News 03 Feb 12

Bosnian War Vets Send Cash to Former Foes

Former Republika Srpska soldier tells B92 that he is touched that Bosnian war veterans are sending a portion of their pension to help their one-time enemies.

Marija Ristic

Darko Topic told the Serbian broadcaster that the RS soldiers who fought more than 20 years ago are today living in difficult circumstances.
In 2010, parliament forced soldiers over the age of 35 to retire in order to rejuvenate the army, but failed to allocate pension funds in the budget.
Pressed by veterans who protested for 18 months in front of the Bosnian parliament, the government of the Bosniak-Croat region agreed to pay 150 euro per month from its own budget to retired soldiers in its territory. However, the Serbian entity did not do the same for its soldiers.
Almost 1,200 ex-soldiers of the Bosnian army decided to set aside five euro from the 150 for 300 former soldiers from Republika Srpska who are lacking any pension and living on the brink of poverty.
A representative of the RS soldiers, Dzeletovic Rade, who confirmed that these funds are to be awarded to the most vulnerable Srpska soldiers, told B92 that former enemies are now brothers in distress.
“People accepted this as a human, friendly gesture because trouble made as friends. I believe that we would do the same for Bosniaks,” Dzelatovic said.
People in Bosnia and Herzegovina have also welcomed the gesture by the soldiers saying it breaks the post-war myth that the communities cannot live together.

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