Celebrations as ancient bridge destroyed by Croats is reopen

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Celebrations as ancient bridge destroyed by Croats is reopen

Post by dariosa » 25/07/2004 21:52

Odlican tekst iz Britanskog Guardiana...

Celebrations as ancient bridge destroyed by Croats is reopened

Ian Traynor in Mostar
Saturday July 24, 2004

The Guardian

Hundreds of international leaders and officials gathered on the banks of the river Neretva in Herzegovina yesterday to mark the opening of Mostar's rebuilt 16th century bridge, one of the most outstanding artefacts of Ottoman Europe, shelled more 10 years ago by Roman Catholic Croatian extremists.
There were marching bands and rock bands, whirling dervishes and fireworks, orchestras and heartbreaking ballads on a sweltering evening as Mostar reclaimed its heritage with pride, joy and not a little dread.

Mostar's Old Bridge, a single arch of local limestone spanning the Neretva, was erected in 1566 on the orders of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman ruler.

"The Old Bridge was the most perfect construction, defying all the rules," said Amir Pasic, the local architect who supervised the rebuilding project. "When you put all the coordinates in the computer, the thing doesn't stand up. Yet it's very simple, very perfect."

The Old Bridge stood for 427 years until a failed Croatian theatre director-turned militia leader, Slobodan Praljak, trained his artillery on the structure in November 1993, when his forces were driving Mostar's Muslim population into an east bank enclave.

The three-year project to rebuild the bridge was completed last April, just as Mr Praljak was extradited to the tribunal in The Hague to face war crimes charges. He was joined by another five wartime Croat leaders from Mostar.

"The Croats are feeling guilty, and Praljak should go to jail for what he did. It's our bridge," said Nino Gvozdic, a Mostar lawyer of mixed Serb-Croat parentage. "My children, eight and six years old, never got to walk over the Old Bridge. Tomorrow they are going to walk over the new Old Bridge."

International officials from Chris Patten, the EU external affairs commissioner, to Paddy Ashdown, the governor of Bosnia, stressed that the reopening signalled a new era of hope and reconciliation. There was plenty of Croatian recalcitrance, however, in what remains a city of 100,000 partitioned along ethnic lines.

"To be honest, we prefer it destroyed," said Damir, a former Croat fighter. "They're making a lot of fuss about it and all the money goes on the bridge. But it's got nothing to do with us. It's a Muslim bridge."

The attack on the original bridge was gratuitous, since the small pedestrian structure connected two Muslim parts of the city and had no strategic value. Psychologically, though, it was a devastating act of iconoclasm.

Mr Gvozdic said he hoped the new bridge meant the "radical Croatian project" of the past decade was finished. But the landmarks of Roman Catholic redneck triumphalism remain. A new steeple on the cathedral has been built to dwarf the tallest minaret of the city's 16th century mosques. And the Croats have erected a 100ft high (30 metre) illuminated cross on Hum hill overlooking the Muslim old sector of Mostar.

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Re: Celebrations as ancient bridge destroyed by Croats is re

Post by Istanbul » 25/07/2004 22:01

dariosa wrote:......................
"To be honest, we prefer it destroyed," said Damir, a former Croat fighter. "They're making a lot of fuss about it and all the money goes on the bridge. But it's got nothing to do with us. It's a Muslim bridge."

The attack on the original bridge was gratuitous, since the small pedestrian structure connected two Muslim parts of the city and had no strategic value. Psychologically, though, it was a devastating act of iconoclasm.

we know that also they (people like Damir) prefer Bosnian nation to be destroyed, not only bridge. but like the bridge's reconstruction Bosnia will reconstruct itself, with the help of friend countries and will never end forever...

we know that they prefer it destroyed... because 'Mostar Bridge is the Proof of Bosnian Muslims Existence'...
Last edited by Istanbul on 25/07/2004 22:28, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Vozdra_123 » 25/07/2004 22:03

dobar clanak...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/f ... 919839.stm


Bridging the Bosnian divide

By Allan Little
BBC world affairs correspondent

As the Mostar bridge reopens 10 years after it was destroyed by Croat nationalists, Allan Little considers reconciliation between Bosnian Serbs and Croats.

The bridge was originally built by Turkish architects in 1566
There was something spectral about the sight of the old bridge at Mostar - as though the normal laws of the physical universe did not apply to it.

A single span of shining white cobalt suspended high above a churning river pool of pale blue water.

As the wide sweep of the Neretva river runs down from the high ground, it enters the city of Mostar where it narrows between steep-sided river banks.

At the narrowest point, in 1566, the Turkish sultan had ordered the building of the bridge.

Rebecca West saw it in 1936. "It is one of the most beautiful bridges in the world," she wrote.

