By Sgt. William Wilczewski
First published in
SFOR Informer #80, February 2, 2000
- French Armed Forces Bishop Monsignor Michel Dubost visited French
soldiers in Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) Dec. 29 - Jan. 4.
Dubost, a Catholic, is no stranger to BiH having been here eight
times since 1992. Over the years, he has seen the harsh reality
"A lot of things have changed," he said, "but what
didn't change is that you don't feel the political solution is improving."
He said that some people "don't accept the solution
it means the end of their old identity. They agree on the idea of
a multi-ethnical country, but they want their children to be taught
in their own way of life. They want a local administration that
respects their own culture."
Looking at the big picture, Dubost feels economic change is the
key to the peace process. "It's difficult," he said. "When
you go into the Republic of Serbska, they have far less international
subsidies, and the children are the same kind of boys and girls
as the others."
He does, however, feel things are improving. "I've seen people
killed just a few metres in front of me. It's completely different
Dubost recalled a time when he was giving a sermon to French troops
who were based near Zetra. "I remember a mass where people
were shooting the glass out - and now the camp is a supermarket,"
he said, adding that we must look to our past as a beacon of hope
for our future.
"Imagine Christmas 1945," he said. "At that time,
was it possible to imagine the reconciliation of Germany and France
six months after the war? It was not possible.
"When you use force, you use it to give people the time to
meet together and reconstruct something. We are giving them the
From the beginning of time, many wars have been fought over religion,
but according to Dubost, this is not one of them. Some political
leaders use religion for financial and political purposes to motivate
soldiers. "You can not ask somebody to kill someone else for
so when you want to gather people for war you have to
make things holy. So they use religion, but they are not religious,
and it is not a religious war," he added. "Most religious
people are against war."
Dubost prays for peace in this region, but said people must "first,
try to make peace in your own heart. Be intelligent. Do your job.
Don't accept putting people in categories. There are criminals -
there have been a lot here, but a population is not the criminal
(...) you can not say the Serbs are, or the Muslims are, (or the)
Croatians are. That's not true."
He also said people must try to make links with each other, and
try to "shake hands."
The warring factions must help themselves if they really want peace.
"The people have to invent rules and regulations and we can
not do it for them. We can just stop them from fighting, and give
them the time and conditions to meet. But in the end they have to
meet and invent their own rules and regulations."
DuBost also emphasised that SFOR forces must be humble. "We
have far more money than they have. It is so easy when you have
money, when you have power, and when you have guns to say who is
good and who is evil. We can not do that," he said. "When
you have people that have everything and they tell you that you
are a bad man, and you have nothing to eat - why should they listen
Nations of SFOR: France