Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 115 - (22/12/06)
What is Bosnia?
Bosnia-Herzegovina is made up of three ethnic groups: Muslims (who are often
referred to as Bosniaks), Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs -- a mixture that
does not blend well religiously, ethnically or historically. One of six former
units under the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY),
Bosnia-Herzegovina gained its independence in 1992, though the victory was
quickly followed by a conflict that escalated into a genocide war between the
ethnic groups involving the rest of the SFRY region.
When the war ended, the Serbian majority in Bosnia-Herzegovina created an
autonomous region called Republika Srpska. The international community, which
organized the peace by convincing the region's leaders to sign the Dayton
Accords, set up supervision for the divided country under the U.N. high
representative. This means that, essentially, the United Nations is the only
thing keeping Bosnia-Herzegovina unified.
It is a time to take stock, at the beginning of a new year. It is ninety-three
years since a certain event in Sarajevo in 1914 put Bosnia on the map for all
time. It is fifteen years since it was the location of another grave war. Was
its attachment to Yugosalvia as doomed as that to the Austro-Hungarian Empire
proved to be?
Future historians will doubtless judge that by 1989 the break-up of Yugoslavia
had become inevitable, even if they continue to debate whether South Slav union
was an impossible project from the outset: doomed - from its original conception
in nineteenth-century Croatia, from its flawed establishment as a
Serbian-dominated kingdom in the wake of World War I, or from its revival in
World War II as a Communist-led federation - to be a transitory form of the
historical process of political emancipation of states and peoples in this part
But historians will doubtless also judge that the manner of the break-up was
both avoidable and truly tragic. Although history is what has happened, hence
unalterable, it is instructive to explore the crucial junctures at which things
might have gone otherwise, if only in order to draw lessons for the future.
Better still is to identify such turning points at the moment of their
occurrence, or even - best of all - in advance.
Such judgements, of course, can never be other than tentative: only time will
tell. But it seems safe to predict that failure on the part of the
'international community' at this already late stage to recognize an independent
Kosovo despite Belgrade's blind intransigence, or to enforce real integration of
Bosnia's police forces over the linked obstinacy of Banja Luka, would virtually
guarantee a further - disastrous but avoidable - prolongation of the war-prone
instability initiated by Slobodan Miloševic in 1989.
It is hard to see today's Western courting of President Vojislav Koštunica of
Serbia and President Milorad Dodik of the Bosnian Serb Republic as offering any
more positive outcome than was to result from past wooings of Miloševic
himself, Radovan Karadžic, Ratko Mladic, or such soon-to-be-indicted temporary
'cooperative' interlocutors as Momcilo Krajišnik and Biljana Plavšic. This
would doubtless be seen in Western capitals as an anti-Serbian point of view.
But who after all started the 1990s wars in the Balkans if not the Serbs?
At a glance: War in Bosnia
March 1992: War begins in Bosnia.
July 1995: Bosnian Serb forces massacre more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and
boys after seizing the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica.
December 1996: The war ends with more than 100,000 dead and nearly 2 million
displaced from their homes. Many refugees from all sides in the wars of the
former Yugoslavia come to the United States, apparent perpetrators blending in
Late 1990s-early 2000s: Dozens of men who were in the Bosnian Serb military
units that participated in the Srebrenica massacre obtain refugee status in the
United States. Mladen Blagojevic and Zdravko Bozic make their home in the same
neighborhood of northern Phoenix, along with about 20 other former Srebrenica
comrades and their families.
August 2001: The UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
in The Hague finds Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic guilty of genocide for his
role in the Srebrenica massacre.
2004: U.S. federal agents begin to arrest former Srebrenica suspects living in
the United States, charging them with .immigration violations.
2006: Bozic and Blagojevic are deported to Bosnia and are arrested on arrival in
Sarajevo. Today, they are expected to be indicted for war crimes, including
Police foil plot to murder Dodik
Bosnian police are investigating reports of a plot to murder local Serb leader
Milorad Dodik, which have shocked the public, but no arrests have been made so
far, local media reported on December 20th.
