Avoid greeting civilians with a peace sign. Don’t interrupt anyone in prayer. And never lie to a reporter.
So advises the military in a green, 16-page pocket-sized pamphlet for soldiers deploying in Bosnia.
“A Soldier’s Guide Bosnia-Herzegovina” covers points of cultural sensitivity, the history of the current conflict and useful phrases - from “Don’t Move” to “Thank You” - in the local language.
U.S. troops keeping the peace in Bosnia should refrain from greeting civilians with a peace sign using the index and middle fingers, the pamphlet advises. In the Balkans, the gesture is an informal greeting used by Croats and would be offensive to Serbs.
Soldiers are advised to be honest with reporters, and to relax and be themselves during interviews. “There is nothing wrong with saying, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t tell you,”’ the book says.
The handbook also supplies phrases to guide soldiers through difficult moments.
Confronted by local fighters, a soldier can refer to the booklet for the phrase, “Oruzje dolje!,” pronounced oroozhyeh dolyeh, or “Put your weapon down!”
It may help to add, “Molim,” for please and “Hvala” for thank you.
Translations also are provided for “Let us pass,” “Excuse me,” and “Stop,” among others.
While the publication mentions “Chetnik” - an informal term for some Bosnian Serb soldiers it fails to note the term could offend a Serb.
Remember to remove headgear in religious buildings and refrain from taking photographs of public buildings or people without permission.
In case of a misstep, try: “Zao mi je,” pronounced zhaho meeyeh.