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A bridge between local people

By Cpl. Nicolas Girault
First published in
SFOR Informer#119, August 8, 2001

The magazine Mostovi (Bridges) is distributed by SFOR patrols. It is produce by the Psychological Operations cell (PSYOPS) in Banja Luka. Its main objective is to bring people together. In this country where each word is important, the task is a challenging one.

Banja Luka - "This magazine is the only one in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to be written in Latinic and Cyrillic alphabets," said Canadian Capt. Erik Esselaar, editor of Mostovi.
The journal strives to achieve understanding and acceptance among people.
"It is not possible for this kind of magazine to actually have a commercial use," said Sinica Marcic, deputy editor and, in reference to the two alphabets.
Rather, the goal is to reach people.
In addition to Esselaar and Marcic, who is a local from Banja Luka, the team is composed of Sgt. Ian Field from the Royal Marines, a graphic designer, and two other locals: Sanja Grabovac, art editor, and Draska Kremenovic, interpreter. The locals on the staff play an important role by adding to the strength and credibility of Mostovi as a journal for all people of BiH.
The distribution of Mostovi permits a dialogue between soldiers and civilians. In doing so, the magazine is a real resource for SFOR soldiers in their work.
Pictures are very important. They attract the attention of the people to the articles, encouraging them to read and accept the other alphabet. "The goal is to reach 15- to 35-year-olds, and to give them unbiased news. We give them the entertainment features they want, but we also have more educational articles. We have articles about SFOR activities, like those linked to the General Framework Agreement For Peace (GFAP), or mine awareness for example," said Esselaar. "Never more than two subjects like this in the 12 pages of each issue," he added.
Sometimes Mostovi works with Radio Oksigen on a joint PSYOPS campaign, like the one before the Ferhadija ceremony in Banja Luka. They also worked together during the closure of a part of the Glamoc Range and have helped sensitise people to the problems of Displaced Persons and Refugees (DPREs).
Pictures, illustrations and text come from a variety of sources, including the web and then are organised by the magazine team. Each detail is important and every precaution is taken to not hurt feelings. They stay "as neutral as possible," explained Esselaar.
Each week, 33,500 issues are distributed throughout Multinational Division Southwest (MND-SW) and 2,500 others in the other MNDs. The suggestions of readers (15 letters each week) and soldiers help to continually improve the magazine.
"What happens in the country must be broadcast. I prefer to have a progressive view rather than a single point of view," said Marcic.

Related link: SFOR at Work