Re-Branding Canada: From the Siege of Sarajevo to Rio Plus 20

This spring marks the 20th anniversary of two international events of signal importance in the history of Canadian international policy – the start of the 44 month siege of Sarajevo (April 06) and the UN’s Rio Conference on Environment and Development, or Earth Summit (June 03-14).

I was reflecting on the significance of this pair of occasions a few weeks ago while participating in the Meseuro Foundation Workshop and the Dubrovnik Diplomatic Forum, two conferences sponsored by the EU, UN, and several universities. The geographic context was Euro-Mediterranean, and both events are part of a larger effort to avert a clash of civilizations and to bring peace, stability and prosperity to the region. Of special interest are the southern and eastern tiers, whose populations might otherwise be tempted to relocate north and west, en masse.

Following five days of discussions on “Diplomacy and the Intercultural Dialogue” in Dubrovnik, I used the opportunity to do some travelling in the Western Balkans, visiting the Adriatic island of Korcula, the birthplace of Marco Polo, as well as ancient Kotor, in Montenegro, and finally the still-troubled cities of Mostar, Trebinje, Stolac and Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Beautiful.

Beguiling.

Blood-soaked.

The Balkans.

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