News / Europe

Sarajevans Seek to Look Beyond War Years

Sarajevo
Sarajevo
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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid