War is senseless and common people are only pawns in it, three veterans who fought on different sides during the 1992-1995 war and are the protagonists of the documentary ‘Maglaj - War and Peace’ told N1 on Thursday.
Rizo Salkic, Marko Zelic and Boro Jevtic were members of the three armies which fought each other during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. Salkic was a member of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH), Zelic a member of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) and Jevtic was a member of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS).
But the three already knew each other from before the war.
“We met during the time of former Yugoslavia,” Salkic said, explaining that Boro, who is a little bit younger than the other two, would “fetch the football for us from behind the goal.”
“After the war we continued to hang out together and the result of that is this film which we began making with sincerity as we wanted to show that there is a different side to it all, that not all is as was placed to the public by the media,” Salkic said.
“I would like to start by pointing out the senselessness of war and the sad fact that people need courage in order to talk about peace. That peace must come from the individual and whoever has it within them can talk about it, so the three of us sat down together and tried to create something for the future of our children and so that no war takes place ever again,” Zelic said.
The three met again after the war ended and Jevtic described the meeting as “simple” and “spontaneous.”
“You come across someone and you are aware you fought against them,” he said. “We waged war against each other, then it was Mirko and I against them, then they against us – what politics have done to us is truly sad, and then you come across someone like that and you look at them, you are glad they survived,” Jevtic said.
The most important thing after the war was to stay “human,” he said.
“We are talking about a war which was foolish, something like that must never happen. Children need to know that war is the biggest evil there is. There is no winner in the end – we are all losers,” he stressed.
Zelic said that the film was well-received when it premiered in Maglaj and that the room was not big enough for everyone who wanted to see it.
He said that the group has, together with the OSCE and other NGOs, organised about 30 workshops across Bosnia and Herzegovina where the war was discussed, with the target group being primarily young people.
N1 asked the men whether they could have avoided a war.
“There were media blocks, blocks in the movement of people, and you are staying in a cramped space and only get the information that someone places for you,” Zelic said, stressing the need for more joint projects between different ethnic groups which would promote peace and reconciliation in Bosnia.
“How could we have avoided a war? Nobody even asked us!” Jevtic stressed.
“We were pawns, those in power were so powerful, now they are even more powerful, they can close down the borders and then you can't go anywhere. We still today have a situation where every political party follows its own TV programme and they all have potential candidates,” he said, adding that war “could hardly have been avoided.”
Salkic added that the biggest problem is “when smart people remain silent” and when “people are brainwashed with nationalism.”
“We don’t offer opportunities for people who have healthy reasoning. Little is needed for a war to take place and nobody asks the normal people about it,” he said.