The disaster of Srebrenica was followed by lively diplomatic activity on the Bosnian side, and the mood gradually turned in favour of softening up Karadžić’s troops by force of arms. The Serb side had rejected a succession of peace plans for Bosnia and Herzegovina, committed genocide in Srebrenica and then in Žepa, and carried out the Markale market-place massacre in Sarajevo, and the West finally decided to back the pro-Bosnian forces more resolutely.
“On 30 August 1995, more than three years late, mass air strikes were carried out against the positions of Karadžić’s troops throughout Bosnia,” wrote Izetbegović in his diary. At the time he was on an official visit to France, at the invitation of President Chirac. News of the market-place massacre on 28 August reached him in Mostar, on his way to Jablanica, where he was picked up by helicopter and flown to Split and on to Paris. He was in despair. As he made his way to the French capital, it seemed to him that reinforcements were lurking around every corner to add to Bosnia’s miseries.
Izetbegović was received by the President of France at 10 o’clock the following day. Chirac was brief. Referring to air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs, he said, “We are ready, the Americans are vacillating.” That evening, against the background of the dramatic circumstances in his native country, Izetbegović met Richard Holbrooke at the US Embassy, through the good offices of the US Ambassador to France, Pamela Harriman. Bosnia’s president described the meeting thus: “Mrs Harriman greeted us warmly and led us into a large antechamber. I immediately noticed Richard Holbrooke in the corner, on the telephone. I nodded to him in greeting, whereupon, to my surprise, he beckoned me over, pointing to the telephone receiver. It had all obviously been carefully orchestrated and I am sure none of the Americans were caught unawares. Strobe Talbott, deputy to Warren Christopher, who was US Secretary of State at the time, was on the other end of the line. What he said to me went roughly like this: ‘Please continue working with Ambassador Holbrooke to find the way to peace in Bosnia. I am aware of and understand your dilemmas. I assure that yesterday’s atrocity against the citizens of Sarajevo will not go unpunished. We shall carry out air strikes on Karadžić’s positions.’ He sounded very determined.”
Izetbegović was too excited to sleep that night. He talked with the rest of the delegation, which included Miro Lazović and Krešimir Zubak, until late into the night, and was woken early next morning, 30 August, by someone hammering on the door: it was Izetbegović’s bodyguard. “Great news, Mr. President! They’ve begun attacking the Chetnik positions. The sky over Sarajevo is red from the strikes on the hills around.”
This was some of the best news to be heard during the war. The Bosnian delegation later learned that the western allies had also carried out strikes on other Serb positions around Bosnia.
In addition, the Bosnian army, now in alliance with the Croatian army and the HVO, achieved some significant victories in 1995, which seriously undermined the negotiating position of the Serb side. The last major operation by the Bosnian army was in western Bosnia between 13 September and 12 October, involving about 16,000 combatants, when Kulen Vakuf, Bosanska Krupa, Otoka, Bosanski Brod, Ključ, Sanica and Sanski Most were all liberated.
This marked the beginning of the end of the war, which was finally to end with the initialling of the Peace Agreement in Dayton on 21 November 1995.
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.