CDER blog

Yugoslavia disappears, mixed marriages disappear

The news that 14-year-old Mahir Rakovac from Sarajevo killed himself at the end of 2014. after harassing a student from the Turkish-Bosnian school he attended would not be complete if we did not mention that the unfortunate boy lived in a nationally mixed, Croat-Muslim family. Because of that, the students called him various derogatory names (Vlašče, Karalovro …). This unfortunate event itself is a reason to remind that Sarajevo used to be full of ethnically mixed marriages, but at a time when a large percentage of the three most numerous nations in the former Yugoslavia lived in this city. However, in the third place, in terms of number, were, in fact, nationally undecided Yugoslavs. According to the census, in 1981 there were 189,000 Muslims, 133,000 Serbs, 76,000 Yugoslavs and 37,000 Croats in Sarajevo. Then, according to some estimates, every fifth marriage in the capital was mixed, and today in the entire Federation of BiH, out of the total number of marriages, not every twentieth is among those of different nationalities.

According to data from 2014, 11,982 marriages were concluded in the so-called MH federation, of which only 551 were nationally mixed. To date, the national composition of the population of BiH, not even the Federation, has been announced, but it is assumed that huge changes have taken place in this part of the once “most multiethnic” republic – with the complete domination of Bosniaks. In 2014, 9,553 Bosniak women in the Federation of BiH were married, of which only two percent were with spouses of other nationalities, then 1,734 Croats, of whom seven percent were ethnically mixed, while 50 percent of marriages, out of a total of 125, were married serbian women, the husband was of another nationality.

Prof. Dr. Snježana Mrđen, from the University of Zadar, said that even in the time of the former Yugoslavia, ” In BiH there were fewer marriages between different nationalities than, for example. in Croatia or Montenegro, especially if we compare it with Vojvodina. This is the case in BiH on average annually in the period 1950-1990. there were 11 percent of ethnically mixed marriages, 16 in Croatia, 14 in Montenegro, and 25 percent in Vojvodina. Since 1996, the share of ethnically mixed marriages in BiH has been around seven percent, and in 2014 it was only five percent. Such a modest participation of marriages between different nationalities was not even in 1950. “

Other former republics have also undergone radical changes when it comes to marriages in the former Yugoslavia, in which the share of the dominant nation, after the mass emigration of others during the 1990s, has sharply increased. At the last census in 2011, Croatia had a total population of 90 percent Croats and eight percent of all national minorities, while in the 1981 census there were only 75 percent Croats and 12 percent Serbs and eight percent Yugoslavs. That is why it is not surprising that in 1981, every sixth marriage in Croatia was nationally mixed. Twelve years later, in 1993, 88 percent of all marriages in Croatia were between Croats, and that percentage remained almost the same in 2014, which is significantly more than in 1990, when there were 65 percent of such marriages.

In 1990, every fifth marriage in Croatia was interethnic, and in 2014 – every eleventh. “The reason for that is partly a change in the ethnic structure in Croatia, and partly a change in the behavior of the majority nationality towards an ethnically homogeneous / heterogeneous marriage. Also, the most pronounced changes in the attitude towards ethnically mixed marriage – if we compare the majority nationalities – are visible among Croats in Croatia, where after 1990 less than five percent married outside their group, while before 1990 this percentage was around 10 percent, indicating marked closure within the ethnic group.

Serbia (without Kosovo and Metohija) is now recording the full dominance of Serbian-Serbian marriages. Last year, there were 91 percent of such marriages because the Serbian population in Serbia (excluding Kosovo and Metohija) is the most dominant (84 percent). And that, not only in the central part, but also in Vojvodina, which with 27 percent of nationally mixed marriages in 1981 was at the top of the then republic-provincial list. However, in the 1981 census, only 54 percent of the Serb population lived in Vojvodina, while in 2011 that percentage, mainly due to immigration from other republics, increased to about 67 percent. That increase in the share of Serbs in the total population of Vojvodina also influenced the decrease in ethnic marriages, the number of which has been decreasing since 1990 from 28 to 19 percent in 2014.

