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bosnet-digest V5 #80 / Tuesday, 27 February 1996

From: Dzevat Omeragic <dzevat@EE.MCGILL.CA>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


  • [01] Comm. For Multiethnic Bosnia About DPA

  • [02] UNESCO About SA/MO Libraries, Archives

  • [01] Comm. For Multiethnic Bosnia About DPA

    Statement on the Bosnian Peace Settlement
    February 21, 1996
    Committee for MultiEthnic Bosnia

    Bosnia is a country and people shattered by genocide, attempting to rebuild. The Dayton Peace Agreement has sent a large number of American and other foreign troops into the crisis.

    The attempt by Serb and Croat fascists to annihilate entire nationalities of several millions has been stopped for now. But the truce is tenuous. The U.S./NATO peace plan has set a new stage, but the same battle of the last four years continues: ethnic partition vs. reintegration. In print, the Dayton agreement calls for measures to reverse ethnic cleansing. These include the right of refugees to return to their homes, election procedures for a central government which allow expelled Bosnians to cast absentee ballots in the district they lived in before the war, human rights commissions, and an international police force. But in the country itself, powerful forces, some for and some against unification, confront each other. The NATO troops hit the ground waffling in the face of resistance by Serb and Croat supremacist armies. NATO is giving them great latitude to stall or block measures for reintegration. Dayton has not determined whether unification or partition will succeed--that will be fought out in Bosnia over the next few years. For now, the battle is civil, rather than military. But if reintegration fails, renewed war is likely.

    The Situation

    Bosnia is a traditionally multiethnic country, where no single group has dominated. Most of the population is Bosniak (Muslim), Serb (Orthodox Christian), or Croat (Catholic), there are smaller Jewish and Roma communities, and a substantial number of mixed ethnicity. Forty percent of the families in prewar Sarajevo were mixed. The term "Bosnian" refers to all the above ethnicities long resident in Bosnia. When Yugoslavia began to disintegrate in 1991, Bosnia was caught up in the territorial rivalries of neighboring Serbia and Croatia. The latter two armed ethnic supremacist proxies within Bosnia. A genocidal war ensued that removed one half of the population--either killed or forced abroad. The Bosnian government fought to defend the traditional pluralism, at first with only the handguns possessed by police and organized crime, and to this day under a NATO arms embargo.

    The reintegration of Sarajevo suburbs will bring 35% of Bosnia under control of the multiethnic government, the "Republic of Bosnia." All ethnicities reside in this zone and enjoy relatively equal rights, including 150,000 Serbs. Two other de facto states (zones with separate administration and armed forces) remain. These are regimes of the ethnic cleansers who have killed or expelled virtually all persons of other ethnic groups. Serb supremacists known as the "Serb Republic" (RS) occupy 49% of Bosnia in the north and east; Croat supremacists known as the "Croatian Defense Council" (HVO) occupy 16% in the southwest. The HVO statelet is illegal, maintained in violation of the 1994 Washington Accords and the Dayton Agreement.

    Through four years of war, the Bosnian government pulled together an alliance of Bosniaks, urban people, and progressive Serbs and Croats to resist the division of Bosnia. With the peace agreement, these groups are seeking to capture and prosecute the war criminals, dismantle the RS and HVO power structures, and win over the civilians in those zones to rebuild a multiethnic Bosnia. There are vocal, though persecuted, opposition factions in Serbia and Croatia which support this goal of the Bosnians, and want to put an end to the wars and prejudice.

    The war criminals in the RS and HVO zones have their armies, and a vested interest to maintain prejudice and division en route to the goal of partition of Bosnia between Serbia and Croatia. In addition, the HVO controls all direct transportation routes to the seaports. But there is logic, such as that of economic development or democratization, that cuts across the division of Bosnia. A test of strength lies ahead.

    What does nation-building mean in Bosnia?

    Tolerance. Reconstruction of a tolerant political order throughout the country is necessary to allow the safe return of refugees to their former homes. Tolerance requires compensation for stolen and destroyed property, and the prosecution of war criminals. Tolerance means a government and society that acknowledges different cultures and creates conditions for them to flourish--the multiple ethnic traditions as well as the urban diversity typified by Sarajevo.

