Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 129 - (28/02/08)
The triple tragedy
Bosnia is a tripartite state, like Iraq. Tragedy has befallen each of their
In Bosnia's case the three diverse communities fall into a most interesting
pattern. Two are Christian, one Catholic, the other Orthodox, the third Muslim.
It is a curiosity that the Catholics and the Muslims live in comparative harmony
in the Croat-Muslim Republic, while the Orthodox Serbs are an eternal irritant
to the body politic as a whole and to themselves in their own Serb Republic, the
other constituent republic of the federal state.
The appalling wars in the 1990s in the Balkans left behind devastation and ruin.
No more so than in Bosnia. 240, 000 died, a comparable number were maimed and
one and a half million were displaced. This has left behind enormous emotional
scars. There is no gainsaying what suffering and torment has been involved.
The Albanian imbroglio
There is now the prospect of another war – as Kosovo goes independent from
Serbia, announced on February 17. The chairman of Bosnia's rotating presidency,
Zeljko Komsic, made it immediately clear that Bosnia will not be among those
countries recognising the independence of the breakaway province.
A Bosnian Serb politician has warned that Kosovo’s independence from Serbia
could trigger regional instability and possible unrest in Bosnia’s smaller
entity, Republika Srpska (RS). “We believe that this [Kosovo’s independence]
is a grave danger for the region in a wider sense, and that it will lead to
rising political instability, unfortunately also in Bosnia and Herzegovina,”
said Branko Dokic, a leading member of the Party of Democratic Progress, the
junior partner in the Republika Srpska, RS, government.
Speaking at a news conference in Banja Luka on February 10, Dokic said that
Kosovo’s independence may even trigger “possible unrest and street
reaction” among people in the RS.
Observers say the PDP has close links with some senior police officers in the
RS, and that adds weight to Dokic’s warning. Dokic called on the RS public to
“keep a cool head.” He also urged countries around the world not to rush
into recognizing Kosovo’s independence, and give Serbia and Kosovo a chance to
resolve their dispute through negotiations.
Dokic's concern about possible protests in the RS were echoed by the entity's
director of police, Uros Pena, who told a news conference on February 11 that he
expected a certain amount of turmoil in case of Kosovo independence.
Because of this, he said that the RS police would in the coming days increase
its presence on the streets, step up road checks, and prepare an action plan
that would focus on people who are likely to be involved in street
demonstrations over Kosovo.
Bosnia is ready to counter any attempts to spread instability after the
declaration of independence by Kosovo, its presidency said. Haris Silajdzic, the
Muslim member of the three-man inter-ethnic presidency, said the office had
intensified contacts and the exchange of security information with international
and local officials ahead of the event.
Bosnian Serbs to go independent too?
In the past Bosnian Serbs nationalists have said that if Kosovo can break away
from Serbia, then RS should have the same right to separate from Bosnia and
However, the Dayton peace agreement, which brought the bloody Bosnian war to an
end in 1995 and is the foundation document for Bosnia Herzegovina, does not
allow for the separation of any of the entities from the state.
What is required at this delicate juncture is exceptional statesmanship on all