Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Letters to the Celestial Serbs Bosnian war Siege of Sarajevo book review

I just read this book and it was excellent and eloquently written. A great read of a collection of short columns he has wrote.

Letters to the Celestial Serbs

Gojko Berić

Introduction by Ivan Lovrenović

As a columnist for Oslobodenj (Sarajevo’s acclaimed daily newspaper), Gojko Berić gained an international reputation for his grimly ironic yet passionate writing from the city under siege. Since then, as this eloquent selection of his recent writing demonstrates, he has continued to cast an unsparing gaze on the miseries and hypocrisies besetting postwar Bosnia, as well as its Croatian and Serbian neighbours. Mingling recollections of his country’s bitter past with comments on its bitter present, Letters to the Celestial Serbs contains many of the most memorable pages ever penned on wartime and postwar Bosnia, of which his extended essay on the historical role of Alija Izetbegović is exemplary.
Compelled by events – and Western policy – to confront the question ‘Am I a Serb?’, Berić never doubted that the real issues in Bosnia were political and ethical, not ‘ethnic’.
‘All these years, Serb nationalists have been sending me insulting letters: Will I ever stop saying that the Serbs are to blame for the war, stop talking about Serbian fascism and Serb atrocities? No, I won’t.’

About the Author(s)

Gojko Beric is one of Bosnia-Herzegovina's best-known commentators. In 1991 he became the first political columnist to be awarded the prestigious 6 April Prize, commemorating Sarajevo's 1945 liberation, and was voted Journalist of the Year by the Journalists' Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. Beric's wartime and post-war reports have been syndicated to newspapers worldwide. He has been published in Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, Sweden and Poland.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bosnia remembers former Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic

Since tomorrow is the 10 anniversary of assassination of the former Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, citizens of Travnik also remembered him, specially his school colleagues since he went to primary and secondary school in that Bosnian town. Mirsad Ibrisimbegovic said Djindjic was different from the others, very intelligent, use to read a lot and had the energy to change his society.

Ten years ago today, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated by a sniper at the entrance of the cabinet office in Belgrade, marking a tremendous blow to the fledgling process of democratization in Serbia. While the conspirators, including the sniper, were condemned in a court of law and are serving long prison sentences, the identity of those who ordered his killing remains unknown.
The story of Djindjic — a modern, pro-European, democratic leader and statesman — is emblematic of Europe’s post-communist transitions. He became a politician after having pursued a successful academic career as political philosopher. Returning to Serbia from Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he helped found the Democratic Party (DS) and became its leader in 1992. Vehemently opposed to Slobodan Milosevic’s regime during the period of Yugoslavia’s bloody civil war, he eventually won a peaceful election in 2000. He was the chief architect of a victory in which political parties, civil society, a democratic media, and — notably — the student movement Otpor all played key roles.
The Western Balkan states — the former Yugoslavia and Albania — were latecomers to the process of EU and NATO enlargement during the 1990s. For two years after taking office in 2001, Djindjic lost no time in launching a massive privatization effort, knowing that Serbia had to leave behind its statist command economy model as quickly as possible in order to attract foreign investment. He also assumed the reins of the political democratization process. Djindjic was keenly aware of the burden of the communist legacy on Western Balkan society. A collectivist spirit still overrode any sense of individualism. Paternalistic, authoritarian mindsets needed to be overturned. And a democratic political culture had to be progressively instilled through the reform of the state, its security services, and the military. Modernization, he understood, would be a Sisyphean task.
Djindjic moved boldly. Arresting Milosevic and sending him to the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was a demonstration of his willingness to confront the most difficult issues head-on. Most importantly, in February 2003, Djindjic decided to tackle the urgent problem of a resolution to the Kosovo issue. He was fully aware that if left unresolved, Kosovo would become a millstone around Serbia’s neck on its path to democracy and European integration. But his efforts were cut short by his tragic death.
A decade later, Serbia finds itself exactly where Djindjic wanted it to be at the end of 2003, showing the extent to which his assassination slowed Serbia’s democratic reforms. It was only in 2008, with the election of a Democratic Party government under President Boris Tadic, that Serbia once again began to move forward more forcefully. Under Tadic’s leadership, the last of the 40-odd Serbs indicted by the ICTY — including Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic — were arrested. Just as importantly, talks were launched in 2011 between Belgrade and Pristina to begin resolving the Kosovo issue. Facilitated by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, the talks have brought the two sides to the cusp of a historical compromise, one that would allow both to move forward on the path to EU integration. Despite its current travails, it appears the EU’s soft power is very much alive and active in the Western Balkans.
Zoran Djindjic, Serbia’s first democratically elected prime minister, was violently taken away from his family and his country ten years ago. But his vision of a democratic and European Serbia — and of a Balkan region within the EU — lives on. There could be no better testament to his legacy than for the region’s countries to maintain the momentum of integration by continuing to pursue reform policies, and for the EU to continue supporting these efforts.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bosnia and Herzigovina independence celebration with Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic



Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic was in Chicago to celebrate Bosnian independence with the expat community and to honor some guests who have helped Bosnia over the years. It was also a celebration of International Womans day, a under celebrated holiday for some reason in the US. It was great celebration that I had the honor to be a part of. Here is my speech...

