This book is about the work of the European Union Administration of Mostar, and in particular the work of the Department of Reconstruction. It was prompted by the fear that a historically significant development project would go unreported, and that lessons to be learnt from it would be forgotten.
The European Union Administration of Mostar (here abbreviated as EUAM) was a visionary experiment, which may emerge as an influential model in future political and development projects elsewhere in the world. In some respects it was a great success but in others rather less so. Some of its defects were built into the conceptual design, so to speak, and some emerged during its life. But, in any event, many valuable lessons could be learned, to the advantage of the Union itself, its member states and the world at large.
This book is primarily about the reconstruction of a war-damaged city, for which the author was the responsible expert. It is a snapshot at a certain moment—namely the EUAM mandate and its immediate aftermath. I left Mostar in February 1997, returning briefly in June. The book was written in the middle of that year. But events are moving fast, and opinions are in need of constant revision. I gather that in the last year or so, much positive progress has been made in the political sphere. Some of the war politicians are being discredited and a modern leadership is emerging. Political culture becomes more civilised, the city continues to be repaired and the economy to improve. In short, there are reasons for cautious optimism.
This is not an academic book. Events are too recent to allow one to write in such a manner, and many source documents are either not available or are embargoed. The book is more akin to eye-witness reportage, with opinions based on experience and judgement as well as observed facts. But in the Mostar atmosphere, every last thing is politicised, and all current judgements can be challenged by those with different perspectives. The reader should take this into account. It is an inevitable weakness, but I am persuaded that contemporary reportage has its own special value.
The book has two tasks. First, it records facts about what was done by the EUAM and also how it was done. Second, it appraises the successes and the mistakes, recommending better ideas and pointing out lessons. Some sections were written by other participants, and occasionally they express opinions with which I do not agree. Such differences are not edited out, but I have added my own footnotes identifying and commenting on them.
The human context—the extraordinary atmosphere in which we worked—is a vital part of the story, and to omit mention on this would create an incomplete— indeed, a distorted—picture. For me and for many others, Mostar was the most