Thursday, October 4, 2007


For such a small country Bosnia has affected world politics for decades including the event that triggered World War I, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The 1984 Winter Olympics were also held in Sarajevo. Most recently is the Bosnian War (see Wikipedia Article) from 1992 to 1995. The war was a result of the collapse of communism and the breakup of Yugoslavia. The Serbs began seizing territory aided by Yugoslav National Army weapons and Sarajevo came under attack. They began a campaign of brutal ethnic cleansing, expelling Muslims from northern and eastern Bosnia. The Siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege in the history of modern warfare. Over 4 year the city suffered from an average of 329 mortar shell impacts per day damaging virtually every building and 35,000 were completely destroyed. Despite the widespread killings, mass rapes, concentration camps, ethnic cleansing, and torture conducted by Serb forces, the international community was reluctant to get involved because there was long-standing debate as to whether the conflict was a civil war or a war of aggression. In September of 1995 the US and European leaders loudly called for action and after two weeks of NATO airstrikes on the Serbs, they agreed to Clinton's proposal for a peace conference in Dayton, Ohio (The Dayton Agreement).

I spent a few days in Sarajevo and was amazed how the city has bounced back. They still leave reminders of the war as a part of their 'never forget' campaign. Many of the reconstructed buildings leave one side without restoration (see pics), some of the buildings are untouched such as the National Library which was burned including many irreplaceable manuscripts (see pics), and even the sidewalks have indentations from mortar attacks (sometimes filled in with red concrete to resemble blood). However, there are many new buildings and the transportation system is great as well as the hostels and restaurants but it's the people that are amazing. Bosnian's are some of the most friendly people I have met and obviously very resilient. I talked with many of them about the war and they seem to have a healthy attitude and actually thank the American's for stepping in. For once I saw American flags out in public (this was a first for me).

I also went to Mostar and a few other small towns. Bosnia is gorgeous with pristine rivers, canyons, mountains, and quaint towns all throughout. I would put it near the top of the list for places to see in Eastern Europe.

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