"A slender arch between two round towers, its parapets bent in a shallow angle at the centre. I know of no country, not even Italy or Spain, that shows such invariable taste and such pleasing results."

She also said that she was pleased that the spring had come late that year to Bosnia, for this had enabled her to see snow on the roof of a mosque, an image whose incongruity pleased her for it spoke of the incongruity of Bosnia itself - a European country where Muslims and Christians co-existed in apparent harmony, where the traditions of East and West had met and, over centuries, mingled.

Freedom and division

That is why the bridge is so powerful a symbol in Bosnia, a country that knows better than most about why divides - cultural, religious, ethnic - have to be spanned - that knows more than most the fatal consequences of divisions that cannot be bridged.

And that is why that same bridge came to be so detested by those whose artillery pummelled it again and again until it fell into the water, on 9 November 1993.

" They were destroying the very idea of bridge building, the very idea that different national groups could, or should, try to live together "

When I first went to Croatia at the start of the war there in 1991, the country was in the grip of a liberation fever.
Croats were free for the first time in half a century to assert who they held themselves to be.

"Listen to me," one young man said.

"Here in Croatia we are central Europe. We belong to the civilisation that produced Mozart. But cross the Sava River into Bosnia, or the Danube into Serbia and that is the east. That is the civilisation that produced Saddam Hussein and all that Asiatic way of thinking."

The Croat nationalists who destroyed the bridge in 1993 were in their minds not only destroying a detested remnant of the Ottoman civilisation they despised.

They were destroying the very idea of bridge building, the very idea that different national groups could, or should, try to live together.

For them it wasn't only the Bosnian Muslims and the Ottoman legacy that was the enemy - they were at war with the very idea of multiculturalism.
My closest friends in Bosnia at that time were a family of five.

The husband, Ivo, was a Bosnian Croat, his wife, Gordana, a Bosnian Serb.

They had three children who were simply Bosnian.

The Bosnia that Ivo and Gordana wanted was a secular civic republic of citizens, in which the law recognised no tribal distinction.

The Bosnia they got was one that was divided up by a succession of Western-backed peace plans, into ethnically exclusive zones.

They could not live in such a place.

When I visited them in their Sarajevo flat under the rockets and guns, they used to joke about dividing their living room up into separate Croat and Serb cantons.

But the ethnic supremacists won the war in Bosnia.

Ivo and Gordana went to Canada where they swore allegiance to - and became subjects of - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors.

" Bosnians will live together again, because they always have and because ethnic separation has never made any kind of sense "

Ivo was never reconciled to the loss of his homeland, and to the betrayal of the multiethnic - or, more properly the non-ethnic - ideal.
When he died, still in his 50s, a couple of years ago, a few weeks after I last saw him, he did so with a broken heart.


As the bridge reopens I think of them and the war they fought and lost.

Bosnians will live together again, because they always have and because ethnic separation has never made any kind of sense - not economic, not political, not cultural - and could only ever be achieved through the barrel of a gun.

The bridge will take its place again as an enduring symbol of something quite special about that part of the world - the incongruity that Rebecca West saw on the domed roof coated with white frost.

But not yet. Not for a long time.

And too late for all those who clung to the ideal a decade ago and were betrayed.

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Post by pitt » 26/07/2004 16:11


Fireworks were part of the celebration at the opening in Mostar of the reconstructed 16th-century bridge over the Neretva River.

OSTAR, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 23 - With music, dance, colored lights and speeches about reconciliation and a better future, this afflicted Balkan town formally reopened on Friday the famous and historic bridge that was obliterated a decade ago during the fighting in the former Yugoslavia.


It was not really the old bridge of Mostar that was reopened. The original bridge was built in 1566 under the Ottoman Turks and celebrated during the 427 years of its existence for the grace of its arched 95-foot span. What has been completed is a painstakingly faithful, stone-by-stone replica of that bridge, destroyed on Nov. 9, 1993, by a Croatian bombardment that has since stood as an emblematic act of the senselessness of the long Bosnian madness.

But the new ancient bridge of Mostar, a picturesque mountain town of about 120,000 people that was one of the deadliest battlegrounds of the conflict, nonetheless emerged Friday as a metaphor for revival, or, if not revival yet, at least the durability for almost a decade now of something resembling ethnic peace.

"The opening of the old bridge in Mostar is a victory of peace," Sulejman Tihic, the head of the collective presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said in a speech on this sun-baked Friday afternoon, "a victory for Bosnia as a multiethnic and multicultural society."

But the bridge's reopening was, inevitably, also an occasion for some sorrowful reflection on what the writer Michael Ignatieff has called the "act of self-mutilation" that took place in Mostar, a city once written about in Balkan guidebooks as a model of harmonious religious and ethnic diversity.

The destruction of the bridge was so senseless because it was used by all sides. In the view of local people, it was obliterated for its fame and beauty, for its status as a treasure of Ottoman and Muslim architecture.

