The Muslim offensive in central Bosnia continued through the fall of 1993 into the winter of 1994. The increasingly desperate HVO defenders barely managed to stave off each successive ABiH assault. The February 23, 1994, cease-fire associated with the Washington agreements and the end of open warfare between Muslims and Croats in central Bosnia came just in time: the HVO defenders were exhausted, and a final Muslim triumph was perhaps only weeks or even days away.
Numerous artistic works created on Croatian soil and ordered by landed gentry of Bosnia and Herzegovina create a special part of cultural heritage of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The fall of Jajce to the Bosnian Serb army on October 29, 1992, marked the beginning of open conflict between the Muslims and Croats in central Bosnia. Until that time, the two communities had maintained an uneasy alliance against the BSA, but the tension between them grew during the course of 1991-92. The HVO and ABiH squabbled over the distribution of arms seized from the JNA, and there were numerous local incidents of violence by one group against the other. However, only in the last quarter of 1992 did Muslim-Croat disagreements begin to rise to the level of civil war.
Tensions were high throughout central Bosnia on April 15, 1993. Resentment over the ABiH's January probing attacks and the increasing number of clashes between Muslims and Croats had created an atmosphere of fear, hatred, and distrust heightened by the kidnapping on April 13 of four officers from the HVO Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade in Novi Travnik, apparently by Muslim extremists. The ABiH blockaded the Novi Travnik-Gornji Vakuf (Uskoplje) road, the main supply route to Herzegovina, on Apri114, and at 7:15 on the morning of the fifteenth, Zivko Totic, commander of the HVO Jure Francetic Brigade, was kidnapped near his headquarters in Zenica during a brutal attack that left his four bodyguards and a bystander dead. That afternoon, Lt. Col. Bob Stewart, commander of the British UNPROFOR battalion stationed in the Lasva Valley, travelled to Zenica for a meeting with Muslim, HVO, ECMM, UNHCR, and International Red Cross representatives regarding the Totic kidnapping. The meeting was continued until the next morning, and Lieutenant Colonel Stewart spent the night in Zenica rather than return to his headquarters in Stari Bila. At about 5:30 A.M. on the sixteenth, he was awakened by an urgent telephone call from his second in command, Maj. Bryan Watters, who informed him "all hell was breaking loose in Vitez and the Lasva Valley." Indeed, it was; the main ABiH offensive against the Croat enclaves in the Lasva Valley had begun.
In October, 1992, Jajce, an important town northwest of Travnik on the main road to Banja Luka, had been under siege by the Bosnian Serb Army (BSA) for nearly five months. A mixed garrison of Croatian Defense Council and Army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina soldiers defended the town and its two important power stations. They were supported from Travnik over a tenuous, narrow, twenty-five-mile-long corridor through Serb-held territory. Reinforcements, food, ammunition, and other vital supplies were brought forward by truck, usually at night. Constantly under fire, the nightly convoys that snaked from Travnik along the primitive road through rough mountain terrain barely sufficed to keep Jajce's beleaguered ganison and civilian population alive. On October 27, 1992, the BSA's I Krajina Corps acted to end the siege of Jajce with an all-out attack preceded by several air strikes. The following day, Jajce's HVO defenders evacuated their sick and wounded along with the Croat civilian residents before abandoning the town that evening. The Muslim soldiers and civilians soon followed when, on October 29, the BSA entered the town and began a program of "ethnic cleansing" that resulted in what has been called "the largest and most wretched single exodus" of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Even as the situation in central Bosnia deteriorated in late January and early February, 1994, UNPROFOR and ECMM monitors began to receive an increased number of reports that the Croatian Army was intervening in the Muslim-Croat conflict in Herzegovina. Convoys and troop movements from Tomislavgrad toward Prozor and the Gornji Vakuf area were reported, and the ABiH claimed-incorrectly-that some ten thousand Croatian soldiers in seven or eight HV brigades were in the central Bosnia area. However, Croatian official Jadranko Prlic conceded only that a few former HV soldiers were there: some twenty-six hundred "volunteers" born in Bosnia- Herzegovina who had returned to defend "their country."
Although Catholics are minority in Bosnia and Herzegovina today, history of Catholic Church in these places is endless and extends even to the Apostolic time. St. Paul the apostle mentions that his pupil Tit takes departure in Dalmatia (2 Tim 4,10). Namely the border among Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia has been dividing Bosnia and Herzegovina in the direction of the east-west in two parts, by what is something smaller, north part, belonged to Pannonia. At the time there were already more dioceses, as: Baloie, Bistue, Sarsiteron, Delminium, etc., which belonged to metropolitan's residences in Salona (Solin) while parts of this area belonged to the other surrounding diocese, as Siscia (Sisak) and metropolitan's residences in Sirmiju (Srijemska Mitrovica). By downfall of West Roman empire and by advancement and moving in of Avar and Slavic tribes, this Church organization was completely destroyed.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is full of very interesting, mysterious tombstone monuments called stechak. The most famous collection is in Radimlja in Herzegovina:
List of abbreviations:
B&H- Bosnia and Herzegovina
HVO- Hrvatsko Vijece Obrane /Croat Defense Council, the Croat Army
of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Army of B&H- Bosnian Muslim Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina
April 7th, 1992
By the decision of its President, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, Republic of Croatia was among the first countries in the world to recognize the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
June 13th, 1992
The members of Muslim forces have ambushed and killed four HVO officers on Radusa mountain. Soon after that, the municipalities of Gornji Vakuf/Uskoplje become engulfed in the first conflict of the war between HVO and Muslim forces.
Reaching back today to the historical right of claiming a country or an area of land, in any form of historical discourse, not only seems undesirable in contemporary terms, but in some circles, the subject often becomes a laughing matter. On the other hand, one hundred years ago, the subject of historical right was seriously discussed in the Hungarian half of the Hapsburg Empire. The discussion dealt with the disputed interpretation of the document, "Pacta Conventa...", and with heated debate in 1878, centering on the Bosnian emblem.