Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sarajevo's jewish cemetery Bosnia's living history in the hills above the city

Sarajevo's famous Jewish cemetery has a monument to the those Sarajevan's who lost their lives in WW2 at the hands of the Nazi's. It also has a lot of interesting unique monuments and tells the history of the Jewish population in BiH.
During the Bosnian war it was occupied by the Cetniks and was used as a fire base to attack and snipe into the city. Led by the infamous Slavko Aleksic and bolstered by an American who volunteered to fight with the cetniks, Zack Novkovic from New York City.
Grbavica was hell for it's non serb inhabitants who were raped, murdered and expelled by the likes of the infamous Veselin Vlahovic, known as the "Monster of Grbavica", for war crimes committed against Bosniaks and Croats in Sarajevo in 1992 and 1993. As a member of a paramilitary group, Vlahovic allegedly took part in murders, rapes, illegal detention and torture of non-Serb civilians.
These killers have left a sad lasting legacy for the those in Sarajevo.
Standing in the Jewish cemetery you see how easy it was for the killers to spot there prey. The gravestones made excellent sniper barriers for the cowards who manned them. The brutality of the Nazi occupation in Bosnia didn't even imagine some of the cruelty that was to come in the Bosnian war in the 1990's. I hope that the cycle of violence in Bosnia does not return to plague future generations again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bosnia’s Soccer Federation must decide today whether to end its ethnically selected presidency or face international exile.

Bosnia Decides Country's Football's Future

Bosnia’s Soccer Federation must decide today whether to end its ethnically selected presidency or face international exile.
Eldin Hadzovic
International football's governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA, have demanded that Bosnia make changes to its football management structure by March 31 or risk exclusion from the bodies.

It must replace its three-member presidency - made up of a Bosniak, a Croat and a Serb - with a single president.

Bosnia' Soccer Federation, NSBiH, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss the issue; and it is not yet clear if they will agree to adopt the required statute, which is fiercely opposed by some.

If the new statute is not adopted, FIFA and UEFA could suspend Bosnia from international competitions, and they also have the right to introduce a trustee who would set up a new Football Association in the country. In effect, Bosnia could receive an international administrator for football, much like the High Representative in the political sphere.

Bosnia's soccer federation currently reflects the country’s political and ethnic divisions after the war of the 1990s.

The NSBiH is made up of two associations, representing Bosnia’s two entities – the predominantly Serb Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation – which are together headed by the three-member presidency.

The Bosnian Serb representatives oppose the one-president concept imposed by FIFA, as they fear this might jeopardize their autonomy.

“We believe that preserving the tripartite presidency is a must… the only thing we can accept is that the Presidency rotates [between the three ethnic groups] every 16 months,” the vice-president of the Republika Srpska football association, Stasa Kosarac, told Balkan Insight.

Changes to the football federation's structure are also opposed by Croat representatives. Josip Bevanda, secretary general of SC Siroki Brijeg and a member of the Bosnia Soccer Federation’s Executive Board, told Balkan Insight that the FIFA and UEFA rules are unfair.

He said most of the delegates had voted against the changes to the federation structure demanded by UEFA.

“What kind of democracy is that?" he asked. “Why do they insist on such rules, if we decided differently in a democratic fashion?”

Bogdan Ceko, a celebrated former Bosnian footballer and the Serb member of the NSBiH's presidency, advocates adopting FIFA's demands. He told Balkan Insight that he hopes reason will prevail over what is widely recognised as a political problem.

“Last week, I attended the UEFA Congress in Paris, and my friends from UEFA told me that we won't see anything nice if the required statute is not adopted,” Ceko said.

“But still,” he added, “I am going to the session as an optimist. If the Olympic Committee three months ago did the same thing, I do not see any reason why it wn't be done by NSBiH.”

If the NSBiH is suspended from FIFA and UEFA, the effects could be felt throughout Bosnia, where international funding currently makes up between 70 and 80 per cent of the NSBiH budget.
In addition, Bosnian clubs often cannot pay their players regularly, so participation in international competitions is of vital importance for footballers.

The best example is FC Borac from Banja Luka, which is expected to win the Bosnian club championships this year, and thus play qualifications for Europe’s Champions League.

Even participation in the qualifications brings substantial revenue, and to small clubs like Borac it is essential to survival.

Bosnia's national football team, however, arguably has the most to lose from a suspension, as it fights for first place in its qualifying group for Euro 2012.

If Bosnia faces international exile, a great performance on Saturday against Romania could be the team's last for some time.

Original article was posted on...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bosnia beats Romania 2-1 but it could be Bosnia's final international win

A big victory for Bosnia but now they wait the ruling of Fifa, which has said it will suspend BiH and all funding if they don't remove their ethnic based administration which is against international football rules. Bosniaks support this move but Serbs in BiH are using this as another tool in there war to undermine the Bosnian state. It is a political issue that the Serbs want to show that BiH is not a functional state. The Republic Srpska wants to go back to the days when convicted war criminals Biljana Plavsic, Momcilo Krajisnik and mass murderer Radovan Karadzic ran the country and the sports Federations were based upon ethnicity.
This would be a massive step back for BiH as 80% of the funding for the domestic league comes from FiFA and they would be banned from all international matches. I have a way to solve this issue, if the Serbs don't want to abolish the ethnic based policies of the past then the Federation should receive all funding and the sanctions should just effect RS and their policies. This would be a great way to reward those who want football and to punish those who don't. I dislike the ethnic policies in BiH as do many people I know the only people who really like it are the inept and corrupt politicians who owe there lifestyle to the unfair and illegal ethnic policies of the Dayton accords and the war in Bosnia.
It's time to set things right and to not punish all of Bosnia for the separatist ambitions of a few.

Dzeko scores late winner to give Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-1 win over Romania in Euro qualifier
Striker Edin Dzeko scored in the 83rd minute as Bosnia came from behind to beat Romania 2-1 in a European Championship qualifier on Saturday.
Ciprian Marica gave Romania the lead in the 29th, despite the Bosnians dominating the first half and trying to employ Dzeko as much as possible although his numerous attacks remained fruitless at first.
He and Zvjezdan Misimovic missed glorious opportunities to equalize by the end of the first half but Costel Pantilimon saved both times, sending the ball away with the tips of his fingers.
Adrian Mutu created several chances for Romania and almost pierced Bosnia's defence but was blocked each time.
Vedad Ibisevic equalized in the 65th with a header from a free kick sent from the left side into the heart of the penalty area by Misimovic.
Dzeko made it 2-1 with a header from just a few yards (meters) out after meeting Miralem Pjanic's corner.
"I'm so proud of my boys tonight," said Bosnia coach Safet Susic. "I was a professional player for 20 years but this is my favourite victory."
The win gave Bosnia seven points, five behind Group D leader France, which has played one more game. Romania had two points.
Bosnia: Kenan Hasagic, Emir Spahic, Adnan Mravac, Elvir Rahimic, Miralem Pjanic, Zvjezdan Misimovic (Senijad Ibricic, 81) Edin Dzeko, Mensur Mujdza, Vedad Ibisevic (Zlatan Muslimovic, 76), Senad Lulic, Haris Medunjanin (Darko Maletic, 71)

Romania: Costel Pantilimon, Razvan Rat, Gabriel Tamas, Dan Alexa, Ciprian Marica, Adrian Mutu, Gabriel Torje (Razvan Cocis, 71), Cornel Rapa, Dorin Nicolai Goian, George Florescu (Adrian Ropotan, 76), Ciprian Deac (Ianis Zicu, 87).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bosnian Flags ARBiH, War time flag and modern Bosnia flag

Bosnian Flags ARBiH, War time flag and modern Bosnia flags flying in Sarajevo. I love the ARBiH flag and the fluer de lies medieval flag of the Bosnian state brought back for Bosnian Independence. One of the odd crimes of the Bosnian war is the fact that the Bosnian Serbs opposed the fluer de lies as being provocative and insulting, yet the two headed eagle flag that represents only the Serbs is ok...

