BOG BOSNA I BOSNJASTVO - Bosnian history info

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Bosnian stecci-a unique Bosnian phenomenon(scanned pages from a book Bosnia: a cultural history by Lovrenovic.

Resisting Genocide: Preserving Bosnian Culture

In August, 1992, the largest book burning in modern history took place when the National Library in Sarajevo was annihilated by deliberate shell-fire from Serbian army positions. This destruction was only one facet of a systematic campaign to annihilate not only the Bosnians, but every trace that their society ever existed. Bridges, museums, mosques, churches, graveyeards, schools, manuscript collections, and art collections have been systematically burned, dynamited, shelled, and ploughed under.

 


The National and University Library engulfed in flames following shelling by Serb Nationalist Forces, Sarajevo, August 26, 1992

The foundation has produced, Killing Memory: Bosnia's Cultural Heritage and Its Destruction in collaboration with DUTV at Drexel University. It is a videotape of Andras Riedlmayer's internationally acclaimed slide lecture. COB works with Bosnians to produce works on the architecture, art, and literature of Bosnia. We translate the writings of Bosnian poets, novelists and essayists.

 

Mostar old bridge

Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar (2005)
Bosnia and Herzegovina

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The historic town of Mostar, spanning a deep valley of the Neretva River, developed in the 15th and 16th century as an Ottoman frontier town and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990 conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect, Sinan, were destroyed. 

Bosnia and Hercegovina 2004. The Old Bridge in Mostar.

The Old Bridge was recently rebuilt and many of the edifices in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt with the contribution of an international scientific committee established by UNESCO. The Old Bridge area, with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European architectural features is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement. The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar is a symbol of reconciliation, international cooperation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious  communities.

  • Bosnia Hercegovina 2004. The Old Bridge of Mostar. 

Mostar is a city in southwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the Neretva River. Mostar is the main city of Herzegovina, traditionally an administrative unit within the republic. The city’s economy is based on the textile, tobacco, and food-processing industries; there is also bauxite mining in the region. 

Bosnia Herzegovina 2004. The Old Bridge in Mostar, presentation pack.  

  • Bosnia-Herzegovina 2004. A very interesting presentation pack of The Old Bridge in Mostar. © Miomir Zivkovic, Serbia Montenegro. 

However, economic activity was seriously disrupted by war between the country’s three main ethnic groups, the Bosnian Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, which lasted from 1992 to 1995. The city is home to the University of Mostar (founded in 1977). 

Mostar was founded in the 1400s and flourished during the succeeding four centuries of Ottoman rule. Along with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the city was occupied by Austria-Hungary in 1878; in 1918 Mostar was included in the newly established Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia).

  • Jugoslavia 1966. The Mostar Bridge. 
  • Bosnia Hercegovina 2004. Close-up of the Old Bridge of Mostar. 

Yugoslavia 1966. Mostar Bridge.

Bosnia and Hercegovina 2004. Close-up of the Old Bridge in Mostar.

In April 1992, shortly after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia, Bosnian Serbs, backed by the Yugoslav People’s Army, launched an offensive in eastern Bosnia. The war quickly spread to the Mostar region, where Bosnian Croats and Muslims fought against the Serbs. 

Herzeg-Bosnia 1993. Mostar Bridge.

In July 1992, after the Serbs were defeated in Mostar, the Croats proclaimed their own state in the area, called the Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, intending to annex it to Croatia. They established Mostar as their capital and set up a parliament there. By spring 1993 fighting had broken out between Muslims and Croats; the fighting was especially fierce around Mostar. In November Mostar’s most famous landmark -- a single-arch bridge over the Neretva, designed by Turkish architect Mimar Hairedin in 1566 -- was destroyed by Bosnian Croat forces. By the end of the year, the Croats had largely asserted their control of the city.
  • Herzeg-Bosnia 1993. The Mostar Bridge. 

A federation was forged between Bosnian Croats and Muslims in March 1994, putting an end to the hostilities between them. Mostar suffered extensive physical damage as a result of the war and its population declined. Before the war, Mostar was almost evenly divided among Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. Today there are no Serbs in the city, and the Muslim and Croat populations are politically divided, with Muslims living on the devastated eastern bank of the Neretva, and Croats on the less damaged western bank; travel is restricted between the two sides of the city. 

Bosnia Hercegovina 1995. Mostar Bridge.

Bosnia Hercegovina 2000. Mostar Bridge.

Croatia 2004. Mostar Bridge.

  • Bosnia Hercegovina 1995. The Mostar Bridge. 
  • Bosnia Hercegovina 2000. Idem. 
  • Croatia 2004. Idem. 

