Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of sovereignty in October 1991, was followed by a referendum for independence from the former Yugoslavia in February 1992. The Bosnian Serbs - supported by neighboring Serbia - responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas to form a "greater Serbia." In March 1994, Bosniaks and Croats reduced the number of warring factions from three to two by signing an agreement creating a joint
Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, the warring parties signed a peace agreement that brought to a halt the three years of interethnic civil strife (the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995). The Dayton Agreement retained Bosnia and Herzegovina's international boundaries and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government is charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy. Also recognized was a second tier of government comprised of two entities roughly equal in size: the
Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska (RS). The Federation and RS governments are charged with overseeing internal functions. In 1995-96, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force
(IFOR) of 60,000 troops served in Bosnia to implement and monitor the military aspects of the agreement. IFOR was succeeded by a smaller, NATO-led Stabilization Force
(SFOR) whose mission is to deter renewed hostilities. SFOR remains in place at a level of approximately 21,000 troops.
Update No: 087 - (27/07/04)
Bosnian Serbs' refusal to arrest war criminals - believed to be walking freely in their half of postwar Bosnia - resulted in Bosnia's top international official sacking 60 Bosnian Serb officials.
"We have to get rid of the cancer of obstructionism and corruption in the [Serb Republic] structures and nothing less than major surgery will do," Bosnia's top international official Paddy Ashdown told a news conference.
The firings were a political repercussion of Bosnia's failure to be invited to join NATO's Partnership for Peace at the summit in Istanbul earlier this week. NATO was set to decide whether Bosnia's military reforms - which involve putting its former warring Croat, Muslim, and Serb militaries under a single command - warranted an invitation into the group, the first step toward joining NATO.
The military reforms, along with the Bosnian Serbs' recent acknowledgements about Srebrenica, could have been interpreted as signs that the country was ready to move on. But NATO had required Bosnia to produce some war-crimes fugitives as a condition of membership.
The most notorious of these fugitives, former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, was indicted by the UN war-crimes tribunal for genocide at Srebrenica in 1995. He's widely thought to be moving around the mountains of eastern Bosnia under heavy guard. The tribunal's public indictment list also includes more than a dozen other Bosnian Serbs who are still at large.
In Banja Luka, the leafy capital of the Serb Republic, officials had long given lip service to joining NATO, because such integration would end the Serbs' fear of being dominated by the larger Muslim population.
"The Serb Republic would free itself from the questions that have come up as sources of conflicts in Bosnia, and those are mostly related to unresolved questions of protecting the interests of ethnic groups and of ethnic minorities," says Branko Vignjevic, a consultant for the Republic's defence ministry.
Most people outside the entity, however, have pointed out that the Serb Republic is a stone around the country's neck. Its authorities have not arrested a single tribunal indictee.
Therefore, international officials here have decided to clean house. Among the 60 officials Mr. Ashdown removed were Serb police minister Zoran Djeric and Dragan Kalinic, speaker of the Serb parliament and head of the Serb Democratic Party, founded by Mr. Karadzic in 1990.
A local analyst with the International Crisis Group in Brussels welcomed the measures.
"It's a long time overdue from the part of the international community to demonstrate that it is serious, that it can speak with one voice and that it can apply tough measures," says Senad Slatina
In an effort to tighten the noose around fugitive war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, the international administrator of Bosnia-Herzegovina fired these 60 Bosnian Serb politicians and other officials for failing to arrest their one-time leader.
But Karadzic, one of the world's most wanted men, continued to elude capture as he has for nearly a decade.
Paddy Ashdown, the international envoy in charge of postwar Bosnia, courageously took the unusual punitive step of firing a raft of "corrupt politicians and criminals" who he said have controlled Bosnian Serbs for too long and created a "climate of secrecy and impunity" that allows war crimes suspects to roam free. Those dismissed included top officials such as Dragan Kalinic, the dismissed speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament was leader of the Serbian Democratic Party, which Karadzic founded.
Kalinic scoffed at the action, announced by Ashdown at a news conference in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital.
