Friday, April 29, 2011

Abdullah Pejkic Islamic art at it's finest! Art exhibition in Belgrade gallery Progress

(Edin i Abdullah)
Abdullah is a great Bosnian (who would be embarrassed by my effusive praise I am sure), I have often thought that he best represents Bosnia both with his great character and his great human flaws. His human story would actually make a great film I believe. He is a genuine, honest person who's character plays an emotional role in his fantastic artwork that he creates. He will be doing a gallery exhibition of his artwork later this summer of 2011 in Belgrade. The exhibition will be at the gallery "Progres" in Belgrade in the Knez Mihajlova street, during the last 10 days of the month of Ramazan this year. Approximately last 10 days in August.
Anyone interested in his artwork can visit his website that is in both Bosnian and English...

His work speaks for itself...

In his own words his motivation...

First of all, you have to know, that I am here as an artist, therefore if you know anything about art, you also have to know that the talent, which is basically an urge to create, relies on motivation to create.

I have been a sculptor for quite a long time, but I have always been fascinated by Arabic calligraphy as well. And for quite a while I have tried to simplify the synthesis of these two. Calligraphy, which was born as soon as a man could write, is a form of art itself, simply because it literally means `writing with emotions`. I say this because I take art very seriously and I have worked very hard to feel worthy of the title. I also know that there are not many true artist living today, at least not as many as those who like to refer to themselves as artist anyway.
What I wanted to accomplish by this exhibition is to develop a distinctive collision of sculpturing and calligraphy, but still to preserve a pinch of tradition so that the first look reminds of a classic Bosnian wood-carved pieces.
One of the main characteristics of art itself is the one that draws a sharp line that forever separates art, with a capital A from simple craftsmanship. A true artist never thinks of creating the same piece twice. It is impossible. The work of an artist is like a soul, an indestructible inside energy if you like, that sculptors using hands of flash for tools. The final outcome depends on the state of the soul at that precise moment, and the `moment` can last for days. Therefore anybody who claims to be an artist and says otherwise is no doubt a fake.
These works do not only have a soul but a certain life as well, in a matter of speaking.
Let me clarify this for you.
An average, skillful carver could complete an item, which resembles to these, in a week or two. Today's carver has little or no knowledge of calligraphy whatsoever. They are craftsmen not artists. So they copy someone else's calligraphic work to a wooden plate and than tear its beauty apart, literally scratching the surface for about two millimeters. No magic, no emotions and it is most usual that the carver has no idea of the meaning of the inscription he just made, he only cares about the price he intends to sell if for. Usually 300 - 400 Euros. I know all this because I used to carve furniture for living and I have met a few carvers along the way.

However, unlike carver's, each and every one of my works took at least six months to complete. 100% handmade. Calligraphy is also my creation applied from the mind directly to the wood, and than shaped with classic woodcarving chisels. Also significantly deeper than just two millimeters, which gives you a totally new 3D perspective, which again contributes to a certain resurrection, in a matter of speaking, the work, seems to, `come alive` and it most certainly has something to say, so, listen!
And, by far, the most important of all. None of these, past, present of future works are motivated by money, but clearly by the need to deliver beauty in the form of this collision. I have never worked on any of them when I did not feel the need to work. However, when I did, the time or place made no difference. Whether it was a family picnic, a barbeque or a morning coffee on the balcony with my wife. Sometimes the need was so strong it wouldn't let me sleep. Than I would grab my plate and tools and go out by the creek, very often loosing track of the time, until the break of dawn disturbs my passion.
This is probably the reason why my works are irreplaceable segment of private collections from Hong Kong to Michigan.

This is why these works are unique and genuine, they carry a part of life, a scent of nature and finally message of eternity.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sarajevo Roses a important documentry film about the war in Bosnia that needs your support

Roger Richards was a photographer who covered the war in Bosnia and the Siege of Sarajevo. He ended up falling in love with Bosnia like many of us and has helped the people of BiH in many ways. Now he needs help funding this ambitious project entitled "Sarajevo Roses" an important documentary that tells the story of life in the besieged capitol of Bosnia thru the eyes of one man and what that has meant for his life work.

You can purchase these items from Cafepress and help fund the making of the film, any extra money donated after the costs of making the film will go to charity...
You can like him on facebook on the following link..

Here's the basic information on the film...
Release Date
Documentary-Cinematic Essay/Dokumentarni-Filmski Esej
Sevda Films
During the almost four-year siege of the Bosnian capital city of Sarajevo, hundreds of thousands of bombs rained upon the city from the surrounding hills. Every shell exploding on a road or paved area left an imprint resembling that of a flower.
Plot Outline
Surviving hell was just the first step.

SARAJEVO ROSES is a compelling documentary in progress told through the eyes and experiences of Dr. Asim Haracic, a Bosnian-American psychiatrist and musician who survived the Siege of Sarajevo and is now working to heal the victims of violence in his adopted home of Washington, D.C.

During the four-year siege of the Bosnian capital city of Sarajevo, hundreds of thousands of bombs fell from the surrounding hills. As each exploded, it left a crater in concrete resembling a flower. Citizens stoically painted these “pavement petals” red and called them Sarajevo roses. Some of the craters remain today. Like scars on the heart of the once all-embracing city, they are fading reminders of innocent blood that was spilled on these streets.

Outsiders always ask, “How could those mass executions, rapes, and ethnic cleansings happen in what was hailed as Communism’s most cosmopolitan city?” “How can you not see that it is possible anywhere,” Asim Haracic and other Sarajevo survivors reply. Asim has dedicated his life and his art to helping those traumatized by such violence and opening eyes and hearts of others so it may never happen again.

Dr. Asim Haracic was trained as a plastic surgeon, but as the century’s longest siege wore on, he found himself alternating between the frontlines of the besieged city and the emergency room at Kosevo hospital, patching up soldiers or saving Sarajevans cut down by shells and snipers. It was a life without hope, one marked by the day-to-day struggle for survival. But Bosnians are a resilient group, and they found solace in family, the gatherings of friends, the sharing music or even in the ironic recalling of stories about when there was food and electricity.

In 1995, Asim could no longer justify keeping his wife Elmira and their four-month-old son Armin in such danger. He sent them through the only escape route from Sarajevo, a tunnel dug under the tarmac of the airport, which was ringed by Radovan Karadzic's Bosnian Serb army. The Serbs shot at every movement but were never able to locate and eliminate the entrance. Mother and son crawled through the passageway, then trudged on foot, at night, over heavily mined Mount Igman, the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics biathlon event, eluding the troops that ringed the city. Asim stayed to provide what medical care he could, finally making his own trip through the tunnel, joining his family and moving to the USA as refugees.

