Legacy of Srebrenica, with Ambassador Matt Field

We interviewed the UK Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Matt Field, asking him about the legacy of the genocide in Bosnia. 

Matt Field was appointed Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018. Before joining the Diplomatic Service, he worked for the international development charity Oxfam, and the Japan 2002 World Cup Organising Committee. Since then, he has played a pivotal role with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in London, including managing the UK- Argentina relationship, leading UK-Brazil Olympic cooperation, and coordinating with the EU on the Middle East Peace Process, as an Israel desk officer. He was Head of EU and Political Team in the British Embassy in Zagreb, working on Croatia’s EU accession talks.

We thank Matt for his time in answering our questions, and for the important work he does in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the wider European community.

Why do you think it is important for British school children to learn about genocides after the Holocaust (which is a legal requirement) – such as Rwanda and Bosnia?

I think it is extremely useful for all of us, including British school children, to learn about these subjects. I will admit that there were many gaps in my own knowledge, before I worked in this region. I have seen for myself the devastating impact that war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the genocide at Srebrenica, continue to have on individuals and communities. The lesson ‘Never Again’, following the Holocaust, was not learned. And the fact that it happened again here on European soil, playing out in slow motion while the world looked on, only underlines how important and relevant are these topics today.

How do you think the recent trip to Srebrenica impacted on the delegation of MPs from Westminster, including Romford’s very own Andrew Rosindell MP?

This was another powerful and moving visit to Srebrenica. Andrew Rosindell and the other MPs, all with links through the UK Armed Forces All Party Parliamentary Group, were led around by the Executive Director of the Srebrenica Memorial Centre. He also explained the supported the UK Government has provided, helping to make the centre a global learning resource, available online as well as in person. The MPs then met with a group of the Mothers of Srebrenica, who shared their personal testimonies of losing family members, and the long search for justice in the 26 years since then. Finally, we visited the Potocari Cemetery, a sea of many thousands of graves, where the remains that have been found are laid to rest. I believe it was an experience none of the delegation will ever forget.

Would you recommend government officials from other countries to make a similar trip to increase their understanding and pay their respects?

I think it is an invaluable experience, to come and see first-hand what devastation happened here just 26 years ago. Nothing can quite compare to witnessing this for yourself, for meeting survivors, and for visiting the exhibitions. A visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina in person is also an opportunity to learn about the country today, the hopes and fears of its citizens, especially young people.

The UK Parliamentary delegation, with Romford’s Andrew Rosindell MP and Matt Field (centre), visit the Srebrenica Memorial Center.

How are the effects of the events of 1992 – 1995 still felt in Sarajevo, Bosnia and indeed the wider Bosnian community worldwide?

The citizens of this country continue to live with many personal losses and tragedies dating back to the conflicts of the 1990s. All across this country, and the region, many family members are still searching for missing loved ones, supported by the UK government and others. I also continue to see enor- mous bravery and determination to build a brighter future for this country, and its young people, to ensure that they can live in a safe, prosperous and inclusive home.

 

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