Research by Martina Plantak

  1. Introduction:

|This thesis argues for the promotion of music and film industry as  instruments and tools of cultural diplomacy as well as a potential mediators during the war in former Yugoslav countries. It will be attempted to explain the role of the music and film industry during the war times in former Yugoslav countries, as well as asceartaining if, and in which measure, music and film industry have helped in stopping the war. This question will be examined through interdisciplinary framework, connecting together  fields like cultural diplomacy, identity and cultural happenings during the war in former Yugoslavia. The emphasis will be placed on interwoven terms of cultural diplomacy and political propaganda, as well the music and film industry as a potential instruments of mediation. Since the Republic of Slovenia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have not directly suffered from war in the nineties, the primar focus will be on Republic of Croatia, Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Serbia (in communion with Montenegro and Kosovo).

In the first part of this thesis, I will define the terms such as culture, cultural diplomacy and propaganda, while the second part will analyze the effect of cultural diplomacy during the war in former Yugoslavia, especially through the role of music and film industry. Thesis will also try to explain the important role of Eurovision song contest as one of the instruments of cultural diplomacy and political propaganda, while the last part of thesis will try to determine if music and film are, and in which measure, connected with ethnic and cultural identity.

Hypothesis is, that, „despite all of the efforts, cultural diplomacy as a mediator, was not able to achieve her task, because the increased nationalism as a tool of states politics was to strong.“


  1. Meaning of culture

Word culture derives from latin word cultura and in its orginal sense was reffering to ground processing and caring about the domestic animals. Later on, through the Franch languge, this word was transposed to everday language. (Reeves 2004, 14-15) As Batora and Mokre (2011, 1-2) emphasize: „culture was a medium for overcoming local ethnich and social-economic borders and also for establishing national groups.  This achievement of collective identites has led to exclusion of those who did not belong to them. Culture has outgrown national frameworks and was often translated as a civilization with an implication on only one „legitimate“ global culture. „Versions of this view have produced theories of multiculturalism, refering to equal value of different cultures, so that we can speak about more definitions of culture. Mesić stresses that the original etymological meaning of culture refers to cultivation of land, but also the spirit and that in some general sense the meaning of culture sets opposite the nature. Likewise, he is adverting on  the distinction between the traditional and modern cultures, whereby the first are understood as a set of practices and beliefs of a group of people, while modern and especially national culture, is determined as „normative and organizational presentaition structure, in a loose connection with specific worldview, therefore, more as a abstraction imposed on people’s lives.“ (Mesić 2007, 160-161) Williams further narrows the notion of culture and is also dividing her on two basic concepts, whereby the first concept signifies the whole way of life, while the other concept is presenting the knowledge and arts. According to him, culture can represent developed state of mind and spirit, respectively, cultivated man, while it can also represent „cultural interests and actions“ as well as the means of these processes, respectively, knowledge and art. (Williams 1998, 7-46)

In a broader sense, the concept of culture includes every part of personal life and has direct impact on a patterns of behavior of an individual. Culture is a learned way of life in a group, as well as responding to different stimulus. There are two mechanisms which are allowing this process: cultural heritage as a way of transferring cultural values and norms from one generation to another, as well as borrowing other cultures as a method of imitation of certain elements of other cultures. Likewise, there is a common opinion that culture needs to posses three characteristics: that culture is hastily trained, which means that group members are taking it over for a longer period of time and are transferring it from one generation to another;  that the culture is mutually interwoven, which means that one part of the culture is strongly connected with other parts of the same culture and that culture is shared, which means that the principles of culture are spreading on the other members of the group. (Jurše 1993, 56)

Reeves emphasizes that, in the theories of international relations, are also existing two concepts of culture – humanistic and anthropological. Humanistic concepts is based on a assumption that culture represents a link between originally different societies, while anthropological concept represents culture as an element of difference between different societies. (Revees 2004, 64- 87)

For the purposes of this thesis and for the better understanding the very notion of culture, it is of the great importance to ponder the relationship between culture and political power, which Batora and Mokre (2011, 1) are clarifying with three possible relations: culture can endanger political power, it can be hers protege or is a way of performing political power without the consumption of violence. In this context, I will try to examine all three aspects of culture, while using cultural diplomacy as a tool of mediation during the war in Yugoslavia. Also, it should be taken into account that, when we are talking about the culture of (pan)yugoslav area, we are de facto talking about multiculturalism ( because of the compound of the different nationalities, languages, religions and identity).