The Haracic family rebuilt their shattered life in Washington, D.C., and their daughter Melissa was born. Asim no longer wanted to repair cosmetic wounds. He returned to medical school, studying psychiatry, so he could help heal deeper scars. He also began composing songs and putting music to poems by the famous Bosnian writer Semezdin Mehmedinovic. The art was part of his own internal process of healing the emotional toll of war.

When he reads the wartime journal of an American photojournalist he had befriended, it sends him on a journey of self-discovery. Both men carry similar scars, both are irrevocably changed from what they witnessed, and both are determined to give testimony, not in anger but as a warning.

It's been over 14 years, and another generation has grown up, since the Siege of Sarajevo ended. It is long enough for the gaping wounds to scab over, but the lessons and the experiences are still vivid.

Asim is at a point now in his life where he feels he must make a record for those who want to know what happened. He feels he needs to reopen the wounds of Bosnia, so his children, who are now old enough to ask, might some day understand. He is a reluctant witness, compelled out of a sense of duty to those who didn't make it or who are still so crippled they can't cope alone. He sees them in his dreams and in his practice, where Bosnian refugees show up for treatment but pretend they were not affected. He fears he will forget. He feels he must tell the story while his images and language are still powerful enough to convey what happened to those who were not there. He must do justice to those who gave so much for the social experiment that was Sarajevo.

SARAJEVO ROSES will do more than show how a sophisticated 20th century city that hosted the 1984 Winter Olympic Games only eight years later became a symbol of man’s brutality toward his neighbor. It will serve warning that morality is a thin veneer, easily eroded by prejudice, mob mentality and manipulation. This film is a meditation on how quickly civilization can be destroyed when the right, or wrong, conditions are created. It also will explore the concept of memory, both personal and collective, and how distorted history and memory can be passed down through generations and used to justify extremism and destroying ‘the other.’ It also will show that in the depth of such depravity, humanity can not only survive but thrive, Those Sarajevo roses were not just ironic but became iconic. Love flourished and life became so much more vibrant when a trip for water involved evading snipers and mortar shells.

At its heart, SARAJEVO ROSES is about one man’s search for inner peace after experiencing the horrors of war, and a personal testimony to his descendants in the hope that they will come to understand that love and living fully in the present is the best thing we can hope for as human beings. It is poignant, not only to those who have survived Sarajevo, but also to the men and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and those here who can’t fathom how average Americans could participate in Abu Ghraib-type behaviors.

Filmmaker/photographer Roger M. Richards in 1992 began documenting the siege of Sarajevo during the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia. His work chronicled the entire war and the city’s transition to peace over the span of 18 years. During the war his path crossed with Dr. Asim Haracic several times, but they never met until peacetime.
A link to his website about the film...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hope Fades for Lost Children of Bosnia’s War

Hope Fades for Lost Children of Bosnia’s War

Original story posted by Balkan inisight, I found this article to be powerful and must be shared...

More than a thousand children are listed as missing from Bosnia’s 1992-5 war – almost certainly lying in unknown graves – and with each year that passes, hopes fades of discovering their remains.
Aida Mia Alic
In July 1995, Dzemka Pasic left her home with bag in her hands and memories of her life in Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia.

She went to the UN base in Potocari with the other fleeing people from the town in a long column, while her teenage sons went with other men through the woods, hoping to save themselves from the incoming Bosnian Serb army under General Ratko Mladic.

Behind her in the town, she left behind all that she had. In the woods was what she loved the most, her two sons, Muhamed and Muamer.

“The first was born in 1976, and the second in 1978. I parted with them at the gas station,” she said.

“They went and left and I went to Potocari. As the youngest son left…he peeped back at me... They were still children… I have not found them yet, nor have I heard anything about them,” she added.

Muhamed and Muamer Pasic are two just two of the names kept in the records of missing citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with the names of more than 1,000 children that have never been found.

There is still no official and complete information on the number of children who were murdered or who went missing, presumably murdered, in Bosnia’s 1992-5 war.

Bosnia’s Institute for Missing Persons, INO, says each day it gets less and less information on possible potential mass graves. They are concerned that some children will never be found.

Even babies died:

According to the Sarajevo-based Research and Documentation Centre, IDC, 3,372 children were killed or went missing in the war, mostly in the areas of Srebrenica and Sarajevo.

Most were between 15 and 18 but some were newborn babies, only 48 hours old.

“I cannot give their complete names - they are filed as a ‘baby’ or as ‘baby Kurspahic’ in the records because their parents did not have time to give him or her a name,” Amor Masovic, a director of the Institute for Missing Persons, said.

According to the Medjasi Children’s Embassy, there are few locations in Bosnia where children were not victims of war.

“Not only were children killed in the most brutal way but even kindergartens and schools were used for war crimes. Schools were the scenes where children were murdered,” Dusko Tomic, the Secretary General of the Children’s Embassy, said.

War crimes committed against children in Bosnia are mentioned in about 30 local and international court verdicts, mostly involving cases of rape and detention of civilians in buildings such as former schools, community centres and sports halls.

The highest number of verdicts involving juveniles as war crime victims relate to crimes committed in Srebrenica, Kalinovik, Sarajevo and Vlasenica. Tomic says insufficient attention is paid to child victims of war.

“Verdicts for children are scarcely taken into account because many children [victims] were registered under the [names of adult] other victims,” Tomic said.

“Many crimes against them have not yet been discovered.”

The Prosecution Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina says the suffering of children is included in various indictments. With the information obtained with the help of the Children's Embassy they have begun verifying data in the hope of tracking down the perpetrators, they say.

The apparent deaths of the two sons of Dzemka Pasic from Srebrenica are among those unexplored crimes.

Wounded for life:

Other child victims of the Bosnian war were not killed but were wounded, or raped.

Neira Tahto was wounded aged seven in 1992 near the schoolhouse in Kovaci, in Sarajevo’s old town, by a bomb that killer her aunt.

“I’d gone with my aunt to the doctor because I had a cold but when we were near the clinic a grenade fell on the school,” she recalled. “One piece of shrapnel hit my aunt on the forehead and two of them hit my leg.”

Almost 19 years on, Tahto says the event has left a lasting mark on her and her family.

“I remember that event every day because I live still nearby and walk near that place every day,” she said.

“I wasn’t aware of the gravity of the situation when it happened. It was only later that I understood how this tragedy had affected my loved ones, and of course, myself.”

According to the IDC, during the siege of Sarajevo more than 14,000 people were killed, including over 600 children, but many more were injured.