First I would like to thank the President Zeljko Komsic for this great honor. Next I would like to thank Suad and the B&H Club for this wonderful invitation. I am humbled and honored to share the stage with these distinguished gentlemen. I want to thank everyone for coming tonight.

Bosnia and Herzigovina, the country has been reduced to one word. If you mention Bosnia to someone outside of the country, they most often think of war. The first thoughts I have are of the magical time of the Sarajevo Olympics, Tito and Brotherhood and Unity.  Bosnia to me means a cultural tradition of building bridges best represented by the Stari-Most. We have a saying in our home “Build the Stari-Most, not the Berlin Wall” Building connections across ethnic, religious and cultural divides is why Bosnia is so special to me.

The second thought that goes through my mind is the saying “NEVER AGAIN!” Never again will we allow the horrors of WWII to be brought upon the earth, especially in Europe “NEVER AGAIN!” Yet, in the year 1992 here we were again. When Bosnia cried out “NEVER AGAIN” and waited for a response, the world turned its backs on them. I asked myself “WHY?” Why is this happening again, live and in color at the end of the 20th century when we were supposed to move beyond this in our human development? These were blonde-haired, blue-eyed Europeans, couldn’t we have looked into the mirror and said “ENOUGH!” Stop this slaughter! The world responded by sending spoiled food, spoiled medicines and spoiled peacekeepers who were neither capable of keeping the peace nor protecting themselves, let alone an unarmed Bosnian populace. Why was the world silent in a deafening wave of human destruction that you could see every day? I believe if it was “Muslims” slaughtering “Christians” the war would have never been allowed to begin.

Bosnia is so much more than an adjective for war. Bosnia, the people, the beautiful land it occupies and Bosnia the ideal are all things that I cherish more than the air that I breathe. Why? Why would an American have such strong feelings towards a place so far away from home? People that visit and even people that come from Bosnia, fall into two camps. You love Bosnia or you hate it, there are few that have feelings that fall in between. Bosnia being at the epicenter of so much history, culture and traditions is both a blessing and a curse. Bosnia has witnessed some of the most memorable events of the 20th century. Let us not forget the history, the false idea that “they have been fighting for centuries. Starting with the Bogomils, Bosnia has been a symbol of peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.  The most obvious example is the The Ahdnama of Faith, oldest Human Rights Declaration in history, written in 1463 which states:


Let’s not forget this uniquely Bosnian tradition, which brought the Sarajevo Hagaddah to its final resting place. How did a Jewish manuscript of immeasurable value end up in Sarajevo in the first place? That is an easy answer, because the Jews of Europe, threatened with torture and extinction found a safe place where they could co-exist, the Muslim Bosnia, escaping their Christian torturers. That is Bosnia the ideal, not only an ideal but a tradition of tolerance, peaceful existence and mutual understanding where friendship and love can bloom and history be rewritten.

Bosnia the land is the easiest to explain, the natural beauty of the water that springs from the side of mountains and rivers that sparkle emerald green. From the lush hills and deep river valleys and mountains, there are few other beauties in the world like Bosnia. Towns like Jajce, Pocitelj, Trebenje, Sarajevo, Stolac, Mostar and too many others to mention. I remember seeing a poster on Zeljo Stadium about 10 years ago proclaiming “What is more beautiful Bosnia or her people?” I am still trying to decide. There is the natural beauty of Bosnia and there is the beauty of traditions, the call of the mosque, the Stari Most Bridge, the Olympics, Sarajevo’s town hall, Bascarsija and so many others.

It is fitting that these are the people that occupy the heart shaped country in the heart of Europe. I could tell you a hundred stories of the immeasurable kindness Bosnians have shown me both here and in Bosnia. The hospitality, the friendships, the closeness that I feel; its love. Love not because I was born with the same mother, or father. Love born of acts of kindness and care rarely seen in the world. The attention paid when one tells a story, listens and care shown when you talk. I am not the only one who feels this way, I have heard these stories from internationals that came for the Olympics, Medjurgorje or came because of the war and fell in love with the people. This kind of love is born in traditions, in kindness in a shared humanity, bonds stronger than those of random luck.