  1. Cultural diplomacy

As Cummings stresses, cultural diplomacy is „exchange of ideas, informations, arts and other views of culture between the nations and people which is used for development of mutual understaniding.“ (Cummings 2003, 1)

Starting with the meaning of diplomacy itself, cultural diplomacy is special area which  determines the content of diplomatic activity which is related with cultural activities and in general with all cultural issues and is being implemented through cultural exchange focused towards the public from other countires, trying to achieve some mutual understanding, but in accordance with its own foreign policy approaches, primarly to promote its own culture. (Nick 1997, 83) Mitchell also adds a key role of goverment in formation of cultural diplomacy, deeming that cultural diplomacy is goverments job, which should be limited exclusively to making and implementing cultural agreements. (Mitchell in Mark 2008, 51)

According to Hurn (2016, 81), „cultural diplomacy is creating awareness abroad about the cultural atributes of domestic culture, while developing interaction through cultural activities through which the projected culture wants to be activated. The instruments of cultural diplomacy which are being used for above mentioned development are very wide and may include language, cultural and business encounters, broadcasting, social media, turismus, airlines, promotion of art, gastronomy, science and technology, as well as national heroes and icons, like Mandela, Ghandi and Churchill. In multiple views, concentraded and focused projection of this areas can lead to streghtening and improving of commercial links.“

In this thesis, the main focus is on the role of the music as an instrument of cultural diplomacy and possible tool of mediation during the war in Yugoslavia, so the role of other above mentioned cultural instruments will not be so thoroughly studied.  As Mark (2009b, 9) stresses, the goals of cultural diplomacy can be devided in two categories: on functionalistic and idealistic goals. Idealistic goals of cultural diplomacy, as breaking prejudices, encouraging of mutual understanding , the fight against ethnocentrism and prevention of conflicts, are the foundation for the achievement of functionalistic goals. Unlike the idealistic, functionalistc goals are based on: acceleration of trade, development of economic, political, cultural and biliateral relations and aspiration for exercising political, diplomatic and economic interest of a conutry.

Probably the best example of aspiration to achieve above mentioned idealistic goals can be seen in endeavor of three well know former yugoslav rock bands, who were trying to stop the war.


  1. 1. Cultural diplomacy and music

At  the beginning of the spring 1992., members of bands Ekatarina Velika (EKV), Partibrejkers and Electrical Orgasmus , were invited to participate in the anti-war campaign which was, amog other things, fighting against violent mobilization. Considering that EKV and Partibrejkers were even before protesting against war happenings, together with Electrical Orgasmus they have decided to make a project called Rimtutituki, with which they have openly opposed former Serbian goverment. At time when Serbia was transforming in neofolk empire of Miloševićs   propaganda apparatus (about which I will say more later), this project should have allert on newly- formed war situations, disapproved by a larg number of citizens.

In the lobby of belgrades SKC on March 2, 1992[1], this bands have decided to make a single which will be spreading anti-war propaganda. They have composed a song called „Slušaj’ vamo“, which was supposed to, with anti –war lyrics, invite the general public to commit against the war. Song, which was released by the Radio B92 (at that time considered as the most liberal Serbian media), till nowdays is probably one of the most important anti-war songs.

