Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 120 - (30/05/07)
An incoherent nation
Bosnia is a curious entity, of which Iraq, with its tripartite divide, is
somewhat reminiscent. But of course there are huge differences; the Middle East
is not European in the least. Nevertheless the Balkans are not really either,
having been under Turkish occupation for so long. They are sui generis, nowhere
more so than Bosnia.
The old crack about Naples that it is the only Oriental city without a European
quarter could be said as a country about Bosnia. The savagery that was shown on
all sides in the 1992-95 civil war was not at any rate in the pacifist tradition
of post-1945 Europe.
In the late nineteenth century The King of Thailand (the very same as in The
King and I, played in the film by Yul Brynner with Doris Day) was worried that
some imperialist power would make off with his country and him, as was in the
fashion of the time. He declared it a protectorate of the world, a bright idea
de jure, which kept it de facto independent.
Bosnia now has the same de jure status. but it is not de facto independent. It
is being run by the international community with a succession of European
political figures in the top spot. This is likely to continue for a while, as it
has not really settled down to being a coherent nation.
The Srebrenica moment
The latest example of this concerns Srebrenica, a name that will forever be
poignant. Serb forces massacred some 8,000 Muslim men and boys after capturing
Srebrenica in 1995. The slaughter was the worst single atrocity in Europe since
World War II and has been legally classified an act of genocide.
The only thing to be said for that genocide is that it so horrified the entire
world that it was agreed that something had to be done about it.
The US in particular intervened and ended the war, with no-one complaining,
although it was contrary to international law to intervene in the internal
affairs of another state. Common sense prevailed. Richard Holbrooke stitched up
the Dayton Agreement, under whose terms Bosnia is now governed.
Sebrenica's Muslim majority council adopted a resolution in April asking for the
eastern town to break away from the Serb-run Republika Srpska, of which it has
been a part since the end of Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.
Ex-US ambassador to Bosnia appointed Srebrenica envoy
An international solution is being sought once again. Clifford Bond, former US
ambassador to Bosnia, was appointed on May 3rd as a special international envoy
to the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica, the scene of the worst single
atrocity of the Balkan wars.
His appointment by the international community's top representative in Bosnia,
Christian Schwarz-Schilling, comes amid heightened tension in Srebrenica between
Muslims and Serbs. Bond is to supervise the international community's activities
in the Srebrenica region and monitor the political situation, Schwarz-Schilling
said in a statement.
May he have some of the calibre of James Bond to pull his assignment off?