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With Pale School Opening, Serb Leader Sends Message To Bosnia

A child shows the traditional Serb three-finger salute in Pale, in Bosnia's Republika Srpska, on September 8. He's waving the Serbian flag.
A child shows the traditional Serb three-finger salute in Pale, in Bosnia's Republika Srpska, on September 8. He's waving the Serbian flag.
By Gordana Knezevic
It is unusual for a president of one country to travel to another to celebrate the opening of an ordinary elementary school.

It's even more unusual when that president does so without informing key officials in the country he's visiting.

But that's just what Serbian President Boris Tadic did on September 8, when he traveled to the town of Pale in Bosnia-Herzegovina to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its freshly built red-brick school, where classes for 600 first- through eighth-graders have already begun.

Neither the Croatian nor Muslim members of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency were consulted about Tadic's trip. The reason for that may have become clear when the Serbian leader, in a speech before hundreds of local officials, schoolchildren, and Orthodox clergy, explained the reason for his visit.

"By opening this school, we're contributing to a great thing: education for our people," Tadic said. "I want to tell you that Serbia, of which I am president, has a responsibility to Serbs wherever they are. Serbia is not responsible for the citizens of Serbia alone; Serbia is responsible for all the people who belong to our nation."

Funding for the school -- provocatively named "Serbia" -- came not from Serbia but from the local government of Bosnia's Serbian entity, Republika Srpska.

But critics say everything from Tadic's presence, to the historically loaded site of Pale, to even the school's provocative name -- "Serbia" -- speaks of a wider plan crafted with Belgrade's approval.

Milenko Dereta, an analyst based in the Serbian capital, says the ribbon-cutting is just the latest salvo in the ongoing Serbian campaign to shatter Bosnian sovereignty and build a unified Serbian nation.

"A real achievement [in tolerance], for me, would be the opening of a school named 'Serbia' in the Muslim-Croat half of Bosnia," Dereta says. "But when it's in Republika Srpska, it's like a cherry on top of a cake or a flag being raised to mark territorial gains."

'Special Relations'

Pale, a sleepy mountain town in a region known to local Serbs as East Sarajevo, was the stronghold of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic during the Bosnian war.

Nearly 20 kilometers to the east of Sarajevo, it was a key launching point for the Serbian artillery barrages, under Karadzic's supervision, that killed more than 10,000 Sarajevans during the 1992-95 siege of the city.

Plaque bears the name of the "Serbia" elementary school in Pale.
The internationally brokered Dayton agreement that ended the war kept Pale, and the rest of Bosnia's Serb-majority territory, as part of Republika Srpska, which together with the Muslim-Croat Federation formed Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Dayton also granted Serbia the right to "special relations" with the Republika Srpska.

But critics say that doesn't extend to building schools named "Serbia" in a town notorious for its tactical contribution to the slaughter of Bosnians in Sarajevo.

Sacir Filandra, a professor at Sarajevo University, notes that Dayton intended to empower Serbia as a peacemaker, not a spoiler.

"The problem is that 'special' and 'parallel' relations [as defined by Dayton] is subject to political manipulation," Filandra says.

The development is particularly worrying at a time when Milorad Dodik, the voluble prime minister of Republika Srpska, is threatening to secede from the state.

At the September 8 opening, children gathered outside the school waved both Serbian and Republika Srpska flags, occasionally flashing the three-fingered salute favored by Serbian soldiers during the war.

Dodik, playing the ebullient host during the school opening, praised the Serbian president as his own.

"It's a wonderful occasion to be here today among the good people of Pale of East Sarajevo, among our people and students, with our guests and with our dear President Tadic," Dodik told the crowd.

A Blind Eye?

For Bosnia's Muslims and Croats, Dodik's antics are nothing new. More upsetting may be the muted reaction of the international community to provocations like the Tadic visit and the "Serbia" school.

Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, the high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina -- whose task, as outlined by Dayton, is to monitor the country's fragile peace -- offered no statement about the Serbian president's trip.