Since the Milošević’s goverment banned  the public gathering and the performance of this song, without the permission for public appearance, driving through streets in the open truck, this artist were publicy inviting  people to start to antagonize the war. They were sharing the badges, shirts and flyers to passers, while incessantly repeating the message about the absurdity of the war. This project was supported by Radio B92 and Yugoslav Bank for International Economic Cooperations – Jumbes, headed by Ivan Stumbolić (former president of Serbian Presidency), who provided the money for the concert which was held on 6th of april 1992.[2] It is interesting to mention that Stambolić, who was openly showing disagreement with Milošević’s politics, before the elections in 2000. (it was expeceted that he will candidate), was kidnapped and from then every trace of him was lost. His remains were found three years later at Fruška gora mountain. [3]

The second concert[4] , which has received the license, was held at the Republic square in Belgrade, under  the name „S.O.S. mir ili ne računajte na nas“ (S.O.S. peace or do not count on us), again re-directed by Radio B92. Sometimes later, when the same concert was meant to be held in Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Milan Mladenović, the lead signer of EKV group (born in Zagreb, but has spent his childhood in Sarajevo), canceled the show, protesting  of the destruction the oldest mosque in the city. (Jurišić, 2011) Also, large number of Serbian civilians was very active, advocating for the termination of the occupation of Vukovar. At the time of the fall of Vukovar, in front of the Serbian Presidental building, citizens were gathering every night and were lighting candels for all those killed in war. As well as for Vukovar, anti-war acitvist have advocated for the end of occupation of Dubrovnik. In the pioneering park in Belgrade different anti-war protest were being held under the slogan „Put an end to hate, to stop the war.“ People were also signing the petition in which they required suspention of war operations in the Dubrovanik area. Almost simultaneously with the Belgrade protest, in Cetinje, Montenegrin citizens under the leadership of Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, were also protesting against participation of montenegiran soliders in the attack of Dubrovnik, while singin: From Lovćena fairy shouts, forgive us Dubrovnik.“[5]

As Muršič in his article „Pop music in claws of reviews and censorship“ stresses,  „music is arena of constant political strugle in the cultural sphere“, while also adverting that it is important to be aware that every music is political as well as public activity. Music is a medium that unites like-minded and for this reason, music can be dangerous to regimes which do not tolerate differences; adding that music embodies the spirit of some group, but can also awaken national and nationalistic feelings. (Muršič 1999, 178-185)  This theory can be proven through some musical examples especially from Croatia and Serbia during the war in Yugoslavia.

Serbian singer Mirko Pajčin, better known under his stage name Baja Mali Knindža, became quite popular while singing nationalistic and hateful war songs about other yugoslav nations, especially focusings on Croats and Muslims. Some of his most popular songs were „I dont love you Alija, because you are balija.“[6] In this video clip, surrounded with four young and attractive girls who are singing together with him, Baja Mali Knindža sang „that he does not like Izetbegović, while he is balija“[7] and that „he will remember Republic of Srpska, as well as that the New Sarajevo will become  Serbian.“[8]  That similar nacionalistic war propaganda songs were sung also for Franjo Tuđman, former and first Croatian president, in which Baja is singing „Tuđman, we will not give you a meter of  our fatherland“, adding in the lyrics that Tuđman will remember Vukovar, Knin and Mostar, while Serbs will occupy them.[9]  The second serbian nationalist singer; not so popular as Baja Mali Knindža, was Miro Šemberac, whose both two most popular songs were focused on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Alija Izetbegović, with the lyrics „ Alija, because you declared Bosnia’s independence, there won’t be a head on your shoulders“ or „It is time for the serbian revenge, all the mosques will be blown away.[10]  It is interesting to mention that, more than 20 years after the war, this songs have severall millions views on youtube, which is, in authors personal opinion, quite a lot.

