Lucinda Creighton: Time for EU to make good on its promise to Balkans
The Balkans is a fascinating region. It was the centre of the Ottoman Empire for many centuries and for a brief period the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is the place where the 20th century began, with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and thus the beginning of two world wars. Those wars devastated Europe and shaped the remainder of the century.
Later, the Balkans was home to Marshal Tito and his oppressive communist regime, holding together as Yugoslavia until 1992. The break-up of Yugoslavia led to bloody and vicious war, possibly best illustrated by the callous slaughter of 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica, Bosnia in 1995.
The past is ever present in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Recently, I visited Bosnia as part of a tour of the Western Balkans in advance of Ireland's presidency of the EU in January 2013. The visit fell two days before the annual commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. While I was in Sarajevo, more than 550 coffins were carried through the streets; the bodies of husbands, brothers, sons being returned to Srebrenica for burial 17 years after the horrific massacre.