The reason for the alleged plot was Dodik's crackdown on money laundering, which
is widespread in the area, and the "problematic privatisation" of
several state companies, police said. Two members of the so-called 'Zemun clan,'
from Serbia, who are still at large, were reportedly planning to enter Bosnia
from Croatia with false documents to kill Dodik with logistical support from
Dodik, who is the prime minister of the Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska
(RS), was informed by Sarajevo police that they were in possession of credible
information an attempt on his life was being planned by a local criminal gang
and members of the 'Zemun clan', which is blamed for the murder of Serbian prime
minister Zoran Djindic in March 2003.
The story made front-page news in most Bosnian and Serbian newspapers on
December 20th, but what cast a shadow on its credibility was a report that
Montenegro parliament president Ranko Krivokapic and former president of the now
dissolved state union of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, were
implicated in the plot.
Both Krivokapic and Marovic have said the involvement of their names in the
alleged plot was absurd, adding that they were personal friends with Dodik.
"If there is any danger for Dodik, it certainly isn't coming from
Montenegro," Marovic was quoted as saying. "It's a low campaign to
sabotage Montenegro and Bosnia's good relations," Krivokapic said.
Dodik, whose security has been stepped up, has ruled out Krivokapic and
Marovic's possible involvement in the alleged plot as "absurd." But
said he wasn't surprised by death threats made against him. In Belgrade, Serbian
president Boris Tadic has said that his country would "offer all possible
help in protecting premier Dodik."
Maja Kovacevic Tomic, spokeswoman for the Serbian Special court for organised
crime, has asked why the Bosnian and Croatian authorities haven't "quietly
done their job" and arrested the suspects, instead of pompously going
public. But Croatia's authorities have denied any knowledge of 'Zemun clan'
members Sretko Kalinic and Vladimir Milosavljevic, mentioned in the plot, being
on its territory.
Dragan Lukac, deputy director of the Bosnian state investigative agency SIPA,
told daily Dnevni avaz that the agency was still dealing with "unconfirmed
and unofficial information." Nevertheless, "we are checking all
intelligence on senior officials and the presence of foreign citizens wanted by
neighbouring countries, with a great caution," he added.
The Implications of the Plot To Kill Dodik
In the wake of this discovery of a plot to kill Dodik, police forces on the
borders of Bosnia and in Sarajevo have reportedly stepped up security, and
Dodik's security forces also are on high alert. Though neither the report nor
the allegations can be confirmed, there are countless groups that would like to
see Dodik taken out of the picture, and many others who would directly benefit
from his assassination.
Several recent events have escalated tensions in the country: Kosovo's almost
certain independence, Serbia's wildcard elections, the U.N.'s handover of
control of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the tri-run state government and the withdrawal
of EU forces from Bosnia.
One of the largest problems Bosnia would face if the United Nations handed over
its power is the Republika Srpska's desire for independence. The main force
behind this is Dodik. The United Nations and Bosnia-Herzegovina see Dodik as
unpredictable, and the list of his enemies is long, including many from the West
and the United Nations to the Bosniaks, Croats and Montenegrins.
The leaked Sarajevo police report about the assassination plot against Dodik
indicated that the prime minister was to be shot while entering the U.N. high
representative's building during his upcoming trip to Sarajevo. Though the
report is unconfirmed, it names a few candidates that could be behind the plot.
One is the so-called Zemunski (or Zemun) clan, which is suspected of carrying
out the 2003 assassination of former Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in
Belgrade. The group is made up of former Serbian security service members who
support the followers of the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and other
more radical Serb politicians. Another rumored conspirator in the plot against
Dodik is an organized crime group from Montenegro controlled by Montenegrin
parliament speaker Ranko Krivokapic and former Serbia and Montenegro President
However, the two politicians are personal friends of Dodik, and the Zemunski
clan shares the prime minister's Serb-nationalist views. The question, then, is
who would benefit from Dodik's assassination.