Next to Baja mali Knindža, a significant share in Serbian patriotic and nationalistic songs during Yugoslav wars has also Bora Čorba, lead singer in famous and popular Serbian rock band Riblja čorba. His most famous song „E, moj druže zagrebački (Hey my friend from Zagreb)“  was made as a direct answer to Croatian rock singer Jura Stublić’s song „E moj druže beogradski (Hey my friend from Belgrade)“.  The melody is almost identical , but, opposite to the Stublić’s original version, which is almost melancholic and nostalgic, while he is evoking the memories on the beautiful moments in Yugoslavia, the Bora Čorba’s lyrics are promising fight with destruction and robbery of Zagreb. (Ilić, 2013) On the other side, potential of music as a tool of nationalistic propaganda, is more than evident from the following example also from the Croatian side. With the growing Serbian expansionist politics and with the suddenly awakened Croatian national identity, during the war, a need for patriotic songs was starting to grow. Croatian singer Marko Perković  Thompson, has gained his popularity during the war for Croatian independence with the song „ Bojna Čavoglave“ , in which he is singing how the Croatian army will defeat Chetniks[11] and prosecute them back to Serbia.[12] There were also some nationalistic and hatred songs from the Croatian side during the war, as for example, “Sve ćemo vam prste slomit, a ne samo tri[13] (We will break all your fingers, not only three)”[14], but most of them were not so popular and widespreaded as “Bojna Čavoglave.”

In the meantime, in war-torn Croatia, new music direction started to develope. More and more performers have started to write and to sing patriotic and anti-war songs. Probably the most influential channel and promoter of this new „subculture“ was HRT (Croatian radio television), and, as Baker (2011, 26) emphasizes,  „HRT was the most powerful participant in the music industry during the war.“ As Baker further stresses, „in the first HRT’s music project, one of the participants was Tomislav Ivčić, who was performing one of the most popular Croatian anti-war songs, called „Stop the war in Croatia.“  Unlike the other anti-war songs, this song was written in English, in which Ivčić, with lyrics „Stop the war in the name of love, stop the war in the name of God, stop the war in the name of children, stop the war in Croatia“ and „ We want to share the European dream, we want democracy and peace, let Croatia be one of Europe stars, Europe you can stop the war!“ asks European countries to help Croatia in fighting and stopping the war.”[15] .

Another popular song in this period, and often called unofficial national anthyem, was „Moja domovina- My homeland“, performed by Croatian band AID , in which the most popular and rescpected singers have gathered and were singing about the importance and the beauty of their homeland, which can be best observed in the lyrics: „ she has the power of golden grain“ and „she has eyes blue as see“, metaphorically describing all parts of Croatia, both the continental and  the Adriatic part. As Baker emphasizes (2011, 30), „symbolic significance of Croatian band aid project was that this project has united representatives of different generations“, sending the message that in this hard times, whole Croatia should be united. This song marked the beginning of the a lot of newly composed patritic songs.

It is also important to stress some other popular patriotic songs during the war in Croatia, as for example Hrvatine (Croats)[16] from Đuka Čajić, Nikica Kalogjeras and Mladen Kvesićs song Mi smo garda hrvatska (We are Croatian guard)[17] or Vladimir Kočišs song Gospodine generale (Mister General).[18] The first two songs are having patriotic tone, while encourgaging the Croatian army while fighting Yugoslav People’s Army and defending the Croatian territory, while the song Mister General directly addressess unknown JNA general, informing him that „a young man needs to leave the wedding to go to their wars, but that one day, the singer of this song will again go fishing with his son and that the general should remember Vukovar.“[19]

Likewise, a lot of pupular Croatian pop and rock artist were also strongly involved in creating and performing patriotic and anti-war songs during the defense of the state, as can be seen from Doris Dragovićs (at that time one of the most popular female artist in Croatia) song Dajem ti srce zemljo moja (I am giving you heart, my homeland)[20] or rock song from band Psihomodo pop Hrvatska mora pobijediti (Croatia needs to win)[21]. Probably the most interesting example of anti-war songs was the duet performed by Rade Šerbedžija, Croatian acter and singer with Serbian origins, and Svetlana Ražnatović Ceca[22], Serbian singer, one of the most controversial personalities and the widow of war criminal Željko Ražnatović Arkan, who were performing the song „Neću protiv druga svog (I will not go against my friend)[23]“, while singing that they are all the same nation.


3.2. Connection between Propaganda and Turbo-folk music

As Ellul ( in Vreg 2000, 16) stresses, „propaganda is a whole set of metodhs, used by organised group for the purpose of active and passive engagement multitude of individuals, through psychic manipulations.“ Lumeley (in Splichal 1975, 22) adds that propaganda is „ hidden promotion, concerning her: 1) its origin and originality, 2) included interests, 3) the methods used, 4) presented content and 5) results relating the „victims.“ About mentioned theses can be seen in Milošević’s Serbia in the nineties.

In the meantime in Serbia, Milošević’s propaganda, while spreading patriotism and nationalism through songs, also managed to transmute one of the several subcultures into the dominant one. From the beginning of the nineties neofolk scene began to promote herself- as a hidden state project – into a most massive Serbian cultural model. Milošević and his politicians were trying, with all sorts of strategies, especially with the control of ther media, to eliminate all other cultural models, which were able to cause anti-regime critics or individuality, by „opening the door to turbofolk, the culture of oblivion, emotional emptying, celebration of populism and crazy parties.  Only this type of culture was able to offer people a illusion of a better life in the country that was drowning in nationalism, sanctions, isolation and poverty. (…) Thereby is the neofolk, as escapist, mass and entertainment culture- in the first hand paradoxically- assimilated and later promoted nationalism, patriotism and became the most powerfull subculture of war.   Because of the so called political disengagement, turbofolk was culture which was accepting everyone, from war criminals and profiteers to murderers and nationalist. „For this reason, turbofolk is culture of retardation, extremely populistic and socially unengaged.“ (Luketić 2013, 400-404) One of the best example of above mentioned thesis are some of the most popular turbofolk songs during the nineties in Serbia. For example, while country was drowing in hyperinflation, sanctions and poverty,  Serbian singer Viki Miljković made her big entry on the Serbian turbofolk scene with the song called „Coca-cola, Marbloro, Suzuki“, alluding that no one is having better time than Serbs, while driving Suziki cars, drinking Coca- Cola and smoking Marlboro (as western products), playing guitars and going to discotheques.[24] The similar pattern can be seen in Ivan Gavrilović’s song „200 per hour“ in which he is singing about the fast way of living and partying till the down.[25]


3.3. Potential of Eurovision as a tool of cultural diplomacy

Potential of Eurovision as a tool of cultural diplomacy is more and more visible nowdays, especially with victory of the Ukranian song  „1944“ in which the singer and songwriter Jamala sings about a deportation of Crimean Tatars, that the Soviet Union conducted in in 1940’s. With the lyrics „When strangers are comming… They come to your home and kill all of you, while saying it is not their fault“, Jamala is evidently alluding to Rusian annexation of Crimea in 2014. But, because the eurovisian rules are prohibiting „politicized texts“, the lyrics of the song are not mentioning expressly this annexation. Ukrainina victory on Eurovision through political prism can be seen as a European support to Ukraine regarding the annexation of Crimea.

That Eurovision is greatly politicized and can be an instrument of cultural diplomacy or propaganda, is evident also in the case of Armenian gropus Genealogy, which is, in the song „Don’t deny“, later renamed to „Face the shadow“, paying tribute to the victims of Armenian nation. The songs was considered as a call recognition of genocide which was commited in Armenia from Azerbaijans and Turkish side. (Lomsadze, 2015) Likewise, the song from 2009., „We don’t wanna Put In“, from Georgian representatives Stephany and 3G, has caused great controversy, as it was considered that it contains political references towards the Russian president Vladimir Putin. The song was seen as an attack on Russia because of the Russian-Georgian war in 2008., which broke out after the proclamation of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (former  Georgian provinces).  (Marcus, 2009)