Therefore, mixed national marriages follow the fate of overall national movements in the former Yugoslavia: while nations, during the existence of Yugoslavia, lived together, or at least close to each other, there were relatively many joint marriages, and today when new states in these areas are ethnic more or less homogeneous, and marriages are more homogeneous. And it will probably be more and more homogeneous, having in mind the experience of other countries in which the so-called dwarf minorities are drowning and, practically, disappearing in the majority nation. This is a well-known experience of the Serbian population in Hungary and Romania, but also of other nations in other countries where the marriage of a bride – a member of the “dwarf” minority for someone from the majority people, during the next generation, disappeared the characteristics of a mixed national family. This is a common process in all countries because members of a small minority who live in a relatively homogeneous nation-state and have no choice but to drown in a majority nation when it comes to marriage offers. For example. In 1990, out of a total of marriages, Serbs in Croatia married in 69% of cases within their ethnic group, and in 2014, there were 45% of such marriages.

By the way, there are various mini-reports and notes on how ethnically mixed families lived in war-torn areas during the ninth decade of the last century, and I’ll quote one from Republika Srpska: “If the husband is a Serb from RS, they continued to live in RS . If the husband is non-Serb, then due to non-attendance in the RS army, he lost his job, after which he emigrated, usually with the whole family; or only the father left, and the others continued to live in RS and guard the property. After the war, some husbands returned, some didn’t.”

And the example of the unfortunate Mahir Rakovec shows how much nationally mixed marriages can still be burdened with the psychology of war and Balkan exclusivity, in almost mono-ethnic environments.

Marija Marinković

Position and Needs of Youth in Serbia

On the International Youth Day on August 12, 2020, the fourth Alternative Report on the Position and Needs of Youth in the Republic of Serbia 2020 was traditionally published.
The research was conducted in the period from May to July 2020. According to the methodological approach and the way of data collection, the research is qualitative and quantitative, that is, both methods of research and data collection were used.

Based on the results of this year ‘s research (insight into the data from desk research, realized focus groups and online results questionnaire), “Krovna organizacija mladih Srbije” complements a set of recommendations for further work, both individually and collectively, of all actors youth policy. The recommendations are basically set out above years and conceived as concrete proposals that have the possibility to become public policies or advocacy campaigns. Despite the facts that in relation to the recommendations given in previous years is not many things have improved, even worsened and that the vast majority the recommendation repeats that we should only supplement them, as well as that they are from the year In a year increasingly, new recommendations are the product of this research and all recommendations together should be the basis for all institutions, organizations and other actors when it comes to improving the position youth in the Republic of Serbia.

Some of the recommendations worth pointing out were:

  • Encourages the formation of a separate line ministry that would deal exclusively with youth (Ministry of Youth) or formation independent National Youth Agency.
  • Programs and projects provided by the Ministry of Youth and sports funding must have a regular annual cycles and that the programs and projects are implemented continuously with a maximum of two months of transition period between competition.
  • The text of the public call for the allocation of funds for the purpose of transparency and democracy, but also based on facts and research, harmonizes the commission with the text of the public a document adopted in agreement with the community and stakeholders, relating to areas of public interest.
  • The composition of the commission that decides on the projects should be heterogeneity and it is necessary to be composed of representatives of all possible potential winners funds, and even target groups, not just the government sector. It is necessary to invite and appoint members by public invitation of these commissions, delegate them through umbrella organizations or conduct a public call for individuals, who will have recommendations relevant organizations.
  • The Ministry of Youth and Sports must developed and long-term program funding in order to activities could be supported over many years and in order to the results were continuous.
  • The National Assembly and the Government should increase the budget of the youth sector and the parts related to youth policy.
  • Initiate reactivation of working groups for amendments to the Law on Youth / Law on Volunteering and the formation of a working group to identify the set laws and priorities that must be proposed or amended.
  • The Ministry of Youth and Sports must maintain regular and constant communication with associations and their alliances in order to solve problems and overcome challenges in partnership.
  • Involvement of young people in the work of the Coordination Body for Monitoring flows of economic migration in the Republic of Serbia – “Krovna organizacije mladih Srbije”, “NAPOR” and “Nacionalna KZM”
  • Establish a minimum standard for youth participation in decision-making and standards in working with young people from the national to the local level, and include them in legislative framework of the Republic of Serbia.