Friday, March 25, 2011

A gloom and doom endgame for Bosnia as seen by Matthew Parish

The following article is from Matthew Parish about his bleak outlook for Bosnia Hercigovina. I have no doubt that everything Milorad Dodik does is to undermine Bosnia and to show that it is a non-functional state that needs to be broken apart. His obvious support of some Croats in Hercigovina also is an open attempt at fracturing Bosnia into three parts. Herceg Bosna became a reality in 1993 thru a betrayal by Franjo Tudjman and is being pursued once again.

What Matthew Parish fails to mention is that this has been the Bosnian Serb policy and is the same policy Serbs have held since the early 1990's. Already 100,000 people have lost there lives in this imagined greater Serbia ideal and is the legacy of Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic. It is hard to imagine that the world would accept a defacto partition of Bosnia and reward such aggression. Kosovo was born out of Milosevic policies but for the opposite reasons. Even if a more conservative regime is in power in Serbia, Serbia today is much weaker militarily than in the 1990's and Bosnia is a much stronger state. To think that you can just create borders of 3 mini states inside Bosnia is absurd. You would again have lawlessness to were you can drive a car five miles outside of Sarajevo and is in a foriegn country. Not to mention what about Brcko and Mostar, both burning issues with large Bosniak populations. To think you can just make a rump Bosnia with Borders in Mostar and just outside of Sarajevo seems impossible. To think Bosniaks wouldn't oppose this with arms also is a serious gamble. The international community and mostly the US, there is a belief that letting Bill Clintons legacy get tarnished by the collapse of Bosnia also is a non starter.

Matthew Parish's belief that " (Bakir)Izetbegovic’s philosophy differs dramatically to that of his father, Alija, the wartime Bosniak President who advocated a unified state in which Islam would be the prevalent political influence. " is dead wrong, Izetbegovic openly supported a multi-ethnic state but with a influence of Islam not the sole or dominate influence. Also this idea that Bakir Izetbegovic's idea of carving up Bosnia is new is wrong as well. Alija Izetbegovic didn't oppose JNA assaults on Ravno, Bosnia in 1991 and opposed Sefer Halilovic's and Jovan Divjaks belief that Bosnia should be defended on it's natural borders of the Drina and Sava river in 1992. Izetbegovic was focused on a rump Bosnia during the war, but through encouragement from the the US government he was told he could get more than the 18% of territory that they held at that time.
The other issue to remember is that Stipe Mesic said that if  Republic Srpska declared Independence Croatian army would be sent in to put down the rebellion. Ivo Josipovic's government may not hold the same position, but it wouldn't take much influence from the US and Europe to put the same plan into motion. A nationalist regime in power in Serbia led by Tomislav Nikolic would not help Dodik's cause or his position. Croatia also would be concerned about were such a policy would lead and fear greater Serbian influence in the Balkans.
In the end Matthew Parish, like most apologists for the greater Serbian ideals, he focuses on a narrow part of the story and lies through omission of facts and adding labels about "Islamic influence". It is time for the international community to deal with RS or give Bosniaks the tools and support to end this charade of support for Dodik once and for all...

An article republished from Balkan Insight about were Bosnia is heading...

The inability of Bosnia’s political system to represent Croat interests will bring the stricken country to its knees – and provide useful cover for the Bosnian Serb leader’s plans.
By Matthew Parish
In November 2009 I predicted the independence of Republika Srpska. Since then, events have passed more quickly and have taken a more surprising turn than I had imagined. The catalyst for Bosnia’s final collapse was the victory of the Social Democrats, SDP, in the October 2010 general elections.

Over the course of 2011, an increasingly sorry narrative of irreversible political ruptures will permanently disfigure Bosnia’s political composition. It will be a dangerous year, in which political instability will compound the economic misery to which Bosnians are inured.

Bosnian Croat politics, previously muted, are now bringing the country to its knees. As in prior elections Bosnian Croats voted overwhelmingly in October 2010 for two nationalist parties, the Croatian Democratic union, HDZ, and its splinter sister party, HDZ-1990.

Nevertheless Bosnia’s political system has been incapable of representing Croat political preferences. The Croat member of the tripartite Bosnian Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, is a member of SDP, a party which purports to be multiethnic but in reality is overwhelmingly Bosniak.

Hardly any Croats voted for Komsic but he was elected nonetheless, due to Bosnia’s unusual electoral rules. While there is an ethnic quota for many elected officials, including the Presidency, the same quota does not apply to voters and any Bosnian citizen can vote for any candidate for the Presidency. Irrespective of who votes for them, one candidate from each ethnic group, who receives the largest number of votes, is elected.

Thus Komsic was elected to the Presidency on the votes of Bosniaks, who are perhaps four to five times as numerous as Croats, although the vast majority of Croats voted for other candidates. Bosniaks have obtained two members of the three-man Presidency, and the ethnic compact on which the Dayton Peace Accords were built was thereby undercut.

Now matters are getting worse. The SDP has managed to form a government in the Federation with marginal minority Croat parties, meaning that the two allied HDZ parties, which represent the vast majority of Croat political opinion, are frozen out of the entity’s government.
The new government will therefore reflect Bosniak interests at the expense of those of Croats. Croat politicians and the Croat public have concluded that the Federation cannot accommodate their political aspirations. Bosnian Croats also vote in Croatian elections, and the only incentive previously keeping Zagreb quiet in the face of Bosnian Croat demands for secession, or further devolution, was the lure of EU membership.
As that prospect looks more distant, the moderating influence of the EU accession process has evaporated and Bosnian Croats are unleashed to pursue their political ambitions.

HDZ and HDZ-1990 have a common immediate goal: creation of a third Entity, dominated by Croats. SDP coalitions with minority Croat parties at HDZ’s expense would thereby become a thing of the past. Revenge for the pretence that Komsic represents Croat interests would be sweet. After they get their entity, or if they cannot get it, the ultimate goal is the secession of “Herzeg-Bosna” and union with Croatia.

In this irredentist agenda the Bosnian Croats have found an unlikely ally in the shape of the the President of the Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska. Milorad Dodik supports Croat aspirations for their own entity, because any programme that divides the Federation empowers him.
This explains Dodik’s recent rapprochement with Croatia’s President, Ivo Josipovic. Behind the expressions of mutual regret for wartime hostilities and public commitments to resolving environmental problems, their private agenda is more elementary. Dodik will support Bosnian Croat aspirations for detachment from Bosnia in exchange for Croatia’s acquiescence in the separation of Republika Srpska.

Thus Dodik stokes the collapse of the Federation, and relishes watching from the sidelines as Bosniaks and Croats lock in combat. This alleviates international pressure against his own secessionist project and provides him with breathing space to take a number of symbolic actions that strengthen Republika Srpska’s already advanced state of autonomy. In recent weeks, Dodik has signalled his intention to destroy the Indirect Taxation Authority, undermine the State Court and assume entity control over extradition policy - arguably a breach of the Bosnian constitution.

He has also declared that Bosnia’s High Representative, Valentin Inzko, has no authority over the Serb half of the country. Whereas Dodik’s attacks upon Bosnia’s foreign governors and the state would previously have been met with outrage, his current actions are barely a distraction from the Bosniak-Croat confrontation that threatens to fissure the Federation’s politics. There is no pressure upon him to agree to the formation of a state government for as long as the Bosniaks and Croats are at loggerheads.

The principal cause of the contemporary crisis has been an irreversible loss of interest in Bosnia by the international community. After the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords were signed the West embarked on an aggressive programme of state-building, creating institutions of central government for which there was no consensus amongst Bosnia’s three national groups.
Now Western attention has frayed, and those institutions have become a battleground amidst the ruins of which Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs fight for irreconcilable political aims.