In favor of thesis that  Eurovision contest was and still is an istrument of cultural diplomacy and political propangda, is evident also from Croatian and Bosnian appearances in 1993. The both countries decided to perform on Eurovisian contest with anti-war songs, while trying to indicate belligerency and bloodshed, which were happening on their territories. Croatia made that with the song „Don’t ever cry“ performed by the group Put. The song was telling a story about an eighteen year old Ivan, who went to war and died there. Bosnia and Herzegovina sent singer Fazlija, who was singing the song called „Sva bol svijeta (All the pain in the world)“, metaphorically explaining that all the pain in the world can be seen in Bosnia in Herzegovina (reffering to the war that was happening there).

Slovenia, where there was no major war, competed with the song „Quiet rainy day“, which was not holding any politacal conotations, while the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were not competing that year.  It is probably interesting to mention (especially regardig to so- called Balkan block on Eurovision contest)[26] that none of the former Yugoslav Republics have given any points to each other and that the countries have not win good placements, in order ,Croatia was 15th, Bosnia and Herzegovina 16th and Slovenia 22nd from 25 contestants.



Movies are very effective tools of propaganda, because they can establish visual icons of historical reality and awareness, are defining public opinions of certain period of time which they are describing, are mobilizing people for some common purpose or are turning attention to some unknown purpose. Political and historical movies are presenting, affecting and are creating „historical awareness“ and are able to distort events, making them believable, but also potentially unreliable medias. (Stern, 2011) As Pavlović (2011) in his article stresses, „majority of wars was not caused by accumulated aggresion, but with the instrumental obsession of military and political elites, while the propaganda serves to convince people of the correctness of such attitudes.“

Propaganda exist as much as the society and is contained in almost all segments of community, while developing some sort of social activity and has for a goal to cause a certain action.

Film art can be seen as propaganda as well as one of the tools of cultural diplomacy and possible mediator. On a sample of a few most popular

Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian movies in which the war is a main topic and which were filmed in the nineties, I will try to distingush how and in which measure were those movies objective respectively, which were anti-war movies and which were filmed as a tool of nationalistic propaganda.

Probably one of the most known movies which were recorded during the war in Yugoslavia, surely is the Srđan Dragojević’s movie „Pretty village pretty flames“ from 1996. (based on a true events). Even though that the theme of this movie is shown exclusively from the one (Serbian) point of view, in this movie we can also see Serbian crimes against the Bosniak population. Pavlović (2001) emphasizes that this movie is showing only half image of this war situtaion, because the other (Bosniak) side is not presented, also adding that „this types of movies are giving little opportunities to assess a real state and are provoking fierce reactions of the audience, what has also happened with the above mentioned movie. The movie has experienced a big disapproval in Sarajevo, because all the sides in the movie, both Serbs and Bosnikas, were shown as equal culprits. (…) Movies was recorded in 1995., has received the support of the authorities of Republic of Srpska and Radovan Karadžić, but, after that authorities saw what this movie is about, they wanted to destroy the movie tapes and the everyone working on this movie have found themselves under suspected of anti-serb activity. The authority, headed by Radovan Karadžić[27] , boycotted the premiere of the movies in July 1996. A lot of citizens of Serbian nationality, who were believing in Serbian media war propaganda, remained astonished with the scenes from the movie in which the Serbian solders are burning Bosniak villages and killing local civilians.

This movie is often considered to be one of the first Serbian anti-war and anti-propaganda movies, because the director is not selfvictimizing his own nation, but is also pointing at the Serbian war crimes. Likewise, through certain metaphorical elements and scenes, as for example name of the bar where they were hanging out was „Concord“, as well as with the song „She threw it all down the river“, which, like a leitmotif, runs through the entire movie, Dragojević is perfidiously ironizing (post)yugoslav area and politics.