There is a whole list of recommendations. These are just some of them that explain the needs of young people in more details.

These recommendations apply to all actors in youth policy in Serbia, which should work together, improve, plan, implement and evaluate processes, activities and services for young people, while maintaining a constant dialogue with young people and their representatives. Each actor from each of these recommendations can include a certain element in their work and to contribute in that way to the common goal – sustainable and responsible system of protection and development of young people in Serbia.

Oliver Aleksić

How COVID-19 has affected youth

Since the outset of the pandemic more than 70 per cent of youth who study or combine study with work have been affected by the closing of schools, universities and training centres. According to some reports many young people have said that they were learning less because of the transition to online school and this situation has been even worse for the youth living in lower income families or countries because they have lack of equipment, less access to internet etc.

This is also a global problem because first of all it’s global pandemic so, in my opinion education system is failing to educate our youth.

This pandemic also has had an impact on youth’s mental well being.

And how can it not, we are trapped in our houses and expected to do well at school or online job (if we have one), no human contact because of lockdown and only way to see outdoors is through computer screen.That is in my opinion depressing.

I know that it’s best for our health and health of our close ones to stay inside but it’s really challenging for us on many levels.

It’s hard to focus on your obligations when every single day is the same.

We wake up, turn on our computers and listen to lectures, or do our work online.

Also, because of this situation most young people are anxious and worried because they have to choose their future job, career, life path… and how to do that when you live in world where you have to wear a mask all of the time, where it’s only online school and when you know that maybe this is how life is going to be from now on.

Now, who would like to teach people through computer screen, or work 8 or more hours a day with a mask or gloves.

It really makes you put your finger on your forehead and think about what is life going to look like.

Magdalena Jevtić

Government, people and media in Serbia

The media is a mirror of every society. The Seventh Force, guardians of public order and peace, fighter for equality, justice and instruments that strive to preserve morals and ethics. Sounds like the most boring definition of what the media should represent, right? It’s not like that! The first sentence of this comment may be valid in a “happyland” and a country that is in the “golden age” and which has the highest economic growth in the region… Maybe I’m still talking about Serbia? Those who watch “pink and happy” broadcasters who brainwash the half-literate Serbian people every day, would certainly agree that this is a “golden age”. Under the influence of one man who controls absolutely everything, you can’t expect different perceptions. The “narcotic dysfunction” of the media in Serbia operates at an enviable level. In the union between me as a person who should defend the truth and frequent interests as required by the profession and what is placed on small screens day by day, I consider as my greatest success that my grandmothers do not believe that they are better and do not round the famous number 1 in the elections. To be simpler, here they laugh in the face of an ordinary man, unconstitutionally take his pension and he reclines in an armchair as he said that he is better. And it is, because he believes he is better. In Serbia, it seems as if you have no right to choose. Serbia has reached that level of media freedom, to cry for Milosevic’s time. Let us not go deeper into Milosevic’s subject matter, the message is clear. The TV program looks something like this: he, he, he, they, the ruling party, 589 new fountains, a visit to Kyrgyzstan, livestream, the Minister of the Army who did not serve the military service, the head of the BIA, “a potter” from Krusevac, the so-called Bata Santos-God of coffee, Prime Minister, a woman who does her homework, and she is important as Mirko Cvetković in 2009. Etc., etc., etc. There is a very small number of media, we can almost count them on the fingers of one hand, which oppose the hypocrisy of the Government. A couple of TV shows, mostly launched on YouTube, because grandma doesn’t even know what YouTube is. The “password” of the media in Serbia is more and more reminiscent of the famous “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

This is exactly what “Studio B” did, once the embodiment of youth, common sense, journalism as it once was, with the spirit of the Belgrade old school, from which the greatest journalistic names of the old state came. We could by 2078. new era to sit like this and enumerate, get annoyed, maybe even hurt yourself, but the truth remains the same. Dear people, you hava a choice… continue to watch day and night the doctor of the imaginary who builds Venice and Paris in Simanovci (what a paradox) or simply turn off the TV.

