and work together through our multimedia and art program, educate young people about the need to preserve sustainable peace and prevent potential conflicts,” said Šarić, emphasizing that the Peace Festival is part of the larger “Peace Museum” project, which includes the annual publication of the magazine Mir which will be launched soon.
Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec, head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, said smaller communities like Vitez are often a steppingstone to change and sustainable peace.
“Events such as the Festival offer an opportunity to change the prevailing narrative of division and show that citizens want to unite in support of peace. In order to change this narrative, we must raise the voices – especially the younger ones – of those who are committed to a peaceful and cohesive society without discrimination, and with full respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Kavalec said.
Consul Patrik Turošik, Deputy Head of Mission of the Slovak Embassy in BiH, said that in such a difficult time for Europe, young people are very important “because you are the future.”
“I wonder what peace is and whether it is finding yourself. For me, peace is security, especially because of what is happening in Ukraine,” said Turošik, thanking all the young people for coming and for the opportunity to exchange views.
The participants of the Festival had the opportunity to watch the OSCE documentary “Maglaj, War and Peace,” which tells the stories of three war veterans who share an important message about the futility of war and the importance of defending peace.
“The tragic events in Ukraine once again remind us how fragile peace can be and that all those affected by war pay a high price,” Kavalec said.
Peace Festival ‘22 aims to empower young people to take initiative in peacebuilding and thus become an active part of a strong democratic society in which all are equal.
The Festival is organized by the Post-Conflict Research Center – an organization which has received multiple awards for its dedicated work on peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans – along with the multimedia platform Balkan Diskurs, a platform which elevates the voices of young people, giving them the opportunity to express their opinions through writing.
The Festival is also organized in partnership with the OSCE Mission to BiH, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Slovak Embassy in BiH, European Union in BiH, AlJeezera Balkans, Vitez City Youth Theater, Slovak Aid and Čardaci Ethno Village.