The same as the Pretty villages, pretty flames, Dragojević’s next movie „Wounds“ from 1998., is showing the harsh Serbian reality, affected with hyper-inflation, ethnic hatred and with warfare, as well as with the flared neofolk culture (as a product of Milošević’s propaganda machine) and with growing crime.  This movies has also become the big hit, despite that it was forbidden to advertise (primarily on the state television), because the Serbian authorities were troubled with the picture of Serbia in this movie.

Unlike Dragojević’s movies, which caused criticism of the political apparatus in their own country, Emil (Nemanja) Kusturica has with his movie and alleged anti-war drama „Underground“ triggered many criticism from the world public. As Pavlović (2011) stresses, all the time the negative conotation on all the other nations, especially on Slovenes and Croats,  which were living in Yugoslavia is more than visible.“

By all means, it is  important to mention Goran Marković, movie director, surely best known for the movie „Tito and me“ from 1992. Marković has also recorded three documentary movies in which he openly opposes Milošević’s regime and is showing his fall: Belgrade follies, Unimportant heroes and Serbia, year zero. In the last movies, Marković, as consistent opponent of Milošević’s politics, is analysing lifes of Serbian civilians during Milošević’s regime.

Slovenian cinematography in that time was not dealing with war. The only who was a little bit pertaining yugoslavian issues, was drama Outsider, directed by Andrej Koščak in 1997., which was questioning the relations between Slovenes and their southern neighbors. In Montenegro and in Kosovo in this decade no movies were filmed. (Pavičić, 2008) As Pavičić explains further, dominant nacionalistic politic in nineties in Croatia, did not even in thoughts had autonimisation and liberalisation of film industry. Croatian cinematography was ruled ny unformal cenzorship i strong autocenzurship. Examples of this productions were movies as Hrvoje Hitrec’s „Bogorodica  from 1999. or Bogdan Žižić’s „Cijena života“ from 1999.


  1. Connection between music and film and cultural and ethnic identity

When trying to identify and analyze the role of the music during Yugoslav wars, as Baker (Baker, 17) highlights, „the interconnection of popular music, politics and identity in indipendent Croatia, has had immediate roots in the disintegration of the yugoslav cultural space during 1989. and 1990., which preceded and enabled croatian declarations of independence in 1991. and were conditioned with the alteration of the political orientation of radio-television and music industry on Croatia instead on Yugoslavia.“  The same process was also happening in the Slovenia and later also in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As Luketić emphasizes (Luketić, 277) „to make it easier and to obtain a particular image about ourselves, our history, our identity and our culture as a special and unique, we need to find „Others.“ This thesis is best reflected in the processes in postyugoslav countries which have, while trying to build own narrative about themselves, adjacent cultures and nations were proclaiming as different, finding them inferior, helpless and hostile toward „us.“

Identity, as the part of collective consciousness, is based on the feeling of belonging to some language, territorium, rase or religion, and in the given situation, it is presented as the basis for identification. Joint picture ot similar historical structure can make types of identity which are mutually recognized.  The historical identity contributes to the understanding of the groups (narod and nations), which are torn between multiple cultural affiliations. This viewpoint can also be applied to the balkan discourse. Historical identity is based on the events that were important to the community. However, our own identity can be defined only with delimitation of „unidentical.“ That means that the borders are important tool in the assessment of identity. When it comes to cultural borders, it is about oppoosement of our own culture to some other culture, whereby overcoming borders is shown as a positive human experince.  (Prošev-Oliver 2013)

The first problem which is appearing in analysis  of identity i this area, is connected with the periphery issues respectively the edge part of the european continent, in which small, transitional cultures are trying to find their place precisely by emphasizing its national (proeuropean and western) identity and to segregate from the neighbouring countires, whose culture and domicile populatino are often considering orinetal-oriented (alluding to the backwardness which is connected with the historical happenings in this area) in the narrow regional perspective.

