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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: 151 - (16/12/09)

No news is good news
There is little to report from Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is the good news.

A little while ago there was talk of secession by the Serb Republic there, whose leader, Milorad Dodik, is certainly an ardent Serb nationalist. He was backed in this by no less a figure than the president of Serbia himself, Boris Tadic, hitherto viewed as a moderate by Western opinion. Tadic momentarily took up the Bosnian Serb cause for opportunistic reasons to outflank Vojislav Kostunica, the PM of Serbia, an avowed champion of Serb secession from Bosnia and incorporation in Serbia itself – endless trouble.

Western capitals took note and upped their aid budgets for Bosnia. The Bosnian Serbs are being in effect bribed by the West to stay in place.

The West has a horror of irredentism. Its leaders are well aware that there are any number of territorial changes that could be advocated by new-found nationalism. The break-up of empires, let alone of countries, is an awesome business.

Failure of the EU
The responsible people in Brussels have of course long been aware of this about Bosnia. In principle, the EU already has a wealth of tools to shape Bosnia's future – a 2,000-strong military force, a police mission, a special representative, huge investment and leverage on local politicians who aspire to join the bloc.

In practice, Bosnia-Herzegovina has only illustrated Europe's shortcomings.

In many ways, the country already ought to be a showcase success for European "soft power". Since the United States brokered the 1995 Dayton accord, the EU has largely taken charge. Its special representative, Valentin Inzko, doubles as the high representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina (IHR), an office established at the talks in Dayton, Ohio, and he has wide powers to overrule feuding local politicians.

The viewpoint of Ashdown
It is worth quoting the views of a former high representative. "We are in a dangerous dynamic," said former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown and former IHR. "And if we fail to operate in a cohesive fashion, we could end up with the de facto disintegration of Bosnia-Herzegovina."

Lord Ashdown said he feared Europe, which failed the Balkans in the 1990s, risked doing so again, and could destroy its credibility as a foreign policy player. "If the EU, which has, in Bosnia, all its instruments of foreign policy, can't get things done there, what hope is there?" he said. "It is pathetic if we have to rely on the US in our own backyard."

Lord Ashdown also said the melding of Mr Inzko's role with that of the head of the European Commission's delegation, Dimitris Kourkoulas – which has been proposed in the Lisbon Treaty – was overdue.

He said: "The EU institutions and mechanisms for the execution of foreign policy are a disaster. The EU puts into Bosnia at least twice as much money as any other country, but if people want to get things done, they go to the US embassy. The US speaks with a single voice and could get things done without taking 18 months.

"Bosnia is dysfunctional, but not as dysfunctional as Brussels."

Karadzic trial set – and what about Mladic?
The Hague counts as well as Brussels in Bosnian matters. Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader accused of waging genocide against Bosnia's Muslim population in the early 1990s, is due to go on trial, after a war crimes court ruled against two appeals.

The United Nations tribunal said it would not be bound by what Karadzic alleged was a promise from US diplomat Richard Holbrooke granting him immunity in exchange for stepping down as leader of the breakaway region of the former Yugoslavia.

Karadzic, 64, was arrested in Serbia on July 21, 2008. He had been hiding as a practitioner of alternative medicine.

There is yet another scoundrel – or is it a wastrel – to be found: General Mladic, the actual perpetrator of the dreadful massacre at Srebrenica in 1995. He is still quite unfound.

Who are his protectors? That is the question.

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