I have seen it and felt it in my friends like the Kabil family from Sarajevo Edin, Midhat and Envera who have become closer to me than my own flesh and blood. Midhat, an ophthalmologist by profession, regularly performed emergency surgeries often without medicines on bodies torn apart by war.  His premature death was a direct result of his wartime occupation.  Midhat’s death was not only a terrible loss for his family, but for all of humanity.  He would always scold me like a parent; in a kind way “you always talk about Bosnia and always forget about Herzigovina”. His care and attention when we talked was like no other, I felt loved and cared for like a son.  His wife Envera who volunteered during the war to defend Bosnia as a sniper but was told her job as a school teacher was more important.  To this day I think of her as a mother.  Then there is my dear brother Edin, who I have grown up with, respect deeply for his courage, his faith, and his convictions. He may not be right 100% of the time, but he is convinced he is 100% of the time. An unusual conversation a few years ago after covering every topic known to man was the war and what we thought 15 years later. He said to me he was happy for the war, not because war was good or he was happy it happened. But that it gave him the life he knows, the depth of understanding that he has and a perspective on life that few people on earth possess.  It also brought him friendships and experiences he could never replace and people he could never forget.

Then there are my friends Abdullah, a Bosnian Serb who fought and defended Bosnia as a teenager. Abdullah, I have grown to consider him a dear friend and someone who is one of the most interesting people in the world. His story would be the stuff of legends if ever chose to reveal it. He exemplifies the complexity and beauty that is the Bosnian spirit, never easy to define or explain his life, his existence is an excellent example of Bosnia’s rich tapestry.

My friend Alan a British volunteer who flew helicopters for the Bosnian Government before the war, spent the next 18 months fighting for the ARBiH in Dobrinja, he has never asked a thing for, never sought the recognition, the honor he deserved for being one of the few westerners to defend Bosnia in her darkest hour. Alan loves Bosnia as much as I do, he knows what it feels to have chosen to be Bosnian. These are the people that have made Bosnia so special to me, them and so many others. I want to thank you and everyone who contributed to making Bosnia the amazing place and ideal that it is today.

I do have one request however, Bosnia needs your help. Bosnia the mother which gave birth to some of the most special people on this planet is in need of service. Bosnia needs active, energetic people who are willing to spend just 15 minutes a week to help keep her in the front of people’s minds. Bosnia needs people of service at a time when the Sarajevo museums are getting shuttered and the political process stagnates. I implore everyone to spend 15 minutes a week helping Bosnia, doing volunteer work. Fund a project, start a project, write a diplomat here or abroad. Talk to your friends about Bosnia, bring a friend to Bosnia. Help a Bosnian family struggling here in the US or back home. When an American who knows nothing about the country asks you about your name or were you are from, don’t give him the short answer, even though you have told your story 1,000 times. Take the time for Bosnia, for her victims, for her future generations to share what has happened, what is happening and what needs to happen in the future. No one should act surprised if we do not act in service to keep moving Bosnia forward towards a more stable, peaceful future. Thank you for taking the time today to listen; Bosnia has been the greatest gift ever given to me and that is why at every chance given, I share her with the world. Thank you.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

An invitation to meet Zeljko Komsic and to celebrate Bosnian Independence in Chicago!

An invitation to meet Zeljko Komsic (pictured) and to celebrate Bosnian Independence in Chicago!
Here is a chance to meet the great Bosnian hero Zeljko Komsic and meet and great Bosnians and their supporters and celebrate Bosnian independence day!

Saturday, March 9, 2013. 6:00 pm until 1:00 pm.

BH club Chicago celebrates the day of independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International Women Day Celebration

Guests of the evening:

Zeljko Komsic - member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Master Haris Alibasic - President KBSA

Prof Ibrahim Vajzovic - St Louis

Chris Mathieu - A journalist and member of the expert team for the Research of Genocide - Milwaukee

Guests of the evening entertainment program

Ferid Avdic
Edis Mujčinović
Samir Melkić

Information and sales:

Nusret 773-338-8524

Darko 773-699-8173

Safet 773-841-9494

Bosnia video 773-275-8281

Admission $ 60 includes dinner and soft drinks

All visitors are kindly requested to come half an hour early because the academy starts exactly at 6:00 pm

  • 6:00pm until 1:00am
  • BH cub Chicago obiljezava proslavu dana nezavisnosti Bosne i Hercegovine i proslavu dana zena

    Gosti veceri:

    Zeljko Komsic - clan Predsjednistva Bosne i Hercegovine

    Magistar Haris Alibasic - predsjednik KBSA

    Prof.Dr. Ibrahim Vajzovic - St Louis

    Chris Mathieu - Novinar i clan medjunarodnog ekspertnog tima za istrazivanje genocida - Milwaukee

    Gosti veceri u zabavnom dijelu programa

    Ferid Avdic
    Edis MUjcinovic
    Samir Melkic

    Informacije i prodaja:

    Nusreta 773-338-8524

    Darko 773-699-8173

    Safet 773-841-9494

    Bosna video 773-275-8281

    Ulaz $60 ukljucena vecera i bezalkoholna pica

    Mole se svi posjetioci da dodju pola sata ranije jer akademija pocinje tacno u 6:00pm