This area is following the process of etatiozation of the nations, which is causing not only a special kind of asymmetry in the political development, but it is also establishing nationalism as the most powerful and most expasnive force in this region. Absence of identity between the borders of nations and the borders of countries were leading to the condition which Istvan Bibo denotes with the term existenital fear of small nations and schizophrenic political culture which was preventing the formation of stabile political order, developing the form of permanent fragmentation.  National identity as a kind of collective identity indicates the similarity within the group, as well as the intergroup diversity (diversity compared to others). National identity implies a sense of belonging to a social group (national or ethnic) and the credential that this components and associated goals and ineterest can be realized in this ethnicity or with the help of it. How the national identity is at the same time based on objective elements (langugage, statehood, religion), but also on the subjective ones, (awareness of national affiliation or on the subjective feeling of affiliaon) imagining a nation as a community, national identity is a paradoxical phenomenon. However, the biggest problem is that the nacionalistic ideology is trying to raise this cultural and ethnic differences to the level of political principle, because the only  legitimate type of rule is national self-ruling. (Stanković Pejnović, 2010)



After this analysis, I can conclude that cultural diplomacy through film and music as mediators, was not able to achieve greater success. The problem of (post)yugoslav society was and still is the lack of democratic developement. The aggressive Serbian politics resulted with awakening of exaggerated nationalismus in Croatia and with the conflict between all three warring parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Milošević’s political elite, through extremely nationalistic propaganda, turned the serbian society in the worst possbile stereotype of the Balkan, affeceted with war chaos, hyperinflation, criminal and sanctions. In response to Greatserbian aggression, Croatia has turned to exaggerated nationalism through nationalisation of politics, as well as through film and music industry.  Political propaganda has overpowered all  the efforts of cultural diplomacy, which is also one of the signs of not enough developed democracy in this geopolitical area.  The music, both in Serbia and Croatia, was mainly used in political propaganda purposes. Paradoxically, the only thing that outlived Yugoslavia and in which we can see some sort of postyugoslav community is neofolk culture, which, judging by the quality of life in those areas, could also be described as a culture of „escapismus.“



– Batora, Jozef and Monika Mokre. 2011. Introduction: What Role for Culture in External Relations? In Culture and External Relations, Europe and Beyond, page 1-12. Available through:

–  Baker, Catharine: Sounds of the Borderland – Popular Music, War and Nationalism in Croatia since 1991. Biblioteka XX vek: 2011.

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[1] (22. november 2017.)

[2] (22. november 2017.)

[3] (22. november 2017.)

[4] Date unknown.

[5] „Sa Lovćena vila kliče, oprosti nam Dubrovniče.“ See: ( 22. november 201z.)

[6] Reffering to first president of the newly-independet Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegović.

[7] An opprobrious name during the war for Bosnian Herzegovinian Muslim

[8] (03.March 2018.)

[9] (03. March 2018.)

[10] (03. March 2018).

[11] The Chetnik Detachments of the Yugoslav Army, were fighting on the Serbian side during the war in Yugoslavia.

[12] (03.March 2018.)

[13] (03.March 2018.)

[14] Reffering to „three.-finger salute“; known as a Serb salute.

[15] (03.March 2018.)

[16] (05.March 2018.)

[17] (05.March 2018.)

[18] (05.March 2018.)

[19] As a town, which was the biggest war victim during the war in Croatia.

[20] (05.March 2018.)

[21] (05.March 2018.)

[22] Ceca is a widow of one of the biggest war criminals in Yugoslavia, who refuses to have concerts in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Croatia. Ceca is also persona non grata in Republic of Croatia. (05.march 2018)

[23] (05.March 2018.)


[25] (05. March 2018.)

[26] It is often said that every geographic part of Europe forms its own block on the Eurovision in which the neighbouring countries are giving points to each other.

[27] Former president of Republic of Srpska and convicted war criminal.


Contribution by Martina Plantak (PhD candidate) – Andrássy Universität, Budapest