Serbian President Boris Tadic (left) with Republika Srpska's prime minister, Milorad Dodik, in Pale on September 8
Aleksandar Popov, an analyst based in Belgrade, suggests that the West, by turning a blind eye to such events, may be trying to appease Serbia for the loss of Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence last year with the backing of the United States and a majority of EU countries.

"The idea that Serbia could make up for the loss of Kosovo by acquiring Republika Srpska is poisoning us," Popov says. "Serbia could gain much more respect if it would contribute to stability in Bosnia -- if it would cooperate not just with Republika Srpska, but with other parts of Bosnia as well."

Few of Popov's fellow Serbs share his view, however. "Why shouldn't we build a school in Pale?" says one passerby in Belgrade. "I see it as an expression of Serbian unity."

Marija Arnautovic from Sarajevo, Ljudmila Cvetkovic from Belgrade, and Ivan Katavic from Pale contributed to this story

Gordana Knezevic

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by: Brazilian Man from: São Paulo - SP, Brazil
September 09, 2009 22:47
This article shows clearly all the infamy behind the “Greater Serbia” (i.e., expanding the borders of Serbia beyond Central Serbia and Vojvodina) project, which is still alive even tough Milosevic and Arkan are dead and Karadzic is on jail.<br /><br />Whose those leaders, who praise the place where the horrors by Ratko Mladic troops were committed, surrender the same Mladic to the Hague? I don’t think so.<br /><br />The little blond boy on the upper picture is already being brainwashed by the Greater Serbia ideology, waving a flag of a foreign country where he probably never set foot in his life.<br /><br />In the end, there is no such a thing called “Bosnian Serb National Ethnicity” — the only thing “Bosnian Serbs” and most of the Serbians have in common is the Serbian Orthodox Church.<br /><br />And in an democratic, secular Western Europe these kind of clerical, nationalist(oid) expansionist policies should be reprimanded and smashed.<br /><br />But while Brussels sleeps, maybe we are seeing the dawn… of Bosnian War II.

by: Darin from: France
September 10, 2009 15:06
So, what is the trouble? If certain could offer the independence to Kosovo in the very illegal way, why should not the Serbian president be able to inagurate an ordinary school in a Serbian village. Why don't certain politicians go to the internet site http://www.aacl.com where the former US congressman Joe dio Guardi openly claims he will &quot;help all Albanians in the Balkans&quot; including northern Greece.<br />Isn't it promoting of the Great Albania. (Croat doctor 'refused Serb help' <br />The United Nations refugee agency - the UNHCR - has expressed &quot;grave concern&quot; over what it calls an &quot;inter-ethnic incident&quot;.) Nowwho is brain washed and who keeps on being criminal?

