A Bridge On Drina

Google Doodle 9 October 2012 – honouring Ivo Andric

Google doodles honoured Ivo Andric today. Nobel prize winner for literature in 1961, born 9 October 1892 in Bosnia – widely known in the world for his novel “A Bridge on Drina”.  Although fictional, the novel is really a portrait of four centuries, through the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, that focuses around the town of Visegrad and the bridge over Drina River. It describes the lives and relations of local inhabitants, in particular those of Muslims and Orthodox Serbs. Andric in his novel sees the bridge as something that is not just a bridge over the river but as something that has the power to heal divisions. But Andric soon sees that the bridge is a flawed unifier; for all the big events and changes, through all the upheavals brought down by the rise and fall of empires, nothing of significance changes.

A sequel to Andric’s Bridge on Drina, if written, could easily include the Dayton Peace Agreement (November 1995), which ended the bloody war in Bosnia but also imposed a fertile ground for ethnic chauvinism that would put the country’s economic development and true peace in neutral gear, if not in reverse. Dayton Peace Agreement is a prime example of how the international community (primarily USA and European Union) forced their will upon human beings, certain that, by creating the right conditions the war-ravaged country, filled with victims, they could rebuild a country into a workable state of unity.

As the first but strong results of local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina held on Sunday 7 October show – ethnic votes are in and common good is out. The most worrying result is that the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) – co-founded by Radovan Karadžić, who is currently on trial at The Hague on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s (including Srebrenica massacre)– scored a surprise success, taking 27 mayoral posts, up from 13 in 2008, and some 21.6% of the overall vote.

The 1995 Dayton peace agreement divided Bosnia into two semi-independent entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, inhabited mainly by Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, and the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (Serb Republic, or RS), each with its own government, controlling taxation, educational policy, and even foreign policy.

The Party of Democratic Action (SDA), founded by late Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic, won the local elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina with 34 municipalities out of 136, according to the unofficial results. The SDA won cities such as Novi Grad, Ilica, Zenica, Bihac and Travnik. SDA leader Sulejman Tihic celebrated the victory with Bakir Izetbegovic, head of the Presidential Council, and his supporters in the capital, Sarajevo.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) took 14 posts, whilst the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won 11 posts.

The concerning outlook is the shift towards SDS in the Serb Republic and this is likely to cause a fierce locking of ethnic horns at the 2014 general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also a strong sign that Bosnian Serbs, creating Serb Republic political entity in that country have been allowed to spread their wings, ignore the horrible crimes they’ve committed to achieve that political entity. They’ve learned nothing about unity and collaboration in the past two decades moderated by the international powers present on task there. This has been allowed them by the presence of the international bodies there that have failed miserably at the task given them by Dayton Agreement.

Voting in Bosnia and Herzegovina this week was voting on ethnic allegiances, and signifies that Dayton Agreement does not work; it does not bring true peace but fosters divisions. The biggest losers are the Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina and they’re at risk of being stampeded upon today just as they were in early 1990’s. Only, in early 1990’s they formed Herceg-Bosna – an entity that helped them retain their identity. What do they have under the Dayton agreement? A lip service from the international power brokers that’s hardly audible when it comes to generating conditions of equal rights for all ethnic groups; a lip service from those who don’t seem to know the first thing about building true nations, homes for all. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. Sinead W. says:

    April 16 1993, New York Times comment by Aleksa Djilas ? son of bad boy Milovan Djilas of Tito’s Communist Yugoslavia –
    The solution to the Bosnian tragedy is therefore division into three units: Muslim, Serbian and Croatian. Serbian and Croatian units should be allowed to join Serbia and Croatia respectively. Of course, the Muslim unit, situated in central Bosnia, should be much larger than at the moment either Serbs or Croats are ready to accept. ALEKSA DJILAS Cambridge, Mass., April 8, 1993 The writer, a fellow of the Russian Research Center, Harvard University, is author of “The Contested Country: Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution, 1919-53” (1991). He spoke of Ivo Andric “Letter from 1920”.
    We all knew that the international community was all about giving Serbs their own state in Bosnia and because they didn’t want a Muslim state in Europe they put Croatians and Muslims into a Federation, hence only cherishing the Serb. Watch the space, Serb Republic will not be a political entity much longer but either connected with Serbia (Greater Serbia) or independent from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
    It is just so horrible what the international community are doing with Bosnia and Herzegovina. It just seems as if they’re there to help Serbs fortify their own state and bugger the victims of their crimes, bugger the fact that they’ve ethnically cleansed thousands of Croatian and Muslim homes in the area they now occupy as Serb Republic. What? Call it a Republic and it’s OK? No it’s NOT OK!

  2. Sinead, now you bring up the letter from 1920 by Ivo Andric, it’s the Serbs that have been pushing it and publishing and translating it as though it’s a “bible for Greater Serbia”. Just because Andric was a Nobel Prize winner doesn’t make him right, but this letter of his surely smells of an agent for Greater Serbia. Indeed, he speaks of Bosnia as full of hatred that cannot be “healed” and therefore better to leave each to his/her own. What rubbish. Nationalities of all sorts can live together in the same country if equality is the formula. So now Andric is used also used to smooth over the horrible massacres and genocide Serbs have perpetrated in Bosnia to get their hands on Bosnian land.
    And so Republika Srpska/ Serb Republic has been quick to attach Ivo Andric as one of their own:

    “On October 9, 1892, the birth of Ivan, son of Antun Andrić, custodian, and Katarina Andrić, nee Pejić, was noted under entry number 70 in the Register of Births kept in the Church of St. John the Baptist in Travnik. The future great Serbian writer was born in Travnik by happenstance, during his mother’s visit to her relatives. Ivo Andrić’s parents were from Sarajevo: his father’s family had been established in the town for decades, engaged in the brass working trade. In addition to working in the same trade, members of the Andrić family were linked by the same ill fate of tuberculosis: many of the writer’s ancestors, including all his father’s brothers, succumbed in their youth, and Andrić himself lost his father when he was two years old. Faced with penury, Katarina Andrić took her only child to be raised by her husband’s sister Ana and Ana’s husband Ivan Matkovščik in Višegrad…http://www.ivoandric.org.rs/html/biography.html

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