So far, the Hague Tribunal, the ICTY, has sentenced two former commanders of the Sarajevo Romanija Corps, SRK, of the Army of Republic of Srpska, VRS, Stanislav Galic and Dragomir Milosevic.

They received life imprisonment and 29 years’ jail respectively for crimes that inflicted suffering on civilians, including children, in Sarajevo.

Psychologists say that crimes inflicted on children leave deep scars.

Jasna Bajraktarevic, a psychologist, says that unlike grown persons, who have more developed defence mechanisms, children perceive such events in a specific way.

“It is difficult for children to separate the crimes that occurred to them from their own personality. A loss of identity and sense of guilt springs from a sense that they themselves provoked what happened to them,” Bajraktarevic said.

This applies especially to children who were victims of torture, or who were mentally, physically and sexually abused.

According to the verdicts of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a number of girls were detained in various facilities in the town of Foca, in eastern Bosnia, where they were raped and held as sex slaves. Some were as young as 12.

Protected witnesses who testified before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina about crimes committed in Foca said that some Bosnian Serb soldiers had boasted of taking girls’ virginity.

So far, seven persons have faced trial before the Hague Tribunal and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for rape and for keeping young women and girls as sex slaves.

They were sentenced to a total of 153 years in prison. Only one pleaded guilty.

Bajraktarevic says that in sexual and physical abuse cases, victims often take on more responsibility than the perpetrators of the crimes.

“In cases of sexual and physical abuse, the victims often take on a lot more responsibility [for the crime] than the perpetrator, which disturbs the development of their personalities,” she said.

Hope fades:

Of the total number of missing children to date, Amor Masovic explained, only one has been deleted recently from the record after it was discovered that it had survived.

The others names have been deleted from the missing children’s list after their bodies were located in mass graves.

However, Masovic said that the Institute for Missing Persons receives less and less information these days about potential grave sites. There is a growing fear that many children will never be found.

“In some cases, conscience prevails and people are willing to disclose information about a mass grave and thus help is given,” Masovic said.

“They don’t do this to help us, and maybe in the first place not even to help the family searching for a lost relative, but to help themselves and release a terrible burden and a terrible secret,” Masovic added.

Dzemka Pasic still hopes to find the remains of her two sons, so that they can be buried in Potocari among other victims of the Srebrenica massacre.

“I imagine how old they would have been now, and how I would have grandchildren by now,” she said.

“I had just two of them and I am all alone now,” she added. “God willing they will be found one day... but there is nothing yet.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Iron Maiden's Eddy and the Bosnian army finding art during wartime

This is one reason why I find the Bosnian army patches so interesting, it's the reflection of pop art, culture, music and history reflected in the war time insignia. I had never heard of a army using a image from Iron Maiden in there units identifying insignia. You can see some similar imagery in the Croatian HV using Chicago Bulls symbol and both the ARBiH and HV used the ghost busters in their units insignia. I find it very interesting and unique these images of popular culture used in war. Its one reason why I am trying to put together a compilation of these images from the Bosnian army.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bosnia's NBA draft prospects the best crop in years?

Bojan Bogdanovic 6'8" 1989 SG/SF from Mostar plays for Croatian national team but is a Bosnian Croat who grew up in Mostar and played his first games professionally in BiH. He had a great youth career before stalling in his development for a few years. He had a breakout year this year with the famous Cibona Zagreb which featured his vast shooting abilities.He scored over 18ppg shot over 30% from 3 and 80% from the free throw line and showed a quality eye when it comes to passing averaging 2.5 assists per game.
Depending on how deep the draft is he may sneak into the end of the first round but for sure should make it into the second. It is too bad he decided to turn his back on his mother country for his adopted country like so many others.
Adnan Hodzic 6'9" 1988 PF Averaged over 17ppg and 7rbpg in the NCAA and had breakout year last year when he led his little university to an upset over Indiana. He didn't get an invite to the Portsmouth invitational tournament surprisingly. He should make a summer league team this summer with a chance to go to the NBDL but I am sure there will be more lucrative offers waiting for him in Europe.
One more player of note is Nikola Vucevic from USC his dad was a big time player on the those great KK BOSNA teams of the late 1970's and early 1980's...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

KINOFIL a troubling look at postwar Bosnia and how it deals with unwanted dogs

I never really took note of stray dogs in all my time spent in Bosnia. I know that has changed after watching Damir Janecek's movie KINOFIL. A jarring look at the realities of the life of domestic animals in post war Bosnia. During the war many people were unable to feed themselves and their families let alone household pets, many owners fled with little to no belongings and 10,000 others were killed in the Siege of Sarajevo, often turning their pets over to the streets. The cruelty of war is one of the spectrum's that you see the images of this film, the scenes of dogs murdered and left in the streets reminded me very much of the streets of Brcko were police hunted down Bosniaks and Croats in the streets and murdered them point blank. Or Arkan's killers in Eastern Bosnia in 1992, that Ron Haviv's camera had captured so chillingly. There is no doubt that the cruelty which was unleashed in the Bosnian war contributed to the cruelty shown these beautiful, loving, innocent creatures.
There is also the dimension of many of the cosmopolitan citizens of Sarajevo have been replaced with those used to a more rural way of living, were slaughtering a lamb on a street in front of children wouldn't raise an eyebrow. Many of my Sarajevan friends lament the loss of the city people who fled before, during or after the war. Many times we have heard the phrase "brain drain" in association with the aftermath of war. What we don't often here is culture drain and the loss of civility and empathy because of the breakdown in social structures and stress related to war time trauma.
This film is not only about the animal cruelty but also the larger picture of post war problems in BiH. St. Francis of Assisi said it best "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. " There is no doubt that these issues of war, crimes and punishment and post war reconstruction of the Bosnian civil society is not mutually exclusive of the treatment of animals...
This documentary is a must see for anyone interested Bosnia, Dogs and the general human condition. I remember being shocked along with most of the world when a YouTube video surfaced of a young girl in Bosnia tossing puppies into a raging river, this film gave me some context to that issue and to so much more of post war BiH...

 A couple of links to the film...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Look Into the Divided School System in Bosnia and Herzegovina

A interview republished from the BAACBH...

Interview with Dr. Valery Perry : A Look Into the Divided School System in Bosnia and Herzegovina
1.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, what is your background, where did you go to school and what do you currently do?

I am originally from Buffalo, NY; I received my bachelor's degree in political science and Russian Studies from the University of Rochester, my Master's degree from Indiana University and my PhD from the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. My dissertation focused on democratization strategies used in post Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and my first trip to BiH was in 1997 where I was involved in election monitoring and supervision.