If Dodik were assassinated, the biggest winners would be his own people, the
Bosnian Serbs. The assassination of the Sprska prime minister on the steps of a
U.N. office would trigger a wave of rage that could spur Sprska to split from
the Bosniak-Croat part of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This wave also could spill next
door into Serbia, which would give the radicals a boost before the Jan. 21,
2007, elections. A separate Sprska and a nationalist Serbia would definitely
increase the likelihood that Sprska would become part of Serbia, creating a
unified Greater Serbia.
Another group that would benefit from Dodik's assassination is the Montenegrins.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is a hub for organized crime and smuggling rings in the
region and Montenegro -- or, more accurately, the crime bosses who have had de
facto control over the state for more than a decade -- is a main competitor.
Dodik's assassination would destabilize and possibly split Bosnia-Herzegovina --
which, in turn, would destabilize and split the competition for the underground
In fact, United Nations, the European Union and the Bosniaks and Croats would
stand to lose the most from Dodik's assassination. The United Nations and the
European Union would have to postpone their scheduled 2007 withdrawal from
Bosnia in order to keep Bosnia-Herzegovina united and prevent a repeat of the
1992 Balkan conflict that killed more than 100,000 people, displaced nearly 2
million and left almost 20,000 missing. Additionally, were Dodik taken out of
the picture, the Bosniaks and Croats would have to put up with continued Western
supervision and see their hopes of a unified Bosnia-Herzegovina squashed.
Even if Dodik is not actually assassinated, the rumour of such a plot against
him could be enough to allow the prime minister to elevate his campaign against
a unified Bosnia-Herzegovina. Then again, none of the Balkan states needs much
of an excuse to threaten the region's fragile stability.
Serbian Komercijalna Banka opens new offices
Belgrade-based Komercijalna Banka plans to open 10 new offices in Bosnia,
including Sarajevo, by the end of the year, Bosnian Finance Minister Mladjan
Dinkic said, Italian news agency ANSA reported.
Dinkic said that Komercijalna, which began operating in Bosnia on September
26th, plans to open 14 more offices in the country in 2007. Komercijalna Banka's
Bosnian subsidiary, Komercijalna Banka Banjaluka, is a joint venture with the
Belgrade Foreign Trade Insurance and Financing Fund. The former holds 19,999
shares, while the latter has just one.
136th country to ratify global ban on nuclear testing
Bosnia-Herzegovina is the 136th country to ratify the global ban on nuclear
testing, the Vienna-based Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO)
said on November 7th, New Europe reported.
Bosnia formally deposited the ratification documents with the United Nations on
October 26, to become the 21st country in Eastern European region to ratify the
treaty. The treaty bans all nuclear weapons tests and nuclear-related
US investors showing more interest in Bulgaria
Interest among US investors in Bulgaria is growing, US ambassador to Bulgaria,
John Beyrle, told Sofia news agency.
DSK Bank and US Investment and Market Development (IMD) signed a memorandum of
agreement, aimed at facilitating the implementation of US investment projects in
Bulgaria. The document was signed by DSK CEO, Violina Marinova, and IMD managing
partner, Ivan Drenovichki.
Projects are to be implemented in several key sectors such as tourism,
agriculture, infrastructure, transport and energy. The terms of cooperation and
financing for the separate projects will be agreed on a case-by-case basis, the
signatories said. DSK Bank will help in the selection of investments and ensure
acceptable risk profiles of the project loans. According to Beyrle, US
investments in Bulgaria would double this year compared to investments in 2005.
He recently visited the Rousse region and said he wanted the area to attract
future US investments.
31m Euro in EBRD funds for SMES, industrial schemes
The EBRD is planning to sign, by the end of the year, two contracts worth a
total 31 million Euro for Bosnia's SMEs and industrial schemes, Italian news
agency ANSA reported.
A total 20 million Euro will be used to support SMEs, while 11 million Euro will
be channelled toward industrial development in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
According to the Italian Foreign Trade Institute ICE in Sarajevo, the first
contract refers to a credit line for development of SMEs through Raiffeisenbank,
while the second funding will go to paper mill Natron Hayat in Maglaj.