    Economic recovery. Significant aid and investment is needed to restore destroyed infrastructure and raise productive capacity for the world market. Productive opportunity must become available if hope is to replace hate.

    Sovereignty. Recovery requires a stable peace and restoration of regional trade and coordinated development among Yugoslav countries. A sovereign Bosnia would assist both by forming a buffer against military adventurists in Serbia and Croatia, and by creating a working model of cooperation between Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks.

    Acknowledgment of Islam in Europe. The Serb supremacists openly called for and attempted to carry out the elimination of an Islamic culture indigenous to Europe. This struggle takes place on a background of exclusion and even persecution (as in France) of large Muslim minorities in Western Europe. A reunited Bosnia would reestablish the tolerant features of former Yugoslavia in the context of awakened Bosniak identity. Sovereign Bosnia would initiate an element of democracy that Europe lacks: giving an Islamic culture equal rights and public space alongside other cultures.

    Social Advance. The abuses of genocide have provoked a reaction of heightened political awareness and striving for social reform. The widespread use of war crimes directed against women (e.g., 20,000--50,000 rapes), has prompted women of all ethnicities to search for sources of these crimes in the unequal social and legal status of women before the war, and to seek new rights and equality in the new state.

    Struggle against fascism and NATO waffling

    In the next few years, several key factors impacting the struggle against fascism will be in the hands of foreign powers. These are: NATO enforcement of democratizing provisions of the Dayton plan, economic investment, and arming of the Bosnian Republic. Public debate within and among the Western powers has already begun over each of these three issues.

    The RS and HVO are determined to resist all democratizing measures. They gained power through military means and their strategy for survival is to block democratization until NATO leaves. NATO forces are waffling in the face of this resistance. They continue to coddle the fascist mayors of suburban Sarajevo and West Mostar, giving them valuable time to stall integration before the elections. NATO is not cooperating with the International War Tribunal, since it has not provided access to atrocity sites. NATO is not even pressing the Serbs to hand over prisoners; released prisoners cite at least 3,000 captured at Srebrenica as still being held in slave labor camps.

    The U.S. and European Union are haggling over who should pay how much for Bosnia's reconstruction--and both are shirking the necessary amounts.

    Thanks to the Western powers' arms embargo, the Bosnian Republic remains at a severe deficit of arms compared to the RS and HVO. Arming the Republic is essential to build the Bosnian nation, since it is the only local military force that favors reintegration. Once NATO leaves or reduces its presence, an adequately armed Republic is necessary to deter war and enforce the reintegration process. If the Dayton agreement breaks down, an armed Republic can protect civilians from a renewal of genocide and combat Serbian or Croatian expansion.

    The Dayton agreement calls for the total arms of the Bosnian Republic and the HVO to be twice the level of the RS (based on relative population levels), which would mean a substantial increase in the Republic's armament. Yet France has openly opposed arming Bosnia and Clinton is waffling.

    Americans and Bosnians

    Events in Bosnia are, for now, a direct concern to the families and friends of the 60,000+ American troops that will rotate through there. If NATO enforces policies that allow Bosnians to reintegrate and rebuild their country, the best chance will be provided for security of foreign troops and an early withdrawal. A stable Bosnia won't result from a narrow focus on the exodus of troops, however, but will only come from attention to the needs of nation-building.

    The Committee for MultiEthnic Bosnia advocates that Americans support the rebuilding of the Bosnian nation. Support the refugees' struggle for the right of return. Speak out and take action for NATO enforcement of democratization provisions of Dayton, adequate economic aid and investment, and arming the multicultural Bosnian Republic.

    Committee for MultiEthnic Bosnia
    Box 637BR
    Seattle, WA 98121
    (206) 324-7794

    [02] UNESCO About SA/MO Libraries, Archives

    The attached report came from UNESCO's Axel Plathe, who was kind enough to send me a copy. Mr. Plathe spent the first week of February 1996 visiting libraries in Sarajevo and Mostar.