I had the opportunity to come to BiH twice in 1997 to monitor elections - an experience that was useful and eye-opening, especially just two years after the war. It was very interesting to see how reconstruction was going, and it helped me to make the decision to focus on BiH and explore the lessons we could learn about post-war and divided societies.

When I returned to BiH in 1999 to do research, I ended up staying and have been here ever since. Currently, I am working with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission as the BiH Deputy Director of Programs within the Human Dimension Department which works in a number of areas including: human rights, governance, the rule of law and education. I have been in this position for over one year and prior to this I worked for 5 years on other issues, including education reform in BiH.

2.  Please give us a background of the two-schools under one roof issue and tell our readers what work you have done in regards to BiH's two schools under one roof system. Lastly, how many schools in BiH operate under the two-schools under one roof system?

It is unfortunate that there are still around 50 - 60 "two in one" schools in BiH; it is even more unfortunate that the situation with two-in-ones has not changed or improved since 2005 even though several schools in the cities of Zenica, Doboj and (Mostar Gymnasium earlier on) were administratively and legally unified. However, taking the broader view, these schools represent a very small number of the total number of schools in the country.  Around 1,000 schools in BiH have some sort of discrimination and segregation. As disturbing as they are, I believe that the two-in-ones are just a symptom of a broader problem.

For example, where there is minority return, there tends to be a Main School which serves as a school for the students that are in the majority; however, the Branch schools, which often do not have adequate facilities, tend to be the ones that serve the returnee population. Thus, returnee children do not always have the same access to libraries or technical equipment or other main school resources.

With the exception of schools in the Brcko District, each of BiH's schools has a distinct ethnic "flavor" within its curriculum and school environment. For example, different curricula are used in the Republika Srpska (RS), Bosniak majority areas of the Federation of BiH, and Croat majority areas. What this means is that if you are not in the "majority" in most of these schools, the school symbols, textbooks and activities are aimed at someone else other than you. The education system in BiH is therefore not equipped to serve all students - all young citizens - in an equal and accessible way.

As a result there is a situation in which a student who is of a "minority" group may go to a main school, quietly learning as an "other" as opposed to being and feeling included. Or, in many instances, a student may live very close to a school but take the bus every day in order to attend a school where he or she will not be in the minority population. It is only in Brcko that systematically integrated Brcko District curriculum is used and where there are more integrated schools. For example, Brcko students have schools that fly the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina and display notices in both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. This is very hard to find in the rest of the country - especially in Republika Srpska (RS) and in Croat majority areas. However, though the Brcko system is better, it is not perfect. A weakness of the Brcko model is that there are three sets of textbooks being used: Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian, according to a student's choice, and this can be challenging for teachers when creating lessons for the students. However, the District represents a genuine attempt to make at least the constituent peoples feel included and integrated, and there are initiatives for developing a harmonized textbook published in three languages, which would be another interesting effort to meet the needs of all students in an inclusive and open-minded way.

Once again, these are all just symptoms of a broader issue. For example, when two schools under one roof were formed, before and in 2000, the original concept was of providing free access to education for all students in some very difficult return areas. For example, in certain communities that had returnee students, the children were being physically prevented from using the existing school facilities, and had to resort to attended classes in private houses and inadequate premises. Therefore, at the beginning it was important to bring all students together as the first of a number of incremental steps forward. The two-in-one approach was meant to be an interim measure only. I suspect that few people expected that this specific type and other forms of division in the school system - including the construction of separate buildings to separate children on the basis of ethnicity - would still exist across the country in 2011.

The OSCE Mission to BiH has been implementing a number of activities at the school level in order to bring students and school communities closer. Our Mission is constantly working in accordance with the fundamental principle underlying the OSCE's Helsinki Final Act; that there can be no true security without a commitment to democracy and human rights. Addressing the root causes of discrimination and segregation is therefore essential for preventing future conflict and for promoting co-existence and sustainable peace, and the value of rights within society. However we do not have an executive mandate, which means that we cannot force solutions; we can work for civil society and provide support, we advocate and remind responsible authorities about their commitments, but we cannot impose anything.

3.  What do you think are the dangers of the two-schools under one roof system? What have you experienced on the ground when it comes to this issue?

The two schools under one roof is a symbol of the broader dangers of the country as a whole. In my opinion, the problems of having schools countrywide that cater to one constituent people only are many. For example, young people are not growing up with a sense of a shared vision of the future, and instead are inundated with explicit and implicit messages that division is necessary and normal.

Ultimately, a system based on ethnically-oriented schools will have a negative impact on economic mobility. There are going to be more multinational companies opening up in BiH, giving young professionals more opportunities. For example, a bank manager that is working in the city of Banja Luka which is in the RS may receive an opportunity to transfer to a better paying job in Mostar which is in the Federation - this is a normal way of doing business and investing in and cultivating talent. However, will that person have to consider the opportunity in light of whether or not he or she would feel comfortable taking their children along to the new location? Will they feel comfortable having their kids go to a different school, where they might exist as a minority or second class citizen? The country will eventually have to come to terms with this.

Finally, the quality of education for all citizens is a difficult agenda item to move forward. As long as ethno-national concerns dominate the agenda, only few seem to be looking at the quality of education, in spite of the fact that when you speak to parents they repeatedly note that the economy and education are the most important issues in BiH.  A recent World Bank Report suggests that illiteracy rates are now higher in BiH than in Albania.

4.  Are different schools teaching different subjects depending on the ethnicity of the students? For example, do the different ethnic groups have different history books?

The BiH education system has what is called a National Group of Subjects which are most related to identity such as history, language, music, geography and religion. These subjects tend to emphasize difference rather than cohesion, and the benefits of differences. In terms of history books, the curricula are different. There is the Croatian language curriculum, the RS curriculum in the Serbian language, and the Federation curriculum. In other words, all three constituent peoples have their own sets of textbooks, including their own history, geography and other subjects. OSCE findings show that things have gotten better for the history textbooks, but there is still much room for improvement. For example, the new improved textbooks are not used as broadly as would be needed to create positive change and OSCE staff is analyzing a number of interesting expert studies that will look at language, literature, nature and society textbooks and examine how they differ from one constituent people to another.

