Sarajevo Guitar Festival Opens

The sixth Sarajevo International Guitar Festival is held 6-10 April in Sarajevo’s City Hall and the Armed Forces House. Admission to the concerts is free, the organizers said on festival’s website.

April 7, 20.00h, City Hall
Srđan Bulat, Sanel Redžić and String Orchestra of Music Academy in Sarajevo


April 8, 20.30h, City Hall
Christopher Ladd


April 9, 20.30h, City Hall
Margarita Escarpa


April 10, 20.00h, Armed Forces House
Orchestra “102 guitar strings”

Medjugorje Is “Very Fertile Grounds for Religious Vocations”, Says Pope’s Envoy

A Pope’s envoy to Medjugorje compared the controversial pilgrimage site in Herzegovina to Lourdes in France, a widely celebrated and officially approved Marian sanctuary, at the end of his first visit there, according to a Catholic website. The comparison will likely be taken by Medjugorje supporters as a positive indication about the envoy’s attitude.

Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser was appointed by Pope Francis in February to review the pastoral situation for the residents and the 2.5 million faithful who arrive on pilgrimage at Medjugorje each year. It’s not the scope of Hoser’s mission to determine the veracity of the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje. The Vatican’s doctrinal office set up a commission in 2011 for that purpose, which allegedly finalized its work in 2014, but to this point, nothing has been announced.

“The same as you, I expect a final decision from the commission, and of course the Holy Father Pope Francis,” Hoser said at an April 5 press conference in Medjugorje, reported Crux.

Speaking in French, he also said that he has no knowledge of where Francis stands regarding the apparitions. Although he refused to even give his personal opinion regarding the phenomenon, Hoser did have considerable praise to bestow at the end of his seven-day visit. He praised the many expressions of faith he found in Medjugorje, saying that from a religious perspective, the place is “very fertile grounds for religious vocations.”

He said that 610 priests have cited Medjugerje as a moving force in their vocation, with most of these vocations coming from the United States, Italy and Germany. This, Hoser noted, is a significant contribution, given the crisis of vocations to the priesthood in some countries.

Other statistics Hoser supplied include the fact that pilgrims flock to Medjugorje from 80 countries, and he said that after only 36 years, 2.5 million people travel there yearly. Hoser acknowledged that number is significantly lower than Lourdes, where six million people visit every year, but have been doing so for 150 years.

The number of pilgrims who visit represents a “huge challenge” for the priests who serve in Medjugorje, Hoser said, requiring expansions to the infrastructure of the church, which is run by the Franciscans.

Yet despite the parallel Hoser drew between Lourdes and Medjugorje, he also said there were differences between what is allegedly going on in Herzegovina and other major Marian sites. One of them is the location. For instance, at Lourdes the Virgin Mary is said to always appear in the cave that later became the famous grotto, while in Fatima she allegedly always appeared above the oak tree.

“Here, according to what visionaries are saying, the apparitions follow the person, where the person goes,” Hoser said.

“This could be at home, when they are traveling, in the church. These are all specifics that make the work of a final decision more difficult,” he explained.

Sarajevans Remember the Start of 1992-1995 Siege

April 5, 1992 is generally accepted as the date Sarajevo siege started early into the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Flowers were laid at several places in the city on Wednesday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of events that will turn out to be the start of the longest siege of a city in modern history.

At formerly Vrbanja bridge in central Sarajevo, family and friends commemorated Suada Dilberović and Olga Sučić, considered to be the first victims of the siege that claimed 11,000 lives. The two women were gunned down while taking part in a peace protest on April 5, 1992.

When Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia after the independence referendum in 1992, the Bosnian Serbs — whose strategic goal was to create a new Bosnian Serb state of Republika Srpska — encircled Sarajevo with a siege force of 13,000 stationed in the surrounding hills. From there they assaulted the city with artillery, tanks and small arms. From 2 May 1992, the Serbs blockaded the city. The Bosnian government defenses inside the besieged city, numbering some 70,000 troops, were poorly equipped and unable to break the siege.

