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Mostar's Bridge and the Hague convention

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Issue 1 October 1993
Mostar's Bridge and
the Hague Convention

By Marian Wenzel

From April to June 1992, the historic town of Mostar was seriously damaged by large-calibre Serbian artillery. Its world-famous Ottoman bridge, the Stari Most, was hit twice by cannon shells, but its stability was not endangered. In April of this year, a new agony began with fighting between Bosnian Croat and Bosnian army forces, which has steadily grown in intensity. Now even the Old Bridge has been hit, and recent videos show heavy-calibre impacts on the north side.

If this shelling continues, it is clear that the bridge will collapse. Its destruction would mean the end of a monument that is the symbol of this ancient Bosnian-Hercegovinian town, and of the centuries-old friendship between the different communities of Mostar. The bridge is one of the monuments protected by the Hague Convention, which means not only that it cannot be wantonly destroyed, but also that it cannot be used for military purposes such as the transport of arms or troops.

The Bosnia-Hercegovina Heritage Rescue Foundation appeals to the HVO and to the BiH authorities to respect the Hague Convention. We ask the United Nations to do everything within its power to bring this fratricidal fighting to a halt, and we request UNESCO and the Council of Europe to provide technical and material assistance for the historic cultural heritage of Mostar.

Dr. Marian Wenzel is director of the Bosnia-Hercegovina Heritage Rescue Foundation, 9 Canterbury Mansions, Lymington Road, London NW6 1SE.

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