Diversity is something that should be embraced rather than feared and avoided - especially in a society that wants to join an increasingly diverse Europe.  Unfortunately textbooks are created along monoethnic lines that tend to divide students. Moreover, while there is a moratorium that has been placed on teaching students about the recent war and the curricula reflect that moratorium, many schools do take kids to visit battle sites and or cemeteries, and organize specific history lessons within the school. This is against an agreement made by the country's Ministries of Education, and unfortunately tends to be done in a way that is one-sided and provides little to no context. The concept of multiperspectivity in studying history can help to dispel the notion that history consists of any one "truth." Instead critical analysis and understanding of the materials and multiple sources can foster a deeper understanding of the arc of history. For example, in the case of the United States, one can look at the history of U.S. from the perspective of pilgrims, the Native Americans or another group of settlers, however there is no one single truth, and the curriculum is devised in a way that provides different perspectives and forces students to think. History is more than memorizing a lot of facts; it takes a lot of critical thinking and questioning.

As an additional complication, parents and students have the right to religious instruction in public schools. However, an alternative subject for those opting out of such instruction is not always satisfactory, and there is often social pressure on children to take religious classes. Alarmingly, such a situation creates an "us" versus "them", or an "in" and "out" group mentality which further alienates the minority students. On a positive note, all secondary schools and some primary schools in Sarajevo, Zenica, Tuzla, Gorazde and Brcko offer history/culture of religions courses that give the students an opportunity to learn about other religions so that they don't grow up fearing something that is different than them. In the RS this culture of religions approach is integrated in the human rights and democracy curriculum in secondary schools.

How else could the situation improve? One suggestion is to have a state level framework of outcome-based standards and competencies that could be implemented at the local level - thereby ensuring that young people are leaving various stages of schooling with a more cohesive set of educational skills and abilities that will help them function in the 21st century.

Another challenge that the BiH educational system faces is that teacher training institutions are underfunded and (as is the case in many countries), teaching as a profession is not always properly recognized within the society; therefore quite often the best students do not want to become teachers.

Lastly, one positive example is the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in Mostar, Sarajevo and Banja Luka which is described as a "rigorous, off-the-shelf curriculum recognized by universities around the world", and some lucky parents can send their children to these schools. Unfortunately, most parents who do not live in those areas do not have that option.

5.  What major differences do you see between the students who attend all inclusive schools as opposed to students who attend the divided schools?

One of the biggest differences that our staff has noticed is that administratively unified two-in-one schools, that share institutions such as a school director, and certain facilities such as gymnasiums, seem to create a much more open environment where students were able to break down some of these barriers and misconceptions about one another.

I have visited a number of schools as a part of Mission-sponsored workshops aimed at both teaching cultural tolerance, and an appreciation for diversity, as well as providing students with practical skills, such as project management and leadership. The Mission also organizes workshops where we bring two or three schools together from different areas. For example, we conducted training in the town of Gornji Vakuf/Uskoplje where both Bosniak and Croat students participated. By the end of the training it was difficult if not impossible to tell which students went to which schools. During some of the exercises, rather than seeing simple ethno-national divides, the students parted on various other issues such as sports or gay rights or women's equality. Similarly, in a workshop bringing together youth from Srebrenik and Orasje, most students defined themselves by talking about their hobbies, experiences and hopes for the future instead of focusing on immutable ethno-national identities. All in all, the students were more open minded than the leading political elites, and open to learning and learning together.

6.  What reforms are needed in order to eliminate this kind of a school system, and do you feel that the citizens of BiH want this system reformed?

Even if two schools under one roof disappeared tomorrow a lot of challenges would remain. The Mission supports reforms that will progressively reduce the differences that separate students and create a feeling of divided citizenship. Ideally, schools should be progressively integrated so that they are accessible to all of the country's citizens, and make everyone feel welcome. There is a need for political will to implement such reforms, and a strong outcome-based curriculum and standards at the state level so that people can move more freely, get an education, feel welcome, and have the necessary means to graduate. Some people might say that you need constitutional reform to do it, but this is not necessarily the case. The Ministries of Education could simply implement commitments they have already undertaken, and make sure that schools become inclusive and integrated so that no one feels left out.
Brcko is a great example, and the constituents of Brcko are surprised to see how divided the school systems are in the RS and the Federation.

7.   What can the international community do to help?

The international community can facilitate change by reminding decision makers that segregated communities in BiH are a catalyst for future instability. The Mission and its partners can bring in experts and good practice example to show how teaching history is done in the rest of Europe. We can bring teachers together so they can learn more modern teaching methods that put an emphasis on critical thinking and move away from memorization. For example, our Mission supports the Campaign for Righteous Education that has been spearheaded by Save the Children, UNICEF and Open Society Fund, pushing for a more progressive, fair, citizen-focused quality education that would be in the best interest for all citizens of the country.

A lot of organizations are providing support to parent and student councils in order to    
help them effectively work, organize meetings, and  fundraise. Furthermore, at the school and community level the OSCE supports an initiative called "the Index for Inclusion" -  a tool which helps schools to identify the extent to which their policies, culture and practice, are inclusive for and of all members of the school community, and to plan their further reform. What is truly necessary is the recommitment of political will ensuring that schools exist for all young citizens and not just one group.        

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chicago Festival of Bosnian Film 2011

Most people don't realize the immense treasure that is Bosnian films from such luminaries as Emir Kusturica (even though he has turned his back on his Sarajevo and Bosnian roots), Oscar winner Danis Tanovic, Jasmila Zbanic, Namik Kabil and so many others.
This film festival celebrates the rich culture and history that is Bosnian film.

Chicago Festival of Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film 2011

April 22 - 24, 2011

Loyola University Chicago
Sullivan Center
6339 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660

Chicago Festival of Bosnian-Herzegovinian film is the premiere resource on film and video from Bosnia-Herzegovina and South Eastern Europe in the Midwestern United States.
The aims of our festival are:
  • To show new films by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s emerging directors and revive a few classics unknown to the American audiences
  • To provide a forum for discussion of the complexities of the contemporary Bosnian-Herzegovinian and South-East European identities, at home and in diasporas
  • To increase the visibility of the Chicago community of Bosnians and Herzegovinians, the largest in the United States
A link to the actual website...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Xavier Nuez my favorite artist and his slight connection to Bosnia and Sarajevo

Xavier Nuez is my favorite photographer. I have been a big fan of his work for years since he first did his series Alley's and Ruins. I have sent some of his photographs to friends in Bosnia as gifts, as I thought the Bosnian dark sense of humor and love of art would appreciate his work as much as I do. I talked to Xavier about his experiences and the war torn post war Bosnian landscape especially in Sarajevo post war. He was fascinated by the possibilities and said he had some friends going to visit BiH. He has now become a major artist to be noticed and I appreciate his dedication to his art form.

This is a recent article abotu Xavier Nuez from the New York Times....

