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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

The Balkan model of how to overcome differences following bloody conflicts.

15 September, 2008
If Bosnians, Croats and Serbs can mend their racial and religious quarrels following their indescribably bloody, internecine war from 1992 to 1995 on the Balkan Peninsula, with all that horrific genocide and ethnic cleansing, surely this is a model for all other modern conflicts.

These proud peoples between the Adriatic and Black Seas are slowly but surely working towards harmony, mutual respect and co-operation as fitting members of the new European order.

And the joint international resolution of the conflict is a lasting legacy of a famous Briton, Liberal Democrat peer Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 27th May 2002 to 31st January 2006. Yet it was Lord Ashdown’s career in the Royal Marines that gave him the courage, insight and experience to deal with the problems he faced.

Between 1959 and 1972 he served as a Royal Marines Officer and saw active service as a Commando Officer in Borneo and the Persian Gulf. After Special Forces Training in England in 1965, he commanded a Special Boat Section in the Far East. By 1970 he had been placed in charge of a Commando Company in Belfast. In 1972 Paddy Ashdown left the Royal Marines and joined the Foreign Office, being later involved in the Helsinki Conference on European Security.

A career European politician without such an impressive military pedigree could never have understood enough of the situation on the ground to have brokered an enduring peace in the Balkan war. As with many things in life, you have simply got to have experienced it to know about it.
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