Wartime lifts shake hope in Bosnia under split peace

TRNOPOLJE, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Bosnian refugee Jusuf Arifagic, encouraged by a peace agreement between war tribes in Bosnia mediated by the United States 25 years ago, is helping rebuild a traumatic country. I returned to Japan for the sake of. He took 100 Norwegian cows.

Mr. Alifasic took the cows to his home village — just off the concentration camps where he and thousands of other local Muslims flocked in the summer of 1992 — and Bosnia’s largest dairy farm. Established a place to be.

The Tornopolje farm currently has 800 cows and 41 workers, a mix of Muslims, Orthodox Serbs and other Christians. Alifazich, 59, said he didn’t know the exact numbers from each ethnic group because “I don’t care.”

However, refusing to put tribal identity at the center of business is in great conflict with the system created by the 1995 Peace Agreement, which revolves around ethnicity and loyalty to certain nationalist authorities. did. It also crippled one of the few success stories in a country devastated by “chronic dysfunction” and a “pandemic called corruption” reported to the UN Security Council in April and May.

Under pressure from nationalist politicians’ demands in return and other pressures to boost their interests, Alifazich decided to sell cattle, fire workers and close farms.

“Bosnia today is one big psychiatric ward, and we are all patients,” said Alifasic, a quarter century when the multi-ethnic Yugoslavia collapsed and its neighbors attacked their neighbors in a frenzy. I lamented the tenacious grip of hatred that was unleashed earlier. Fear-driven violence and nationalist passion.

The war swallowed the Balkans for four years and ignited with the end of the socialist dictatorship in Yugoslavia and the division of what was a peaceful federal state. As nationalism takes hold, Croats, Serbs, and Muslims living in Bosnia are the most ethnically mixed and therefore the most flammable region of the invading Yugoslavia, armed in search of their own country. did.

The bloodletting in Bosnia, which claimed the lives of about 100,000 people and expelled more than 2 million from their homes, ended with the Dayton Agreement, which arrived at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio on November 21, 1995.

However, the terms of the agreement are the merger of mini-states dominated by political parties that are still favored by establishing the ethnic and religious divisions that propelled the war and vowing to incite fear and protect Bosnia. I left it as.

When the International Monetary Fund provided Bosnia with $ 386 million to support the fight against the coronavirus in April, the leaders of three major political parties, each representing a different ethnic group, asked how to make money. I spent weeks discussing whether to split.

They finally reached an agreement, but when the money arrived, they were idle for weeks at the central bank and bought ventilators and other equipment that was terribly needed for the country’s awkward public health system. Instead of being used to, got stuck in more conflicts.

“This is the real result of the Dayton model,” said Christopher Bennett, a former Bosnian international civil servant and author of the book “The Paralyzed Peace of Bosnia.” He added: It stopped the war, but did not create the conditions for making a life. “

Disgusting many ordinary Bosnians, regardless of tribal identity, are revealed in Sunday’s local elections when Muslims and Serbian nationalist parties lost their grasp of their city bases of Sarajevo and Banja Luka. became. Three ethnic parties representing Croats, Muslims and Serbs still dominate most of Bosnia’s town, but the recent retreat of electoral colleges will someday unravel the politics and spirit frozen by Dayton. There is growing hope that it may be.

Instead of creating a single state inhabited by citizens of equal rights, Dayton divided Bosnia into two autonomous “entities.” The Serbian-controlled Republika Srpska and the 10-state federation controlled by Muslims and Croats.

On top of this excess territory stands a weak and feudal federal government led by three presidents representing Croats, Muslims and Serbs. They all speak the same language and nothing physically distinguishes one group from another, but they are separated by the stories of religion (although few actually worship), politics, and war rivals. And I rarely agree.

For some time, the region of northwestern Bosnia, where Alifazich founded his farm, fostered hope that he could overcome the wartime division. The exiled Muslims returned in the years following the Dayton Agreement, first with nervous trickles and then with fun floods.

Ethnic cleansing emptied Muslim populations and burned rubble in the early 1990s, resurrecting the Kozarac village district, including Mr. Alifadzic’s settlement, in the early 2000s. Schools were reopened, destroyed homes were rebuilt, and local football teams were reorganized, but without regaining their former multi-ethnic teams, they became almost completely Muslim teams. The population has increased to about 10,000.

