Further Reading on Bosnia

If you read “Fake News in Former Yugoslavia” and found yourself slightly confused or wanting to know more, I was recently sent this very interesting article from the Eurasia Review, which helps to provide some extra context.


Map of Bosnia-Herezegovina showing the Bozniak Federation and the Republika Srpska sectors. 

You can read the article here: http://www.eurasiareview.com/14032017-keep-your-eye-on-the-balkans-analysis/

Some relevant excerpts:

On the ethnic divisions of power in Bosnia-Herzegovina:

The current Bosnian constitutional structure, still largely unchanged since 1995, institutionalizes identity divisions at multiple levels in the government and society of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Based upon Article 4 of the Dayton Accords, the constitution of Bosnia-Herzegovina locates sovereignty not in the state itself but in its “constituent peoples,” or the Serb, Croat, and Bosniak ethnic groups of the country.[12] This tripartite division is reflected in the institutional structure of the state, as well. The bicameral legislature is composed of a House of Peoples, which “shall comprise 15 Delegates, two-thirds from the Federation (including five Croats and five Bosniaks) and one-third from the Republika Srpska (five Serbs);” and a House of Representatives, which “shall comprise 42 Members, two-thirds elected from the territory of the Federation, one-third from the territory of the Republika Srpska.”[13] Even the presidency is a tripartite institution, consisting of “one Bosniak and one Croat, each directly elected from the territory of the Federation, and one Serb directly elected from the territory of the Republika Srpska.”[14] Far from being a model for governance of a multi-ethnic state, this constitutional model almost guarantees conflict by institutionalizing ethnic identities and tying them to access to political power.

On differing versions of the truth:

Even the study of the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been ethnically institutionalized. There are separate Serb, Croat, and Bosniak documentation centers to study the war, with the Croatian center located in Mostar, the Serb center in Banja Luka, and the Bosniak center in Sarajevo. The potential for three separate histories of the war to be propagated among Bosnia-Herzegovina’s three major ethnic groups is exceptionally destabilizing because instead of a single, generally accepted set of historical facts and figures about the war, each center can (and does) publish and propagate its own set of “facts.” (emphasis mine) Among these that I heard while at the Croatian Documentation Center in Mostar is the following: in the 1992-1995 war, Bosniaks killed “ten times as many Croats as Croats killed Bosniaks,” but “they” (Bosniaks) present it as the opposite.

On Russia’s influence in the region:

Russia has played an especially malevolent role in the country, and one that seems bent on destabilizing it. In contrast to Bosnia-Herzegovina’s neighbors and Western countries, who opposed the recent Bosnian Serb national day referendum and have largely shunned the Serb nationalism of Republika Srpska’s President Dodic, “Vladimir Putin, Russia’s leader, egged on Mr. Dodi[c], receiving him in Moscow on September 22nd.”[28] And Russia’s activities in the Balkans have not been confined to support for Dodic as Russia is also attempting to rewrite the recent history of the region. As Gordana Knezevic notes,

It was Russia that vetoed the resolution proposed by Great Britain on the Srebrenica genocide. Russian media are actively contributing to the revisionist project with efforts to rehabilitate Milosevic, who died in custody in The Hague in 2006. Contrary to the evidence gathered by The Hague tribunal in the course of the unfinished trial, Milosevic is now being painted as a peacemaker and as someone who wanted only to save Yugoslavia, rather than the man ultimately responsible for the worst atrocities on European soil since World War II.

On the possibility of another Balkan war:

If relations between Croats and Bosniaks are worsening, then relations between Serbs and Bosniaks can only be described as grave. Evidence of this fact is readily available: on 25 September 2016, Republika Srpska held a referendum on establishing its own “national day,” which received 99.8% approval among those who voted.[21] This referendum is widely regarded as a trial run for a referendum on independence, which Republika Srpska’s President Milorad Dodik has promised to hold by 2018. The Economist began its article on the referendum with the following sentence: “The threat of a new war in Bosnia is so strong that ‘you can feel it in the air,’ warns Aleksandar Vucic, the prime minister of neighbouring Serbia. It would take only a spark, he thinks, to ignite it.”

The entire article is good reading for those with any interest in the Balkan region. It contains a lot of context that I was simply unable to put into my recent piece on the Balkans, but is still very helpful for understanding the essence of the region.

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