DID YOU KNOW?  -- Three years before the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, Serbs torched Bosniak villages and killed at least 3,166 Bosniaks around Srebrenica. In 1993, the UN described the besieged situation in Srebrenica as a "slow-motion process of genocide." In July 1995, Serbs forcibly expelled 25,000 Bosniaks, brutally raped many women and girls, and systematically killed 8,000+ men and boys (DNA confirmed).

19 October, 2011


Anniversary of death of Bosnia-Herzegovina's first president, Alija Izetbegovic, is being commemorated in his country 8 years after his passing.

Alija Izetbegovic, ethnic Bosniak, who managed to establish a free Bosnian state despite all difficulties, is considered a ''Father'' by his people.

The late president, who witnessed the most challenging times during years of war between 1992-1995, had been known by Turkish readers earlier with his liberal books ''Islamic Declaration'' and ''Islam Between East and West'' published in 1970s and 80s.

Note: More than any other text, the Islamic Declaration is cited by Serbian nationalist propaganda as evidence of dangerous 'Islamic fundamentalism' in Europe which must be suppressed... or else. Often cited to justify persecution of the Bosnian Muslim civilian population during the former war, the Declaration and its author, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, former president of Bosnia, have been demonized and frequently blamed for the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. One might explain these accusations as viscous political propaganda brought on by war. However, as early as 1983, Izetbegovic and his writings were the target of a virulent campaign against Islam in Communist Yugoslavia. This campaign had its contemporary roots in the early 1970's when Bosniaks were allowed for the first time to declare themselves as a national group, but its deeper roots may lie in what Serbian scholar Bogdan Denitch calls "the pathological suspicion and hatred of Muslim Slavs."

Serbian propagandists (and other left-apologists) took out of context President Izetbegovic's words from Islamic Declaration (Izetbegovic's book criticising Islamic governments): "There can be no peace or co-existence between the Islamic Faith and non Islamic institutions". Part II of the Declaration, "The Islamic Order," explains how Muslim society should be reorganized based on Islamic principles. Parts of this section are often quoted out of context to prove that the Declaration advocates violence. It is crucial to note that Izetbegovic was speaking here of Islamic countries in which false modernist or conservative Islamic doctrines have been institutionalized in the political and social system. He was simply criticising Islamic governments and in many instances praised Western achievements. He was not speaking of Western countries or his native Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosnia is not even mentioned in the book). A close reading of the Declaration reveals that Izetbegovic was advocating a cultural, not a political revolution, especially in countries (like Yugoslavia) where Muslims were a minority. As Noel Malcolm pointed out, Bosnia was not even mentioned in Izetbegovic's book and he even praised Christian governments and Christian achievements in arts and science.

In an exclusive interview with Alija Izetbegovic's son and successor, Bakir Izetbegovic said Turkey had always been a close ally of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

''My father, in his deathbed, consigned his country to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan whom he considered a son. Turks have always helped Bosnia, during the terms of office of former Turkish leaders Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel as well. But, there has never been such a group of statesmen (like Mr. Abdullah Gul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ahmet Davutoglu) who help Bosnia in the wisest way,'' Bakir Izetbegovic said.

Commenting on the ''Dayton Agreement'', the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic said his father had thought at the time that ''the agreement did not provide fair peace, but any agreement would be better than war''.

''During those days, Dayton just saved the life of a sick person. The person survived, but his body did not function. A state organized according to this agreement cannot be functional. We still need surgeries,'' Izetbegovic said.

''Politicians who provoke Serbians and Croatians against the union of the state is one of the major problems Bosnia-Herzegovina faces nowadays,'' he added.

Turkey, which sees Bosnia-Herzegovina as a heritage of Alija Izetbegovic, keeps extending major political and economic assistance to this country. Turkey displays intense efforts to help Bosnia heal the wounds of war, integrate with the international community and get over its problems.

Within this framework, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has paid 4 visits to Bosnia in a year, moreover, Turkish deputy premiers and ministers travel to this country almost every month.

Tripartite talks between Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia, initiated upon Davutoglu's efforts, have so far yielded to a series of positive results and had repercussions all across the Balkans.

Commenting on the cooperation between Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkish ambassador in Sarajevo Emre Zeki Karagol said the Republic of Turkey had been displaying utmost efforts for the well-being and survival of the Bosnian state.

''Bosnia's welfare is as important as our own well-being to us. Turkey extends efforts particularly for Bosnia's integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions,'' he said.

Karagol also noted that Turkey's help continued in social and cultural matters, moreover, projects implemented by Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) added momentum to the country's status in foreign politics.

Expressing the importance of economic ties as well, Karagol said Turkey and Bosnia were eager to improve their bilateral economic relations. He said Turkey kept on encouraging its businessmen to invest in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a unique an untouched market for foreign investors.

According to TIKA's Coordinator for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zulkuf Oruc, his agency had allocated the largest budget for Bosnia after Afghanistan, adding such move proved the importance Turkey attached to this country.

Oruc also said TIKA currently supported a wide range of projects in Bosnia including investments related to infrastructure, renovation of historical artifacts, education and health.