Bosnia-Herzegovina is a country in Southeastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Sarajevo. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast. The country is home to three ethnic groups, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. Formerly one of the six federal units constituting the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina gained its independence during the Yugoslav Wars, 1992 – 1995.
During the war, Bosnia‘s diverse ethnic and cultural heritage was a target for destruction by those wishing to enforce a mono-ethnic vision for the country. Bosnian Muslims in particular were targeted for destruction. In addition to destroying Muslim or Ottoman buildings and monuments, Bosnian Serbian forces began a campaign of brutal ‘ethnic cleansing’, expelling Muslims from northern and eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina to create a 300km corridor joining Serb ethnic areas in the west with Serbia. The destruction was also a systematic attempt to eliminate Muslim cultural inheritance and symbols, with the intention of denying their historical existence and of preventing their return.
Approximately 250,000 people died in the war between 1992 and 1995. U.S.-sponsored peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, led to an agreement in 1995 that called for a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb entity within the larger federation of Bosnia. The first elections were held in Sept. 1996. President Izetbegovic, a Bosnian Muslim, won the majority of votes to become the leader of the three-member presidency, each representing one of the three ethnic groups.
Currently Bosnia-Herzegovina is a potential candidate for membership to the European Union and has been a candidate for NATO membership since April 2010. Despite the world-wide focus on the destruction of the cultural heritage in Bosnia during the Yugoslav Wars, there have been very few restoration projects carried out by the international community.*
*The Bosnia Institute, www.bosniainstitute.org.uk