FREE GEOPOLITICAL NEWSLETTER

For current reports go to EASY FINDER

BOSNIA AND
HERZEGOVINA

 
  
  

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 6,963 5,249 4,800 104
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,540 1,270 1,240 123
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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?

False friends 
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 of Europe. 

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 among them.

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 murder. 

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 local criminals.

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 Svetozar Marovic.

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 market.

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.

« Top

BANKING

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.

« Top

ENERGY

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 explosions.

« Top

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

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.

« Top

« Back

 


 
Published by 
Newnations (a not-for-profit company)
PO Box 12 Monmouth 
United Kingdom NP25 3UW 
Fax: UK +44 (0)1600 890774
enquiries@newnations.com