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Source: Der Standard, 18/19 September 2004, p. 18 © Reuters/Danilo Krstanovic

Original Caption
"Since the reconstructed old bridge of Mostar was opened at the end of July with celebrations that were much noticed world-wide, 150,000 tourists have come to the town to see this symbol of reconciliation."

Picture Analysis
This picture shows celebrations in connection with the reopening of the reconstructed bridge of Mostar ("stari most") in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Until the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, the "stari most", built in the 16th century, had joined the two sides of the multi-ethnic town of Mostar, one side largely Croatian and the other side largely Bosnian. The bridge was a symbol of the connection between the ethnic groups but also of Orient and Occident living together in peace.

The bridge was destroyed in 1993 during the war and the town of Mostar became a city divided along the lines of its ethnic population groups. After the end of the war, between 1994 and 1996, the EU had the mandate to set up a common administration in Mostar. This EU-administration came about in the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the Union, and up to the present day, the EU in the framework of the operation "EUFOR-ALTHEA" has taken over all matters of security policy in Bosnia Herzegovina.

The reconstruction, true to the original bridge, can be seen as a symbol of reconciliation between the Croatians and the Bosnians who had confronted each other in the war as enemies. But more than that, it may also be seen as a sign that divisions on the basis of ethnic or religious affiliation are not to be tolerated in Europe. In the course of the expansion process of EU-Europe, a successful reunification of Mostar is one of the conditions for the acceptance of membership-negotiations with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Sources: http://religion.orf.at/projekt02/news/0407/ne040722_mostar_fr.htm,
http://www.bundesheer.gv.at, http://www.dgvn.de/Berlin/de/hans_koschnik.php (17.11.2006)

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