The Dayton constitutional structure was never sustainable as a permanent political settlement because it was forced upon the antagonists using diplomatic and military threats. It was only a matter of time before this external pressure evaporated and the system blew apart.
The limit of the international community’s attention was approximately 10 years from the end of the war. Since then, the artificially constructed Bosnian state has become increasingly dysfunctional, and there is no reason why that trend should be reversed.

The sole hope for Bosnia’s continued territorial integrity was a strand of Bosniak political thinking embodied in Bakir Izetbegovic, the current Bosniak member of the country’s Presidency. Izetbegovic’s philosophy differs dramatically to that of his father, Alija, the wartime Bosniak President who advocated a unified state in which Islam would be the prevalent political influence.

Bakir’s view is that Bosniaks have tried to seek reconciliation with Serbs and Croats since the end of the war, embodied in a power-sharing central government, but the attempt has failed.

Bosniaks therefore would do better to focus on wealth creation and consolidating their political authority in areas of outright Bosniak control. Business interests should trump intractable political battles. The Serbs and Croats should be left to go their own ways.

Their parts of the country will inevitably remain poorhouses because the Bosniaks possess the affluent and cosmopolitan capital, Sarajevo, and the country’s principal industrial centres of Tuzla and Zenica. Serbs and Croats present no economic threat to an autonomous Bosniak territory, which will do better unconstrained by the obligation to seek impossible political compromises.

But this vision, which was the source of reconciliation last year between Izetbegovic’s Party of Democratic Action, SDA, and Dodik’s Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, has been eclipsed by the new Bosniak politics of SDP and its leader, Zlatko Lagumdzija.
Under the pretext of pushing for a unified multi-ethnic Bosnia, SDP has created political confrontations that it cannot win without the strong support of the international community. Croats and Serbs will unilaterally withdraw from state and Federation institutions dominated by SDP and its faux pretence of multi-ethnicity.

Although SDP has managed to create an artificial coalition in the Federation with fringe Croatian parties, the arithmetic of the state parliament will not allow it to do the same thing there without the support of some or all of SNSD, HDZ and HDZ-1990. Bosnian Serb politics are sufficiently united to ensure that it would be political suicide for any minority Serb party to form a pact with SDP.

In the meantime, Inzko is intent on withdrawing this August. The plan apparently conceived in the hallways of Brussels is to have him semi-retire to Vienna. There he will formally remain High Representative, with the so-called “Bonn powers” that allow him to impose and dismiss officials, but without continuing to swim daily with the sharks in the politically toxic waters of Sarajevo. This non-resident High Representative will be taken even less seriously than he is now.

The EU successor mission, in theory devoted to Bosnia’s non-existent process of EU accession, will watch helplessly as Dodik’s withdrawal from the state becomes ever more irreversible and as Croats and Bosniaks hurl insults at one-another over the de facto collapse of Federation institutions.

Neither Croats nor Serbs will issue declarations of independence this year; they will not need to. An aggressive agenda of publicly repudiating the Dayton political structures will keep them popular with their electorates, deflecting attention from Bosnia’s deepening economic malaise. The country may remain in a theoretical legal union for some years to come, but the last vestiges of multi-ethnic political cooperation ceased some months ago and will not be revived.

Should the centrist government in Belgrade fall over the next 12 months, Dodik may become emboldened in his centrifugal strides away from Sarajevo, knowing that a less compromising government in Belgrade, led by the nationalist Tomislav Nikolic, will not be inclined to oppose him.

Perhaps the most important outstanding question is whether Bosniaks will take up arms to prevent the disintegration of their country. Widespread violence seems unlikely. The three different peoples of Bosnia have become used to living apart in the 15 years since the war ended.

They have no incentives to murder their neighbours, as they once did, because they are no longer mixed together; the war divided the country into mono-ethnic Bantustans and despite all the international community’s efforts, that has not been significantly reversed. For most Bosniaks, Republika Srpska is to them much as is Kosovo to the Serbs: a land that invokes raw emotional responses of resentment, imagined as occupied by a hostile alien people.

But, ultimately, it is a place they never visit, and the increasing political autonomy of Serb and Croat parts of Bosnia makes no practical difference to them.
Just as the Serbs view Kosovo, Bosniaks will remain perennially bitter and hostile to those associated with what they have lost; but as with the Serbs over Kosovo, they will not fight. Whatever political developments unfold in the coming months and years, the country is already divided and the status quo is not threatened.

This cautious optimism has two caveats, Mostar and Brcko. The divided towns were thorns in the peace negotiations at Washington in 1994 and at Dayton in 1995 and remain problematic to this day. Mostar, the Bosnian Croats’ capital, permits no easy division: the tourist attractions and infrastructure links are in Bosniak east Mostar, while the commerce and industry is in the Croat west.

An uneasy truce is observed along an unreconstructed front line. The international community has overlooked the real possibility of a conflagration in Mostar erupting at any time. Brcko also remains problematic because under US tutelage Bosniak refugees returned to the town in significant numbers; yet that town centre must now form the land bridge between the two parts of Republika Srpska, if Dodik is to achieve his goal.
While Brcko has fewer guns than Mostar, there is a real risk of ethnic confrontation there if the transition to Republika Srpska domination of the town is not managed smoothly.

As the Peace Implementation Council prepares finally to bring the shutters down on OHR Brcko, just six months into the new Brcko Supervisor’s mandate, this is a ball that the US government, Brcko’s traditional guardians, seems destined to fumble.

The future of Bosnia without heavy international oversight is inevitable disintegration. The international community should now be focused upon managing the side-effects of this ugly process rather than striving to keep alive a discredited vision.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


One of the most interesting and sad stories from the wars in Yugoslavia is the story of Josip Reihl Kir, who gave his life trying to keep war from breaking out in Croatia. He was a Croatian police officer who kept the peace between Serbs and Croats in Croatia and paid for it with his life. He was killed not by a Serb extremist but by fellow Croats who he had helped to arm and was trying to protect. It is one of the best examples of how extremists on all sides fed the wars in Yugoslavia and how elements on all sides saw the benefits of war for themselves, by enriching themselves as war profiteers and warlords.

The fallowing article is a reprint from FENA news agency in Sarajevo...

SARAJEVO, March 22 (FENA) – Exhibition of Center for cultural decontamination (CZKD) from Belgrade "Who is Reihl Kir to you?", by Tanja Simic Berclaz and Metaklinik, was opened in Sarajevo last night in Sarajevo in Bosniak Institute.This exhibition was made in cooperation with Center for peace studies from Zagreb, Bureau for human rights from Tuzla and Peace Institute from Ljubljana. Its premiere was on July 23 2010 in Belgrade.

Josip Reihl Kir was Chief of Police in Osijek, who was killed in village Tenje as one of the first victims of war in Croatia on July 1 1991. Twenty eight bullets in this police officer’s body, were answer to his multi-monthly peace efforts to try to stop bloodshed which came after in former Yugoslavia.

Director of CZKD Borka Pavicevic stated last night, during the opening of this exhibition that murder of Reihl Kir meant that destruction of Vukovar and the aggression can start.

"When they killed people who did not allow for the bloodshed to take place, killing could start”, Pavicevic said, noting she fully supports release of Jovan Divjak, former General of Army of RBiH.

Exhibition was opened by director Suada Kapic who said that she still does not understand why everyone is trying to escape from what happened when the history is taking place in today’s everyday life.

"We are actually in constant process of wars which are no finished”, Kapic added.

With this exhibition CZKD contributed to regional project “Minorities for minorities”, with intention to remind everyone of Reihl Kir. Furthermore, the intention of organizers was to use this exhibition to point to efforts of his wife Jadranka Reihl-Kir, who has been trying to find out the truth about murder of her husband for twenty years and for perpetrators and those responsible to be brought to justice.

