An adult of the first new generation: Dayton today is 25 years old

We Hungarians, who lived much more modestly than the Yugoslav average at that time, did not want to believe for a long time that the neighbors who were still envied yesterday were able to descend into the hell of a senseless fraternal war from 1991-92. They trembled in all its pots, turning their wealth accumulated through decades of hard work into dust and ashes. Plus, we knew that down there, in the south, they were more or less a people, everyone just called them yugos.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a member republic of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, they knew or wanted to know that they were a people. There were those who thought of themselves as Serbs, Croats or Muslims, but this was not talked about very much in the everyday life of socialism, and for a number of reasons.

On the one hand, they wanted to leave behind the nightmarish memories of World War II, when the Croatian Ustaas and their Muslim auxiliaries killed the Serbs, and then the Serbian Chetniks revived the Muslim villages in eastern Bosnia. On the other hand, religion was not part of everyday life, just as no one went to church or mosque, Muslims drank alcohol – it was not possible to get involved in big theological and lifestyle debates.

Moreover, every fourth covenant was a mixed marriage: love knew no ethnic boundaries, and there were no linguistic boundaries. In Bosnia, everyone spoke the same language, based on Serbian vocabulary, spiced with Turkish terms, with Croatian pronunciation. Today, no one wants to believe it, but it was not between the Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs that there was the greatest confusion, but precisely between the Muslim Bosniaks and the “Turkish-beating” Christian Serbs. Although many of the children conceived from such marriages declared themselves Yugoslavs, everyone preferred the Bosnian name, or bosanac (pronounced boszánac).

After the 1990 nationalist turn, churches and mosques opened, and everyone could proudly declare themselves Serbian, Croatian, or Muslim; the name Bosnians has been adopted by Muslims since 1993. New political parties formed along ethnic lines united against the “reform communists” and destroyed them in a democratic election. At first, everyone envisioned the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a Swiss in the Balkans, where the three ethnicities, living in their own cultural diversity, mourn the kayak in Western prosperity: this is what Bosnia calls over skim milk, pretty much what we call brindza.

But everything turned out very differently, the beautiful dreams were swallowed up by the freezing darkness. The ghosts of the past first appeared, reviving old grievances from World War II, the royal Yugoslavia, and even Turkish times – on which everyone quarreled with everyone. With a big bang but torn Yugoslavia, the murderous war between Croats and Serbs spread like bushfire to long-peaceful Bosnia, where the somewhat contemplative Muslims welcomed it with complete incomprehension because they had no particular problem with either the Serbs or the Croats. In Sarajevo, everyone was happily trying to live their daily lives, enjoying the benefits of infrastructure improvements brought about by the 1984 Winter Olympics and the employee salaries that are still considered fair.

Then, overnight, Bosnian Serbs began firing at Sarajevo from cannons and tanks, which also had a large Serb population. The siege ring broke out of hunger, and the population, plagued by bombs and sneaky snipers, plunged into food aid from humanitarian organizations for years. They made strudel from nettles, made cakes from beans, and heated it with trees cut down in city parks, while there were regular tragedies at queues for bread and water, and bodies torn apart by grenades were shown to astonished viewers on CNN news television evening broadcasts.

Almost no war has sneaked into the living room of outsiders as much as the siege of Sarajevo in the first half of the 1990s. That is why the conscience of the Western powers was awakened, and it was decided in 1995 that this war should definitely end.

A tireless American diplomat, Richard Holbrooke, who died in 2010, was given the task in 1995 to put the war parties back on the negotiating table and not let them stand up until they agreed. Holbrooke’s empathy for the region was demonstrably heightened by the fact that it was at this time that he signed his third but last marriage, this time with a journalist of Hungarian descent, Kati Marton.

Through Holbrooke, Croatian President Franjo Tuđman, Serbian President Slobodan Milošević and Alija Izetbegović, the political leader of Bosnian Muslims, spoke at an Ohio air base for three weeks. The surrounding town is called Dayton, and just 25 years ago, on November 21, 1995, difficult negotiations ended, which finally brought peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where by then hundreds of thousands had lost their lives and nearly two million had become runaways. It was The bloodiest war in Europe since World War II.

The Dayton Peace Treaty has been surrounded by doubts and criticisms since its inception and ever since. Skeptical analysts thought the ceasefire would not last until a quarter, let alone a quarter of a century. Many doubted whether the complicated constitutional system created by the Dayton compromises in Bosnia would work. There were also many skeptics in the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, even in the late 1990s it was stated in informal conversations that Bosnia and Herzegovina was a political fiction, not an existing state.

Yet within a year after Dayton, scandal-free general elections were held in Bosnia, where in September 1996 the author of these lines was present as an election observer. Many refugees returned to their homes. Everyone could get their pre-war property back and sell it at a good price if they didn’t want to move back there because another ethnic group took over local political power there. They created a common army that still exists today.

With the active participation of Kálmán Kocsis, the former head of Hungarian civil intelligence a central secret service was set up in 2004 with its headquarters in Sarajevo. It was a great success, although in advance almost no one believed in it. A few years after the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina became a multi-ethnic border guard and customs service, agreeing on which taxes would flow to the central level and which would remain with the so-called “entities” (Croatian-Bosnian and Serbian), which are more but not entirely monoethnic. are under. Loaded with controversy, the collective presidency has been in place for 24 years since yesterday Bosnian Serb politician Milorad Dodik is a presiding member for the next eight months.

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