Our inability to relate to one another is very, very, very important. When we don’t have it, we get situations like Bosnia.Edward James Olmos
August 3-6 2017
Leaving Trebinje, my next stop would be Mostar within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I was definitely back on the tourist trail. A lot of people take days trips from Dubrovnik, Croatia to see the famous Stari Most, or Old Bridge.
Stari Most was originally built in 1566 to connect the two parts of the city, before being destroyed in 1993 during the Croat-Bosniak War.
It began reconstructing in 2001 and was completed in 2004, becoming a symbol of shared cultural heritage and peaceful co-existence. However, once you step out of the tourist area surrounding the bridge, you realize not much has changed since the war.
Over my four day visit I was able to branch out to other parts of the city, talking with several young locals, and meeting some older locals as well who could speak english.
It became clear that the city is held hostage by different nationalist groups and parties, unwilling to build a local government but instead trying to raise more ethnical borders.
The city is segregated, with the Bosniaks (Muslims) living in one half and the Croats and Serbs living on the other. The children go to the same schools, but are forced into separate classrooms based on their ethnicity, bodyguards are present as the parents will often fight.
The scars of the war are visible across Mostar, with no effort by the corrupt local government to make improvements and money is stolen. Each year, the majority Croat government picks a building to restore, and as one can guess it is always a building located on the Croat side,
In the middle of town is one of the most ominous structures, the former Central Bank, used as a sniper tower by the Croats and Serbs during the war, aiming at Bosniaks walking, driving or simply in their homes.
I got the sense that the younger generations want to become integrated, and have no hard feelings towards other groups, but unfortunantly those in power have different ideas.
All the people I talked to agreed that things were better as part of Yugoslavia, when everything was kept together under Josip Tito and everyone saw each other as their brothers and sisters.
Fortunantly, as I continued through Bosnia, I found that not everywhere is as segregated and nationalist as Mostar, especially Sarajevo, which I will cover next.