"Many are powerless when faced with the fact that Radovan Karadzic is guarded by God and the angels," Kalinic said, which fairly well explains why such a severe action was needed and now has been delivered
Karadzic led the Bosnian Serbs through 3˝ years of war, part of the conflict that ripped apart the former Yugoslav federation, leaving more than a quarter of a million people dead in Bosnia, most of them Muslims. It was Europe's deadliest strife since World War II. The international war crimes tribunal in The Hague has indicted Karadzic and his top general, Ratko Mladic, on charges of genocide.
Both have remained at large, helped by hardline nationalists to whom they are heroes, but God and the Angels are not widely believed to be amongst their number .
Recently, the lead Hague prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, said at the United Nations that she was confident Karadzic would be arrested soon.
The steps taken were aimed at substantially reducing Karadzic's ability to manoeuvre and hide by crippling his support network. In addition to sacking politicians, mayors, police officers and the Bosnian Serb entity's interior minister, Ashdown slapped travel bans on many of the same people, withheld more than $500,000 from Kalinic's party and announced an overhaul of the Bosnian Serb police force, which has not arrested a single war crimes suspect despite an obligation under peace accords to do so.
"The Republika Srpska has been in the grip of a small band of corrupt politicians and criminals for far too long," Ashdown said.
Republika Srpska is one of the autonomous halves that make up Bosnia. The entity and neighbouring Serbia and Montenegro, the two-republic nation that represents what is left of Yugoslavia, are coming under increased pressure to arrest suspected war criminals. Failure to do so is costing the two Balkan countries in closer economic and security ties with Europe, diplomats say.
They are the only European states that are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Partnership for Peace program and failed to win an invitation to the club at this week's NATO summit in Istanbul, Turkey. Officials of the Atlantic alliance cited the Serbs' less-than-enthusiastic cooperation with The Hague tribunal.
Reform of Bosnian police on horizon
Mr Ashdown said on July 2nd he would work with the Bosnian government in establishing a commission to create a single police force in the ethnically divided country.
Former Belgian Prime Minister, Wilfried Martens, was named head of the 12-member Police Reform Commission, which is tasked with overhauling the 18,000-strong police force in Bosnia. Bosnia-Herzegovina, was administratively divided into two ethnic entities after the country's 1992-1995 war - the Bosnian Serb Srpska Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation - both of which have their own police forces. While there was little cooperation between the police forces of the two ethnic entities, the borders did not seem to hinder cooperation between criminal networks, Ashdown said.
Bosnia, Croatia launch interstate council for cooperation
The Interstate Council for Cooperation between Bosnia and Croatia held a session in Zagreb recently, New Europe has reported.
After the meeting, representatives of the two countries signed the contract on mutual fulfilling of court decisions in sanctioning matters (signed by Croatian Minister of Justice Vesna Skare-Ozbolt and Bosnian Minister of Justice Slobodan Kovac), the contract on Evading Double Taxation (signed by Croatian Minister of Finance Ivan Suker and Bosnian Minister of Finance and Treasury Ljerka Maric), as well as the guidelines for future cooperation between Croatia and Bosnia (signed by Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia Josip Vrbosic and Bosnian Ambassador in Croatia Zlatko Dizdarevic).
Bosnian Presidency Chairman Sulejman Tihic told the press that the guidelines for future cooperation are important, as they provide the bilateral relations with the criteria, for the purpose of accessing Euro-Atlantic integration. He added that the governments of both countries have been tasked to resolve the matter of refugee return by the end of the year.
Tihic declared that it is necessary to find a mutually satisfying solution on the agreement on Port Ploce and transit through Neum. It was concluded that the next session of the Interstate Council will be held in late November or early December, according to the Bosnian presidency's public relations service. The Bosnian delegation comprised the members of Bosnian Presidency, Foreign Minister Mladen Ivanic, Minister of Finance and Treasury Ljerka Maric, Minister of Justice Slobodan Kovac, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Haris Basic, and Ambassador Zlatko
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