Like Slovenia and Croatia, Bosnia's first free elections, held in November 1990, put an end to communist rule. When independence was declared by the legally elected government on October 1991, the Serb parliamentarians withdrew and set up their own government in Pale, 20 km east of the capital Sarajevo.
War broke out in the spring of 1992 when the Bosnian Serbs began seizing territory with the help of the Yugoslav Federal Army with the objective of partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining-up all Serb held areas to form the "Greater Serbia" promoted by Slobodan Miloševic. Sarajevo came under siege by Serb artillery that lasted three years and cost over 10 000 civilian lives.
Not to be outdone by the Serbs, the Croats also began seizing territory adjacent to their borders and practicing "ethnic cleansing" in 1993. Their siege of Muslim held Mostar was particularly violent causing the destruction of the graceful 27 meter stone bridge built in 1566 by the Turks over the Neretva River which had become the symbol east-west harmony.
In March 1994, Bosnia's Muslims and Croats reduced the number of warring factions from three to two by signing an agreement in Washington creating the Muslim/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In November 1995, the Bosnian President Izetbegovic, the Croatian President Tudjman, and the Serbian President Milosevic signed the Dayton peace Agreement dividing the country between the Muslim/Croat Federation and the Bosnian Serbs. The Serbs were rewarded for their aggression in this deal for they ended up with 49% of the land for their 33% of the population.
Tension remains high and NATO still maintains an armed Stabilization Force (SFOR) to deter renewed hostilities between the Muslim/Croat Federation and the Serb Republika Srpska.
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A comfortable eight-hour drive in a modern bus brought me from Split to Sarajevo in the daytime giving me the opportunity to admire the beautiful Dalmatian Coast along the way. This is the bridge over the Miljacka River where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in June 1914 by a Serb nationalist to protest against the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary in 1908 after it had occupied it following the defeat of Turkey by Russia in 1878. The weather was muggy and my ankle was painful but I walked along way to see the spot where fell the the spark that ignited murderous World War I.
I took many pictures. Sometimes I thought that my camera was making an unusual noise but I did not worry too much because the automatic winding system worked normally after each shot. I took three rolls of film before having the opportunity to get them developed in Dubrovnik and only then did I realize that the exposure and focusing mechanisms of my camera were malfunctioning most of the time. My usual good luck had indeed deserted me, first my ankle, and now my camera... What next?
I salvaged only these four pictures out of the 36 exposures I took on the Dalmatian Coast and in Sarajevo. Losing those three rolls was really a blow when it hit me a few days later in Dubrovnik for I had made what thought was a very meritorious effort to record what was still visible four years later, of the damage done to Sarajevo during the three years of shelling by the Serb artillery.
This picture of the main square in Bašcaršija is the only one I have of the several I took of the quaint Old Turkish Quarter which was such a tourist attraction before the siege.
Sarajevo's modern train station which was the pride of the city was not spared by the shelling.
I stayed here in a small restored part of the bombed out shell of what used to be the extensive Josip Tito barracks near the train and bus stations. It is also very close to the now famous Holiday Inn from which Orthodox Serb extremists started the civil war by killing a dozen unarmed Bosnian Muslims demonstrating for peace in April 1992.
What a pity that all those pictures were lost! They would have provided me with the occasion to express more of what I think of Slobodan Miloševic who is responsible for whipping up the Serb yearning for regional domination with his promises of a "Greater Serbia"
I also lost a whole roll taken in Mostar. The damage there was done by the Catholic Croats at the expense of the Bosnian Muslims