Bosnia-Herzegovina: “The day Europe died in Sarajevo”
6 April 2012
Dnevni Avaz, Delo, Die Presse, El País
Twenty years ago today, on 6 April 1992, “paramilitary units of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) commenced the bombardment of Sarajevo, which had been surrounded, in response to the European Union and United States’ recognition of the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina”, recalls Delo. The Slovenian daily points out that “preparations for the war had been ongoing for some time”, few people serious believed those who announced there would be conflict. The beginning of the siege of the Bosnian capital was the “day when Europe died in Sarajevo”, affirms Delo, which marks the occasion with a piece by Bosnian author Dzevad Karahasan –
Bosnia-Herzegovina is still in the throes of serious crisis, because the Dayton Agreement [which put an end to the conflict in 1995] imposed state structure that was unviable, from both a legal and a logical point of view. And when the international and local bureaucrats suggest altering it in any way, they are immediately told that they cannot touch it, because any change would upset the delicate balance of peace. The only peace in Bosnia is the peace of graveyards. And even then, that is not always the case.
For its part, the Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz devotes several pages to commemoration ceremonies that “Two decades since the attack on Bosnia-Herzegovina”, and notably the “red line” formed on 6 April by 11,541 red chairs set in a row on the Avenue Tito in memory of the residents of the town who died in the war. The newspaper also points out that the day will also serve to celebrate “the 550th anniversary of the founding of Sarajevo and 67th anniversary of the city’s liberation from fascist forces”. The perspective of inclusion in the European Union could herald a new departure for Bosnia, but, as Die Presse points out, the way forward is far from easy. In an editorial entitled “The European union and Bosnian schizophrenia”, the Viennese daily argues that the EU should go back to its roots and position itself as a project for peace. But for the moment, the EU is markedly indifferent to what is happening in Bosnia –
The EU has made it clear to Bosnian politicians that their country cannot adhere to the EU because of its complicated structures established by the international community in Dayton. However, there is no intra-Bosnian agreement on new structures.
In Madrid, El País insists that the post-war period will only come to an end on the day when Bosnia-Herzegovina enter the EU –
Bosnia-Herzegovina has no national day, because the politicians cannot agree on a date. [...] The country is still divided into two entities [...] Today its duplicate administrations and complete absence of shared national feeling define it as a country that may have healed its physical wounds, but not one that has achieved reconciliation.