After Sarajevo, exhibition is travelling to Tuzla, Brcko and Bijeljina, then coming back to Serbia, and will be presented to citizens of Novi Sad, Nis and Novi Pazar. Visit to Sarajevo came after visit to Zagrebu, Rijeka, Split, Osijek, Ljubljana, Maribor and Kopar

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sarajevo Jewish synagogue a piece of interesting history from Bosnia

This is the old Jewish Synagogue in Sarajevo. It is no longer used as a synagogue, because of WWII and the Bosnian war the Jewish population is down to about 2,000 people. There were about 10,000 before WWII and about 5,000 before the Bosnian war.
The Story of how the Jewish people settled Bosnia is a very interesting story, one that I will tell at a future date.
Since I took this picture the building has been remodeled and looks quite fantastic once again.
Bosnia is called the Jerusalem of Europe because besides Jerusalem, it's the only other place on earth you can find a Synagogue, Mosque, Catholic church and a Orthodox church all within a two block radius. That which makes Bosnia and Sarajevo so interesting also has led to a lot of pain in its history as well. Being at the crossroads between civilizations and the fault lines between empires has made Sarajevo and Bosnia what it is today, one of the most interesting places on Earth.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Old American car in Sarajevo Bosnia

A nice pic of an old US car in Grbavica, Sarajevo. It was outside a restaurant near Grbavica stadium home of Zeljeznicar football club.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting Neumed in Neum getting posted by catholics on there way to Medjugorje

Neum Bosnia is one of the most beautiful places on earth, I know I keep saying it, but it is true. It is Bosnia's little slice of the Adriatic sea and it is beautiful.
My experience in Neum has stuck with me and my family for years and has a completely different meaning, now for us "to get Neumed" means to get screwed and here's why...
On our way back from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Sarajevo we took a Bus. The bus was leaving at 8:00am. We were staying within the old city in Dubrovnik so we had to get up, pay our bill, get our stuff out of the place and drag it down out of the old town and get to the bus before it left. We didn't have time for breakfast or coffee (a need for me in the morning, more than food). We got to the bus on time and got on our way, the first stop along the way for a coffee and cigarette break was in Neum. It was filled with old US Catholics on pilgrimage to the catholic mecca, Medjugorje. I got in line for coffee and waited patiently, I didn't even go to the bathroom because I had my priorities in order and coffee was more important. All these old people kept shoving, yelling and acting like they were gonna miss there bus if they didn't get help right now. I kept getting skipped in service for another pushy old catholic. Before I know it, it's time to go and I got no coffee, no breakfast and no bathroom. I am so pissed I start yelling at all the old people around me who kept skipping in front of me in line. I go outside, back to the bus and these old people aren't going anywhere, they stood around getting group photos of themselves and wandering around aimlessly (like old people are used to doing and are quite good at) I couldn't believe I got hustled by a bunch of old people, Americans! In Bosnia! I was pissed the rest of the bus ride until we got to Jablanica and I finally got to use the bathroom and I got my coffee. I was  upset that I was so stupid and naive to get taken advantage of...Now we use the phrase "I got neumed" and it means to get screwed by others....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My favorite apartment building in Sarajevo Bosnia flashback to the 70's

This is my favorite apartment building in Sarajevo. I know it is strange, a bit run down and very communist circa the 1970's. That is the charm for me, I love all the glass and steel and unnecessary exoskeleton on the whole structure and the exposed stairwells, that must be fun in the wintertime. I love eclectic communist styled structures and designs built with the Jettsons in mind.
My best friends family during the war almost swapped apartments with one in this building. They lived in Hrsano about 100m from the front lines and felt they would be safer downtown. They found someone in this building willing to swap and almost made the trade. It was a good thing they didn't because the apartment in this building they were suppose to receive was destroyed by a Serbian shell during the war.
If I ever make it to Bosnia for retirement, this would be on my list of places I want to live, I love the location and I love the place...I love Sarajevo...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stunning rural Bosnia Blagaj One of my favorite places to visit

Blagaj appears like something out of a movie. In a little town in rural Hercigovina this little gem of Bosnia is breathtaking. A sheer wall of a canyon, a little ancient retreat and the famous Buna river shoots out of the side of the mountain. It's Blagaj and it is a must see little spot in Hercigovina if you ever get the chance to go.
Bosnia's number one resource (besides it's wonderful population) is water. It's everywhere in the form of rivers (forming Bosnia's natural borders), lakes, waterfalls and natural springs. Bosnia even has it's own slice of the Adriatic in the form of a small resort town called Nuem. Bosnia's love for fountains makes it along with Italy one of the best places in the world to find one.
Blagaj's other attraction is the Muslim dervish house tekija which houses an ancient Muslim manuscript that states that visitors to Bosnia of all nationalities and religions should be treated as treasured guest and valued. It predates the European declaration of human rights by hundreds of years. It is a rare treat for a western visitor to visit such a important religious sight with so much history and tradition and it makes you feel like a treasured guest from the ancient past.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Imperijal Sarajevo great Croatian establishment in the heart of Bosnia

One of the best ice cream shops in Sarajevo, Imperijal is quite famous in the Balkans. They specialize in speciality ice cream desserts and offer some interesting and unique combinations. It's located at the end of the pedestrian walking street Ferihadja. If you go to Imperijal stop next door to Svijetlost, a famous long time book publisher has a retail store that has some great titles and also prints to offer.
It's always a great place to stop into while I am in Sarajevo, it is a must that I go at least once while in Sarajevo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tito's Train, Jablanica Bosnia and Tito; the Nazi's and Hollywood

One of my favorite stories from Bosnia is the story of Tito and this train (a replica of the original). The story goes like this; Tito and the Partizans were on the run from the Nazi's and in big trouble. Tito came up with the grand idea of blowing the bridge, making it seem that they crossed the bridge and blew it up to prevent the Germans from crossing. In reality they blew up the bridge before crossing it and then set up a trap to ambush the Germans who thought they were safe. A great story that added to the lore of Tito and the Partizans. This train and bridge were remade for a Hollywood movie about Tito (I believe starring the famous Richard Burton).
There is a Tito museum next to the train that is still open and the view in Jablanica is fantastic of the Neretva river and the valley. It is also a place with some of the best food to be found in BiH (which I will write about at a later time).
Jablanica is one of my favorite little towns in BiH, next time I go to Bosnia I plan on spending a night at the lake and exploring a little more of the Bosnian countryside.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sarajevo at night quite a beautiful sight

Sarajevo at night quite a beautiful sight.
One of my favorite things to do at night in Sarajevo is to go up into the hills surrounding the city and admire it's beauty. It's hard to believe that from these same views drunken cetnik soldiers decided it was good to shell and snipe into civilian areas in the city.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mostar then and now War time scars have faded buy the memories remain

East Mostar in the war in Bosnia and now, even when the physical scars fade the memories of what happened in Mostar remains.
Mostar is the most beautiful city in Bosnia in many ways, the Stari Most, the Neretva river, the stone houses all give Mostar a beautiful ancient look. I was surprised too, that Mostar was filled with tourists from Western Europe while visiting last summer. I saw more tourists in Mostar than in Sarajevo last summer, I was surprised by the sheer volume of people visiting the city.
Mostar during the war suffered tremendous damage both physically and the psyche of the citizens. The divide from the war exists today but are not easily visible to tourists, you have to spend more time in the city to find those.
It is hard to believe that in Mostar, united HVO/ARBiH units drove out the Serbian VRS in 1992 and then turned their guns against eachother...A sad chapter in the recent Bosnian history of the city.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hamby King and why not having McDonalds in BiH is bad

