0
By Humphrey Carter BALEARICS President Jaume Matas yesterday ended his two-day visit to Balearic and Spanish troops in Mostar by laying a wreath in homage to the 21 Spanish soldiers who have died in Bosnia since 1993. Matas also toured the town of Mostar where he met local councillors to discuss the school gymnasium the Balearics is going to help reform and visited the famous 16th century bridge which was destroyed by shelling in 1993. The Stari Most, or Old Bridge, was completely reconstructed using the same methods and materials which the original Turkish architects employed nearly 500 years ago and was re-opened by Prince Charles in July 2004. Its reopening was considered symbolic of the healing of divisions between Muslims and Croats as its destruction by Croat forces in November 1993 graphically illustrated how relations between Bosnia's Muslims, Serbs and Croats had unravelled, descending into all-out war. Today, the town's Croats and Muslims largely maintain that separation, sending their children to different schools and keeping to their respective sides of the Neretva. They even have different mobile phone area codes. Matas said yesterday that, despite the intervention of international forces in the area, “the feeling of hate still lingers in the air” between the different nationalities living in Mostar which has a population of 120.000. Nevertheless, the leader of Mostar Council, Murat Kaorit, thanked Jaume Matas on behalf of the people of Mostar for the assistance being provided by the Balearic-led peace mission and the 22'000 euros pledged to help rebuild part of the emblematic Mostar school.