by: Wdoric from: Los Angeles
September 10, 2009 17:49
I see that 'Smoke-and-Mirrors' journalism is alive and well at Radio Free Europe. It appears that unethical writers in the press suffer from amnesia by never reminding their readers that it was Alija Izetbegovic, the first president of Bosnia who withdrew his signature from the Lisbon Agreement before a single life was lost in Bosnia. These Muslims only have their own leaders to blame for this war and their personal losses, especially considering that over 300,000 Bosnian Serbs were cleansed and fled to Belgrade where over 250,000 of them were denied the right to vote in that election in which Izetbegovic won by only 44,000 votes, it is obvious that Radio Free Europe supports these thuggish ways of creating a nation. <br /><br />Clever, too, in your omission style of reporting that you never mention Izetbegovic's 1990 book, &quot;Islamic Declaration&quot; in which he stated: &quot;Every good Muslim, through his formal engagement, including the political one, at all times and in all places, must above all serve Islam, by force if necessary.&quot; That disgusting thought was followed by: &quot;There can be no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies and political institutions... an Islamic society without Islamic power is incomplete and weak; Islamic power without an Islamic society is either a utopia or violence.&quot; <br /><br />It is about time the Serbs start defending themselves against this stupid Dayton Accord as well as the Muslim jihad taking place in the Balkans and this school is a good start. Insisting that President Tadic of Serbia needs approval from the president of Bosnia to visit their country reveals the mind control that these Muslims demand over their citizens. <br /><br />Why did these Muslim officials not attend the opening of this Serbian school in their country? BECAUSE THEY ARE RACISTS AND RELIGIOUS IDIOTS! <br /><br />If Albanian Muslims can amputate Serbian territory illegally then Serbs in Bosnia have the same right to amputate Bosnia and join Serbian dominated territory with Serbia.<br /><br />The hideous double standards of Balkan politics sicken.<br /><br />I remind the readers of this Radio Free Europe trash of the remark made by Richard Holbrooke who strutted around the opulent OSCE restaurant on an upper floor of its Pristina headquarters in 1999 where he minced no words in front of 5 heads of UNMIK when he said: &quot;Forget multi-ethnic Kosovo. Forget Resolution 1244. We only signed that to get rid of the Serbs.&quot; It was a warm August night and the official representatives of the &quot;international community&quot; remained cooly silent., Only one official, Dennis MacNamara, head of UNHCR spoke-up, questioning why the UN took on the mission if the expulsion of the Serbs was a foregone conclusion? Holbrooke brushed off his inquiry; the other dignitaries remained quiet. <br /><br />So it is more than apparent that the expulsion of Serbs from any territory desired by Croats and Muslims was a &quot;foregone conclusion.&quot;<br /><br />Serbs, you better wake up before nothing is left of Serbia.<br /><br />William Dorich is the author of 5 books on Balkan history and music, including his 1992 book, Kosovo.

by: Antifascist
September 10, 2009 19:33
And there is one more thing: Kuzmanovic differed, saying that Tadic’s visit and the opening of the school do not put in question the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.<br /><br />“Republika Srpska is in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we have no intention to dismantle it,” he said. <br /><br />Ha ha ha! Well said! How clever! Of course they do not intend to dismantle &quot;RS&quot;. But when it comes to dismembering Bosnia-Herzegovina it will be quite a different matter, and then he can say he was talking about &quot;RS&quot;!

by: Argentine Man from: Buenos Aires
September 11, 2009 03:36
What's the problem? The Brazilian Man (Man formerly known as a Portuguese)is obviously ignorant of linguistics, history, geography, logic, and.... The French build schools in Algeria. The English have schools all over the world. The Jews have schools in NYC. Americans have schools in Paris, Rome etc. Are you seriously saying Serbs can't build a Serbian school next door in Republika Srpska (Serb Republic) in Bosnia-Hercegovina??!?!? The Serbs from Bosnia and Serbs from Serbia are only different when it comes to accents.. Are people from Brasilia and Rio different people and therefore not the same because they speak with different accents notwithstanding other similarities?!?!?<br /><br />This guy has what appears to be hardcore anti-Serb tendencies. <br /><br />You should take your hate, ignorance, and wishful thinking and leave it in Brasil... Good luck with the Olympics ;)

by: Vinnie from: Las Vegas
September 11, 2009 05:57
I frankly see nothing wrong in this situation. Lets not forget that the school is open in Pale, which used to be the capital of the Serb Republic during the Bosnian War. The town and the region is located in the entity of the Republic Srpska ( which consists nearly 97% of Bosnian Serbs, who pledge allegiance to the Serbian Flag and not the Bosnian)... Nobody is trying to provoke anybody here or invoke the tragic histories of the Bosnian Conflict... People simply want to have their national identity, religion, and culture retained, so opening a new school for children has nothing to do with &quot;brainwashing children&quot; for whatsoever. President Tadic was quick to declare that he would love for the Sandzak region of Serbia (a mainly muslim region) to open a school as well and name it &quot;Bosnia&quot;.... <br />Lets leave the sensitive issues of Greater Serbia, Greater Croatia, Muslim Bosnia to primitive, nationalistic and self-absorbed people of the 90s whose irredentist attitutedes have sparked the worst war on the European continent since WWII. <br />Such educational projcts such as schools need to be funded all over the region, so the future generations can learn on the mistakes of their forefathers and learn how to coexist in peace with one another.

