Ten years after the first images of Serb concentration camps in Bosnia were broadcast to the world, Keelin Shanley returns to landmarks that are etched on the popular imagination such as Sarajevo and Srebrenica in order to view some of the efforts that are being made with respect to justice and reconciliation within Bosnian society.
Keelin meets Murat, who having survived a camp himself, left his job as a schoolteacher after his brother disappeared and has been involved in unearthing mass graves for ten years now, studiously documenting both the remains and lost artifacts such as clothes and jewelery of those who were massacred in places such as Srebenicia.
With war criminals still at large and organised crime rife in post war Bosnia, Keelin goes out with one of the special police units responsible for capturing those wanted in the Hague for war crimes.
Bosnia and the Western Balkans
The Western Balkans is the term used by the European Union for the sub-region comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro. Kosovo, under UN administration, is a province of Serbia. With the exception of Albania, the countries of the Western Balkans were formerly constituent republics of the old Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The 1990s were a turbulent decade in the Western Balkans, as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke-up and new countries were created. Ethnic and civil wars affected all the countries of the region, either directly or indirectly, exacting a high price.
Many thousands died, many more thousands were displaced and economies were devastated by conflict. The disruption delayed the process of reform and transition from command to market economies which other former Communist states in central and eastern Europe underwent during that decade. The Western Balkans today face unresolved conflict issues, serious post-conflict problems such as the prevalence of organised crime, and the challenge of constructing societies based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Perhaps the greatest long term threat to stability is posed by economic underdevelopment, with persistently low levels of foreign investment and persistently high rates of unemployment. Ireland's role in the Western Balkans.
Since 1996, Ireland has contributed over €30 million in reconstruction and development assistance to the countries of the Western Balkans. Ireland is an active participant in the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, which was established (at the EU's initiative) in 1999 to stimulate economic and political reform in South Eastern Europe, i.e. the countries of the Western Balkans together with Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova.
Irish Government Funding to Bosnia 2002-2004
In total, Development Cooperation Ireland has spent a little under ?3 million in Bosnia between 2002 and 2004.
Through a variety of different partnerships the Irish Government supports a whole range of activities including; police training, legal/justice reform and support, support for returning displaced persons and refugees, support for small business, de-mining, and support for civil society and democratic reform.