    While the report offers a sign of hope, as it describes the progress of reconstruction and the tasks that still lie ahead, there are also some troubling aspects. In particular, it is noted that the former City Library of Mostar, now renamed the National Library of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna (and recently rebuilt by the EU Administration in Mostar), "is presently only accessible to users from Mostar West and the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna." In fact, this means that at present the sole functioning adult library in the city of Mostar is serving only Croats -- and remains off-limits to Muslims, Serbs and other citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Should the European Union, UNESCO, or the rest of us be helping to rebuild institutions that deny service to readers on the basis of their ethnic, religious or racial origin?

    Also troubling is the report's disclosure that the UNESCO/IFLA initiative "Solidarity with Librarians in Sarajevo", announced last year and widely publicized at the August 1995 IFLA conference, has thus far managed to raise only ca. US$5000 from librarians and other donors from around the world. Distributed equally among the 150 librarians and their families in Sarajevo, this comes to about $33 dollars for each family; certainly not enough for the cubic meter of fuel mentioned in the appeal, even if the prices have come down since it was issued. The travel budgets provided for many of the delegations sent to IFLA '95 by their home institutions must have far exceeded the total sum raised in support of our colleagues in Sarajevo. While the report calls the initiative "a success", there is probably another, less polite word to describe the level of response by librarians from around the world to the plight of their colleagues in Bosnia.

    Andras Riedlmayer
    Fine Arts Library
    Harvard University

    General Information Programme
    Assistance Programme for the Revival of the
    National and University Library of
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Second Report
    February 1996
    This report includes a description of new developments of UNESCO's assistance programme for the National and University Library in Sarajevo and a summary of a recent UNESCO Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It informs also about the planned General Assessment of the Situation of Libraries in Bosnia and Herzegovina and presents preliminary case studies concerning a certain number of libraries in the country. It highlights the problem of Training of Librarians in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since libraries are only one part of a country=D5s information landscape, UNESCO is preparing an assessment of the situation of Archives in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Finally, UNESCO is proud to present the success of the Call for Solidarity with Librarians in Sarajevo.

    UNESCO mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina
    30 January to 7 February 1996

    The mission, carried out by Mr Axel Plathe, Division of the General Information Programme, was intended to plan future activities within the framework of UNESCO's assistance programme for the Library in Sarajevo and to prepare the assessment of the situation of national information infrastructures, particularly of libraries and archives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between UNESCO and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The administrative structures to be implemented after the signature of the political decisions reflected in the Dayton Agreement will be defined after the elections to be held in summer 1996. This will also affect library and archives infrastructures in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. New legal texts concerning archival services will be prepared after elections. So far, archival laws established before the signing of the Dayton Agreement are in force. This applies mutatis mutandis to the National and University Library in Sarajevo which is called upon to play the role of the main library institution of the country.

    A general assessment of the situation of archival and library institutions in the country is foreseen to be carried out by UNESCO in the first half of 1996. This activity will be an important contribution to the restructuring of the country's information services after elections.

    A major problem in both the library and the archival field is the staff situation. The country has not only to face an important "brain-drain" of specialists in the archival and library field trough exile and departure in the last four years. The establishment of new political structures also requires the creation of national training institutions and programmes

    National and University Library in Sarajevo New developments

    UNESCO's assistance provided to the Library during the war was of particularly importance to this institution, providing immediate relief through the provision of basic publications and equipment and re-establishing international contacts.

    In general, the post-war situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the new elan of Bosnian Librarians are an important momentum for the reconstruction of the Library. In addition to technical support in planning and implementation of activities, UNESCO shall continue its fund raising efforts, particularly for the reconstitution of collections (reference material, bibliographies, handbooks of library sciences, basic periodicals, etc.). The funds raised by UNESCO since January 1994 amount to US$510,000 (UNESCO contributions US$220,000; donations US$290,000);

    A decision as to new premises of the Library has not yet been taken. Its Director presently negotiates the allocation of ca 400 m2 (sqm) in the centrally located building. Funds from UNESCO Library Fund will be made available for the refurbishing and equipping of these premises.

    The Library can only resume its function as the central national library institution if it rapidly offers services such as the publishing of a national bibliography and the establishment of an automated library network for cataloguing and retrieval. The Library must take a leading role in the establishment of the network of the faculty libraries of the University of Sarajevo. A decision concerning the use of the appropriate software has to be taken as soon as possible. UNESCO recommended to closely examine the integrated library software UNILIB developed by the National Library of Croatia in view of its use in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Necessary funds for soft- and hardware and for basic training by experts from Croatia will be covered by the UNESCO Library Fund.

