That is less obvious when it comes to the nationalism of the majority nation, especially if its elite views all main state institutions as its own institutions, which can be exploited for the building of their own nation. The majority nation in that case sees nothing wrong in living together and is inclined to demonstrate its civic nature and generous tolerance: the catch is that in this case it's up to others to figure out how to "live together". If it were truly forced to share public and state institutions with other nations, the majority nation would demonstrate the same type of intolerance and separatist inclinations as minority nations. The true multi-ethnic pluralism represents a huge danger for the only model the majority nation accepts: the model of the nation-state.
What is the true meaning of the belief, which seems to be deeply ingrained in many individuals in this country today, that we cannot live together? What does it really mean to live together in a modern state? In our analysis of possibilities for a fruitful political pluralism we should go back to the time when for the first time, in late Communism, demands for mutual separation based on ethnicity were put forward, above all for the division of state institutions. I believe that it is very important today to consider that experience of joint state institutions. Nationalist slogans claiming that it is impossible to live together have their full meaning only within the context of that experience. For the local collective memory that is in practice the only relevant historical experience of joint institutions on the substrate of ethnic and religious diversity and diversity of customs. Political and social modernity was tested in the atmosphere of strong ideology and a single-party political system. Ignoring a relatively short period of early development of civic and political life in Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, there is one more living, perhaps today the most important, collective memory about living together: about the life of ethnic and religious communities next to each other in a relative administrative and political autonomy of the Ottoman millet system. If we consider everything more carefully it becomes obvious that the two most important political options in modern Bosnia-Hercegovina, "the nationalist" and "the civic" option advocate one or the other historical model of "coexistence". On the one hand is the imperial model of communities living next to each other, each one in its own universe, with different world outlook, beliefs and customs. On the other extreme we have the model of ideological (Communist) unity in which deep cultural and ideological differences are irrelevant leftovers from the imperial past.
Today, when every ethnic nation in the region is demanding its own autonomy (as extensive as possible), and self determination all the way to its own independent state, then it should be pointed out that their zealous representatives are actually demanding the reconstruction of the imperial mode of living together "next to each other": the Ottoman millets. The more recent process of the break up of the Yugoslav federation and building of mono-ethnic nation-states involves a deep misunderstanding. It is based on the illusion that ethnic-level of splitting - based on which we have given to the global political practice and literature the valuable contribution in the shape of the term "Balkanization" - can survive without some sort of imperial patronage. Actually, ethnic separatism desperately calls for a perpetual intervention of "big powers". Incessant pleading to assist "liberation" of "small nations" only demonstrates their deeply ingrained need to again become parts of big empires. Frequent outbursts of hatred towards the "international community" and its "high representatives" only serve to further emphasize this ambivalent attitude. It is strengthened even more by the realization that the newly acquired state sovereignty is merely a surrogate in comparison with the sovereignty enjoyed by the former Yugoslav federation.
Given their constituent nostalgia for old empires, local midget nations do not find it troubling that they need assistance and guarantees of "external factors" for their independence. They find it much harder to bear the fact that the "international community" refuses to take the role of the former empire. That is especially irritating here in Bosnia-Hercegovina, where the "international community" took the appearance of a decent empire: military intervention and strong military and police presence, direct meddling in the administration of the country, incessant interventions and pressures from outside etc. All of that seems to imply the almost full return to the old imperial order. However, the European Union keeps refusing to take its "rightful role", although all local politicians have supposedly figured out its real intentions long time ago. It always and mostly acts on the axis that is thoroughly misunderstood by the local factors: the axis of the rule of law and democratic legitimacy. But the biggest danger of that type of action has been understood very well: it represents a threat to the internal cohesion of the community, by directly affecting the life of an individual and making the protection by national elites unnecessary. Of course, we should not idealize what foreign representatives are doing here, but a good indication of the character of that work is the twofold dissatisfaction fulfilled by the double criterion of liberal democracy: it is both democracy and liberal (therefore serving the interests of every individual citizen). Nationalists are unhappy because democratic legitimacy, that is the will of majority, keeps being limited. Civic centralizers are bitter that human rights and lawfulness are not being protected sufficiently (the majority will is imposed on minorities). Actually the most painful misunderstanding is that the latter do not see in the new European order its liberal-civic foundation - which does not exclude but actually encourages national pluralism. They demand ever more forcefully imperial presence of foreigners that is supposed to totally, or more radically than now, question the legitimacy of nationalists. Thereby they demonstrate that they are prisoners of Communist quasi-federalism which mercilessly suppressed political and national pluralism. Consequently, perhaps those political scientists who describe Communism as the most recent stage of imperialism are correct.