News / Europe

Sarajevans Seek to Look Beyond War Years

Sarajevo
Sarajevo
TEXT SIZE - +
Henry Ridgwell

It has been 15 years since the U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke brokered the Dayton Peace Accords that brought an end to four years of fighting in the Balkans.  The peace agreement is still hailed a success for bringing an end to the brutal ethnic conflict.  But many people say it is time to move beyond the war.

Sarajevo is now a bustling cultural capital. Only the shrapnel and bullet holes in some buildings give a clue to its recent history.


The city was held under siege for 43 months during the early and mid-1990s. Its people lived in terror as shells and sniper fire rained down from the surrounding hills. An estimated 12,000 people died.

The only escape from the city was a tunnel dug beneath the airport, which brought supplies in and people out.

The battle scarred house where the tunnel emerged is now a museum. Edis Kolar, a former soldier who owns house, says the people of Sarajevo want to move on.

"When Bosnian people come to see the tunnel, I can see they are trying to move on; they are trying to keep the war in history and museums. The problem is the politicians are not letting us forget," he said.

The U.S.-brokered Dayton Peace Accords were signed 15 years ago, bringing together the Serbian, Bosnian and Croat leaders.

Bosnian politicians agree that the accords were successful in bringing peace and stability to the Balkans. But otherwise, most analysts say, they appear divided.

Former Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic was part of the delegation at Dayton in the U.S. Midwestern state of Ohio. He says that by giving the Bosnian Serbs their own autonomous region known as Republika Srpska as part of the agreement, the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia is being perpetuated.

"What we now see is the attempt to legalize what happened here, to put the international stamp on it like it was okay. [Former Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic's project is being completed as we speak now," he said.

Former Bosnian Croat politician Kresimir Zubak was also at Dayton. He agrees that ethnic divisions need to be addressed. "The goals that the different sides had in 1992 - after they were not achieved by force - they're now trying to achieve them by political means," he said.

Slavko Jovicic is a Bosnian Serb politician in parliament. He says there is no way his people will give up the Republika Srpska for a centralized state. "One thing can never happen in Bosnia-Herzegovina and that's the dominance of one group over others.  We say that without a Republika Srpska, there will be no Bosnia-Herzegovina," he said.

Such divisions are mirrored in Bosnia's education system as different ethnic groups are taught different curricula in separate classes.

But in the city of Mostar, scene of some of the fiercest fighting during the war, the United World College teaches Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats  together. The students are optimistic about their country's future.

"I think the situation will change, maybe in this generation," said Magdalena Vidovic, a Bosnian Croat student. Djordje Modrakovic, a Bosnian Serb student says "We are the new generation that should definitely lead into something more bright." And Bosnian Muslim student Alen Burkvic said, ""It's a process and it's going to take a while."

Mostar is famous for its Ottoman bridge, which stood for more than 400 years - until it was shelled during the war.

The destruction of the bridge came to symbolize the wanton destruction of the war.  Its restoration in 2004 showed that many of the physical scars of the war are being healed.  But many of the political and mental scars remain.

Most politicians here agree that Bosnia's future should lie within the European Union. That future, analysts say, depends on the ability of the people here to overcome the conflicts of the past.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid