Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
152 - (20/01/10)
aftermath of war
Everything in Bosnia is overshadowed by
the 1992-95 war, which saw 240,000 killed,
a like number maimed and a million and a
half out of a four million population
becoming refugees. The scale of
destruction involved was so ferocious it
is difficult for citizens of peaceful
Western democracies to understand it all.
It was one conflict where the US did
finally end it by intervention, albeit of
a diplomatic nature, negotiated by someone
who has rather better a claim to the Nobel
Peace Prize than Barack Obama. This was
Richard Holbrooke who negotiated the
Dayton Agreement fifteen years ago.
NATO to the rescue?
It is a curious fact, but the 1999 war
over Kosovo, the next great crisis in the
Balkans, was not fought under the auspices
of NATO, although the prime members of the
coalition were of course NATO members. The
reason was to secure Russia's
co-operation, which proved decisive in
ending the conflict by ensuring Belgrade's
compliance with the West's agenda.
But Bosnia's entry into NATO is now very
much on the cards. US Armed Forces’
contingent started arriving in August in
Bosnia and Herzegovina for NATO’s Joint
Endeavour 2009 military exercise. “Joint
Endeavor 2009 is a test for Bosnia and
Herzegovina,” Republika Srpska Television
opined on August 21.
This is the first time this annual NATO
exercise was taking place in a country
that is not a NATO member. The Alliance
decided to hold the training operation in
Bosnia in order to show its support for
the country's NATO membership process.
The exercise was held from September 4th
to the 17th at the Kozara military
barracks near Banja Luka, the
administrative seat of Bosnia’s
Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity.
The exercise provoked considerable
controversy, with local media and
officials expressing their concerns that
NATO may have a hidden agenda in holding
the exercise in Republika Srpska. Some
officials said NATO may have used the
event to gain information on or from
Republika Srpska communication facilities,
or on weapons and ammunition depots.
Concerned at these prospects, some Bosnian
Serb veterans’ and citizens’ associations
pledged to hold demonstrations ahead of
the exercise. These were duly held but to
IMF to the rescue?
Encumbered by petty political plots and
growing social unrest, Bosnia is
staggering closer to garnering a first
loan tranche from the IMF.
Both Bosnian entities – the Bosniak
(Bosnian Muslim) and Croat Federation and
predominately Serb Republika Srpska – have
moved closer to adopting required budget
rebalances over the past few months.Once
this process is complete, Bosnia and
Herzegovina will have met the first
benchmark in curbing their expenditures
and will be able to start using the first
tranche of an IMF loan, totalling US$ 280
million, which has already transferred to
the country’s Central Bank.
Bosnia has secured a US$1.6 billion loan
from the IMF, intended to act as a bulwark
against the ongoing economic downturn. In
the Federation, the House of
Representatives has adopted a budget
rebalance. The upper house, the House of
Peoples, did the same.
Yet, despite these developments, the
crucial loan deal still faces a number of
In Republika Srpska, the final, legal
confirmation of the budget rebalance is in
dispute. The Bosniak caucus previously
announced that it would block all key
Assembly decisions until the
Serb-dominated legislature's code of
conduct is changed to prevent Bosniaks
from being outvoted.
Bosnia’s Office of the High
Representative, OHR, which is the ultimate
arbiter in such disputes, is still
considering the issue and has so far
failed to resolve it.
The Bosniak-Croat Federation, is
experiencing a different set of problems.
The Federation government, and its new
prime minister, Mustafa Mujezinovic, have
been facing increasing pressure and
intense criticism from influential war
veterans' associations and workers’
syndicates, over the planned reduction of
salaries and social benefits paid from the