However, most of the new homes, which are many overflowing mansions built with money earned from the Diaspora outposts in Bosnia throughout Europe, are mostly closed. Their owners visit for a few weeks in the summer, but give up their dream of permanently resettled in Bosnia.

Some of the people who stayed back in the world in fear of the Bosnian War in 1992 when a British television station took and broadcast an image of his weakened body behind a barbed wire at Trnopolje Camp. There is a Figreto Arich who has played a role in awakening. Mr. Alifajic was also detained.

After working in a meat packaging factory in Denmark for 15 years, Arick returned to Kozarac in 2009 with his wife and three children.

“I made a big mistake in bringing in the children,” he said.

Worried that “small sparks could start a new war,” he is now trying to find a way for his two sons and daughters to return to Denmark “because their future is not here.”

Many Serbs, who are often considered victims rather than perpetrators of past crimes, feel the same and want to leave.

“We are not proud of what the Serbs did, but something terrible happened to the Serbs,” said her husband in a battle in the prewar Muslim city of Prijedor near Kozarac. Said Zdravka Carica. 95 percent Serbs.

Carica plans to stay, but her 12-year-old granddaughter, like many young people, said, “I love this place, but I really want to leave.”

The region is part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a comprehensive federal state created by Dayton, but the only flag that flies over municipal buildings is the flag of the Serbian entity, the Republika Srpska. Local Selve leaders have made tireless efforts to undermine the federal state and even threatened to leave.

At the site of the former camp in Tornopolje, Serbian authorities built a gloomy concrete monument only to Serbian fighters “life is built into the foundations of the Republic of Srpska”.

Mirenko Djokovic, the relatively moderate Mayor of Serve in Prijedor, the administrative center of the region, said the place was just a “protection place for civilians” and is a reason to mourn the victims of Islam. Said not.

For many Muslims, the existence of the Republika Srpska is the only greatest injustice and flaw in the Dayton Agreement. It justified a political project born of blood by the wartime rule of former Bosnian Serbian leaders Radovan Karadži and Ratko Mladic. A former Serbian general convicted of genocide for the slaughter of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica in 1995.

Dairy farmer Alifazich returned to Bosnia to build the future rather than being trapped in the past, but soon realized the reality of a country dominated by ethnic parties that thrive by separating communities and making them promising. Said he confronted. To protect myself.

“It’s all very tragic,” said Sebina Sivak, a local anthropologist who wrote the book about the post-war struggle.

“Bosnia needs people like Alifasic to move beyond Dayton. Dayton always reminds everyone that ethnicity is important,” she said. “All sides wanted him to show that he was on either side, but he wanted to change this mindset.”

When Mr. Alifazich opened the farm, a local power company owned by the Republic of Srpska refused to provide a transformer box to power the cowshed. He installed it himself, but participated in a court battle for three years before connecting to the network.

Then last year, Republika Srpska suddenly rewrote the rules governing milk subsidies, reducing Arifagic’s income, but leaving the money received by a small Serb-owned dairy farm. “If your name is Jusuf,” he said, referring to his name.

Prijedor’s Serbian mayor, Djokovic, opposed the change in subsidies and believed that Alifazich’s tragedy was due to frequent clashes with the dominant Serbian party led by nationalist Milorad Dodik. Stated.

“It’s easy to struggle uphill and go downhill,” Djokovic said. “Critique of politicians causes problems.”

Hoping to pay better fares outside the Republika Srpska, Ali Fazich set up a satellite farm to raise 400 cattle on the territory of an entity led by Muslims and Croats.

But again, he ran into problems after refusing to support the dominant Islamic party led by the son of wartime leader Aria Izetobegovic. Instead, he attended a rival party that he felt was less focused on arousing ethnic dissatisfaction. A mysterious fire later burned down some of his property.

Alifazich said he would continue to feed the cattle until the supply was exhausted and then close the business, but said he would stay in Bosnia for the time being. Dodik and Izetobegovic can then milk their own cows. “

Wartime lifts shake hope in Bosnia under split peace

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