Address of BiH Presidency Chairman Bakir Izetbegović at the Ceremony of unveiling of the monument to the men from Bosnia and Herzegovina who fought and died on the Isonzo Front in the First World War
Dear President Türk,
Distinguished hosts, dear friends!
These beautiful landscapes, miraculous beauty and well preserved natural harmony in no way today reveal that only a century ago here the history of Europe and the mankind was being written in blood.
In these inhospitable mountain cliffs and canyons, most often in capricious storms, icy rains, snows and blizzards, thousands of soldiers were dying on the Isonzo Front, in the one of the strategically most important areas in the Great War, as WWI was called then.
A significant number of Bosniaks fought within the Austro-Hungarian Army on the Isonzo Front. It is important to remind that all of the members of the Tzar’s Regiments from Bosnia and Herzegovina were called Bosniaks regardless they religion.
Bosnia and Herzegovina largely affected the destiny of Austria. The 40 year long Epoch, 1878 to 1918, characterised by the intensive historical events, marked a significant rise and the later disappearance of the Empire as the European and World power.
In all those events, Bosnia and Herzegovina was an unavoidable factor on which the lasting historical marks were left.
Historical facts are those that the Bosniaks had given an unexpectedly powerful resistance to the Austro-Hungarian occupation. It is truth that the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was the State of Law in which religious and national rights were protected, which was fair towards the Bosniaks, and to which the Bosniaks returned by being fair and devoted –they were loyal, brave, professional and devoted members of the Tzar’s Regiments.
World War I began after Gavrilo Princip unfortunately assassinated Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the war in which the Bosniaks devotedly fought within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria used the military potentials of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the maximum. According to data from those times, in the period of WWI, the troops of Bosnia and Herzegovina, within the Austro-Hungarian Military counted over 250 000 men.
There are numerous testimonies of the courage and fighting skill of the Bosnian soldiers. Hundreds of Bosniaks were awarded highest Austro-Hungarian medals.
Yet the biggest hardships and sacrifices of the War were taken by the Bosniaks, to which the Isonzo Front testifies and this cemetery on which we remember them today with the greatest respect.
The Bosnian 4 Regiment (BH Regiment 4) was one of the assault divisions which by chest to chest fighting broke through the Italian lines during the last Isonzo Battle, and brought the turn and the final victory to the Austrian side. During WWI almost 5000 Bosniaks lost their lives in the area of Slovenia, out of which 859 found their eternal rest at this cemetery.
I particularly wish to thank our distinguished Mufti Nedžad Grabus today who, along with the indispensible and important support of Slovenia, did everything for the cemetery in Log under the Mangart to be the place which will continue to preserve the memory of men to whom the history determined faith to leave their bones away from their homes and families, and away from their homeland. By placing the nišan tombstones the multi-decade long post-mortem injustice caused to Bosniak-Muslims on whose graves the religious symbols of others were placed during the SHS Kingdom era has ended.
This Ceremony too is an opportunity for us to testify that at places like this the history lessons are best learned and for us to send the messages of peace, to our region before all which still has not buried all of its dead from the wars of the 1990s, but to Europe too with the hope and belief that the 21st Century we shall spend without wars and bloodsheds.
My country and my people have their own millennium and historical path. The Bosniaks fought for Sultans and Tzars, they loyally wore the Partisans’ five-point star, and with great passion tried to save Yugoslavia.
The wheel of history most of the times was against them, threatened to run them over and wipe them off the face of the Earth.
On such, most of the time tragic, experience the Bosnia and Herzegovina of today was made. In the last war Bosniaks fought for their country only. In future they are ready to be a part of state and military alliances which will guard and enhance global peace and prosperity.
The reformed Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina of today, made of three national components, take part in NATO missions contributing the construction of the architecture of world peace and stability.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, being yesterday’s receiver of aid, has become an active contributor in resolving the world crises. We shall continue walking that path.
The Euro-Atlantic integrations have no alternative for us, for it is only like that shall our future generations be in a position to live in peace and prosperity.
I hope that young Bosnians, yet all others too, will not leave their homes in future to fight wars, but to spend their energy on saving this planet of ours and making it a good place to live in mutual respect.
May the schools and universities be our most important frontlines.
In order to realize that we must never forget those to whom history determined a different faith, as it was with our ancestors, the brave and proud Bosnian warriors of the Isonzo and the Alps.
I pray to God to give their souls His compassion, forgiveness and eternal peace!
Slovenia, Log under the Mangart, 7 June 2012