The university continues to hold classes, but must do so in private homes. Mostar came under the administration of the European Union (EU) in June 1994. In December 1996 the EU mandate ended, and the Bosnian government took over administration of the city. The Old Bridge in Mostar is represented on more than 10 different postage stamps, mainly from former Yugoslavia. 

Sources and links:

Many thanks to Mr. Miomir Zivkovic, Serbia Montenegro, for all help and support. 

Other World Heritage Sites in Bosnia Hercegovina (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing (Bosnia-Herzegovina), for more information about the individual properties including the criteria for their  inscription

http://worldheritage.heindorffhus.dk/frame-BosniaHercegovinaMostar.htm

 

Bosnia`s culture and history-short introduction

History Pre-Slavic period


Bosnia has been inhabited at least since Neolithic times by Illyrian tribes. In the early Bronze Age, the Neolithic population was replaced by more warlike Indo-European tribes known as the Illyres or Illyrians. Celtic migrations in the fourth century BC and third century BC displaced many Illyrian tribes from their former lands, but some Celtic and Illyrian tribes mixed.[3] Concrete historical evidence for this period is scarce, but overall it appears that the region was populated by a number of different peoples speaking distinct languages.[3] Conflict between the Illyrians and Romans started in 229 BC, but Rome would not complete its annexation of the region until AD 9. In the Roman period, Latin-speaking settlers from all over the Roman empire settled among the Illyrians and Roman soldiers were encouraged to retire in the region.

Modern knowledge of the political situation in the west Balkans during the Dark Ages is patchy and confusing. Upon their arrival, the Slavs brought with them a tribal social structure, which probably fell apart and gave way to Feudalism only with Frankish penetration into the region in the late ninth century.[3] It was also around this time that the south Slavs were Christianized. Bosnia, due to its geographic position and terrain, was probably one of the last areas to go through this process, which presumably originated from the urban centers along the Dalmatian coast.[3] The principalities of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the ninth and tenth century, but by the High Middle Ages political circumstance led to the area being contested between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Byzantine Empire. Following another shift of power between the two in the early twelfth century, Bosnia found itself outside the control of both and emerged as an independent state under the rule of local bans.

The first notable Bosnian monarch, Ban Kulin, presided over nearly three decades of peace and stability during which he strengthened the country's economy through treaties with Dubrovnik and Venice. His rule also marked the start of a controversy with the Bosnian Church, an indigenous Christian sect considered heretical by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. In response to Hungarian attempts to use church politics regarding the issue as a way to reclaim sovereignty over Bosnia, Kulin held a council of local church leaders to renounce the heresy and embraced Catholicism in 1203. Despite this, Hungarian ambitions remained unchanged long after Kulin's death in 1204, waning only after an unsuccessful invasion in 1254.

Ottoman era

The Ottoman conquest of Bosnia marked a new era in the country's history and introduced tremendous changes in the political and cultural landscape of the region. Although the kingdom had been crushed and its high nobility executed, the Ottomans nonetheless allowed for the preservation of Bosnia's identity by incorporating it as an integral province of the Ottoman Empire with its historical name and territorial integrity - a unique case among subjugated states in the Balkans.[8] Within this sandžak (and eventual vilayet) of Bosnia, the Ottomans introduced a number of key changes in the territory's socio-political administration; including a new landholding system, a reorganization of administrative units, and a complex system of social differentiation by class and religious affiliation.[3]

The four centuries of Ottoman rule also had a drastic impact on Bosnia's population make-up, which changed several times as a result of the empire's conquests, frequent wars with European powers, migrations, and epidemics.[3] A native Slavic-speaking Muslim community emerged and eventually became the largest of the ethno-religious groups (mainly as a result of a gradually rising number of conversions to Islam),[4] while a significant number of Sephardi Jews arrived following their expulsion from Spain in the late fifteenth century. The Bosnian Christian communities also experienced major changes. The Bosnian Franciscans (and the Catholic population as a whole) were protected by official imperial decree. [3] The Orthodox community in Bosnia, initially confined to Herzegovina and Podrinje, spread throughout the country during this period and went on to experience relative prosperity until the nineteenth century.[3] Meanwhile, the schismatic Bosnian Church disappeared altogether.

