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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Sarajevo's decade of war and peace
Edina Dilberovic lays flowers at the memorial of her sister Suada Dilberovic
Edina Dilberovic remembers her sister Suada Dilberovic , the first person to be killed in the 1992-95 war
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By Alexandra Kroeger in Sarajevo

There are more flowers than usual at the place where the first victims of the war in Sarajevo fell exactly 10 years ago.

A plaque on a bridge commemorates two of the women who died on 6 April 1992, Suada Dilberovic and Olga Sucic.

They'd been taking part in an anti-demonstration in front of the Bosnian parliament, when Serb snipers opened fire from the Holiday Inn across the street.

Fashion parade
Military clothes worn during the war make up the latest fashion collection

It would be nearly four years until the shooting stopped, with the loss of more than 10,000 lives in Sarajevo alone.

But this was not an anniversary for speeches and ceremonies.

The city's artists organised a day of remembrance: theatre performances and photo exhibitions, recording what people endured.

City of change

A fashion show at the Dom Armije, the ceremonial home of the armed forces, displayed the Siege Collection, clothes worn during the war, including the beret belonging to former president Alija Izetbegovic.

The cityscape of Sarajevo has changed for good.

The streets are more exposed than they were ten years ago: many of the mature trees were chopped down for firewood during the siege.

The door to Europe is open

Romano Prodi, European Commission

Parks have become cemeteries. Buildings still bear the scars of shelling, although every few months another one is restored.

The main post office, an Austro-Hungarian building on the river, resplendent with eagles, re-opened last year.

In the spring of 1992, a scribbled slogan appeared overnight: "This is Serbia," it said. The nationalists were laying claim to the very centre of the city.

By the following morning the graffiti had been crossed out and replaced. "This is a post office, you peasant," read the reply, cosmopolitan Sarajevo demonstrating its disdain for the nationalist fervour of rural Bosnia.

Bosnian grave yard
An estimated 200,000 people died in the Bosnian conflict

That cosmopolitanism was one of the first casualties of the war.

Sarajevo today is more provincial than it was. Most of its Serbs left; many of those who remain feel obliged to prove that they are "good" Serbs.

Also noticeable is the rise of fundamentalist Islam. Men with long beards sell rabble-rousing magazines outside mosques.


There are more women now with their heads covered, most of them aged between 18 and 30, the wartime generation, radicalised by suffering and their sense of abandonment by the outside world.

They're still a minority, but less of a minority than they were in 1992.

Sarajevo skyline
Sarajevo city bears many scars from the war but is slowly being restored

The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, was in Sarajevo on Saturday, 10 years to the day since Europe recognised Bosnia as an independent state. "The door to Europe is open," he urged.

He called for the transformation of Bosnia's institutions, but also for a greater understanding of the reasons for change: "Not because we are asked to do it, but because we have to live together forever, in the same union, with the same rules, and the same rights, and the same duties.

"This is the only political outcome for this country."

See also:

06 Apr 02 | Europe
Bosnia marks war anniversary
08 Apr 02 | Europe
Milosevic trial resumes
01 Apr 02 | Europe
Bosnia genocide suspect arrested
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