Ksenija Petrović

Less and less tobacco, more and more drugs among young people in Serbia

Every eighth student of the first grade of high school in Serbia tried marijuana, according to the latest research of the Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Milan Jovanović Batut”, which was presented at the professional gathering “Batut Days” on 2018. The results of that research show that the critical period for the first encounter with psychoactive substances is for most students aged 14 and 15.

This research shows the period when young people start experimenting with psychoactive substances. It is a transition between primary and secondary school, which is a key period when there is an increase in experimentation with psychoactive substances. That research showed that, in addition to psychoactive substances, the leading risk to the health of young people is smoking and alcohol.

Batut’s researches showed that 11 percent of students between the ages of 13 and 15 smoke, 12.5 percent of students have tried cannabis, almost every other student has tried alcohol, and a third of students have been drunk at least once in their lifetime.

In the show “For and against”, we talked about how much organized campaigns contribute to young people making positive and negative decisions about harmful substances, as well as what the Government is doing on that issue, and what the medical profession is doing.

Among young people who have ever smoked a cigarette, the largest number of them did so at the age of 15, as many as 34 percent. These results are better than those collected in 2013 and there are more reasons for that. The attractiveness of a healthy life and exercise has increased, and thanks to the Internet and the media, smoking has become much more stigmatized than in earlier times.

Andrijana Obradovic, a student from Paracin, hasn’t used tobacco products for two years, and it took her a long time to figure out how to do it.

“I smoked my first cigarette at the age of 14, which is very early from this perspective. It has always been interesting to me that people around me try to dispel their problems and frustrations by lighting a cigarette and forgetting it for at least five minutes. At the time of puberty, when we all think we are unhappy and have problems, it made me light a cigarette and think it calms me down,” says Andrijana.

When she stopped smoking, Andrijana did it after much thought, pressure from the environment, but here was the main motivation.

“After coming to college, they (parents) didn’t send me money so often, so I had to allocate money for food, hygiene and cigarettes. It was difficult to meet all the needs with a little money. It wasn’t as unbearable as my conscience bothered me because of my parents sending me money. , and they don’t know that I spend it on cigarettes “, explains Andrijana.

We are witnessing numerous anti-smoking campaigns whose results are very difficult to measure. Some research has shown that smokers will not be bothered by warning messages or pictures of the disease on the packs, that they rarely want to listen to the appeals of officials and doctors. Andrijana says that all those actions and campaigns didn’t have any impact on her.

When it comes to drugs, the Trampoline research says that 12.5 percent of first-grade high school students have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetime. Among high school students who have ever tried marijuana, the largest number, as many as 46 percent, did it for the first time at the age of 15. This plague, unlike tobacco, has been on the rise since 2013. Of particular concern is the growing abuse of synthetic drugs such as ecstasy, which young people usually don’t consider to be life-threatening drugs, which is completely misunderstood.

Numerous government drug warning campaigns have had very limited effect so far. Penal policy never solves this problem anywhere, so it is clear that it is necessary to return to the roots, and that is a conversation with children and young people.

In the summer of 2018, the Government of Serbia made a decision on the formation of the Commission for the Fight against Drug Addiction in Schools, which will work on raising awareness about the harmfulness of drug use. The emphasis in that fight will be placed on a particularly vulnerable group, and those are school-age children, who are increasingly becoming the target of drug dealers. The task of the commission is to organize a systemic campaign, the goal of which is to increase the awareness of citizens about the harmfulness of narcotics, actually a direct impact on school-age children, as well as on their parents.