As the Ottoman Empire thrived and expanded into Central Europe, Bosnia was relieved of the pressures of being a frontier province and experienced a prolonged period of general welfare and prosperity.[4] A number of cities, such as Sarajevo and Mostar, were established and grew into major regional centers of trade and urban culture. Within these cities, various Sultans and governors financed the construction of many important works of Bosnian architecture (such as the Stari most and Gazi Husrev-beg's Mosque). Furthermore, numerous Bosnians played influential roles in the Ottoman Empire's cultural and political history during this time.[8] Bosnian soldiers formed a large component of the Ottoman ranks in the battles of Mohács and Krbava field, two decisive military victories, while numerous other Bosnians rose through the ranks of the Ottoman military bureaucracy to occupy the highest positions of power in the Empire, including admirals, generals, and grand viziers.[4] Many Bosnians also made a lasting impression on Ottoman culture, emerging as mystics, scholars, and celebrated poets in the Turkish, Arabic, and Persian languages.[4]

However, by the late seventeenth century the Empire's military misfortunes caught up with the country, and the conclusion of the Great Turkish War with the treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 once again made Bosnia the Empire's westernmost province. The following hundred years were marked by further military failures, numerous revolts within Bosnia, and several outbursts of plague.[3] The Porte's efforts at modernizing the Ottoman state were met with great hostility in Bosnia, where local aristocrats stood to lose much through the proposed reforms.[3] This, combined with frustrations over political concessions to nascent Christian states in the east, culminated in a famous (albeit ultimately unsuccessful) revolt by Husein Gradašèeviæ in 1831.[4] Related rebellions would be extinguished by 1850, but the situation continued to deteriorate. Later agrarian unrest eventually sparked the Herzegovinian rebellion, a widespread peasant uprising, in 1875. The conflict rapidly spread and came to involve several Balkan states and Great Powers, which eventually forced the Ottomans to cede administration of the country to Austria-Hungary through the treaty of Berlin in 1878.[3]

Austro-Hungarian rule

Though an Austro-Hungarian occupying force quickly subjugated initial armed resistance upon take-over, tensions remained in certain parts of the country (particularly Herzegovina) and a mass emigration of predominantly Muslim dissidents occurred.[3] Some think that it was a planned Austro-Hungarian takeover of the land called Herzegovina because many Croats from Croatia were settled there. However, a state of relative stability was reached soon enough and Austro-Hungarian authorities were able to embark on a number of social and administrative reforms which intended to make Bosnia and Herzegovina into a "model colony".[8] With the aim of establishing the province as a stable political model that would help dissipate rising South Slav nationalism, Habsburg rule did much to codify laws, to introduce new political practices, and generally to provide for modernization.[8] The Austro-Hungarian empire built the three Roman Catholic churches in Sarajevo and these three churches are among the only 20 Catholic churches in the state of Bosnia. Although successful economically, Austro-Hungarian policy - which focused on advocating the ideal of a pluralist and multi-confessional Bosnian nation (largely favored by the Muslims) - failed to curb the rising tides of nationalism.[3] The concept of Croat and Serb nationhood had already spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina's Catholics and Orthodox communities from neighboring Croatia and Serbia in the mid nineteenth century, and was too well-entrenched to allow for the wide-spread acceptance of a parallel idea of Bosnian nationhood.[3] By the latter half of the 1910s, nationalism was an integral factor of Bosnian politics, with national political parties corresponding to the three groups dominating elections. The idea of a unified South Slavic state (typically expected to be spear-headed by independent Serbia) became a popular political ideology in the region at this time, including in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[8] The Austro-Hungarian government's decision to formally annex Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908 (see Bosnian Crisis) added to a sense of urgency among these nationalists.[8] The political tensions caused by all this culminated on June 28, 1914, when Serb nationalist youth Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo; an event that proved to be the spark that set off World War I. Although some Bosnians died serving in the armies of the various warring states, Bosnia and Herzegovina itself managed to escape the conflict relatively unscathed.[8]

The first Yugoslavia

Following the war, Bosnia was incorporated into the South Slav kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (soon renamed Yugoslavia). Political life in Bosnia at this time was marked by two major trends: social and economic unrest over property redistribution, and formation of several political parties that frequently changed coalitions and alliances with parties in other Yugoslav regions.[8] The dominant ideological conflict of the Yugoslav state, between Croatian regionalism and Serbian centralization, was approached differently by Bosnia's major ethnic groups and was dependent on the overall political atmosphere.[3] Even though there were over three million Bosnians in Yugoslavia, outnumbering Slovenes and Montenegrins combined, Bosnian nationhood was denied by the new Kingdom. Although the initial split of the country into 33 oblasts erased the presence of traditional geographic entities from the map, the efforts of Bosnian politicians such as Mehmed Spaho ensured that the six oblasts carved up from Bosnia and Herzegovina corresponded to the six sanjaks from Ottoman times and, thus, matched the country's traditional boundary as a whole.[3]

