Interview: Vladan Malešević “Everything is up to us!”

A humanist, sports recreationist, civic activist and, in addition, a graduate economist, is a brief description of Vladan Malešević, who ran in the local elections this year in front of the political party “Justice Movement”. Vladan is number 12 on the candidate list of the Justice Movement, the only political movement that emerged from perhaps the largest civic initiative that has ever existed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

8 years ago, when the citizens of Banja Luka stood up in “defense” of the green area and human dignity of the Vulić family from the construction mafia, he was one of the thousands who said ENOUGH! That is enough, it was said countless more times at various protests that took place in Banja Luka in those 8 years. However, what is important is that it has been shown that responsible citizens live in Banja Luka who are ready to use legitimate methods of civic activism and resistance to injustice to show that no government can exercise arbitrariness and work against the welfare of all citizens. In addition to supporting numerous civic initiatives, Malešević has always been extremely active in other social fields. Cycling, climbing, hiking, nature walks, and he also participated in organizing marathons and other sports activities in Banja Luka, always on a volunteer basis. He has always given his volunteer part in humanitarian work, which he is reluctant to talk about, because as he says, such activities are done to fill the soul and heart. For this cheerful and always smiling guy from Banja Luka, his friends have only words of praise, but of course there are those who would say the opposite, because Vladan is just a nuisance and danger for dishonest, corrupt and lying people. A man who above all appreciates and respects truth and righteousness, so it is not at all strange that, having decided to try his hand in political waters as well, he chose his direction with the Justice Movement. We talked with Vladan about his plans and motives for this step towards politics, and about ideas and solutions that would help his city in the future.

Photo: Vladan Malešević- protests in 2012, private archive

For many years you have been extremely active as a civil activist in various civic initiatives. How did your engagement come about and what led you to it?

A lot has been accumulating over the years, which has encouraged me to become active and involved in the fight against those things in the city that I thought were not good for the common good of all citizens. Over a period of time, individuals get used to everything that is bad in our city, but that is not the case with me and I cannot ignore all those bad decisions that someone else makes. When we start from kindergarten, schooling, employment… We see a huge injustice that causes me anger which is exactly one of the culprits for my engagement as activists.

What event or moments from your work have been remembered by you as activists as something that you consider extremely important for you as a person and an activist?

One of these events for me is the destruction of green space in the city better known as “picin park” where for the first time I saw clearly how the system instead of in the interest of citizens works in the interest of criminals close to the government. I was shocked by the degree of organization of the system in that defense of the interests of the individual, while at the same time the dignity of a family that stands in the way of those interests and profits is being destroyed.

This was followed by participation in student protests, protests due to higher fuel prices and others, most of which were influenced by the brutal murder of a 21-year-old boy, David Dragičević. Interestingly, the system acted in the same way defending the interests of criminals related to the destruction of the green area and attacks on people who indicated the cover-up of one murder. 

Photo: Vladan Malešević- protests Justice for David in 2018, private archive

In addition to activism, you have been actively involved in humanitarian work as a volunteer. What can you tell us about that?

I don’t like to talk about it very much because I think that someone who helps others and brags about it shouldn’t have helped. That part of my activities is food for the soul because there is nothing more beautiful than helping someone who needs help and eliciting smiles on the faces of people, especially children. Through HO “Let’s be people”, I have completed myself as a person in the field of humanitarian work and this whole team of people is doing an incredible humane job.

Photo: Vladan Malešević-humanitarian work, private archive

Were the humanitarian actions in which you participated a permanent solution for the categories of the population you helped?

In 99% of cases, there is no permanent solution to the problem. When it comes to building a house, repairing a roof blown away by the wind is a solution that gives the opportunity to continue living as much as normal. However, there is a large number of those who turn for help in the form of daily necessities. There is help only from today to tomorrow and there is no systemic solution to help such people permanently. The best help for most would be in the form of employment, but there are also those who cannot work. We should first of all look for solutions to such problems in strengthening the economy and raising the living standards of citizens. Only then could they think of a permanent solution to such problems.

Photo: Vladan Malešević – private archive

How did it come about that you decided to try to realize some positive changes in our society through political activism and engagement in the field of politics?

Today, politicians and politics are alienated from the people and have the purpose of serving themselves. First of all, what needs to be realized is the restoration of trust in the politician-voter relationship. After participating in the Justice for David protests, I realized that there was a group of people ready to regain that trust, and it is quite logical to continue the fight through the Justice Movement, which emerged from those protests demanding that those responsible for the murder be brought to justice.

What do you think is most important in your city and what would you truly stand for as a future councilor?

There is a lot to change and those who promise that something can be changed quickly are surely lying. First of all the problem is lack of money. It all starts with that, but there is a lot that can be arranged without some big money. An audit of the operations of public institutions and the city administration itself can only show us the real situation in which our city is. Before that, promising anything is very ungrateful. Good organization is half the job and there really are those who want to work in the interest of our city. I have met such people through sports, tourism and other promising industries that we need to turn to. We need to focus on certain promising branches and work on it to the extent that our city becomes recognizable by it. In my opinion, our advantages are tourism, healthy food, pure nature… However, if 50-70% of the money goes to the salaries of the administration, it is no wonder that there is no place to invest in those areas.

Photo: Vladan Malešević – private archive

There are a lot of unresolved issues in Banja Luka, from the Eco Heating Plant and air pollution, to the promised collectors on the Vrbas for wastewater. Do you think that there are solutions so that these issues could really be resolved in the future?

There are solutions to all the problems but we need people with a vision who will see our city in the future for at least 20 years, not that it all goes from today to tomorrow. The problem of poorly organized city transport leads to congestion, which in turn leads to increased air pollution. While the dense construction of residential buildings without adequate parking again leads to congestion and congestion of traffic flow. All this has causal links and as long as the interests of investors are above the general interest, it will be difficult to change anything. As for Vrbas, whether they wanted to admit it or not, he was largely turned into a sewer. So many construction companies that build residential and business buildings without anyone remembering to call these people and say let’s do something useful for our city so that those who buy an apartment from these investors have a cleaner river and a better life. This is one example of how you can.

We have experts at the Faculty of Economics, at the Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering, we have at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and these are our resources that we should use in solving problems. People in the profession should be given a chance and put the interests of the city and citizens above all else.

What would you like to say to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Don’t be passive, get involved in the work of your local communities, in the work of local communities, because that is the only way you can be aware of what is planned in your immediate environment. Don’t let anyone jeopardize your right to a healthy life. By arranging your settlement, you will also organize your city, and when we have healthy and functional cities, we will have such a state. So it’s all up to us!

Author: Slobodna riječ Retrieved from: World-press

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