The bridge in this sense reopened at a time when, clearly, conditions are better for Mostar and for Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole, but it would be difficult all the same to describe them as good. Symbolizing the general improvement, the Croatian commander who ordered the bridge bombed, Slobodan Praljak, is in The Hague awaiting trial for war crimes, along with others accused of instigating and perpetrating the Balkan slaughter of 1992 to 1995.

And the new president of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, was quoted in the local Bosnian papers for a statement he made some time ago, to the effect that the bridge at Mostar was "the pride of Islamic culture and civilization" but, with its destruction, "the shame" of Croatia.

But Mostar does not seem to be a place of easy ethnic harmony. The testimony of people here is that the two groups that have lived side by side for hundreds of years, Bosnian Muslims and Croatian Catholics, still have little to do with each other. And the town is afflicted by organized crime, a moribund economy and the as yet unremoved rubble from the war.

"The bridge is an indispensable symbol of revival and hope, but Mostar is still one of the meanest places in Europe," Richard C. Holbrooke, the American diplomat who negotiated the Dayton Accord that ended the conflict in 1995, said in a telephone interview from New York. High among the ingredients of the meanness is the strength of organized criminal gangs that are believed to be allied with main local political groups.

"Can Mostar regain its soul?" Mr. Holbrooke asked. "Only if rebuilding the bridge is followed by removing the criminal gangs."

In the town, crowded with local celebrants, joined by foreign guests who included Prince Charles of Britain and senior officials from Turkey and Europe, the mood seemed to be that, yes, things were much improved but the ethnic wound was far from healed and the economy was close to disastrous.

"The Croats were on that side and the Serbs over there," Izudin Boric, standing with friends next to an open-air fruit market, said, pointing to where the enemies of the Bosnian Muslims were during the conflict. "It was a total blockade, impossible to live a normal life."

Obviously, things are better than that now, as the bustling night market and the streets lined with shops and restaurants attest. But Mr. Boric, a 51-year-old postal worker, said that unemployment was high and that many people would leave the area if given the chance.

"As for relations among the people, they are getting better," said a waiter at one of the restaurants overlooking the river. "That's the good part. The bad part is that the economy is bad. The politicians take all of the money for themselves and the people are suffering.
"They suffered during the war," the waiter, who gave his name only as Nedzad, continued, "and it's time for them to have a better life."

Still, at least officially, Friday was a day for optimism and celebration. All day, people milled through the streets of the old town. A muscular young man in a bikini swimsuit attracted a crowd as he prepared to dive into the river from another of Mostar's restored bridges, just upriver from the newly built old one. Before the war, there were annual diving contests from the Sari Most, whose arch is roughly 65 feet above the swift-flowing Neretva River.

In the cool of evening, a gala music and dance festival took place in a temporary amphitheater almost directly under the bridge, which was bathed in colored lights. There was a little bit of Beethoven, some Khachaturian, and folk dances from Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Greece, Turkey and several other countries.

And then there was the bridge itself - all 1,228 stones of it, including 140 of the original pieces retrieved from the river and put back in their original places. It stands over a narrow, rippling portion of the river, its high span, commonly likened to an arrow pointing to the sky, gleaming a bit too newly, needing a bit of the patina of age. It looks like a slightly whitened reincarnation of the old bridge, as seen on picture postcards, paintings and the beaten copper plaques available in the local tourist shops.

The Neretva River was lined on both sides by ancient stone buildings, some restored, others still in ruins. The minarets of mosques and church steeples, those twin symbols of Mostar's multiethnicity, stood on the horizon, also on both banks.

Security was so heavy on inauguration day that only special guests with V.I.P. badges were allowed to walk across the bridge, prompting fierce arguments from other visitors who shouted at the police, to no avail, that they had traveled far to walk across the famous bridge and ought to be allowed to do so.

"The revival of the city hasn't ended," one of the V.I.P. visitors, Steffano Bianco, representing the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, said during the afternoon's riverside ceremonies, as if to assure the angry visitors that the time to cross the bridge would come. "It's just started."

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Post by pitt » 26/07/2004 16:14

iz WSJ:

Reopening Of War-Wrecked Bridge Raises Hopes For Bosnia

July 23, 2004 4:26 p.m.

MOSTAR , Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP)--Bosnians and foreign dignitaries on Friday celebrated the reopening of a more than 400-year-old stone bridge that became a symbol of the senseless brutality of Bosnia's war when shells destroyed it in 1993.

The reconstruction of the stone span - which had survived centuries of conflict, including two world wars, before it was shattered - raised hopes that the war-wrecked nation could rebuild a multiethnic society.

"It is good that we closed the gap over the Neretva River," said Eldin Palata, a cameraman from Mostar who shot footage of the bridge tumbling into the river when it collapsed 11 years ago.