Hamby King, the first time you see it in Sarajevo you are surprised. There's no McDonald's in Sarajevo and yet you may stumble upon the sight of what appears to be a Burger King, not known for being an international brand. When I found this place for the first time I was surprised, but I figured it was a relic left over from the 1984 Winter Olympics. Once inside the Hamby king you realize though that the building and the name are the only things in common with Burger King, it is a bit of fun to see in person though, if you are visiting Sarajevo and you come across it.
Located in New Sarajevo about 1/2 way thru the city Hamby King is the closest thing to a McDonald's that you will find in Bosnia. Which is surprising since McDonald's are pretty much everywhere in the world. It's not to say that McDonald's didn't try to get into Bosnia after the war in the 1990's they recognized that Sarajevo was an international city with a lot of Americans and foreigners who would recognize their brand. For years McDonald's tried to make inroads in Bosnia with little to no success. The level of corruption, ineptitude and incompetence was too much for this multinational corporation to bear and after years of futility gave up on Bosnia. For some of my friends they consider this American example of excess and corporate McEconomic development to be a something they wanted no part of. While I am no fan of McDonald's, what I had to explain to them is how bad it is for investment if McDonald's gives up on you without success, your in trouble. Yes McDonald's is bad food served fast and the health ramifications of overeating is obvious but the other side is they are the pioneers of economic development, the first ones into a new territory and the last ones to leave (even Belgrade has one).
When McDonald's gave up on Sarajevo it meant so many other investors in Bosnia from the west would do likewise. Sometimes small victories become big defeats...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What is more beautiful Sarajevo or it's women?

(Grbavica Stadium home of  Zeljaznicar football club)
One of my favorite advertising signs in Bosnia, "what is more beautiful Sarajevo or it's women?". A very good question indeed, no easy choice since both are so beautiful...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sarajevo siege wells memories of the Bosnian war echo in everyday life within the city

These wells were built outside of my friends apartment building in Hrsano, Sarajevo during the war. His building was so close to the front lines and exposed to sniper and shell fire that city engineers came and built these wells to save innocent lives so people in his neighborhood wouldn't have to die like so many others trying to fetch water in the city.

His building in located on Azize Sacirbegovic about 100m from the front lines along a wide open boulevard. At one point during the war the cetniks were almost to the entrance to his building. He street in front of his apartment block was so dangerous that at one time CNN set up a camera to record civilians dying from sniper fire. Bosnian safari CNN style, there is nothing more macabre than setting up a camera, like it is a fishing pole and waiting to catch your prey.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sarajevo Chess matches a Bosnian institution a great Bosnian tradition

One of my favorite sights in the city is the giant chess board were the old men play downtown. It always reminds me I'm in Sarajevo when I see these guys. It is such a nice sense of community you get from seeing scenes like this. An event held in the heart of the city that has nothing to do with economics, profit or politics. Just people enjoying the city the way that cities are meant to be enjoyed, I hope it is a piece of Sarajevo that will never be lost.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Divjak, Ganic, Jursic In Serbia, it's time to issue a warrant for the truth

In Serbia, it's time to issue a warrant for the truth

Author: Nenad Pejic
Uploaded: Monday, 07 March, 2011

Vigorous comment from Radio Free Europe on a series of attempts by Serbian authorities to have prominent wartime opponents arrested on spurious charges, most recently former Bosnian general Jovan Divjak, currently detained in Vienna on the basis of a Belgrade warrant.
On 3 March 2011 news broke that retired Bosnian Army General Jovan Divjak had been arrested in Vienna by Austrian police acting on an Interpol warrant issued by Serbia.
The general is accused of involvement in an incident that happened on Dobrovoljacka Street in Sarajevo on 3 May 1992. Gunfire began as Yugoslav Army units were withdrawing from the city. Serbian officials say as many as 40 soldiers died, while Bosnia says 4 soldiers were killed.
General Divjak was at the time deputy commander of the Bosnian Territorial Defence and had remained in Sarajevo. An ethnic Serb, he was one of the most popular people in Bosnia and is widely regarded as a deeply principled man.
Concerted policy
Divjak's arrest is not an isolated incident but part of a concerted policy by Belgrade.
On 1 March 2010 the British authorities arrested Ejub Ganic, a former member of the Bosnian Presidency. They were acting on the same sort of Serbian arrest warrant for alleged crimes committed during the Dobrovoljacka Street incident.
Later that year, in July, a British court released Ganic and ruled that no evidence against him had been provided and that the Serbian warrant was politically motivated.
In 2007 Serbia issued a warrant for Ilija Jurisic, a Bosnian Army officer accused of war crimes allegedly committed during the withdrawal of Yugoslav Army units from Tuzla. A court in Serbia convicted Jurisic of improper battlefield conduct and sentenced him to 12 years in prison. In October 2010 a Serbian appeals court overturned the conviction, released Jurisic from detention, and ordered a new trial.
On the same day that Divjak was arrested in Vienna - 3 March 2011 - a Serbian warrant for former Croatian soldier Tihomir Purda, accused of involvement in war crimes in Vukovar, was annulled by Serbian war crimes prosecutors. After speaking with 44 witnesses, officials found no evidence that Purda had committed a crime. Purda, who had been arrested in Bosnia in January on a similar Serbian warrant, was immediately released.
Who's next on the list?
So who will be arrested next? All the members of the war-time Bosnian Presidency? Any officer who can be shown to have been in Sarajevo or who defended Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war?
Or shall we see the arrests of those officials in Serbia who time and again produce false warrants based on non-existent or falsified evidence? Hardly.
Nobody in Serbia spoke up when the British court declared that the Ganic warrant was politically motivated. There was no probe into who had prepared the falsified warrant or manufactured the falsified evidence. Nobody investigated who had provided Serbian media with faked television footage. No politician suffered for supporting the production of the politically motivated warrant.
In the case of Jurisic, no one was punished for bringing an inadequate case to court and no one paid for the fact that Jurisic spent three long years in Serbian prisons.
Likewise, no one is asking who issued the warrant against Purda. Deputy prosecutor Bruno Vekaric told RFE/RL on 3 March that the case ‘was poorly prepared’. No one has investigated or responded to charges that Purda was tortured while in a Serbian detention camp. In fact, Serbian officials do not admit the camp existed.
Standing behind all these cases are figures in Serbia's security organs, police, and military who are backed by far-right political forces. Many of these people were involved in preparing the Balkans wars, starting those wars, and losing them. They provided cover for Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic. They continue to hide Bosnian Serb military leader and accused war criminal Ratko Mladic.
They organized the 2003 assassination of moderate Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindic.
Under pressure from these forces, Serbian courts curtail investigations into war-crimes allegations against Serbs. Public opinion in Serbia continues to blame political leaders for losing the Balkans wars, not for starting them.
Despite having all these cases dismissed one after another - and the case against Divjak will surely be dismissed as well - the rightists have achieved their goal.
Serbian media covered all the arrests with patriotic jingoism, and ethnic tensions across the Balkans were inflamed. Divisions were deepened. Tolerance suffered another setback. The soil was prepared for future conflicts or partitions. And pro-Western forces in Serbia have been sent a strong message about the power of the far right. They are still fighting a war that has been lost.

It's very important that our voices be heard and that General Divjak is treated like the great humanitarian he is and not some political pawn and a common criminal.

You can join his NGO organization helping children affected by the war

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interview with General Divjak 2008 Support General Divjak!

While Barcelona was decking itself out for the Olympics, Serbian troops were encircling Sarajevo, leading to the longest siege in the history of modern warfare (1992-1995). Despite his Serbian origins, Divjak did not doubt for one moment what he had to do: organise the defence of the capital with all the available means and, to achieve this, he formed an army made up of civilians and even prisoners.

How many people died in the Bosnian War?

