Despite the harsh Kupres’ climate and the widespread mine fields, the politics deprived of responsibility and concern, there are people like Žilić, Romić and Lozančić who believe both in themselves and in the potentials, riches and beauty of the Kupres’ plateau.
With its many specific features, however, the municipality of Kupres still does not differ much from other local communities in BiH that are affected by the same problems, such as war and destruction, poor economic situation, irresponsibility of political structures, as well as the transition process and poor privatization.
It was our intention to talk to Milan Raštegorac, Mayor of Kupres, about the great potentials that this municipality has, including in the first place forestry, as the main economic branch on which this local community relies. However, we were informed by his cabinet that “he was not interested”. Despite the lack of Mayor’s interest, we did not have a problem finding credible people to talk to, including former Mayor of Kupres, Perica Romić, who replaced Mayor’s office with cattle breeding in which his family has traditionally been engaged for the past 200 years.
Although he says that, given the war situation, the situation at Kupres is not that bad at the moment, he is more than aware of the problems that are hindering the development and progress of his local community. “Higher levels of power are forcing for various reasons the development of certain areas, while others, in fact, are “the fifth wheel”, says our interlocutor, listing as another serious problem the political instability that “pushes away every serious investor”. Romić also points out that the State must deal with the issue of demography or we will soon find ourselves in a situation in which schools and kindergartens will be closed.
A bright example of the Kupres plateau resisting all the problems is the story of our second speaker, Smail Žilić, the owner of the dairy “Kupres Milch”. Despite the fact that Kupres had two dairies that went into bankruptcy, Žilić was not reluctant to grab this business opportunity, by restoring the production and making a real brand. “Cheese from Kupres as a brand is currently the only product that Kupres is offering and is able to offer,” Smail says, pointing out that in just two years, his company has become the exporter of the products it makes. Tons of cheese have been already exported to Turkey, while their products can be also found at the tables in Australia, Canada, America, Qatar, Sweden, Thailand and New Zealand. However, what he emphasizes is the lack of cooperation and support by the local community. He says that he did not receive any support from any authority level, and that “there is a certain amount of misunderstanding and obstruction, too, which is beyond any sense”.
Nevertheless, optimistic messages from Kupres are not missing, and another one is sent to us by Martina Lozančić, who, together with the rest of her family, grows the chokeberries (aronia berries) at the family farm AMOR. The berries are used for making liqueurs, jams and 100% original juices. During the conversation, Martina sent a clear message to all the young people of Kupres: “Young people are more and more going abroad as they are dissatisfied with the political situation in BiH, in the first place. The truth is that Kupres offers a huge potential in the economic and political sector, so the growing number of young families decide to use the opportunity and stay at their homeland, trying to secure best possible living conditions for themselves and for their families, with a little willingness and effort.”
Slight increase in the number of pupils enrolled in the first-class of elementary school in the current year (22), in relation to some of the previous years, might be a sign that more and more young people at the town of Kupres think in the same way as Marina and our remaining interlocutors. On the other side, the absence of care by local authorities and the overall poor financial situation are the counter balance to optimism.