12 Months in Retrospect

2017 is approaching its end. Here are some of the events and developments that marked the year. 

January

An exhibition of mementos of children who lived through the war has finally opened after the War Childhood Museum secured enough funding to acquire a permanent home in Sarajevo. The museum is the permanent exhibition space for a collection of more than 3,000 personal objects which was started by director Jasminko Halilović in 2010.

February

As the deadline for appealing the 2007 International Court of Justice ruling in the Bosnia vs. Serbia genocide trial approached, political tension heightened with the Bosniak leader announcing an official appeal and the Bosnian Serb politicians vehemently opposing any such idea.

Pope Francis named a Polish archbishop as special envoy to Medjugorje, a popular but controversial pilgrimage town thanks to alleged appearances of the Virgin Mary. Archbishop Henryk Hoser was sent to “acquire a deeper knowledge of the pastoral situation” in Medjugorje, and “above all the needs of the faithful who go there on pilgrimage.”

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March

Zdravko Krsmanović, former mayor of the town of Foča and currently a lawmaker in the Republika Srpska Assembly, and Muhamed Ramović, mayor of Goražde, lobbied to have the route of a planned express road connecting Sarajevo and Belgrade run through the two east Bosnia towns.

The wartime police chief in Sarajevo and a former Bosnian interior ministry official went on trial over the killing of eight prisoners of war in 1992.

April

A supermarket in Mostar burned to the ground. There were no casualties reported as the customers and employees were evacuated.

President of Republika Srpska entity Milorad Dodik refused to shake hands with the American Ambassador to Bosnia, Maureen Cormack, at a ceremony marking the liberation of a WWII death camp in north-western Bosnia. The ceremony at Donja Gradina memorial was attended by numerous local and international officials. RS leader Dodik shook hands with the guests, but skipped Ambassador Cormack.

May

Five people on board a small plane died when it crashed in a field near Mostar. The pilot, an adult male and three children were killed in the accident.

A Sarajevo organization said its march for the gay rights was cancelled because the Sarajevo Canton government effectively banned it by not issuing a rally permit. Sarajevo Open Center said the local ministry of transport ignored the organization’s request to get a permit for the march in the city’s central zone.

June

An adviser to a member of Bosnian Presidency died in a car crash just outside Sarajevo. Irham Čečo (42) worked for the Bosniak member in the Presidency, Bakir Izetbegović. According to the police, he died on the spot from injuries when his car collided with a truck on a road some ten kilometers from Sarajevo.

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Calls for help from cancer patients whose treatment in a Sarajevo clinic was paused because of equipment malfunction resonated with the local media in the city. Reporters of several television stations, news websites and print newspapers reported from the oncology ward of the Sarajevo University’s Clinical Center, KCUS, on the developments that could have left tens of patients without a critical radiation therapy.

July

Thousands arrived at Potočari, outside the eastern Bosnia town of Srebrenica, for a commemoration and funeral of seventy-one victims of the 1995 genocide that were identified last year.

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Bosnian national commission for protection of landmarks stripped the remains of a Sarajevo Ottoman-era inn off the protected landmark status to allow for commercial construction on the site, outraging Sarajevans.

August

The United States Embassy to Bosnia criticized the Sarajevo authorities for renaming a school after a local World War 2 anti-Semite and supporter of the Nazi puppet government during the conflict.

Speaking to a German newspaper, Austria’s Foreign Minister warned of the growing influence of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the Balkans. “In Sarajevo and Priština (Kosovo), for example, women are paid to wear the full veil in public,” Sebastian Kurz told Handelsblatt Global.

September

Bosnian Croat and Bosniak politicians escalated their differences over Croatia’s plan to build a bridge spanning the stretch of Adriatic sea leading to Bosnian coastal town of Neum. Following statements of Croatian politicians that the Pelješac bridge construction will definitely start, one Bosniak and one Bosnian Croat minister in the Bosnian Council of Ministers sent letters to the Croatian government and the European Union officials, voicing their opposition and support, respectively, to Croatian bridge plans.

Three organizations in Sarajevo collected signatures from citizens for a petition to the local authorities, in which they demanded action towards fixing the city’s crumbling water supply network. Water shortages were a daily thing in Sarajevo, as entire neighborhoods were being subjected to the so-called “water reduction” regime.

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A row between the opposition lawmakers and the ruling majority in Republika Srpska entity parliament over a critical budget report culminated with physical separation when the ruling parties decided to ban opposition from a parliament session in Banja Luka.

Bosnian Council of Ministers signed the Transport Community treaty and joined the other Western Balkans countries that signed the treaty in a summit in Trieste, Italy earlier this year. Accession to the treaty was put on hold earlier due to differences between the governments on state and entity levels over the country’s representation in the Community.

October

Bosnian singer Azra Kolaković, known by her stage name Donna Ares, died from cancer at the age of 41.

Lawmakers of the ruling coalition in the Republika Srpska entity passed a resolution against attempts to join the North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationThe resolution on “protection of the constitutional order and military neutrality of Republika Srpska”, drafted by the SNSD-led majority in the RS parliament, says that Republika Srpska will oppose Bosnia’s membership in NATO before neighboring Serbia joins the alliance.

Police arrested a man in Pale, east of Sarajevo, after searching his apartment and finding what appeared to be an original of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement in English language. The document was later declared a copy of the original.

November

The UN tribunal on war crimes in former Yugoslavia in The Hague delivered its verdict in the trial of Ratko Mladić, former chief of the Bosnian Serb military, finding him guilty of the 1995 genocide at Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, and of terrorizing the civilian population in besieged Sarajevo from 1992 to 1995, but the charges of genocide in other Bosnian towns were dropped. The court sentenced former general to life in prison.

Former commander of Bosnian Croat forces during the Bosnian war died in a Dutch hospital after drinking poison during the sentencing in the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague.

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Politicians and the media in Serbia criticized heavily a statement of the Bosniak member in Bosnia’s Presidency on the country’s eventual recognition of Kosovo’s independence. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Bakir Izetbegović said he hoped Bosnia will recognize Serbia’s breakaway province.

December

The 2018 Council of Europe Museum Prize was awarded to the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo.

Two men fell in the Miljacka river in a residential part of Sarajevo. Rescuers retrieved the body of one of them from the Bosna river near the central Bosnia town of Visoko, some 35 kilometers from Sarajevo. The search for the other man continued through December.

In a tight 22-20 vote, lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed the new excise duty law, which unlocks a loan from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union financing for infrastructure projects in Bosnia.

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