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A patriot at the place of honour

By Mr. Thierry Domin
First published in
SFOR Informer#116, June 27, 2001

Sarajevo – For the first time since the end of the war, a Bosnian general has been awarded the highest French civil and military decoration, the “Legion of Honour,” created by Bonaparte in 1802. The ceremony took place June 13 in the residency of the French ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The recipient was (retired) Gen. Jovan Divjak. Maj. Gen. Roger Duburg, former deputy commander of SFOR, awarded the medal to him. But many SFOR Informer readers probably don’t know Divjak’s true story, unless they were present with United Nations Protection Force in the theatre during the 1992-95 conflict.
Divjak presents himself as a citizen of BiH; he is indeed of Bosnian-Serb origin, but systematically refuses this ethnic label. He belonged to the army when the war started, and decided, unlike many warlords, to first remain faithful to his country. Since he was assigned as deputy commander of the Defence Forces of Sarajevo, he fought for three long years in the besieged town, till the withdrawal of the Yugoslav and Bosnian-Serb forces.
His multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious ideal led him, after the war, to chair a non-governmental organisation (NGO) for the benefit of traumatised children. More than 30,000 orphans and others received material help from this association, but, overall, was his message of peace, tolerance and reconciliation.
As said by Duburg, “If there was only one man in the country worthy of receiving such an award, it indeed is Jovan Divjak.”

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