New York Times veteran reporter, Corey Kilgannon became fascinated by Xavier Nuez’s daring body of work, Alleys & Ruins, after attending the opening reception of his solo show in New York City recently. Two days later, Kilgannon and Nuez were out exploring some of the area’s most run down corners after midnight, while Nuez searched within the acute urban decay for subjects to photograph. Photojournalist Robert Stolarik went along to document Nuez’s habits in the urban jungle.
               Even though they are dark, dangerous places where you are warned not to go, for Nuez, bleak urban settings are his inspiration and second home.  For 20 years, late at night he has ventured into some of the country’s most threatening corners, frequently leading to trouble. Whether it is an eerie alley in Compton, California, an inner-city ruin in Detroit, or a dead-end back-lot in Brooklyn, he wants to create monuments out of these shunned places.
               The journalists got a taste of what Nuez goes through to capture his images when cops caught the trio in the wrong place at the wrong time. “Some people visit New York City and photograph the typical tourist spots in gleaming Manhattan, not Nuez,” writes Kilgannon.
Nuez’s solo exhibit continues at the Condé Nast building, located at 4 Times Square in Manhattan, until April 18, 2011. The show features fifteen 32x40 and 44x55-inch Ultrachrome prints.
               “I’ve been chased by violent street gangs, accosted by crazed addicts and drug dealers, and have been held at gun point. And yet under these trying conditions, and within the filth and stench of the city’s gutters, I find inspiration. With a family history of homelessness and with a belief that I was next, I found the need to dignify what has been rejected,” says Nuez.
               Nuez shoots his photographs with a 50-year-old Hasselblad film camera. To capture the vivid colors in his images, he brings battery-powered lighting equipment and colored gels that are combined with long exposures - sometimes more than one-hour.
               Xavier Nuez’s photographs have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout North America, including the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art in California; the Attleboro Art Museum in Massachusetts; the Masur Museum of Art in Louisiana; and the Museum of the Living Artist at the San Diego Art Institute. His work is in numerous public, corporate and private collections, including those of the University of Richmond Museum in Virginia; the Norfolk Southern Collection; and the Vicente Fox Center Museum in Guanajuato, Mexico

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My boy is a super huge fan of Miralem Pjanic!

Funny that an American kid who is only two years old can become a fan of a Soccer player from Bosnia who plays in the French league. That is exactly what has happened because of my interest in Bosnia, the globalization of societies and YouTube. Dejan has become a fan of Pjanic watching YouTube videos running around the yard kicking the football chanting "Pjanic! Pjanic" just like the kids in BiH did to him! Diversity is something to celebrate as is our common humanity, a lesson my two year old sometimes reminds me of...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Third Annual Bosnian Women's Day on Capitol Hill today April 12th

Congrats to all the Bosnian women one this day of celebration! No single women or image reminds me more of the spirit of the modern Bosnian women than that of Inela Noglic and the Miss Sarajevo beauty contest. In the confusing times when the Western media was covering the Bosnian war the image of these beautiful modern women cut through all of the rhetoric of war and labels of "Muslims" "Bosniaks" "Bosnians" and so many other labels used to make Bosnians seem more aligned with Saudi Arabia than of Western Europe.
The Sarajevo beauty contest and it's winner Inela Noglic is the single most memorable image of the war of 1990's and the Siege of Sarajevo.

Congrats to all the women of Bosnia!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bosnia: Visit to Former Detention Camp Highlights Dispute

A visit by German students to the former Omarska detention camp in western Bosnia highlights an ongoing dispute over access to the site between former detainees and the company that bought the mining complex.
Eldin Hadzovic
On Monday, a group of 31 students from the Munich Academy for Social Pedagogy, led by their professor Manfred Patermann, will visit Omarska, the site of the most notorious detention camp established by Bosnian Serb authorities during the war in the 1990s.

The Hague Tribunal established that the prisoners of the camp were held under armed guard, in brutal conditions. They were murdered, raped, sexually assaulted, severely beaten and otherwise mistreated. Prosecutors compared Omarska and several other camps around Prijedor to those run by Nazis.

The goal of their school project, professor Patermann told Balkan Insight, is to present a country in the post-war period to students, who will learn about the social needs of the people living there and what help they need to rebuild their country.

While Patermann says that he requested access to the entire site of the former detention camp, the company that owns the complex has said they will only be permitted to visit the notorious ’White House’, described by the Hague Tribunal as a small building where particularly severe beatings were administered.

“It is impossible for us to let them inside the mine facilities, as we can’t interrupt the production for that,” Predrag Sorga, a PR officer at Indian firm AcelorMittal, which owns the coal mine complex, told Balkan Insight.

Satko Mujagic in Omarska 1992
Satko Mujagic in Omarska 1992
Former Omarska detainees say that AcelorMittal's decision to allow access to only one part of the former detention camp highlights the perennial dispute over access to the site and the delay in finding a solution to the establishment of the memorial centre there.

Sudbin Music, member of the Association of Prijedor Victims of war 'Prijedor 92’, who will join German students on Monday, told Balkan Insight that they fear that the response from the mine administration could be the same on May 9, when former detainees will mark Camp Prisoners' Day at Omarska.

Satko Mujagic, former camp prisoner at Omarska, said that detainees reached agreement with Roeland Baan, Mittal’s CEO for Europe, in January 2005, ensuring that access to the camp would be guaranteed for future visits.

Acelor Mittal also announced in December 2005 in Banja Luka that the ’White House’ would become a memorial, financed by the company.

“We also agreed that the ’White House’ would not be used by the company and kept in current state,” Mujagic said, adding that the ’White House’ has since been painted so traces of blood can no longer be seen.

“Nowadays,” Mujagic stressed, “There is still no memorial there and no access to other camp buildings.”

“We can’t visit the whole complex and can’t even take any photos,” Music said.

Pedrag Sorga, the PR officer at Acelor Mittal, said that the company had received the detainees' request for a commemoration on May 9, but no decision had yet been taken on access to the site.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia established that from May to August 1992, Serb forces which had seized power in Prijedor collected and confined more than 3,000 Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from the area in the administrative centre of an iron ore mine, a few kilometres from the predominantly Serb village of Omarska.

