On 14 January 1992 the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted a Resolution on Sovereignty, opposed by the country’s Serbs, and preparations were made to hold a referendum on the question “Are you in favour of a sovereign and independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, a state of equal citizens and nations of Muslims, Serbs, Croats and others who live in it?”
Commenting on the SDS boycott following the announcement of the referendum, Izetbegović said, “They [the SDS] have blocked the adoption of a new constitution as proposed by the Constitution Drafting Committee, and constantly accuse us of wanting a Muslim republic. The fact is, though, that with their proposal to partition the country into a Serb, a Croat and a Muslim Bosnia and Herzegovina, they are the ones seeking to impose it on us. Our position is clear: we will not accept it.” The referendum was to be held on 29 February and 1 March 1992, with the Croat electorate’s response still an unknown quantity. After calculating the odds, Tuđman gave the all-clear, and 63 percent of the population voted, 99 percent of whom voted in favour of an independent Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country’s future was decided, in the legal sense at least; but its actual fate would soon be decided on the battlefield. Yet what the referendum had achieved was something no military victory could bring: the legality and legitimacy of official power.
The EC recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent state on 6 April 1992, followed the next day by the United States. Meanwhile, under European patronage, there were on-going talks on the partition of the country. At the February talks in Lisbon, Izetbegović was joined by Dr. Haris Silajdžić, whose powerful presence helped greatly to ensure that the breakneck speed with which things were going downhill was slowed at least a little. The positive features of the Lisbon proposals, in their view, was that they envisaged the continuation of Bosnia and Herzegovina within its administrative boundaries, but the negative side was the reference to several possible entities. Izetbegović was to write in his diary that he had sought “with all means in his power to save Bosnia and peace,” while wondering if it was even possible. As things turned out, it was not; the day was fast approaching when the choice had to be made between them.
All-out war broke out in April 1992. Izetbegović, now 67 years old, was faced with huge new challenges and, though he was not yet aware of it, with the most turbulent period of his life.
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.