Bosnia and Ukraine: two rails of the same track

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In the event you cease an individual on the road in Sarajevo and ask them what they consider the struggle in Ukraine, they’ll let you know they assume that nearly every little thing that occurred within the struggle in Bosnia-Herzegovina can also be taking place in Ukraine.

Somebody wrote on Twitter that the struggle in Ukraine was a recreation of quick chess in comparison with the struggle in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as a result of every little thing in Ukraine was occurring at a extra frantic tempo.

A number of days earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I did an interview with a younger Ukrainian author, and he informed me that Russia’s objective was to overcome the entire of Ukraine. It’s not that I didn’t consider him, however my mind is configured to insert a grain of optimism into even the worst apocalyptic temper.

It was blatantly apparent that Russia was going to assault since you don’t arrange area hospitals to obtain wounded if you happen to’re simply holding manoeuvres. Individuals unfamiliar with the mechanisms of struggle assume it’s simple to close down a struggle machine of 190,000 personnel together with hundreds of tanks, armoured automobiles, artillery items and logistical models.

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That struggle machine roared into motion within the early hours of 24 February, and all hell broke free over Ukraine.

In April, we commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the aggression and struggle towards Bosnia-Herzegovina. We contemplate early April 1992 the watershed when a brand new period started (earlier than, throughout and after the disaster). Such a reckoning of time continues among the many majority of the inhabitants on this nation, who had been born lengthy sufficient earlier than 1992 to have reminiscences of civilian life earlier than the struggle.

Even after one month of struggle in Ukraine (and perhaps even earlier), I noticed Ukrainians begin utilizing the phrase earlier than the struggle. We’ve been by way of every little thing that’s taking place to them, however nobody asks us about it or desires us to assist.

Conflict leads you to start out taking a look at life and dying with totally different eyes. Earlier than our smallish struggle (an ironic phrase I take advantage of in literary works), I needed to be a poet and wrote ultra-metaphorical and incomprehensible poems. After the struggle, I persistently tried to put in writing as clearly and exactly as attainable, particularly in regards to the occasions of the struggle. That battle with language lasted some time, after which I broke by way of the barrier and was capable of see the contents of my struggle reminiscence with crystal readability. It was then that I grew to become a author. The struggle was an enormous catalyst in that course of.

In a textual content for The Paris Overview, Ilya Kaminsky quotes Ukrainian poet Daryna Gladun: “I put aside metaphors to talk about the struggle in clear phrases.” There are an entire variety of Sarajevo poets who had the identical factor occur through the siege of this metropolis – the longest within the historical past of recent warfare. The well-known Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun as soon as stated that he didn’t write poetry in any respect through the struggle in Bosnia.


The phrase By no means once more was repeated within the Prijedor focus camps in the summertime of 1992 and is now being repeated in Ukraine


The curse of the human being is that each single individual thinks narcissistically that the horror taking place to them is totally distinctive and incomparable. Anybody who has survived a struggle is aware of that’s completely unfaithful. Normally individuals assume you possibly can solely really feel ache in your personal physique (therefore the narcissism), nevertheless it may also be felt within the our bodies of others. The ache of struggle is transcorporeal and ubiquitous.

On 21 April 1992, the assault started on my residence city in far western Bosnia.

I used to be learning in Zagreb on the time. I returned to my city as a result of I knew the struggle would quickly start: common and irregular Serb formations had begun attacking cities in jap Bosnia in early April.

I watched as cities burned alongside the River Drina, the pure border between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, although the nation was nonetheless referred to as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However nothing remained of Yugoslavia as a result of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina had declared independence and seceded from it.

I used to be sitting on the Casablanca café when the assault started on Bosanska Krupa, the city the place I grew up. I used to be carrying Levi’s, a down jacket and Adidas trainers. I used to be ingesting beer and listening to music on the café terrace. It was a stunning day, however shortly after 6pm an artillery assault started. That’s once I realised what the expression “mortal terror” means. Militants of the Serb Democratic Occasion, aided by forces of the previous Yugoslav Individuals’s Military, shelled town from the encircling hill…

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