Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Fans and players react online to Arsene Wegner's club departure

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Syria alleged chemical attack: Gunfire delays deployment of weapons inspectors

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Cashing in on local French currencies

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Life on the canals of northern France

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

What lies ahead for Cuba after the Castros?

Read more

#TECH 24

Discovering and harnessing the power of the sun

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Can France bid 'adieu' to popular weedkiller glyphosate?

Read more

#THE 51%

Harmful for your health: When gender bias affects medical diagnosis

Read more

REPORTERS

Africa’s donkeys slaughtered for Chinese ‘miracle elixir’

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2012-12-04

Bosnia: still ethnically divided?

It’s been 20 years since the bitter conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina broke out, a war which cost 100,000 people their lives. It tore communities apart, and ignited ethnic tensions between Bosnia’s three largest communities: Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Bosniak Muslims. And the country is still governed along ethnic lines. Our reporters travelled to Sarajevo, Mostar and Banja Luka to find out how divided Bosnia remains today.

Right from the outset, it was clear this was going to be a difficult and sensitive report to shoot. We’d spent months trying to set up interviews with people throughout Bosnia on the ethnic divisions still in place today. Several requests fell through, some right at the last moment. We’d actually begun filming in an ethnically segregated school in central Bosnia when one of the head teachers suddenly pulled the plug. He was the head of the Croat side of the school, supposedly working in tandem with his Bosniak counterpart. But the two men didn’t share any office space, and trying to get them together was apparently pushing their boundaries too far. We were suddenly given the cold shoulder, and told we’d have to apply for another permit from education authorities in the area – a vortex of red tape and local ethnic squabbles which we’d already been through several times. Trying to get TV cameras into these divided schools is a big ask, and shows just how raw feelings still are around such issues.

Eventually we decided to film instead at the inspiring Mostar Grammar School, whose forward-looking head teacher has been pushing hard for greater integration between his Bosniak and Croat pupils. He’s now the sole director of the school, which simplifies the task enormously. He’s inaugurated communal IT classes, and students spend their breaks between lessons together. All the young people we spoke to there said they wanted to mix more, and that they found these ethnic divisions outdated and unnecessary.

Throughout the country, ordinary people expressed their weariness with the way Bosnia is divided and run by politicians. We found a population on the whole eager to move on from the war, and mainly worried now about how they’ll cope economically. The financial crisis has hit Bosnia hard, and the squabbles between ethnically-based political parties have worsened its impact.

At times it felt as though the country was stuck in a time warp – that its structures had been frozen somewhere in the years just after the war. Its map is still based on the Dayton Peace Accords drawn up in 1995, with internal borders based on the front lines of the war. Road signs read “Welcome to the Republika Srpska” when you cross over into the Bosnian Serb political entity, and the Serb rather than the Bosnian flag flies high in its capital. Locals told us complicated stories of paying different tax rates in different regions, and of the huge paperwork involved in voting in another area. Bosnian people may wish to move on, but it’s going to take a long time to bring the country closer together in political and organisational terms.

By Catherine NORRIS TRENT

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-04-20 Africa

Africa’s donkeys slaughtered for Chinese ‘miracle elixir’

Every year, China slaughters millions of donkeys to make Ejiao, a traditional medicine hailed as a ‘miracle elixir’ which is used to treat various ailments. As China’s donkey...

Read more

2018-04-13 Americas

From Brazil to Canada: the new odyssey for African migrants

Canada has become the new El Dorado for many African migrants, who have seen Europe and the United States close their borders. But they face a dangerous journey across South and...

Read more

2018-04-06 Africa

Video: Mauritanian Sahara delights tourists again after years blighted by terror

After years blighted by terror attacks, tourists are beginning to return to Mauritania. Charter flights between Paris and the Mauritanian Sahara resumed in December 2017....

Read more

2018-03-30 Middle East

Video: Fighting for survival in war-torn Yemen

Since 2015, Yemen has been locked in a civil war in which Saudi Arabia – a supporter of Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi-- has led a Sunni coalition against Houthi...

Read more

2018-03-23 terrorism

Inside the Kurdish courts trying IS group militants

The long and gruesome war that the Kurds have waged against the Islamic State (IS) group has not only left thousands dead but also produced many prisoners. For the first time, a...

Read more