The same summer, training teams were formed. It’s predicted that they will see the first results two to three years after that. They haven’t been officially published to date.


Nikola Marić

Economy without healthy society is not enough

If we were to stop young people on the streets of Belgrade and ask them about their plans for the future, one thing is for sure – we would meet many of them who are talking about going abroad, whether it’s temporary or forever. If we were to generalize this pattern to whole Serbia we would have devastating results – thousands of young people who are already thinking about going or getting ready or even booking a flight to their ’better life’.

Of course, comprehension of the term ’better life’ varies from person to person, but if you’re living in a country with deeply ingrained values, corruption that blooms day by day, declining culture and an unstable economic system, a definition of happiness easily changes from abstract to material.

The non-existent economic system brings all sorts of consequences, the state budget is disappearing in the accounts of imaginary companies, and plans which would provide better perspective not only for youth but for all people remain at the level of proposals.

However, simply concentrating on numbers and money while ignoring general spirit of society might not solve the problems of migration.

How many people leave?

According to Eurostat survey in 2018. fifty thousand people left Serbia. This number won’t tell us much standing here alone, but if we add the fact that country has about 7 million residents, and that we have 33% more people who are older than age of 65 than those who are 15 or less suddenly it turns out as a great number. The population is ageing, young people are leaving and if this trend continues United nations forecast is that by the year 2061. Serbia will lose about three million people.

IMF and OECD also have their report form July 2019, which gives us an estimated number of 400.000 people who left between 2008 and 2016. We have to keep in mind that they only counted countries who are part of OECD, so this number is probably larger.

None of these estimations can be 100% exact, because there are a lot of people who might went for undeclared work, but we’ll take them as very approximate.

Another research conducted in 2019 by the Ministry of Demography and Population Policy of Serbia showed that out of eleven thousand students who participated, 3.900 said that their plan is to go abroad immediately after getting their degree.

So why is that?

The question follows why are they ready to leave their whole life here and go? Usually first thing that comes to mind is that economy is the only reason, and if they get well-paid job they would stay. However, that might not be the case. Yes, economic problems including unemployment, poor position of workers, difficulty in finding a job that would match their education and even more difficulty in keeping it are enormous problems, but that’s not the only thing that makes youth “flee the country” as people here would say. So where’s the rub?

According to the research conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) ‘Youth in Serbia 2018/2019’, one of the main reasons is the desire to escape from a bad situation. This can be interpreted in several ways, but mostly refers to the main problems of Serbia in the last ten years – the decline of democracy, institutions, media, corrupt government and the subtle introduction of authoritarian regime.

For example, an 18-year-old freshman student Anja and her friends told me how unsatisfied they are.

„Yes, I’m planning on leaving, a lot of things here have to change – from this corrupt system to the mentality of the people. It is extremely bad in every way. I would only come back on vacation“, Anja told me.

Her friend Milica (18) agrees and describes the country as „state of ruin“ and that „ruling regime is cause of the problem“.

What Milica is talking about refers to numerous scandals of the ruling leadership that have appeared in the media in the last eight years for which no one has ever been held accountable, about their extreme weakening of the media, as well as deepening distrust of people in them.

On the other hand, Uros (19) believes that the „ruling regime is a reflection of the general situation in society“ and that „the one who holds this government is only the most radical example of the average citizen of Serbia.”

Marija (22), an architecture student, confirms that a well-paid job is not the only thing that would keep her in Serbia, and adds that she would “rather live in a country where the government is not so corrupt.”

Thus, the statement of Friedrich Ebert’s research that desire to emigrate is most closely connected with the pessimism regarding the future situation in the country proves to be very true here.

Where do they want to go?

What countries then represent the ideal country that could fulfil, we would agree, very realistic demands of young people?

Various NGO research shows that people from Serbia almost always choose Western countries, those that seem to provide a chance to achieve a normal standard of living and which Serbia, at least officially aspires to, judging by its efforts to be accepted into the European Union.