"But until we close the gap in our heads, there will be no real progress. This is a good chance to allow our children to put behind all the evil of the war."

The U.K.'s Prince Charles, British actor John Cleese of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" fame, and more than 200 other dignitaries from 52 international delegations were on hand for the festivities, which began early Friday with a symbolic performance of brass bands from Croatia, a predominantly Catholic country, and Turkey, a mainly Muslim nation.

The bridge, built under the Turkish Ottoman empire, was destroyed midway through a war that killed 260,000 people and drove another 1.8 million from their homes.

More than 2,100 performers were taking part in concerts and other activities, including displays of diving from the bridge by local daredevils.

The area around the bridge was off-limits to most Mostar citizens, who watched the nationally televised festivities at home. Security was tight, with more than 2,300 police officers mobilized to seal off the heart of the city. Helicopters patrolled overhead and police divers watched the river.

Revelers said they hoped the rebuilt span would help reunite Muslims and Croats in this picturesque southern town.

"The destruction of this bridge a decade ago brought home to many around the world the full force of the evil that was happening here," said Paddy Ashdown, Bosnia's international administrator.

"I hope and believe that its reopening today will be an equally powerful moment - the moment when hope for the future of this country became stronger than the fear of the past."

The elegant white-marble "Stari Most," or Old Bridge, has been a beloved landmark since its completion in 1566. Mostar , 45 miles southwest of Sarajevo, is named for the bridge.

Legend has it that the bridge's Ottoman Empire architect, Mimar Hajrudin, fled the town before the scaffolding was removed in fear of Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Great, who allegedly threatened the designer with death if the majestic span were ever to crumble.

After surviving numerous conflicts through the ages, it tumbled into the river on Nov. 9, 1993, when Bosnian Croats blasted its sweeping arch with tank fire. The pummeling assault shattered the bridge and scattered slabs of marble and limestone into the swirling waters below.

Reconstruction work began in 1997, but the rebuilding of the 95-foot span got under way in earnest in June 2002, after workers extracted the scattered remnants from the riverbed. The project cost $15 million, much of which was donated by the U.S., Turkey, Italy, Netherlands and Croatia, as well as numerous organizations and individuals.

Last summer, workers hoisted the final stone into the central arch, restoring the splendor of the span known before the war as an emblem of a crossroads between East and West, Islam and Christianity.

UNESCO chief Koichiro Matsuura called the bridge's reconstruction "an act of recovery and commitment for the future. It represents a desire for peace and hope for the better future."

The reopening "stands as a victory for peace, a victory for Bosnia as a multiethnic and multicultural society," said Sulejman Tihic, who heads Bosnia's multiethnic presidency.

Today, Bosnia remains deeply scarred both physically and psychologically.

NATO-led troops still patrol to keep the peace, and an international administration oversees the country. The Dayton peace accords that ended the war carved Bosnia into a Muslim-Croat federation and a Bosnian Serb mini-state, underscoring how peaceful prewar coexistence has given way to postwar bitterness and mistrust.

Mostar essentially remains two cities. Its Muslims and Roman Catholic Croats send their children to different schools, watch their own television stations and cheer for rival soccer teams.

But many hope the bridge will help reconnect people.

"Mostar today sends to the world a positive picture of Bosnia," Prime Minister Adnan Terzic told The Associated Press. "The opening of the Old Bridge opens a new page in Bosnian history."

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Post by BigusDickus » 09/08/2004 12:35

Wonderful, lets say Croats destroyed the Bridge, and find some arsehole to say he liked it that way. Goebels would be proud of you people. Such propaganda is not welcome in Bosnia&Herzegovina. Great majority of all citizens of this country are glad that Mostar got it's symbol back. Thats right, the Old Birdge is symbol of Mostar and Bosnia&Herzegovina, not only muslims (or any other religion, for that matter). We have many beautifull symbols in our country, and are proud of them all. Doesn't matter if they are built by Turks, Ausrtians, Serbs, Croats, Jews... they are all parts of our rich history. Please, keep your limited perspectives and views in your humble home, and spare us. If you want to know about Bosnian history, go to the library and read, instead of trying to find out about it from news agencies.

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Post by Qwert » 09/08/2004 12:46

Wonderful, lets say Croats destroyed the Bridge, and find some arsehole to say he liked it that way. Goebels would be proud of you people.

Sigurno si mislio na njih. :-) :D

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Post by BigusDickus » 09/08/2004 13:39

Qwert wrote:
Wonderful, lets say Croats destroyed the Bridge, and find some arsehole to say he liked it that way. Goebels would be proud of you people.

Sigurno si mislio na njih. :-) :D

Na koga, na njih? Ma kakvi bolan, na njih sam mislio. :D

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