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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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: 132 - (01/06/08)

A hapless land
Tolystoy opened Anna Karenina by saying: "Happy families resemble each other; unhappy ones are unhappy each in their own way." The same may perhaps be true of nations. 

There can be no unhappier nation in Europe than Bosnia, unsure, indeed, whether it is a nation at all. It had a vile war in 1992-95 that killed 240,000 people, maiming an untold number, while more than a million became refugees, without homes - and that in a country of only four million. The suffering was unimaginable for those living in the secure West. 

That is doubtless why so little was done about it. The Europeans turned a blind eye for years to the Bosnian morass. It was perhaps post-war Europe’s darkest hour with their politicians seeking to avoid at any price – a price paid in Bosnian blood – grasping the nettle of a concerted slapping down of Milosevic, seeking to turn Yugoslavia into Serboslavia, and confronting the Serbian war machine he employed for that purpose. 

One political figure, by then retired, who did understand the tragedy was Margaret Thatcher, primed up to the facts by the Yugoslav wife of one of her former aides, Charles Powell. As she said to one of her former ministers, Douglas Hurd, then UK Foreign Secretary: "Douglas, you make Halifax (the deputy of Chamberlain at Munich in 1938) look like a warmonger."

In the end, despairing at European pusillanimity, the Clinton Administration in the US decisively intervened. A prime mover and shaker here was Richard Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary of State, married to a Hungarian. He knew the inclinations of Milosevic, Karadzik and the other Serb instigators of the war, as Hungarians do in their bones. It can help to have a Balkan (or almost Balkan) bride at times.

Holbrooke brokered the Dayton Peace agreement in 1995, an achievement for which he deserved the Nobel Prize for Peace, which he did not get. He also deserved to be made US Secretary of State on Clinton's re-election in 1996, but of course did not get the job for a very simple reason – being much brighter he would have swiftly eclipsed his boss.

Experts find mass grave in Bosnia
In a recurring reminder of this grim history, officials once again say they have found a mass grave in Bosnia. The latest to turn up apparently contains 42 bodies of what may be the earliest victims of the Bosnian war - Muslim Bosnians killed during the April 1992 Serb attack on the town of Zvornik on Bosnia's border with Serbia.

Forensic experts turned up the first remains at the edge of a lake near Zvornik and are now trying to dry the area out, said team leader Murat Hurtic.

Some 30,000 people went missing in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war and over the years experts have been finding their bodies in mass graves throughout the country. Once a body is exhumed, it goes through an identification process that includes DNA analysis before it is released to the family.

So far about 17,000 bodies have been found. 

The EU opens up at last
To look on a brighter side of things, The Europeans are belatedly trying to make amends. The EU is to sign a pre-membership agreement with Bosnia on June 16.

The Bosnian Serbs and thus the nation, have finally accepted police reforms urged on them by Brussels as a precondition for entry. They also seem to be in a mood to accept virtually any requirement laid down by the EU. They reckon that their fractured country, if it is to acquire substance as a nation, needs to be continued for a while under Western tutelage. The various International Representatives at the helm in Sarajevo have proved a distinct success, holding the balance between its often only too corrupt and sectarian politicians.

Transparency International in its latest monitoring of corruption around the world among 192 countries, puts Bosnia in the bottom half of the league, at well over a hundred. But that is hardly a surprise. The Balkans extending through Bulgaria and Romania (see current reports), include by far the most corrupt of the European nations.

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