The establishment of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929, however, brought the redrawing of administrative regions into banates that purposely avoided all historical and ethnic lines, removing any trace of a Bosnian entity.[3] Serbo-Croat tensions over the structuring of the Yugoslav state continued, with the concept of a separate Bosnian division receiving little or no consideration. The famous Cvetkoviæ-Maèek agreement that created the Croatian banate in 1939 encouraged what was essentially a partition of Bosnia between Croatia and Serbia.[4] However, outside political circumstances forced Yugoslav politicians to shift their attention to the rising threat posed by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. Following a period that saw attempts at appeasement, the signing of the Tripartite Treaty, and a coup d'état, Yugoslavia was finally invaded by Germany on April 6, 1941.[3]

World War II

Following the war, Bosnia was incorporated into the South Slav kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (soon renamed Yugoslavia). Political life in Bosnia at this time was marked by two major trends: social and economic unrest over property redistribution, and formation of several political parties that frequently changed coalitions and alliances with parties in other Yugoslav regions.[8] The dominant ideological conflict of the Yugoslav state, between Croatian regionalism and Serbian centralization, was approached differently by Bosnia's major ethnic groups and was dependent on the overall political atmosphere.[3] Even though there were over three million Bosnians in Yugoslavia, outnumbering Slovenes and Montenegrins combined, Bosnian nationhood was denied by the new Kingdom. Although the initial split of the country into 33 oblasts erased the presence of traditional geographic entities from the map, the efforts of Bosnian politicians such as Mehmed Spaho ensured that the six oblasts carved up from Bosnia and Herzegovina corresponded to the six sanjaks from Ottoman times and, thus, matched the country's traditional boundary as a whole.[3]

The establishment of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929, however, brought the redrawing of administrative regions into banates that purposely avoided all historical and ethnic lines, removing any trace of a Bosnian entity.[3] Serbo-Croat tensions over the structuring of the Yugoslav state continued, with the concept of a separate Bosnian division receiving little or no consideration. The famous Cvetkoviæ-Maèek agreement that created the Croatian banate in 1939 encouraged what was essentially a partition of Bosnia between Croatia and Serbia.[4] However, outside political circumstances forced Yugoslav politicians to shift their attention to the rising threat posed by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. Following a period that saw attempts at appeasement, the signing of the Tripartite Treaty, and a coup d'état, Yugoslavia was finally invaded by Germany on April 6, 1941.[3]

World War II

The 1990 parliamentary elections led to a national assembly dominated by three ethnically-based parties, which had formed a loose coalition to oust the communists from power. Croatia and Slovenia's subsequent declarations of independence and the warfare that ensued placed Bosnia and Herzegovina and its three constituent peoples in an awkward position. A significant split soon developed on the issue of whether to stay with the Yugoslav federation (overwhelmingly favored among Serbs) or seek independence (overwhelmingly favored among Bosniaks and Croats). A declaration of sovereignty in October 1991 was followed by a referendum for independence from Yugoslavia in February and March 1992 boycotted by the great majority of Bosnian Serbs. The turnout in the independence referendum was 63.7% and 99.4% voted for independence.[3] The controversy lies in the fact that the referendum failed to surpass the constitutional two-third required majority. But Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence nevertheless[3] Following a tense period of escalating tensions and sporadic military incidents, open warfare began in Sarajevo on April 6.[3]

 

International recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina increased diplomatic pressure for the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) to withdraw from the republic's territory which they officially did. However, in fact, the Bosnian Serb members of JNA simply changed insignia, formed the Army of Republika Srpska, and continued fighting. Armed and equipped from JNA stockpiles in Bosnia, supported by volunteers and various paramilitary forces from Serbia, and receiving extensive humanitarian, logistical and financial support from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Republika Srpska's offensives in 1992 managed to place much of the country under its control.[3] By 1993, when an armed conflict erupted between the Sarajevo government and the Croat statelet of Herzeg-Bosnia, about 70% of the country was controlled by Republika Srpska. The ethnic cleansing and civil rights violations against non-serbs were rampant in these areas. Until today the DNA teams are still digging through the mass graves which were left as a result of the campaign. One single most prominent example is the Massacre of Srebrenica, ruled genocide by the Hague Tribunal. The third war party, Bosnian Muslims, also called Bosniaks, was supported financially or otherwise by some pro-Islamic countries in the Middle East and Asia. [8]

In March 1994, the signing of the Washington accords between the leaders of the republican government and Herzeg-Bosnia led to the creation of a joint Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The signing of the Dayton Agreement in Dayton, Ohio by the presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Alija Izetbegoviæ), Croatia (Franjo Tuðman), and Yugoslavia (Slobodan Miloševiæ) brought a halt to the fighting, roughly establishing the basic structure of the present-day state. The number of identified victims is currently at 97,207, and the recent research estimates the total number to be less than 110,000 killed (civilians and military)[10][11][12], and 1.8 million displaced. This is being addressed by the International Commission on Missing Persons.