    As to the reconstitution of Bosniaca the UNILIB software should be used for the establishment of a data base of Bosniaca holdings of institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad. Budgetary provisions for identifying these holdings were made available within the framework of the contract recently established with the Library covering a contribution of US$50,000 made available by UNESCO. Additional funding will be foreseen in the UNESCO Library Fund, particularly for microfilming.

    Contact were established with the United Nations INTERNET Project (UNIP) which is setting up an INTERNET access for the Electrotechnical Faculty of the University of Sarajevo as pilot project for the use of modern communication facilities in Bosnia and Herzgovina. Co-operation with UNIP with a view of allowing the National and University Library and other libraries in the country to access INTERNET will be established. The Library must play a key role in the establishment of a national integrated library system using common standards and compatible hard- and software. The various library institutions in the country must be closely involved in the decision making process as to the planning and implementation of the system. Funds necessary for regularly bimonthly meetings of librarians in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be provided under UNESCO Library Fund.

    General Assessement of the Situation of Libraries in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    UNESCO will assess the situation of all libraries in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So far, preliminary information as to the situation of the following libraries are available:

    City Library, Sarajevo Library of the National Museum, Sarajevo Oriental Institute, Sarajevo Kosevo Hospital Library, Sarajevo National Library of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna, Mostar-West University Library, Mostar-West Children Library, Mostar-East

    The City Library of Sarajevo suffered important losses during the war. 50% of the 300,000 pre-war volumes and four of the 20 library branches of the library were destroyed. The Central Library was moved to centrally located premises opposite the Presidency; the former building, heavily damaged, was put at the disposal of an Embassy. The library, the staff of which decreased from 120 to 20, ceased acquiring publications in 1991. The establishment of an automated cataloguing system using a specially developed library software was interrupted at the beginning of the war; the necessary expertise and the main part of the software was removed. After the destruction and the non-accessibility of Sarajevo's main libraries, the City Library has to face heavy use and reader requests, which it is not able to satisfy due to the specific profile (public reading ) and quantity of its collections.

    The Library of the National Museum in Sarajevo is with its ca 400,000 volumes the most important research library of Bosnia and Herzegovina containing a great number of rare books and manuscripts, inter alia the famous Sarajevo Haggadah. In 1992, its holdings were evacuated to the basement of the Library building in order to protect it from the fighting in the compound of the Museum situated 20m from the front-line. The Library is inoperative since then. Preservation conditions are precarious because of high humidity, considerable changes in temperature, unsecured premises etc.

    The Oriental Institute in Sarajevo, with its most valuable holdings of 5,300 codices (20,000 titles) of mainly Ottoman origin, was totally destroyed in 1992, including all card catalogues and inventory lists. The publication activities of the Institute were interrupted and have not yet been resumed. Temporary new premises were made available in the Academy of Sciences. Staff includes 13 persons (pre-war 33). Agreements were established with libraries abroad for the reconstitution of the collections of the Institute by means of microfilm. Co-operation will be established with the National and University Library for the identification and reconstitution of the collections which form an essential part of Bosniaca.

    The Academy of Sciences of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo has established a collection of Bosniaca within the context of its projects "History of the Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina" and "History of the Literature of the Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina" which were interrupted in 1980. UNESCO recommends that these collections mainly consisting of microfilms are taken into consideration in the restitution of Bosniaca.

    The Library of the Kosevo Hospital in Sarajevo, the country's main hospital, has to face heavity increased requests from medical staff for specialized information, particularly concerning war-caused injuries. However, the provision of medical literature, particularly of specialized periodicals, came to a total stand-still. The biomedical subsystem of the former Yugoslav library network providing bibliographical information as to medical literature was interrupted. The library of the Kosevo Hospital plans now to establish a national biomedical information network using the UNESCO software CDS/ISIS.