Some say there were 250,000 deaths, but an NGO, along with an institute, give figures that are closer to reality of around 100,000. Of these, 60,000 were Bosnian Muslims, 30,000 Serbs and the rest were Croats. Most of them were soldiers, around 27,000 from one side and the other. Some 15,000 people died in Sarajevo; of which 1,600 were children.

What drives men to war?

Every conflict is caused by specific reasons. In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was the desire of one group of people to dominate another. After Tito’s death and the fall of Communism, Milosevic and the Serb nationalists conceived the idea of a “great Serbia” which would unite all the Serbs. The Croats and Slovenians rejected it, which led to the outbreak of the conflict and the subsequent independence of these two countries. The Bosnians, like the others, also demanded independence, and once again the Serbs were opposed to it. The desire that led the Serbian nationalists was also linked to removing the Muslims from these regions. Clearly, a similar desire to “cleanse” the region emerged among the Muslims and Croats. However, if we are talking about responsibility, around 90% would lie with the Serbian nationalists, 6% with the Croats and 4% with the Bosnians, according to a 1994 study by the CIA.

You are Serbian in origin and you are not a Muslim like the majority of Bosnians. Why do you consider yourself Bosnian?

I was born in Belgrade because my parents were there to work, but my father lived all his life in Bosnia. Also, my family has never placed much importance on religious matters. Before the war, I had been living in Sarajevo for 27 years. A city where we were all the same, we visited each other on religious holidays and we never had any problems because we were Serbs. The war started with nationalist propaganda, leading to mistrust of Muslims and co-existence between the groups. Since 1984, I had been part of the army’s regional (internal) defence corps, which was also in charge of rescue work during disasters. When the Bosnian defence was being drawn up, I received the order to defend Sarajevo and I accepted. I also chose it for a more human issue, as the army in the capital was not well armed, unlike the Serbian one. The Bosnia and Herzegovina regional defence corps was multiethnic and multireligious, just like the Yugoslavian army used to be.

What does the word identity mean to you?

Belonging to something that you want to belong to, be it religion, nation, a cultural association, it is up to you. For instance, I believe in the idea of the Bosnian, not Catholic, not Orthodox, not Muslim or non-Serbian. I am a Bosnian citizen who respects what belongs to others, but who also wants them to respect what belongs to us. I show my identity in many ways: I believe in citizenship, in a lay state with no reference to religion or to issues of language. One question regarding national identity in my country is language, and so we have three official languages, which the three groups understand as they are almost identical, but they use them to demonstrate which group they belong to. The most shameful thing about my country is that politicians bring their own interpreters even though they have a very good knowledge of the other politicians’ language. Our president assures us that, as regards foreign languages, he only knows a little Russian.

Are there still people in Bosnia who consider themselves first and foremost Yugoslavian?

Yes. It’s called Yugonostalgia. Luckily, there are a lot of young people who remember that that was a very good chapter in our history. The last four or five years has seen the formation of a lot of Josip Broz Tito associations. When there are surveys about the most relevant historical figures, Tito is always among the top few, be it in Slovenia, Croatia or Bosnia (but not so much in Serbia).

The Kosovan declaration of independence has caused a division of opinions on the international stage. Who do you think has the last word in deciding whether there is a new country on the map?

As on many other issues, it is the United States who decides. A year ago in Tirana (the Albanian capital), George Bush said that Kosovo would be independent and that is what happened. Countries such as China or Russia were opposed to it because they remember how they felt about the former Yugoslavia and this feeling remained with regard to the Milosevic era; and also because of their own domestic problems: they worry that the Kosovo situation will stir up other regions. In Europe, they don’t take their own decisions. They always wait for someone to come along and solve their problems. This is what happened in 1995, in the Bosnian war. Why didn’t the Europeans decide to get involved earlier on, without waiting for the Americans?

What role is left for the United Nations if nation states ignore its resolutions or only observe the ones that suit them?

The United Nations is a neutral, advisory body. It reaches good conclusions, but many of its enterprises don’t lead anywhere. Four resolutions were passed regarding Bosnia demanding an end to the war but they did not come to fruition. They have never had the right to military reaction, so they are limited simply to the role of observers. They used this argument to justify their passivity during the massacre of Srebrenica. What is also clear is that this organisation is divided up into the different spheres of interest of the countries that comprise it.

How do you see the future of Serbia after the victory of the moderate, pro-Europe party of Boris Tadic in the recent presidential elections?

They don’t have enough of a majority to govern, so they will have to reach agreements. At the moment, the most tragic thing in terms of Serbia’s future is that the final decisions regarding the country’s situation will end up being taken by Milosevic’s party and his collaborators (the Serbian Socialist Party). In any event, both Tadic and Nikolic are against Kosovan independence.

How do you feel European integration will affect the Balkans?

The European Union (EU) is divided into the area of influence of the United States and of Russia and doesn’t make coherent decisions. There is a definite desire to include the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Bulgaria and Romania are already members, although they have not met all the economic requirements and they have social indicators similar to Bosnia. Serbia will enter first, when the judicial questions regarding war criminals have been resolved. Bosnia still has to resolve aspects concerning its status, as it favours nationalities and religions to the detriment of the people and goes against the EU’s declaration of rights. Despite this, Slovenia also has problems with minorities and is already a member.

You now head an organisation that awards grants to war orphans. Is education the best way to prevent the mistakes of the past?
Yes, it is. But nationalisms in power smother attempts to educate to prevent these mistakes. All three groups, Muslims, Croats and Serbs, support the stance of feeding difference. Politicians encourage schools divided by ethnic group, in the same building! That’s not a decision of either the students or the parents. They also justify this attitude of segregation by arguing that a specific group represents a minority in a specific area and, therefore, they need their own institution so as not to lose their identity. The result: 27% of the population is illiterate and school absenteeism runs at between 8% and 10%.

What studies do you recommend to the orphans from your organisation?
I advise them to study technical engineering. We have a surfeit of lawyers in my country and we need to develop economically.


Write: Has the victim become the criminal? Free Jovan Divjak now!

Ask Austria to free Jovan Divjak on Twitter (@Austrian) and Facebook (

And also write to the Embassies above

Embassy of Serbia:
Embassy of Austria:,com_contact/task,view/contact_id,3/Itemid,3/

Contact Congress and your represenetive
                                                          112th Congress, 1st Session
                            Washington, DC 20515 | (202) 224-3121 | TTY: (202) 225-1904

Contact US senate

State Department

  • Main address:
    U.S. Department of State
    2201 C Street NW
    Washington, DC 20520

  • Main Switchboard:
    TTY:1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay Service)

    It's very important that our voices be heard and that General Divjak is treated like the great humanitarian he is and not some political pawn and a common criminal.

    You can also join his NGO organization helping children affected by the war
  • Monday, March 7, 2011

    What Really Happened During The Dobrovoljacka Attack? (radio free europe interview)

    What Really Happened During The Dobrovoljacka Attack? (radio free europe interview)
    After Ejup Ganic was arrested in London and charged with the same attack as General Divjak has been charged with General Divjak gave this interview to Radio Free Europe explaining what happened in Sarajevo at that time.

    On March 1, Ejup Ganic, a former member of Bosnia's presidency, was detained at Heathrow Airport in connection with an attack on Yugoslav forces in Sarajevo early in the 1992-95 Bosnian War.

    Ganic was arrested by the London Metropolitan Police, who were acting on a provisional extradition warrant issued by Serbia. The warrant claims that more than 40 Serb soldiers in the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) were killed in the so-called Dobrovoljacka Street attack on May 3, 1992, after Bosnia had declared independence from the Serb-led former Yugoslavia. It also claims Ganic ordered the attack. Ganic had been appointed acting president of Bosnia the day before while President Alija Izetbegovic was being held at a JNA base in the nearby Lukavica army base.

