The collapse of Communism around Europe over the last seven years has allowed many newly independent states to reassess their identity. Flags and coats of arms signify national heritage to the outside world and, sometimes more importantly, to neighbouring states.

While some nations, such as the three Baltic states, are reverting to their pre-Communist colours, others are moving forward with a new standard.

The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a Croat-Moslem territory within the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unlike the republic, the federation is not internationally recognised, but was formed by Bosnians and Croats through the Dayton Agreement last November.

The federal government held a public competition in February for the design of new state emblems and received 625 entries.

The shortlist comprised three finalists. The Croat contender, 26-year-old design student Ivica Belinic, was asked to develop his concepts – a potentially contentious decision by the committee, given the political and ethnic climate in the federation.

The Government is due to approve Belinic’s designs this summer. ‘The concepts are agreed but it (the government) wants changes to buy a little time,’ Belinic claims. Both emblems feature Moslem and Croat elements and attempt to bring harmony to two previously divided populations.

‘The basic concept of my design was joining the Moslem visual identity (the green coat of arms with the golden Angevine lily) and the Croatian visual identity (intermittent red and white squares) into a unique design without folklore ornaments – a design whose aim is identification and motivation,’ says Belinic.

The Zagreb University student adds: ‘The committee asked me to work out in detail my design in order to meet the political standpoints of the federal partners. At this moment it is not possible to separate design from the political interests in the new-born state.’

Belinic, who is based in Croatia, produced the Croatian Creation and Croatian Quality standard marks which are yet to be implemented (DW 5 July). Croatia’s stamps commemorating the Olympics in Atlanta and Euro ’96 were also his work. ‘My teachers are also my business opponents,’ he adds.

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