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War and Peace in Bosnia

Summary:
In the 25 years since the Dayton Agreement, Bosnia has avoided a return to war, even as it has fallen short of the hoped-for political reconstruction and reconciliation. The task now is to support a new generation of leaders who are ready to move on, while never forgetting the two most important lessons of the past. STOCKHOLM – At a US Air Force base in Ohio 25 years ago, the European continent’s most devastating war since 1945 came to an end with the Dayton Agreement. After three and a half years, the war in Bosnia had taken more than 100,000 lives, wrought immense destruction, and displaced millions from their homes. “It may not be a just peace, but it is more just than a continuation of war,” the Bosnian Muslim

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In the 25 years since the Dayton Agreement, Bosnia has avoided a return to war, even as it has fallen short of the hoped-for political reconstruction and reconciliation. The task now is to support a new generation of leaders who are ready to move on, while never forgetting the two most important lessons of the past.

STOCKHOLM – At a US Air Force base in Ohio 25 years ago, the European continent’s most devastating war since 1945 came to an end with the Dayton Agreement. After three and a half years, the war in Bosnia had taken more than 100,000 lives, wrought immense destruction, and displaced millions from their homes. “It may not be a just peace, but it is more just than a continuation of war,” the Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegović observed. “In the situation as it is, and in the world as it is, a better peace could not have been achieved.”

Too true. Together with the American and Russian negotiators, Richard Holbrooke and Igor Ivanov, I experienced the ups and downs of those 21 days in Dayton firsthand as the European Union’s co-chair of the peace talks. I then spent the next few years in Sarajevo, trying to guide the implementation of the agreement’s first steps. I learned that it is far easier to start a war than to build a peace. The Bosnian conflict had been a perfect illustration of this fundamental historic truth. When Yugoslavia started to...

Carl Bildt
Co-Chair European Council on Foreign Relations @ecfr. Among many other things. På svenska på @cbildt.

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