f_0017769_15220 - Bosnia A Cultural Mosaic of Great...

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Fall 2009 The Ambassadors REVIEW 41 Source : The World Factbook, 2009. Bosnia: A Cultural Mosaic of Great Potential Thomas P. Melady, Ph.D. * Professor and Senior Diplomat in Residence, Institute of World Politics United States Ambassador to the Holy See, 1989-1993 United States Ambassador to Uganda, 1972-1973 United States Ambassador to Burundi, 1969-1972 Senior Advisor to the US Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly President Emeritus of Sacred Heart University Former United States Assistant Secretary for Post Secondary Education osnia is a cultural mosaic of well-established Serb Orthodox, Catholic Croat and Bosnian Muslim communities. This nation can become, like Switzerland, an example of people with diverse cultures living in peace and harmony as neighbors. In order to achieve this vision and avoid another outbreak of ethnic-religious violence that characterized the period of 1992-1995, a fresh look at the current situation in Bosnia is needed. Deep- rooted fears, which are resurfacing, must be assuaged. Past mistakes and misguided policy assumptions must be acknowledged. In my opinion, the three communities in Bosnia should be allowed to develop their own traditions and laws in accordance with the general guidelines of a decentralized state that will provide for national defense and a national fiscal system and represent the country in foreign affairs. The German, French, Italian and Old Swiss communities have flourished within the confederation of Switzerland. In fact, the cases of Switzerland and Canada clearly demonstrate how creative thinking can be applied to produce a civil society where cultural traditions enrich and strengthen the state. Regrettably, for almost a century, some members of the international community have imposed their concepts of governance on the Bosnian people. President Woodrow Wilson, a courageous leader of the American people in World War I, actively supported the break up of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and, at the 1919 Versailles Peace conference, promoted the establishment of one state which, he believed, would unite the cultural communities. Originally this state was designated as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes since, at this point, the Muslim community had not emerged as a significant cultural force. * The author is indebted to Mr. Kevin Waters, a graduate student at the Institute of World Politics, for his research assistance. B
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Fall 2009 The Ambassadors REVIEW 42 President Wilson reportedly remarked that the Slovenians, Serbs and Croats who had immigrated to the United States were able to live in peace and harmony. He believed that peace between the three communities was also possible in Europe if Slovenians, Serbs and Croats could be brought together in one country. This country, which later became known as Yugoslavia, did see a time that was relatively free from ethnic violence. This period coincided with the rule of Marshall Tito, whose iron fist ensured that the communities refrained from ethnic violence. With Tito’s passing in 1980, this absence of
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f_0017769_15220 - Bosnia A Cultural Mosaic of Great...

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