The Bosnian government charged Serbia of complicity in genocide in Bosnia during the war at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In its verdict (2007), the Court found that Serbia had not committed or conspired to commit genocide. It also concluded that Serbia was not complicit in genocide. It also dismissed Bosnian claims that genocide has been committed on the whole territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It did, however, find that Serbia had violated the obligation under the Genocide Convention to prevent the specific instance of genocide that occurred at Srebrenica in 1995.[1][2]

 Politics and government

As a result of the Dayton Accords, the civilian peace implementation is supervised by the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina selected by the Peace Implementation Council. The High Representative has many governmental and legislative powers, including the dismissal of elected and non-elected officials. More recently, several central institutions have been established (such as defense ministry, security ministry, state court, indirect taxation service etc.) in the process of transferring part of the jurisdiction from the entities to the state.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's governments representation is by elites who represent the country's three major groups, with each having a guaranteed share of power.

The Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina rotates among three members (Bosniak, Serb, Croat), each elected as the Chair for an eight-month term within their four-year term as a member. The three members of the Presidency are elected directly by the people (Federation votes for the Bosniak/Croat, Republika Srpska for the Serb).

The Chair of the Council of Ministers is nominated by the Presidency and approved by the House of Representatives. He or she is then responsible for appointing a Foreign Minister, Minister of Foreign Trade, and others as appropriate.

The Parliamentary Assembly is the lawmaking body in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It consists of two houses: the House of Peoples and the House of Representatives. The House of Peoples includes 15 delegates, two-thirds of which come from the Federation (5 Croat and 5 Bosniaks) and one-third from the Republika Srpska (5 Serbs). The House of Representatives is composed of 42 Members, two-thirds elected from the Federation and one-third elected from the Republika Srpska.

he Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the supreme, final arbiter of legal matters. It is composed of nine members: four members are selected by the House of Representatives of the Federation,two by the Assembly of the Republika Srpska, and three by the President of the European Court of Human Rights after consultation with the Presidency.

However, the highest political authority in the country is the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the chief executive officer for the international civilian presence in the country. Since 1995, the High Representative was able to bypass the elected parliamentary assembly or to remove elected officials. The methods selected by the High Representative are often seen as dictatorship [13].

Administrative divisions

Bosnia and Herzegovina has several levels of political structuring under the federal government level. Most important of these levels is the division of the country into two entities: Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina covers some 51% of Bosnia and Herzegovina's total area, while Republika Srpska covers around 49%. The entities, based largely on the territories held by the two warring sides at the time, were formally established by the Dayton peace agreement in 1995 due to the tremendous changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina's ethnic structure. Since 1996 the power of the entities relative to the federal government has decreased significantly. Nonetheless, entities still have numerous powers to themselves. The Brèko federal district in the north of the country was created in 2000 out of land from both entities. It officially belongs to both, but is governed by neither, and functions under a decentralized system of local government. The Brèko district has been praised for maintaining a multiethnic population and a level of prosperity significantly above the national average.[14]

The third level of Bosnia and Herzegovina's political subdivision is manifested in cantons. They are unique to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, which consists of ten of them. All of them have their own cantonal government, which is under the law of the Federation as a whole. Some cantons are ethnically mixed and have special laws implemented to ensure the equality of all constituent peoples.

The fourth level of political division in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the municipalities. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided in 74 municipalities, and Republika Srpska in 63. Municipalities also have their own local government, and are typically based around the most significant city or place in their territory. As such, many municipalities have a long tradition and history with their present boundaries. Some others, however, were only created following the recent war after traditional municipalities were split by the IEBL. Each canton in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of several municipalities, with the municipalities themselves further divided into local communities.

Besides entities, cantons, and municipalities, Bosnia and Herzegovina also has four "official" cities. These are: Banja Luka, Mostar, Sarajevo, and East Sarajevo. The territory and government of the cities of Banja Luka and Mostar corresponds to the municipalities of the same name, while the cities of Sarajevo and East Sarajevo officially consist of several municipalities. Cities have their own city government whose power is in between that of the municipalities and cantons (or the entity, in the case of Republika Srpska).

 

 

 

The Sarajevo Haggadah

The Sarajevo Haggadah is an illuminated manuscript that contains the traditional text of the Passover Haggadah which accompanies the Passover Seder. It is the oldest Sephardic Haggadah in the world, originating in Barcelona around 1350. The Haggadah is presently owned by the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, where it is on permanent display.