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Macedonia’s Man of Peace

Angelina Jolie’s new film, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” is about the ethnic tensions that produced the bloodiest conflict in post-war Europe. The fact that Jolie made a film about war in Bosnia, and not in Macedonia, is largely due to Kiro Gligorov, who died on New Year's Day.

DENVER – Angelina Jolie’s new film, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” is about the ethnic tensions that produced the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War II. The film has already won two awards and is an emerging box-office success, attesting to the enduring interest – and perhaps mystery – that the Balkans hold for international audiences who were as horrified as they were confused by the events of the 1990’s.

For those of us who lived and worked in the region during that turbulent decade, the post-Yugoslav wars remain fresh wounds. As Jolie’s film so ably shows, neither the international community nor local leaders made a concerted effort to prevent bloodshed.

One exception – perhaps the only exception – was Kiro Gligorov, the president of Macedonia, who died in his sleep on New Year’s Day, at the age of 94. The fact that Jolie made a film about war in Bosnia, and not in Macedonia, is largely due to Gligorov, the only leader of the former Yugoslavia to keep his newly independent country out of those conflicts.

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