The Friedrich Ebert’s study confirms this and says that the largest number of respondents don’t know where they would go (23%), but those who know mention Germany (16%), USA (10%), Switzerland (10%), Austria (9%) as well as Italy, France, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland.

My above-mentioned interlocutors would agree with this as their answers were also Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Iceland, Spain, Italy, France and even Japan.

So what did the government do
to try and end this?

If the government knows that this is one of its biggest issues, then what measures has it taken to prevent it?

Apparently, no measures or insufficiently engaged ones. There is no incentive for young people to stay here, investments in culture and education, the things that could actually save this society, are insufficient.

The decline of the cultural and educational system as well as optimism of the people has been continuous for 30 years.

A concrete example of the lack of any support is this situation with the corona virus, where the entire education system has moved to the online sphere and where it relies on the ability of pupils, students and professors without much help from the state. Students were even evicted from their dormitories so that their rooms could be adapted for COVID patients.

In January 2019, a Coordination Team for Monitoring Economic Migration was formed, headed by the Minister of Labor, but until January 2020, all that happened is adopting a draft Strategy for stopping the population going abroad.

The Friedrich Ebert study states that the country should provide for young people to continue professional development through programs for which they would give scholarships or at least co-finance it, to provide support in knowledge exchange and cooperation between colleagues abroad, to make higher education more accessible without losing the quality and more assistance of the state in helping youth with finding a job.

Is change possible?

The whole view of the current situation seems gloomy. Young people seem to prefer to leave and do not want to return, regardless whether the state officially adopts some policies or not, and 90% of parents support them in this no matter how emotionally difficult it is.

Due to the last 30 years marked by wars, economic crises and the mere struggle for survival, citizens do not trust the institutions, governments or their policies and strategies. Mind you, this is not only a problem of Serbia, but of the entire Balkan region.

So Serbia is facing this large brain drain as well as low birth rate making population older and older. People are tired of fighting battles for basic human rights that should’ve ended decades ago.Economy is important but so is living like a human being. Given all this, the question remains how much longer will such order be possible?


Ana Đurić

Should Young People Stay in Serbia?



Even though people claim that life is better outside from Serbia, where many benefits are awaiting, it so happens that existing opportunities in this country are unknown and that young people essentially do not understand them. Students are prone to move in the circles from their comfort zone, they hardly find inner motives to become scientists, to work on themselves and to acquire new skills. Also, they are discouraged by stories of other’s failures, employment based on political party membership and corruption, so they often cross out certain options that opened to them, or hardly decide to start working on the ideas that require entrepreneurship spirit or opening a private business. Opportunities to work and prosper in Serbia do exist, they are just not so apparent and numerous, which therefore requires a high level of social wisdom to provide enough patience for people to work on themselves to reach their goal. Continue reading “Should Young People Stay in Serbia?”

Young People in Serbia 2015


FRIEDRICH EBERT STIFTUNG and SeConS published a book “Young People in Serbia 2015: Situation, Perceptions, Beliefs and Aspirations. This study, written by Smiljka Tomanović and Dragan Stanojević, examines the civic and political perceptions as well as the individual experiences of young people in Serbia today. The study is based on empirical data collected in 2015 through interviews conducted with 1200 young people aged between 15 and 29 from all over Serbia. They were asked to provide information about all aspects of their lives, including living conditions, education, work and employment, family and leisure, trust, attitudes and beliefs, future aspirations as well as politics and EU-Accession of Serbia.

Continue reading “Young People in Serbia 2015”

Serbia and Europe as Seen by Young People


Young people in Serbia are Euro-skeptical and dissatisfied
with their life in Serbia, latest study shows.

Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade on June 2 presented the results of their study of attitudes of young people about Serbian EU integration. This research, conducted in April this year in cooperation with the European Movement in Serbia and with assistance of the Faculty‘s second year students. This research has been conducted from April 19 to April 29, and it included 979 young persons between 15 and 29 years of age from Serbia, including those from Kosovo. Continue reading “Serbia and Europe as Seen by Young People”

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