by: Prince Igor
September 11, 2009 10:32
The 1995 Dayton Accords includes a provision allowing RS to establish its own parallel relations with other states.<br /><br />Then again, the neocon/neolib power structure has been known to change things it doesn't like.<br /><br />Meantime, the Bosnian Muslim natinalists continue to be given a longer leash.

by: Zoltan from: Hungary
September 11, 2009 14:20
Serbia have an undeniable right to support its fellow brethrens whereever they are. <br /><br />It is the same what for example Hungary does when it comes to ethnic Hungarians outside of the state borders.<br /><br />Hungarian political parties operate in Romania and Slovakia. They used to be part of the governing coalition several times.<br /><br />I do not see any problem about opening a school funded by Serbia in Republika Srpska.<br /><br />Borders are not to be modified but cultural ties are free to be improved.

by: A friend of Bosnia and proud to be Muslim
September 11, 2009 15:42
Ah c'mon William Dorich you cetnik so-and-so, stop attributing to the Bosniaks all the evil qualities of the Serbs, namely that they are RACISTS AND RELIGIOUS IDIOTS. Look at your countrymen and at your beloved Orthodox clergy.<br />Your immense hatred of Muslims is showing. To you, only a dead Bosniak can be a good Bosniak.<br />In that horrible film &quot;Lepa sela lepo gore&quot; one of your beloved chetnik heroes refers to an old prophecy that says that one day so few Serbs will remain that they all can sit under one tree. And he adds that before they will leave only so few Bosniaks that they can sit under a dandelion - without having to squeeze. Now if that is not evil don't know what is. But that evil they will never be able to do. The Bosniaks are in Bosnia to STAY, and nobody can take as much as one square millimeter of their territory. And if the Serbs don't like it, let them go to Serbia. After all they all have Serb passports now, don't they?<br />Don't you think that the Bosniaks will let themselves be led like lambs to the slaughter as last time.<br />In your own classic literary masterpiece, Njegos' &quot;Gorski vijenac &quot; it is clearly told that the Muslims offered the Christians peace and to share the land as equals. But no, the Christians had to kill them all! Is THAT being a good Christian?? Then I thank God I am not one! And besides that it shows the Serb character!<br />So to you just because I am a Muslim I am vermin and fair game? Then it is pointless to try to discuss with you reasonably. You understend only one language. Anytime Cetnik!<br />You serbofascists display the same arrogant, prepotent, xenophobic, intolerant, chauvinist attitude that was officailly sanctioned in Japan until September of 1945. And I'll tell you more, in the 1960s former President Truman sent a letter to the Japanese that he would do it again if needed (you know what I mean by &quot;it&quot;, and if that same thing were applied to the serbofascists too it would meet my approval.) It was high time the same medicine that was applied to Japan to make them let go of their dastardly ways was applied to your wretched accursed nation too. In 1998 they gave you only a small foretaste of that. And I feel sorry only for those Serb s who are not like that, who are not chauvinists fascists and religious bigots, such as Cedomir Jovanovic, Sonja Biserko or Natasa Kandic. They would certainly deserve better.<br />And get this straight, NONE OF YOU CHETNIK-LOVERS OUT THERE WILL EXPEL THE BOSNIAKS FROM THEIR HOMELAND! THE CROSS WILL NEVER CHASE THE CRESCENT OUT OF BOSNIA!<br /><br />And NEVER call Bosniaks &quot;jihadists&quot; again, you unprintable, unspeakable...!!!

by: Antifascist
September 11, 2009 15:43
Must we expect that that little kid shown in the photo on top will grow up to become another Karadzic, Mladic or Milan Lukic?
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