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  BOSNIA
HERZEGOVINA


REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
51,129

Population
3,922,205

Capital
Sarajevo

Currency
Dinar

President
Mr Zivko Radisic

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Background:
Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of sovereignty in October 1991, was followed by a referendum for independence from the former Yugoslavia in February 1992. The Bosnian Serbs - supported by neighboring Serbia - responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas to form a "greater Serbia." In March 1994, Bosniaks and Croats reduced the number of warring factions from three to two by signing an agreement creating a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, the warring parties signed a peace agreement that brought to a halt the three years of interethnic civil strife (the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995). The Dayton Agreement retained Bosnia and Herzegovina's international boundaries and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government is charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy. Also recognized was a second tier of government comprised of two entities roughly equal in size: the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska (RS). The Federation and RS governments are charged with overseeing internal functions. In 1995-96, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force (IFOR) of 60,000 troops served in Bosnia to implement and monitor the military aspects of the agreement. IFOR was succeeded by a smaller, NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) whose mission is to deter renewed hostilities. SFOR remains in place at a level of approximately 21,000 troops.

Update No: 059

Some five years after deploying 32,000 troops in Bosnia to keep Serbians, Croatians and Bosnian Muslims from fighting each other, there are still 18,000 international troops on the ground in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Few doubt that without them the fragile peace could well crumble into discord and dissension again.
Bosnia is still a very divided country, ethnic animosities that brought 200,000 deaths and created millions of refugees are just below the surface. The international aid workers and officials on the ground are convinced that the troops are still needed to keep a lid on things and to buy more time to create a valid civil society. That is becoming more difficult to persuade the Americans of, keen to devote more attention and troops to the anti-terrorist campaign.
Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, said in mid December that the troops should be reduced by a third in 2002. The Bosnia Mission, he told a NATO meeting, was straining the US and others "when they face growing demands from critical missions in the war on terrorism."
A new division of labour can be expected in which the Americans are the peace- makers and the Europeans are the peace-keepers and nation-builders, as in Afghanistan. This is likely to involve fewer troops in all, who will act as a centralised force ready to be transported at a moment's notice, if trouble brews up. It will in all likelihood involve less aid too. There will be many in the aid movement who think this will be no bad thing. The US$5bn extended to Bosnia since 1995 has often found its way into the wrong hands.
There is no longer any need to bribe the Bosnians to stay together. "In Bosnia four years of fighting led to a kind of exhaustion and realisation on all sides that war is not going to help them," says Wolfgang Petritsch, the International High Representative in Sarajevo, the top international official in the Balkans. The Afghan developments have massively underscored that.
But Mr Petritsch warns strongly against pulling out forces too soon in Bosnia, The troops are still needed to rebuild the country, ravaged by war. Petritsch and his colleagues are trying to create an independent judiciary and a legal framework for economic development, including clear rules on the recovery of property by refugees.
What the Bosnians need to do to keep the West interested is to set up legislation to attract foreign investment, not least because this is where the Americans could come back in force again. A new law on foreign investments was passed in the federation's lower house in late December, already adopted in the upper house. But it will take time to assess its full significance.

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INTERREGIONAL RELATIONS

Bosnian, Yugoslav economic delegations discuss free trade accord

An economic delegation from Bosnia-Herzegovina, headed by Nedeljko Suzic and Avdo Rapa, chairmen of the chambers of commerce of the Serb Republic and the Bosnia-Herzegovina Federation talked to a delegation of the FRY Chamber of Commerce in Belgrade on 19th February about the free trade agreement that the two countries signed on 1st February, Bosnian Serb Radio has reported. 
Suzic said that the economic cooperation between the Serb Republic and Yugoslavia had been fair and emphasised that it would be better after the agreement was verified by the FRY parliament. 
Rapa said that the level of economic cooperation between the two countries that should be achieved was that of ten years ago. He called on Yugoslav businessmen to become involved in privatisation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in other aspects of cooperation with Bosnia-Herzegovina businessmen.

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INTERNAL AFFAIRS

Bosnian Serb trade unions welcome government's social programme

The chairman of the Bosnian Serb Republic Federation of Trade Unions, Cedo Volas, has welcomed the adoption of the social programme by the Serb Republic government on 21st February and said that this was an inevitable document without which there could be no successful privatisation and social transition, SRNA News Agency has reported.
In a statement to SRNA, Volas said that the social programme incorporated most of the trade unions' proposals and added that the Serb Republic government was "inexcusably late" with the adoption of this document, because the trade unions' demands were tabled three years ago...

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TRANSPORT

Brcko port operational again, signing of river traffic accord awaited

After more than 10 years the port of Brcko is operational, Bosnia-Herzegovina Federation TV has reported.
In recent days the first boats arrived in the port on their journey to the Croatian town of Sisak near capital Zagreb. The port has been made almost entirely operational and the ports of Bosanski Samac and Bosanski Brod, in northern Bosnia, on the border with Croatia, as well as the arrival port on the bank of the River Sava in Croatia have begun to be restored. At the moment the signing of an agreement with Croatia and Yugoslavia is awaited in order to resume river traffic, and also the arrival of the finances from the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe.
Beside the action to make the port facilities operational again, the Bosnia-Herzegovina state and entities' authorities have been occupied by preparing the documentation necessary for smooth traffic on the River Sava.
The head of the river ports authority of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Federation, Fahrudin Karaahmetovic, said: "We have paid particular attention to river traffic in our draft study of ports of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1998 we signed an agreement on traffic on the River Sava with Croatia."
The signing of the agreement on traffic on the River Sava with Croatia and Yugoslavia has been eagerly awaited by the employees of the river port authorities and the crews of the boats.
The Director of the port of Brcko, Mladen Zonic said: "This should be good news for Bosnia-Herzegovina industry, too, above all for the Tuzla and Zenica areas as they are our traditional customers and we will be happy to see boats finally arrive in the port laden with cargo."
The Director of the shipping company Dunavski Lojd of Sisak, Zeljko Radic, added: "We are awaiting the [signing of the] agreement which, according to the available information, should be signed by 1st June, in order to regulate the river traffic on the River Sava."
The international community has been eager to help financially under set clear conditions - an agreement should be signed and it should be secured that the River Sava becomes an international river traffic route.
There is going to be a meeting in Bucharest with representatives of Corridor Nine [one of 10 corridors included in an EU-financed project called the Transport Infrastructure Needs Assessment, or TINA, whose goal is to modernise the transport infrastructure in EU candidate countries and connect them with the EU] in order to request 9.6m euros for the area covering 33 km of the River Sava. Croatia, which has a longer length of river, will make a similar request, as well as Yugoslavia.

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