CNN Balkan Conflict News

candles in a Pale church

Balkan story has two sides

Conflict grew out of centuries of warring beliefs

Eileen O'Connor

September 25, 1995
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EDT

From Moscow Bureau Chief Eileen O'Connor

PALE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- To understand the Balkans, one must understand its history and its beliefs.

In Pale, Bosnian Serbs still pray to St. Stefan and his son, St. Sveta Sava, to protect this nation (church bells in Pale - 136K AIFF sound or 136K WAV sound). They still recall how their faith was viciously submerged under Ottoman Turkish rule, how Croatian fascists led many Serbs to their deaths in camps. They light candles for the living, but they light more for the dead.

Serb priest

Serbs observe a traditional religious ceremony in Pale - 1.1M QT movie

Meanwhile, Muslim and Croat citizens see atrocities in the brutal end of Turkish rule and Serb partisan battles during World War II.

"It is due to history. It was inevitable," one Serb citizen said about the current plan to divide Bosnia into separate territories. "The Muslims want their own state, but we have to have a place to live, too."


children in church

In Pale, Bonsian Serbs still recall how their faith was viciously submerged under Ottoman Turkish rule... They light candles for the living, but they light more for the dead.



Thus, as it always was, it is again a question of land and power. Modern leaders use this bloody history to paint their sides as victims and all other players as murderers. Thus, they stir up the hatreds they need to fight this war.

In the refugee camps, Serb civilians blame the West for believing what they call the propaganda of the Muslims and Croats. They also question the wisdom of Serb leaders, asking if their sons, too, are fighting cold and wet in the trenches.

Serb refugees

But mainly, they still believe it is them against the world, with only the Serbian leadership to stand up for them. "Karadzic is the only one fighting for the Serbs," said one man.

Victim, martyr, the frustration that no other nation can truly understand -- these are the feelings that breed ethnic conflicts, the feelings that keep history and hatred alive.



Related sites


More information

For more information, see selected articles from the LEXIS®-NEXIS® Information Service.



[Imagemap]
| INDEX | SEARCH | MAIN WORLD NEWS PAGE | MAIN BOSNIA PAGE |

Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.