In his 1995 New Year message to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Izetbegović said, “The war must not last a single day longer than it has to, but nor shall we, can we accept peace at any cost. We shall therefore negotiate wherever we can, but wage war if we must.” As it turned out, they had to continue waging war for another ten months.
For 1 March, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Independence Day, Izetbegović gave a speech in the Army Centre in Sarajevo, ending with these words: “Our goal is a Bosnia of free people, a Bosnia in which people and their rights will be respected. We counter the concept of mononational, monoreligious, single-party parastates – in the plural – with our concept of a free and democratic Bosnia. We counter hatred and intolerance with democracy and tolerance ... Every nation has its promised land. Our promised land is Bosnia. I appeal you to fight for it, and win!”
And so it was. Many historians were to say that it was at the end of March 1995 that the BiH Army won the crucial battle to liberate Mt. Vlašić, above Travnik. No fewer than 21,000 combatants took part in this huge operation, led by General Mehmed Alagić, commanding officer of the Seventh Corps. As well as liberating 51 sq.km. of territory and bringing about a major strategic shift in that part of the theatre of war, the battle was also psychologically significant as the first great victory in a series of victories by the BiH Army in the closing stages of the war. Let it not be forgotten that it was achieved by Seventh Corps troops, with considerable assistance from the Supreme Command’s Seventh Muslim, Fourth Muslim and Guards Brigades.
Inevitably, there were casualties. Some law – Murphy’s, probably – says that it is always the best that are taken. No one knows why, but so it turned out on 28 May 1995, when a helicopter carrying Dr. Irfan Ljubljankić, acting Foreign Minister, and his escort was shot down. Irfan was also a personal friend of Izetbegović’s, who valued him as a brave and honest man, and he took the untimely death of his minister particularly hard.
“I don’t like telephone calls. Ever since the war broke out, they have never brought good news. That morning – it was 28 May 1995 – I was called at about six o’clock by General Delić, who said in a voice that boded no good, ‘I have some very sad news for you.’ He paused for a moment before going on: ‘Last night a helicopter of ours, carrying Minister Ljubljankić, was shot down over the Knin krajina.... ‘ By about noon it became known that our entire delegation, returning from a visit to the Cazin krajina, had been killed. The four-member delegation included not only Minister Ljubljankić but also the deputy justice minister, Dr. Dr. Izet Muhamedagić, Dr. Mensur Šabolić, an official from our Embassy in Zagreb, and Major Fadil Pekić, Dr. Ljubljankić’s bodyguard. The three-man Russian crew, who had been flying the helicopter on that risky course for substantial danger money, were also killed.”
The permanent museum exhibition is located in the towers Kapi-kula Ploča and Širokac. In the Ploča tower, the life of Alija Izetbegović as statesman and politician is displayed on chronologically arranged exhibition boards, accompanied by text and photographs. In the Širokac tower, the exhibition is dedicated to Izetbegović's role as the Supreme Commander in the defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Serbian agression.
Established in the recent times, the Museum „Alija Izetbegović“ offers modern answers to questions from the past, but also sets the foundation for the future. Through its objective scientific approach, it encourages young people, intellectuals and researchers to approach modern history with expertise and knowledge.
The Museum educational programs are designed for elementary and secondary school students. They include professional tours of the permanent museum exhibition, interactive school workshops, pedagogical and educational publications, lectures, special programmes observing important historical dates, etc.