    The soldiers were withdrawing from their surrounded JNA barracks in Sarajevo's old town district of Bistrik as part of what they thought was a truce and swap deal for Izetbegovic. Their column also was loaded with ammunition and weapons that Serbian forces would use during their three-year siege of Sarajevo.
    Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic (left) with Vice President Ejup Ganic in 1993
    Izetbegovic, his daughter Sabina, and a member of the Bosnian negotiating team, Zlatko Lagumdzija, had been seized by the JNA at Sarajevo airport on May 2, 1992. They had just returned on a flight from failed peace negotiations in Lisbon. Earlier that day, the JNA had launched a failed attempt to occupy central Sarajevo.

    Jovan Divjak, a former JNA officer, played a central role in the events of May 3, 1992. Although he is of Serbian ethnic origin, he joined the ranks of the Bosnian Territorial Defense forces at the beginning of the war. He became a key figure in Sarajevo's defense against the besieging Serbian forces and rose to the rank of general in what became the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Divjak recently spoke to RFE/RL about the seminal events of May 2 and 3, 1992 -- events which have been returned to the international spotlight by Serbia's extradition request for Ganic. Divjak's version of events differs from the claims in Serbia's extradition request for Ganic.

    JNA 'Blitzkrieg' on Sarajevo -- May 2, 1992

    RFE/RL: When we spoke to you prior to this interview, you told us that the events of May 3, 1992, in Dobrovoljacka Street could not be separated from what had happened in Sarajevo the day before, on May 2.

    Jovan Divjak:
    May 2 was the day when the Yugoslav Army tried to take control of the city. At that moment, units of the Bosnian Territorial Defense forces were blockading six army bases in Sarajevo, and it was expected that the Yugoslav Army would leave Sarajevo -- and Bosnia -- by the end of May. Toward the end of April, an agreement was reached between the [Yugoslav Army's] Second Military District HQ and the Bosnian Presidency that Yugoslav Army units' movements around the city would be forbidden, except for ambulance vehicles, and those vehicles used to supply the bases with food, as they did not have their own kitchens. Every other army vehicle was obliged to request permission to move around Sarajevo.

    The bombardment of the city began on May 2 at 3 o'clock in the morning, and lasted until 5 a.m. They were targeting both the presidency building and the city's downtown core, in particular the municipalities of Old Town and New Sarajevo. That was an artillery barrage intended to prepare the ground for an attack to follow. That morning the main Sarajevo post office was sabotaged as well.

    RFE/RL: Is it clear who sabotaged the post office building?

    There are different versions of the story, but it was obviously an inside job. It was almost certainly carried out by a postal employee. It has been claimed that Bosnian Muslims were behind it, but it is almost certain that it was a Serbian employee acting with the help of several accomplices. That act of sabotage immediately severed 60,000 local telephone lines in the Old Town, making it impossible to establish a connection between our headquarters and the individual units of the Bosnian Territorial Defense.

    But it's important to keep in mind what happened on the morning of May 2. Two [Yugoslav] armored vehicles crossed the bridge at Skenderija. One assumption was that they were headed for the presidency building, while on the other hand they might have been attempting to link up with the unit barricaded in the Second Military District HQ with [JNA] General [Milutin] Kukanjac. One of the armored vehicles even came as far as the Estrada building, perhaps with the intention of linking up with a [Yugoslav] special forces unit from Nis, which had been holed up in the Dom Armije building.

    That day the special police unit from Nis, under the command of Colonel [Milan] Suput, was driven out of the Dom Armije building and had to relocate to the Bosnian Cultural Center. A convoy of three transports was following the two armored vehicles, but when they saw the burning wreckage of the armored vehicles they headed across the Skenderija Bridge, and along Valtera Perica Street toward the Sarajevo TV building.

    RFE/RL: Who mounted the resistance against the armored vehicles on May 2?

    They were tactical assault units made up of three to four members of the Territorial Defense, armed with RPGs and maybe a hand-held mortar. One group included Kerim Lucarevic and Muhamed Sisic-Dedo, and in the second was Mustafa Hajrulahovic-Talijan. Dedo had managed to improvise another antitank weapon.

    Following the transports along Zagrebacka Street were also two tanks, which pulled back when they found out that the armored vehicles had been destroyed. Near the Jewish cemetery one of the tanks drove over a mine, damaging its tracks. From the Lukavica army base they dispatched a tow tank to recover the damaged tank and drag it back. All of the armored vehicles and tanks had, in fact, been sent that morning from Lukavica, where the 1st Armored-Mechanized Brigade was based.

    JNA Soldiers Killed During May 2 Attack

    RFE/RL: Were JNA soldiers killed during the JNA attack on May 2, 1992?

    The soldiers inside the armored vehicles were definitely killed. There could have been around seven to 10 inside each vehicle. I'm not sure of the exact number. Those who were following the tanks probably also died, as well as those at the Jewish cemetery, in Zagrebacka Street, and along the route from Nedzarici to the TV building. Because they encountered resistance and were unable to secure their targets, at the end of that day, May 2, the Yugoslav Army detained the Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and held him at the Lukavica base.

    RFE/RL: They weren't expecting any resistance?

    No. The fact that they pulled back suggests that they weren't expecting any resistance. They were banking on the element of surprise, in effect staging some sort of mini-blitzkrieg. But as soon as they met resistance, they withdrew
    Swap Deal For Izetbegovic

    RFE/RL: Izetbegovic was seized by the JNA on May 2, 1992, when he landed at Sarajevo airport upon his return from the failed Lisbon peace talks. What can you tell us about that situation and the events surrounding the deal for the exchange of Izetbegovic?

    The first part can be verified by [Bosnian negotiator] Zlatko Lagumdzija, who later said that he tried to persuade Izetbegovic not to land in Sarajevo but rather in Split, Croatia, which was safer. Izetbegovic insisted that the Yugoslav Army had guaranteed him a safe landing. When we at the Territorial Defense headquarters found out that Izetbegovic had been arrested, we were extremely anxious. We worried that they would use physical force, drug him, or use some other means to induce him to sign something. I'm just letting you know what kinds of thoughts were going through our heads at the headquarters.

    There were even suggestions that we should mount an assault on the Lukavica base, but that would have been sheer madness, as we only had rifles, a few semi-automatic rifles, and some armor-piercing weapons. Armed like that we could hardly storm a well-fortified base equipped with tanks and artillery.

    I'm not sure what was going on at the Bosnian Presidency, or what [Bosnian General] Sefer Halilovic and [then-Territorial Defense commander] Colonel [Hasan] Efendic were doing at the time. There was still a dual command structure in place, even though on April 14 the [Bosnian] Patriotic League had merged with the Territorial Defense. But I think they still had their own leadership. The commander of the Patriotic League at the time was Sefer Halilovic. Following the merger with the Territorial Defense, he became the head of the operational department at the HQ.
    If [the JNA] had not arrested Izetbegovic, the series of events that led to the [Dobrovoljacka Street] attack would not have occurred.
    At the HQ, we were trying to piece together the course of events, and weighing our options. We soon found out that Izetbegovic was inside an APC [armored personnel carrier], being taken to the Second Military District HQ, which was then blockaded [by Territorial Defense forces], where he would be exchanged for the commander of the military district, General Kukanjac. We had no way of knowing whether Alija [Izetbegovic] would really be exchanged, or if it was all a trap. That is why we had to make sure that Izetbegovic was indeed inside the vehicle.

    We decided to verify that near the Cobanija Mosque. When I arrived there, three Territorial Defense soldiers, who were near Cobanija, informed me that the convoy had passed by and had already arrived at the Military District HQ -- so I headed for April 6th Square, where around 30 vehicles were already assembled.