The Omarska camp housed many of the local Muslim and Croat elite, including political, administrative and religious leaders, academics and intellectuals, business leaders and others, who led and influenced the non-Serb population.
For other resources on Bosnia & Hercigovina please visit...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bosnian traditional food hearty and delicious

Bosnian food is hearty and delicious. The tomato salad with cheese and cucumbers, delicious bread and a hearty stew is out of this world. There are so many great restaurants in BiH to get a good meal. I will do some stories in the future about Bosnian restaurants...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mostar don't forget 1993 the Stari Most unites those who try to divide Bosnia

There is no more important Symbol to me than bridges and there is no more important symbol of what bridges do, bring people together than the Stari Most. Never forget 1993!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

2011 Bosnian basketball prospects top 10 young players under the age of 22

This is my list of the best young talent in Bosnian basketball

1) Adin Vrabac 6'8" 1994 Has risen to the top of prospect lists for Bosnia, he has been given an invite to the Senior national team.

2) Nihad Dedovic 6'5" 1990 Seasoned pro at the age of 20, his shot is a little off, his outside shooting is average and his has below average NBA athleticism. All that said he has some spectacular games in Italy and Euroleague.

3) Djordje Micic 6'6" 1993 He is the opposite of Dedovic, talented, athletic but his attitude and dedication can be questioned.

4) Mirza Bulic 6'8" 1992 played very well this year for Sloboda Dita Tuzla, the best team in BiH for producing talent.

5) Ali Demic 6'8" 1991 has size and range has yet to put it all together.

6) Ognjen Kuzmic 7'1" 1990 Came on strong this year, a late bloomer who should end up in a top European league.

7) Alen Omic 7'0" 1992 Another player stolen from Bosnia by the Slovenes. Plays big minutes as a 18 year old in a pretty good league.

8) Dejan Kravic 6'10" 1990 Dejan is a highly skilled big man who plays the game fundamentally sound. He should end up being a good European professional.

9) Miralem Halilovic 6'8" 1991 A skilled big man who can handle the ball and do a little bit of everything. He didn't play that much this year and lacks one outstanding skill. He is a bit like a poor mans Emir Preldzic who is a bit of a poor mans Dejan Bodiroga...

10) Dragan Sekelja 7'0" 1991 barely played this year for Baylor in the NCAA's needs to put on some weight and get into the gym.

Honorable mention: Dino Hodzic 6'3" 1990, Marko Ramljak 6'7" 1993, Ifran Hodzic 6'1" 1993, Nebojsa Andelic 6'6" 1991

Edo Muric, Rashid Mahlalbasic, Dino Muric, Mirza Sariljija, Armin Mazic, are all Bosniak prospects who play for other nations.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

zlatar sofic Sarajevo's most famous Jewler another Bosnian Gem

My favorite Jeweler in Bosnia is Fahrudin Sofic. They made all of the famous Bosnian army medals and one off's for distinguished dignitaries like Madeline Albright, Warren Christopher and Richard Holbrooke.
He has made amazing, timeless pieces that span the ages all kinds of unique designs. Really amazing one off designs.

Here is a link to his website...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Interesting house in Jajce Bosnia

I found this house in Jajce to be really interesting. It has some unusual charactaristics and charm. It is located just outside the castle in Jajce. Bosnia has so many pretty little towns and villages, there is so much to see and experiance in Bosnia.
Jajce is another little town I just adore in Bosnia.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Comment: Bosnia Cannot Disintegrate Without Violence

A reposting of a great article by Kurt Bassuener from Balkan insight

Those who maintain that the country can fall apart without serious interethnic conflict are peddling dangerous ideas.
Kurt Bassuener
Matthew Parish’s comment piece for Balkan Insight (“Croat Crisis Pushed Bosnia Toward Endgame,”) argues that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s structural and political dysfunction has entered a terminal phase due to “irreversible” international inattention, among other contributing factors.  His advice is that “the Serbs and Croats should be left to go their own ways,” leaving an “autonomous Bosniak territory” as a rump state.
The international role would shift from peace implementation and state preservation – “striving to keep alive a discredited vision,” as Parish put it – to managing “the ugly side effects” of the country’s dissolution, particularly regarding Brcko District, which would be appended to the Republika Srpska, and the still contested city of Mostar.

Parish’s chilling diagnosis of the situation is accurate, in that the determining factor has been effective disengagement of the international community in Bosnia since 2006.  Yet Parish’s prescription – the internationally managed dissolution of the state – would be a disastrous failure, as well as demanding far deeper and more risky international engagement than would be required to prevent state dissolution.
There is no way that the country could be divided in a consensual, nonviolent fashion.  A deceptively simplistic solution, it would create more problems than it would solve, further destabilize the region, and fuel nationalist politics in neighboring Serbia and Croatia.

Out of control:

The processes unleashed by separatist politicians in Bosnia for political gain show signs of creating dynamics beyond their ability to control. Wittingly or not, Parish’s argumentation parallels that of the Republika Srpska President, Milorad Dodik: Bosnia has no future and should be allowed peacefully to dissolve.
Of course, he is in the ideal position to ensure that the state cannot function, as Parish recognizes.  Dodik’s apparent assessment that the international community lacks the collective will to resist his ongoing effort to hollow-out the state has consistently proven prescient; the latest Peace Implementation Council, PIC, communiqué shows no consensus on even identifying that effort as a distinct problem.
Like Parish, Dodik seems to believe that there would be no significant resistance to state dissolution from within Bosnia and that those inclined to do so are too divided to pose much of an impediment. But this is an incredibly high-stakes gamble, and one that would put the survival of the Republika Srpska at stake.

Parish correctly identifies the partnership between Dodik and the leader of the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, Dragan Covic, in undercutting the state; a dysfunctional Federation entity both draws attention away from Dodik’s own campaign to gut the state and bolsters his argument, which is threadbare, that the Republika Srpska is “the better part” of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Covic also engaged in a high-stakes gamble over the composition of the Federation government last month, upped the ante instead of pocketing a sizeable pot of senior-level positions, and lost.  The HDZ rejects the legitimacy of the Federation government as formed by the coalition of the Social Democrats, SDP, the [Bosniak] Party of Democratic Action, SDA, Radom za Boljitak and the Croatian Party of Right, HSP, but then withdrew its case from the Federation Constitutional Court, apparently fearing that it would lose.

The level of interethnic tension in the Federation between Croats and Bosniaks is now higher than at any point since the stifled attempt to create a third entity in 2001.  But the concept of a third entity is fraught for the HDZ and its ally, HDZ 1990, since its putative borders would be far from clear, and unacceptable to the Bosniak majority in the Federation.
The Croat population is separated into at least three distinct areas; concentrating on Herzegovina and western Bosnia would mean leaving Croats in central Bosnia outside such an entity.  This was a problem during the war, and remains one for the very idea of a “Herceg-Bosna.”