The siege officially ended in March 1996, following the 1995 NATO bombing campaign against Bosnian Serb military and the Dayton peace agreement that ended the Bosnian war.



WizzAir Starts Budapest-Sarajevo Flights

A WizzAir jet landed this morning at the Sarajevo airport marking the start of connection with Budapest. The main low-cost carrier in Central and Eastern Europe will operate regular Sarajevo-Budapest flights twice a week.

Hungarian Ambassador to Bosnia, Négyesi József, said that it was an honor to be present at a ceremony marking the launch of the Budapest-Sarajevo service.

“Political, economic, cultural relations between Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina are exceptional: the common history and geographical prism are crucial elements that have a positive impact on our cooperation. Further deepening and strengthening of economic, political, trade and cultural relations is our shared intent and interest. For many years, the main obstacle for developing our relations was the poor organization of transport of passengers and goods between our two countries. As we know, in the 21st century, connection is an essential condition for a success in maintaining relations. Not only economic, but also the (relations) in everyday life of citizens,” said Ambassador József.

Documentary Looks into Sarajevo Football Rivalry

“The Sarajevo Derby is a film at least as much about the city, its history of conflict, and my journey to it, as it is the football rivalry it professes to centre on. It barely even shows a ball being kicked. This is a football film that is not really about football,” wrote Joel Rookwood about his film “The Sarajevo Derby”, released a week ago.

The documentary, shot last year, centers on matches between rivals from the capital, Željezničar and Sarajevo, during which fans usually create a competitive atmosphere with big flags, paper rolls, scarfs and loud chanting. It is not uncommon to see members of the same family on opposite sides, not speaking to each other on the day of the derby, with opposing fans engaging in mutual provocations at the end of the match, eagerly awaiting the next confrontation.

“Being offered a passport to the inner sanctum of one of Europe’s greatest derbies was a privilege, and the three-day visit to Bosnia provided such a concentrated exposure to the region, and particularly the city of Sarajevo, that it took me eleven months to turn the 140 minutes of footage into a 45-minute film. Gratitude abounds for all those who helped make it possible,” wrote Rookwood.

Football Season Opens at Improved Grbavica Stadium

Three and a half months after the start of construction, the east bleachers at the Grbavica stadium were officially opened on Saturday. The honor to open the bleachers, announced as the biggest construction project in the recent history of Željezničar football club, was given to the club’s honorary president and a legend of football in Bosnia, Ivica Osim.

“I have never seen a better field. I wish it was like this before. Together we can achieve anything we imagine. I would like to thank the fans who came to Grbavica today,” said Osim, welcomed with a standing ovation from the fans.


The bleachers opened before the first match of the national champions’ league, played by Željezničar and Sloboda from Tuzla.

The new east bleachers can take 4,266 spectators. The stadium now has 13,449 seats.

The Next Crisis Is the Election Law, Says Parliament Official

Deputy speaker of the national parliament’s House of Representatives said the next in a series of political crises in the country is the election law reform.

“Even if we solved the crises that we already have, there is a crisis ‘on the table’ right now, and that is the election law. The election law (reform) is about the issue of relations between the (main ethnic) groups, or the issue of election of the Croat member in the (state) presidency and election of (members) in the House of Peoples, and it is a threat for the next elections. Some (politicians) have already said that there will be no election if there was no agreement (on the election law reform). If that happens, there will be a vacuum that could generate who knows what,” Mladen Bosic, a Serb, said in a show broadcast by a network of TV stations.

He advised the Bosniak politicians to try and solve the issue of election of the Croat member in the presidency, which would “relax the relations and wouldn’t be at the detriment of Bosniaks”.

“I know there is a general feeling with the Bosniaks that it is very difficult to make concessions, that is why somebody needs to tell the people that it is in the interest of Bosniaks and Serbs, because it would stabilize the relations,” said Bosic.

He said that at least 15 percent of any election results is rigged and added he would support the introduction of electronic voting if that would solve the problem of rigged results.