    The National Library of Mostar, now called the National Library of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna, is presently only accessible to users from Mostar West and the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna. The building, which was heavily damaged during the shelling of the city, was restored by the European Union Administration for Mostar (EUAM); ca 70% of the pre-war holdings were safeguarded and are again accessible in the restored building.

    The Library of the University of Mostar, located in Mostar-West, was totally destroyed in 1992 (building, collections, equipment).

    In Mostar-East, the only available library is the children's library (ca. 7,500 volumes); the building was recently restored by EUAM. The main children's library was totally destroyed.

    Training of librarians in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Until 1991, training of librarians in Bosnia and Herzegovina was provided by the Department of Comparative Literature and Librarianship of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sarajevo. Training was interrupted due to the war and is intended to be resumed in September 1996. There is an urgent need for trained librarians in order to replace the 70% of the members of the profession who left the country since 1991. However, library training within the University has to be re-organized and the curricula have to be adapted to the new requirements. The main problem in this context is the lack of trained teachers and teaching material. International assistance is required in curriculum development

    Archives in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    UNESCO will assess the situation of archives in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This activity is not only intended to analyse the situation of the national archives system in view of destruction of holdings and building damages, staff situation and preservation and conservation, but also to recommend basic guidelines to be taken into consideration for the reformulation of the national archives law after elections in summer 1996. The Association of Bosnian Archivists will be an important counterpart in the formulation of these recommendations and the renewed archival law. Information as to the situation of the following archival institutions is available:

    State Archives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo City Archives of Sarajevo National Archives of Herzegovina, Mostar-East National Archives of Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna, Mostar-West

    Together with the regional archives of Travnik, Bihac (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Doboj, Banja Luka and Foca (Republika Srbska), these archives form the archival system of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    The situation of the State Archives of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo and of the National Archives of Herzegovina in Mostar East was already assessed during a mission organized by UNESCO and the International Council on Archives (ICA) in May 1995. Further to the recommendations of this mission, the heavily damaged building of the Archives of Herzegovina in Mostar-East was restored under funding by the European Union Administration of Mostar (EUAM) for a financial input of ca. DM 400,000. The repair work was initiated by UNESCO and technically prepared by the UNESCO/ICA expert. The official re-opening of the restored building was celebrated on 7 February 1996.=20

    The City Archives of Sarajevo, covering in addition to the City of Sarajevo 20 municipalities in the Sarajevo region, has important holdings related to the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The holdings consist of 3000 linear meters (400 fonds) including an important collection of Ottoman manuscripts and archival documents from that period. The archival material is presently stored in two external depositories and were not damaged, whereas the administrative building, situated in the centre of Sarajevo, was heavily shelled. The Archives at present has a staff of 18 (pre-war 27).

    The National Archives of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna in Mostar-West was established by parliamentary decree 01-I-307/94 of 21 May 1994. This new archives has so far very limited holdings (less than 10 linear meters) and a staff of one.

    Call for Solidarity with Librarians in Sarajevo A Success

    The Call for Solidarity with the Librarians in Sarajevo, jointly launched by UNESCO and IFLA, has so far generated donations in the amount of ca US$5,000. The donations were transmitted to the Library Association in Sarajevo for distributions to the professional community in the city.

    The text of the Appeal is as follows:

    "Sarajevo has been under siege for 1000 days. Our colleagues in the libraries of this city are facing the severe consequences of the siege and the resulting intellectual and professional isolation. This dramatic situation also affects their everyday life: shortage of food and basic sanitary supplies, shortage of power and water because of frequent power cuts and lack of sufficient heating material in severe winters.

    The monthly average salary for a librarian in Sarajevo amounts to two US Dollars; one cubic meter of wood for heating costs 500 US Dollars. The population of this wounded city cannot afford this and other basic necessities of life.

    We, therefore, call upon the solidarity of librarians worldwide to alleviate the difficult conditions of our colleagues in Sarajevo. Your donation will not only allow the 150 librarians and their families to better cope with the calamities of war, but also help to revive the cultural life of this beleaguered city to which librarians always greatly contributed. All donations will be equally distributed to the librarians in Sarajevo through the good offices of the local UNESCO Representative and the Library Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina."

    For more information, please contact UNESCO,

    Division of the General Information Programme
    e-mail (from 31/3/96)
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