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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: 160 - (25/09/10)

Bosnia the broken
Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) was one of the six republics that made up the socialist Federation of the Republic of Yugoslavia. It was actually a confederation within a confederation, consisting of several obstreperous entities.
There was, and still is, a Serb republic; there is a Croat-Muslim republic, whose capital, Sarajevo is ostensibly the capital of the confederation, but is nothing of the sort. It is ‘kept together’ by the protection of the international community, whose attention of late has wandered.
It suffered through a devastating war that destroyed vital infrastructure and bankrupted the country. Since the end of the war, it has not only had to recover from the effects of the war, but it has also had to manage the transition from a command to a market-driven economy.
A devastating three-year war in Bosnia that began in 1992 led to genocide, displaced 2 million people, wrecked the economy, and involved international military intervention. In addition, BiH is currently divided into two entities: the Federation containing mostly Croats and Bosniaks (Muslims) and the Republika Srpska (RS) made up mostly of Serbs, while BiH’s state-level government remains structurally weak.

The self-governing Brcko District sits in the northern part of the country, belonging to neither entity. Harmonizing laws and regulations among these various elements is a constant challenge.

Fifteen years since the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, which brought an end to the hostilities, BiH is still struggling to overcome the political, economic, and social effects of the conflict. A sad remembrance of atrocities came on July 11, which marked the 15th anniversary of the killing of over 8,000 Bosniak men and boys who were captured in Srebrenica.

Bosnia no longer?
Bosnia is once again on the brink. Its key entity, Republika Srpska, is holding elections in October. Milorad Dodik, the president of the same, is threatening to divide Bosnia.

Strong rhetoric was emerging from the Republika Srpska (RS) in the run up to elections in October 2006. Many commentators – domestic and international – said Dodik was just manoeuvring to obtain votes. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

After the 2006 election the rhetoric did not subside, and Dodik deliberately chose a collision course with the International High Representative (IHR) in Sarajevo. The crisis got worse, and he has mostly won the ensuing battles with the High Representatives, of whom he has seen off a succession.

Dodik has no reason to support the institutions of the central government. He does not need to share power with Bosniak and Croat politicians. He does not need the international community, which sends little money or support to the RS.

Disintegration has already occurred. In truth, Bosnia never functioned as an effective central state. People in the central government can’t even answer the telephone, never mind run a country. The Parliament’s only interest is in voting themselves salary increases. That is what happens when you attempt state-building by international fiat.

Dodik the Dreadnaught
Dodik's party, SNSD, an intoxication of a nationalist affair, is very powerful now. The population of the RS overwhelmingly supports its government. Dodik’s aim is to consolidate his own power. He will do that by undermining the central state.

Dodik is a shrewd politician. He will not take risks; he does not need to. He knows Bosnia's state institutions do not work well. Everyone in Bosnia knows that. He also knows they are kept on life support by the international community. But the international community has lost interest. The state institutions will therefore collapse of their own accord. He can just watch and wait.

So can all of us. The October elections are almost upon us.

Progress nonetheless

Innovative Response

While Srebrenica and other cities and towns across BiH are still struggling to recover from the war, USAID’s assistance programmes have helped some of them overcome their violent past. From improving the transparency and efficiency of municipal citizen services to attracting private investment, U.S. assistance has promoted peace, security, democracy, governance, and economic growth.

Since the opening of the U.S. Embassy in BiH in 1994, USAID has spent nearly $1.5 billion to improve the lives of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and help lay the foundations for a bright future. The following are highlights of USAID’s programs.

•   Post-war Reintegration and Development. Starting in 1996, USAID’s infrastructure program targeted structures that would help restart businesses and assist citizens to return to normal living. USAID spent $372 million to carry out infrastructure repair projects and directly assisted over 100,000 minority refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes.

•   Private Enterprise Development. USAID’s Business Development Program helped businesses restart operations and employ more than 16,000 Bosnians. Nearly 6,000 loans were made to Bosnian enterprises eager to expand business activity but lacking working capital and medium-term financing.

•  Rule of Law. USAID helped to change the laws in the country so administrative disputes can be more efficiently resolved. For example, as a result of USAID assistance, the Federation Supreme Court’s backlog has been reduced from 12,000 to 3,000 cases.

•   Media, Civil Society, and Election Support. Through its civil society program, USAID has helped BiH NGOs to improve their supervisory skills and become better service providers. Over 130 NGOs have received grants, training, and technical assistance in the first eight years of the program. Training has been provided for all election administrators and up to 5,000 domestic observers provided in various elections.
USAID’s media program has helped to create BiH’s first private, independent television network.

•   Donor Collaboration. In addition, the United States is managing $61 million leveraged from other donor countries, including Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, and Germany, as well as in-kind donations from the private sector. Post-war projects have included improving the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in the agricultural, wood and tourism sectors; credit guarantees for productive enterprises; and making local governments more accountable.

USAID’s 1,600 infrastructure repair projects have helped restart businesses and assisted citizens to return to normal living. Loan and credit guarantee programs offered 6,000 commercial enterprise and micro loans worth $200 million to BiH enterprises, including farmers.

To promote agriculture, new market linkages were created for over 250 traders, agriculture processors, and producers worth $11 million. In democracy and governance, assistance has improved the transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of more than half of BiH’s 148 municipalities, with funding not only from the governments of Sweden and the Netherlands, but a collective cost-share of 69 percent from municipal governments.

Half of BiH’s courts have also been reconstructed into modern, efficient, client-oriented, rule of law institutions.

Looking ahead to the country’s elections this fall, USAID is working through state institutions to improve election administration and implementation of the country’s electoral laws. Projects are also encouraging media and civil society organizations to take an assertive stance when questioning and extracting promises from government officials and candidates.

A new energy efficiency project focuses on private sector expansion and foreign investment, both of which are critical for the country’s economic sustainability and political stability.


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