When one looks at the map, it becomes evident that Brcko and Mostar are not the only potential flashpoints. Despite Parish’s contention that Bosniaks and Serbs “are no longer mixed together,” sizeable returnee communities of Bosniaks exist in the Republika Srpska in Srebrenica, Prijedor, and Bijeljina (Janja).
Aside from returnees, there are other localized concentrations of constituent peoples.  Serbs have majorities in four Federation municipalities: Drvar, Glamoc, Grahovo and Petrovac. And what of the Bosniak-majority area in the Una-Sana Canton? Dividing the country into “mono-ethnic Bantustans,” to use the term Parish employed, would not be a simple process, despite the success of ethnic cleansing during the war in changing the demographics. When he advocates international management of state dissolution, he effectively means that the international community should finish or supervise the incomplete project of ethnic cleansing during the war. Hence his critique of US-supported Bosniak refugee returns to Brcko as “problematic”: it gets in the way of connecting the two halves of Republika Srpska.
At least the former US ambassador William Montgomery, now a lobbyist for the Serbian nationalist Serbian Progressive Party, SNS, led by Tomislav Nikolic, was up-front about that detail when he advocated it two years ago.  This policy would carry direct risks for those tasked with implementing it: it is probable than many would violently resist an international community shifting from a mission of providing a “safe and secure environment” to facilitating their being re-cleansed.

Parish draws a parallel with Kosovo; Bosniaks will accept the bitter loss of the Republika Srpska, just as Serbs accepted the loss of the province of Kosovo, because “the increasing political autonomy of Serb and Croat parts of Bosnia makes no practical difference to them.”  Again, looking at the map, there is at least one major practical issue, even if the risky contention that “they will not fight” were true: this would separate the Bosniak-dominated area from the West and completely surround it.  This alone ought to make one question the likelihood of resisting the state’s division.

As I’ve heard many in the international community do, Parish cites the lack of popular enthusiasm for renewed conflict to support his contention that “widespread violence seems unlikely.” While it is indeed remarkable that there has been so little interethnic violence in such a traumatized and heavily armed society – I have never heard of a “revenge killing,” for example – it is dangerous to assume this portends a lack of threat.
It was not up to average citizens in 1992 when war was unleashed; most Bosnians who became combatants fought because they felt those who had initiated the conflict had left them with no options.  It was not that their being mixed together created “incentives to murder their neighbors,” as Parish puts it.  Instigators touched off mutual fear that made conflict seem inevitable.

There is no shortcut:

The greatest danger of Parish’s argument is that the international community, particularly an internally preoccupied European Union, will see his prescription as a convenient shortcut, and as part of a wider regional accommodation that includes Kosovo. The Republika Srpska will be allowed to leave as “compensation” for the independence of Kosovo.
International frustration with the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is evident; such off-the-shelf solutions like those proffered by Parish may well have an appeal in Brussels and EU capitals.  They surely reflect Russia’s desired policies.  The aura of inevitable state failure works for those who advocate the country’s partition.

But leaving aside the manifold moral issues involved in acting as midwife to the complete ethnic and territorial division of the country, there are massive practical hurdles.  Letting things fall apart without any real resistance, which has been the policy to date, holds risks of violence that even Parish acknowledges.
Aside from abandoning 15 years of attempts to reintegrate the region in line with “European values” and bolstering warlord politics at the expense of citizens, the ethnic disintegration of Bosnia would set in motion a regional process that could not be controlled, with every unfulfilled agenda pursued without restraint.  How about Sandzak or Macedonia?

Dividing the state under international tutelage would require a far greater investment of political capital, military resources, and money than restoring a credible deterrent and keeping the lid on – a policy for which there is apparently no appetite among the majority of EU countries. The default policy is one of bureaucratic autopilot: sticking with the enlargement checklist, recognizing no threat (a Stabilization and Association Agreement must surely confer stability), and calling for dialogue.  The fact that this policy is self-evidently failing has not dented its appeal.

New approach needed:

While the situation in Bosnia is increasingly volatile, its detonation is not inevitable; it can easily be prevented.   Maintaining international executive capacities for the foreseeable future in both the civilian [High Representative] and military [EUFOR] realms is essential.  Reconfiguration and reinvigoration of both is required to meet the challenges posed by the current situation.
In EUFOR’s case, this would mean returning to a deterrent posture and fielding operational deployments of company strength in both the potential flashpoints that Parish noted, Brcko and Mostar. This would require augmenting the ever-shrinking EUFOR. However, doing so would require at least an implicit acknowledgement that the current policy has failed, and there has been no appetite in Brussels and most EU capitals to do so.
Nor has the United States led the growing camp of skeptics in the Peace Implementation Council with an alternative approach.  The default policy is to resist outright capitulation, but constantly retreat, watching the EU fail from the sidelines.

So, the slide toward the precipice continues.  The bureaucrats who have designed the current failed policy are loath to accept the need to rethink and shift policy, as that would admit failure to the narrow but growing audience of their peers and question the EU’s abilities to handle a still nebulous transition.
But continuing the current course will ultimately force their political masters to accept responsibility for an impossible-to-ignore catastrophic failure before their electorates. They will rightly ask “Bosnia?  That’s so ‘90s!  We thought you’d solved that.  How did you blow it again?”

A failure in Bosnia would be a Western failure, with a negative impact on all the Western members of the Peace Implementation Council.
The EU would take the most devastating hit; it would find itself in loco parentis indefinitely over what would amount to a three-way Cyprus on the European continent.  Dayton Bosnia is seen as a “made in America” product, so while the US is further outside the blast radius, it would not emerge unscathed.  Turkey would draw its own dark conclusions about the reasons the country was allowed to fall apart and the credibility of its Western partners, and would formulate its policies – in Bosnia and beyond – accordingly.

Progress is possible in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but only once the existential fears of insecurity are eliminated. The perennial top priority for citizens is economic and social security; their unaccountable political elites continue to not deliver due to their ability to leverage patronage and fear.  Politicians’ patronage capability is reduced by fiscal crisis, but fear has been allowed to become more salient due to irresponsible international policy.

Only the US can catalyze the necessary policy shift in the PIC.  With one of the main actors responsible for the current US policy, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, leaving his post for academia, now is the time to devise a new approach.

Kurt Bassuener is a Senior Associate of the Democratization Policy Council based in Sarajevo. Balkan Insight is BIRN's online publication.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Josip Broz Tito museum in Jajce Bosnia

If I remember correctly the building on the right is a Tito museum that has some artifacts from Tito and his rule in Yugoslavia. It is a sad display however, the building is in poor condition and the artifacts are sparse and not really memorable. It is staffed by some old relics of brotherhood and unity era of yesterday and just like the museum seem to have seen better days.