    I noticed that the Yugoslav Army soldiers were carrying some boxes and crates out of the HQ building, and we later found out that it was the base archive. They all had sidearms, and I don't think any of them had a machine gun or a mortar. Surrounding them, on the square itself, were a hundred or so men, members of the Territorial Defense, policemen from Stari Grad municipality and many others belonging to various armed groups from Stari Grad who were not familiar to me. They were intending to attack the Yugoslav Army soldiers. From the surrounding streets and alleys we could hear chanting, like at a soccer game: "Come on! Let's go!"

    I was trying to calm them down, and I used the loudspeaker to call on the Yugoslav Army soldiers to join our side, assuring them that their rights would be protected. In the law on national defense we had made it clear that all those who joined us would be able to keep their rights and their ranks, and those with the rank of major could be promoted to lieutenant colonel. Somebody made coffee, and food was brought out to the Territorial Defense soldiers. Everyone stood there, waiting for something to happen, like in a stadium. I couldn't get in touch with my headquarters or the presidency, as the walkie-talkie wasn't working. One young man ran up to me and said: "Colonel, I'm an amateur radio operator. Maybe I can help with getting through." I went with him, but after half an hour of fiddling we weren't able to get through to anyone.

    Each and every [Bosnian militia] group was operating independently. It is out of the question that a single individual could have directed the deployment of such diverse units.
    I returned to the square, but the soldiers were gone. I retraced my steps to Cobanija. It was somewhere between 5 and 5:30 p.m., I can't remember exactly. I ran into the convoy that had been stopped at that point. At the front was a small all-terrain vehicle with [Canadian UN] General [Lewis] MacKenzie and Lagumdzija. At the rear of the convoy was an APC, inside which were Izetbegovic and General Kukanjac. There was a security team around that vehicle. I climbed up on the vehicle. Izetbegovic then said to me: "Jovan, I don't know why we've been stopped. We have an agreement. Please, see what you can do to make sure we get through."

    All of a sudden, I heard shots fired some 200 to 300 meters away, in the direction of Drvenija. I shouted, "Cease fire!"

    At that moment [Zoran] Cegar showed up, one of the Bosnian policemen from Dragan Vikic's special unit. He said: "Get down. Who are you? That's my president. You have nothing to do with him!" I got down. He also spoke with the president, but I couldn't hear them. I watched him come down and open the door of the APC. That is when I finally got a glimpse of Kukanjac huddled inside, looking rather pitiful. Cegar turned to him: "Curse your Chetnik mother. If anything happens to Alija Izetbegovic, none of your Chetnik family will keep a head on their shoulders."

    All of this was happening on Dobrovoljacka Street, between the Theater coffee shop and Drvenija. After that the convoy was allowed to move, though I'm not sure by whose order.

    RFE/RL: Was there any more firing?

    Only once more I heard some shots fired from the direction of Drvenija. The convoy was allowed to pass, and 15 vehicles followed the APC with Izetbegovic inside, while our men took the other 15 as war booty. They jumped on them and made them turn toward Cobanija or some of the smaller side streets around there. Inside each of those 15 trucks were no more than one or two soldiers. Later it was said that many documents were found inside those trucks, allegedly including a [JNA] plan to occupy Sarajevo in seven days, and the whole of Bosnia in a month. I personally never saw any of these documents.

    Altogether, 215 Yugoslav Army soldiers were captured and taken to the FIS [sports] building. They were held there for two days. I know that [Bosnian deputy commander] Stjepan Siber was asked to negotiate with those people, and to offer them to stay and join our Territorial Defense and, if they refused, to assure them that they would be exchanged for some of our men. That much I witnessed firsthand. As for the rest, I don't know. It wouldn't be professional to speak about things that I neither saw, heard, nor took part in.

    Not 40, But 'Eight Killed' On Dobrovoljacka Street

    RFE/RL: How many casualties were there in the Dobrovoljacka Street attack?

    As far as I know, eight people were killed.

    RFE/RL: Is it clear who started shooting first?

    : I don't know.

    RFE/RL: Why was there shooting?

    I'm not sure about that either. I doubt that anyone gave the order. Rather, I think that certain individuals were acting on their own initiative. I later heard the story from one of the soldiers who was present on the scene: "One crazy guy took a rifle and fired at the windows of a bus where the officers were sitting." I didn't witness that myself. But these are the words of someone who was there. He also added, "Some old man took a gun and started firing."

    I wasn't able to tell who belonged to which unit. However, it's a fact that the streets of Old Town were primarily defended by [Bosnian] Military Police and members of the [Bosnian] Green Berets. The Territorial Defense also operated in small groups, not complete units. They would be made up of 10 or so Territorial Defense members, and another 20 or so policemen and Green Berets. It was always a mix and it was almost impossible to know who belonged to which particular unit. Only some 10 percent had some sort of uniform. That day, in particular, most of those present [on the Bosnian side] were people in civilian clothing.

    RFE/RL: Were these men stationed on both sides of Dobrovoljacka Street expecting the convoy to pass through there?

    Yes, simply because they followed the convoy from its origin on April 6th Square. From my vantage point, I didn't notice that many people -- mostly those who were assigned to Alija Izetbegovic's security detail.

    'There Was No Torture'

    RFE/RL: Do you know whether the wounded Yugoslav Army soldiers were treated in Sarajevo hospitals?

    Yes, certainly. Colonel [Enes] Taso was severely wounded and was transferred to a hospital for treatment. He was later airlifted to Belgrade and was promoted to general. Incidentally, he was of Bosniak origin.

    RFE/RL: There were allegations of torture in the FIS building, where the captured JNA soldiers were held for two days.

    Then let the witnesses come forward. I know from conversations with my friend Siber [who was present] that there was no torture.

    RFE/RL: Was it possible that a member of the Bosnian Presidency planned all of this in advance, stationed members of the Territorial Defense, Patriotic League, and the Green Berets along Dobrovoljacka Street and ordered the attack on the convoy?

    That is impossible, because each and every group was operating independently. They were all mixed, and it is out of the question that a single individual could have directed the deployment of such diverse units along the route from Second Military District HQ all the way to Drvenija. That is inconceivable, and practically impossible.

    RFE/RL: You believe that there was no order given for the attack, but rather that it happened spontaneously?

    It could only have happened spontaneously.

    RFE/RL: Was it avoidable?

    Of course. Why did the Yugoslav Army attack Sarajevo on May 2? What was the Yugoslav Army doing in Sarajevo on that day? They were testing to see what the reaction would be from the Territorial Defense, the police, and others. Also, they should not have detained the Bosnian president, Alija Izetbegovic. If they had not arrested Izetbegovic, the series of events that led to the attack would not have occurred. It is certain that eventually, as a result of negotiations, the blockade of all the army bases would have been lifted without the need to fire a single bullet.

    RFE/RL: So in your opinion this was not a premeditated attack?

    I was present on the spot and was able to see for myself that it was not planned. I repeat, on May 3 on the April 6th Square, an attack on the Yugoslav Army was brewing. People surrounding the square were chanting "Come on! Let's go! Let's go!" It was not a command. The only command issued by the senior officer was: "Don't go. Wait. Do not attack. Do not fire." Likewise, the unit commanders acted to prevent any shooting. If someone had wanted a massacre, it would have happened on April 6th Square.

    RFE/RL: Who is, in your opinion, responsible for what happened in Dobrovoljacka Street?

    Individuals who gave themselves the right to decide whether someone should live or die.

    RFE/RL: Do you consider what happened in Dobrovoljacka Street to be a crime or not?

    It is a crime committed by certain individuals but cannot conceivably be attributed to the regular units of the Bosnian Territorial Defense, the police, or the Green Berets as a whole.
    I later heard the story from one of the soldiers who was present: "One crazy guy took a rifle and fired at the windows of a bus where the officers were sitting."
    RFE/RL: Which units were on the scene in Dobrovoljacka, and who took part in the shooting?



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