Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 096 - (26/04/05)
10 years after Dayton, peace takes root in Bosnia
Later this year, Bosnia and Herzegovina will mark the 10th anniversary of
the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement that brought an end to the largest ethnic
conflict in post-World War II Europe. The conflict caused some 200,000 deaths
and produced more than 2 million refugees. It also witnessed a holocaust with
Moslem Bosniacs being systematically murdered en masse, as a deliberate policy
of the well armed Bosnian Serbs in the name of ethnic cleansing. The worst
example was at Sebrenica, the 10th anniversary of which comes in July of this
year, where at least 7000 men and boys were killed in cold blood.
This ranked for many as the nadir of the United Nations whose troops had
promised protection to the Moslem refugees, but themselves surrendered without
fighting, prior to the massacre.
Astonishingly, the principal culprits both indicted as war criminals, are still
at large. The army commander Mladic, and the then Bosnian Serb president,
Radovan Karadzic, have successfully evaded arrest for all of these years, an
impossible feat it is believed without the protection of the authorities that
succeeded them in Bosnia's Serb enclave, Republika Srbska, and in Serbia proper.
One can give a passing grade on the post-civil war process during the past
decade in a comprehensive evaluation. The political situation of Bosnia and
Herzegovina is relatively stable. The reconstruction process is moving forward.
Many nationals who were displaced as domestic refugees have returned home.
Of course, things have not completely recovered to the status quo that existed
before the civil war. The return rate of refugees is estimated at around 35
percent. But serious ethnic conflicts have not occurred for more than three
The biggest challenge today is not political, but economic. There is still a
very high unemployment rate, which is currently about 20 percent. Many young
people cannot find jobs. The main reason for not being able to facilitate the
early return of refugees is that the country's difficult job market is not
attractive to them. Compared to economic difficulties, the political issues are
Mutual understanding among ethnic groups has increased, but real reconciliation
and a friendly relationship among them has not been achieved. It is just that
the situation has been improved compared to the severe ethnic difficulties
experienced during the civil war.
Ecumenicism to the fore
The dialogue among the three major religions, namely Islam, Catholicism and
Orthodox Christianity, has been in progress. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a
multi-ethnic state composed of three major religions.
The country cannot be sustained without inter-religious understanding and
reconciliation. Political decisions can be made only on the basis of ethnic
Ashdown sacks Bosnia's top Croat over corruption charges
Bosnia's international administrator, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, is
a tough cookie. He has used his sweeping powers to fire the Croat member of the
country's three-person presidency as a corruption case causes increasing
He has done this sort of thing several times before. It should have been evident
to the Croat that he was dealing with a firebrand - for justice.
Ashdown Says Police Reform Necessary for BiH's EU Integration
Bosnia and Herzegovina is at a crossroads, Ashdown told Bosnian Serb
lawmakers on April 21st. Whether it moves forward towards EU integration or
becomes the only Balkan country left out of the process depends on achieving
police reform in line with EU principles.
Three days before the start of negotiations on police reform in Bosnia and
Herzegovina (BiH), Paddy Ashdown urged politicians in Republika Srpska (RS) on
21 April to seek a compromise solution that will lead to an agreement.
"Police reform is the last great reform necessary for Europe. This is the
final hurdle for the RS and BiH to enter into the European path," Ashdown
said, addressing the RS National Assembly. He also warned lawmakers that they
had less than four weeks to decide which way they want to go.
"There are two options: a bright future and a dark one," he said.
"Membership in the EU is the only future that offers BiH prosperity,
security, and stability. You can choose this option if you want to. But there is
a black option, too. And you can choose that as well."
The EU is expected to decide next month whether to allow BiH to start talks on a
Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the first step towards eventual
full-fledged membership in the Union. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has
indicated that if BiH politicians reach a successful deal on police
restructuring, in line with EU principles, Brussels will give the green light
for the talks.
The three principles laid down by the European Commission (EC) for police reform
in BiH are: exclusive police competency at the state level, but operational
control at the local level; police areas drawn up on the grounds of operational
efficiency, not political control; and no political interference in policing.
The main goal is to make it easier for police to fight crime, Ashdown said.
While those principles are fixed, the ways to achieve them are not, so there is
much room for compromise, the top international envoy to BiH noted. "There
is a lot RS can win from this if it wants to," he said.
Referring to concerns in RS that police reform would be a step towards
abolishing the entity, Ashdown insisted there is no such agenda. "There is
no plot to open up, by clandestine means, the question of constitutional
reform," he said. "This is not an attack on RS. There is no attempt to
abolish the entities." Nor, he added, did it imply that the RS interior
ministry had to be abolished.
Rather, Ashdown said, it would bring benefits such as better equipment to fight
crime and equal payment in the two entities for the same job.
Citing the results of a new poll conducted only in RS, Ashdown said 79 per cent
of respondents said they want BiH to join the EU and 51 per cent had voiced
support for the establishment of a state level police service, if it would place
the country on the path to Europe. "A clear 59 per cent of RS citizens
think that criminals have more influence over politicians, than ordinary
citizens," the envoy noted, adding that according to 77 per cent of the
respondents, "Police need to do more to fight crime." This is what the
three EU principles are designed to do, he added.
Speaking to reporters later, RS Prime Minister Pero Bukejlovic said it is
possible to find a compromise solution on police reform without changing the RS
and BiH constitutions.
BiH motorway project begins
Construction of the new Podlugovi-Visoko motorway in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)
started in March, Balkan Times reported.
The 8.5km long road section will form part of the Pan-European Transport
Corridor Vc. The project is likely to be at a fast pace and the construction
company believes it will complete it in 10 months. For Bosnia and Herzegovina it
will be the most important route in the country and the shortest road
communication between Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea. The Ministry of
Transport and Communications of Bosnia and Herzegovina had invited eligible
consultants and experts to express their interest in providing the preliminary
feasibility design and environmental study, engineering study, preliminary
design and environmental study. The motorway is expected to be of the highest
standards and to meet the expectations of the population of Bosnia and
Herzegovina, sources said recently.