"Obviously, Republika Srpska and Dodik are in the spotlight, not least because of his fiery rhetoric, but I do think that the situation with Croatian representation in the presidency of the country has to be addressed, and has to be addressed soon, " Lisanin says. A woman casts her vote for local elections in Mostar on December 20, 2020. Mostar was the only Bosnian city that had not held local elections in 12 years. Split into Croat and Bosniak zones by the Dayton agreement, the town became a symbol of the broken politics that has haunted the Balkan state ever since. Multiple decisions by the European Court of Human Rights and the Venice Commission have called for changes to eliminate the current ethnic- and residence-based system for Bosnia's voters and candidates.
Bosnia On The Brink Again: Is 2022 Going To Be The Year Everything Falls Apart? Mirko Zecevic Tadic was a member of the self-styled Croatian Defense Council during the Bosnian War. He had just reached adulthood as the fighting broke out in 1992, and eventually lost his right leg below the knee in a conflict that pitted neighbor against neighbor and majority Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats against each other in the former Yugoslav republic.
It's one of those crises that have simply accrued over the past 26 years, according to Lisanin. "In different periods they play out in various manners, but they never went away, actually, " Lisanin says. The United States has named a special envoy for election reform in Bosnia, Mathew Palmer, in an effort to help break the impasse over electoral reform.
" Impasse Over Elections Meanwhile, another crisis has already paralyzed other institutions, particularly within the Bosniak and Croat federation, and threatens to derail national elections due in October that are already creaking under the weight of boycotts by both Serbs and Croats. Bosnian Croats have complained for years that unlike Bosniaks and Serbs, they don't have their own majority in any "entity" under the Dayton framework. The prescribed Croat member of Bosnia's ethnically tripartite presidency has been elected in each of the past two polls on the strength of votes from the Bosniak majority, without the backing of the largest ethnic Croat party, the Bosnian Croat Democratic Union, or its leader, Dragan Covic. Bosniaks have staunchly resisted calls for the formation of a Croat-majority district, prompting Covic and his party to abandon cooperation with their Bosniak counterparts in many forums.
Nearly three decades later, the 47-year-old resident of Brcko, in northern Bosnia-Herzegovina, is part of a veterans' support group called Pravipozar. "We all lost a lot in the war: friends, relatives. None of us gained anything, no matter where he is, " Tadic tells RFE/RL's Balkan Service. Mirko Tadic: "We don't need talk of a new war. " In addition to helping ex-soldiers of any ethnicity, he and other members meet with younger generations to share their experiences about the horrors of war in the Balkans. "We want to draw attention to the fact that we who were in that war in the 1990s and who experienced the greatest troubles, to point out the need to talk and move toward a better life.
" "That really prevents us from understanding that all of the parties are, at bottom, trying to get a good deal for their constituency, " Prelec says. The Dodik Factor Into that combustible mix, outgoing international High Representative Valentin Inzko imposed a genocide-denial ban in July, infuriating the Bosnian Serb member of the current three-man presidency, Milorad Dodik. Inzko used his powers to ban the denial of internationally or Bosnian-recognized genocides, like the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8, 000 mostly Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb troops.
But they say that while large-scale violence can't be ruled out, it is unlikely for a number of reasons. "I do think it is an existential threat to Bosnia, but not in the sense that there will be a return to 1990s-style warfare, " Toby Vogel, a Western Balkans analyst and senior associate of the Democratization Policy Council, says. "I think that is highly improbable, maybe even impossible -- although I wouldn't necessarily want to make that judgment call.
In the absence of a sufficiently acceptable alternative, it will probably have to do for now. The clock is ticking on enacting electoral reforms in time for the October voting, with general agreement that they'd need to be in place at least six months beforehand. "Maybe the most important point is that you have a situation in which the representatives of the various communities -- however you want to define them -- are almost exactly divided fifty-fifty between those who want to continue the state-building project and build up the state government headquartered in Sarajevo more, and those who want to ratchet it back, either to a point in which it's a looser federation or all the way back to actual disintegration through secession and independence, " Prelec says.
But they are still worried about the country's fate, for Bosnia's 3 million residents and for the region. A woman casts her ballot in local elections in Sarajevo on November 15, 2020. "The existential threat to Bosnia I see not so much in war between organized armed forces as in an accelerating of the gradual dissolution of the common state, of the state institutions of Bosnia-Herzegovina, " Vogel says. He adds that "chipping away at the foundations of the state has intensified. " "What is possible is a lower level of violence that leads to a 'frozen conflict' and essentially a failed state. And we don't need another Transdniester, or another South Ossetia, in the Balkans, " Prelec says, in a reference to unsettled conflicts in breakaway regions of Moldova and Georgia, respectively. 'Good' And 'Bad' Camps? There is general consensus among Balkans watchers that the Dayton framework was successful at re-creating at least a partially viable state and letting people put their lives back together, but that it has arguably failed at laying down a sustainable constitutional foundation.
Vogel suggests that the European Union and the United States "will do anything to make sure that these elections go ahead. " He acknowledges threats by Dodik and Covic to boycott -- and possibly even disrupt, in the latter's case -- the October elections, but warns against short-term concessions that could "deepen artificial divisions and entrench the power of the nationalist parties. " "So now can be a moment of great tension, of great contestation, " Vogel says. "In Bosnia, there are always narrow windows of opportunity, moments when you could actually engage in reforms -- and you can't do it in election years, " Bieber says.
While there's a rough correlation between ethnicity and commitment to Bosnian nationhood or national institutions, he says, there's also a "non-negligible" amount of crossover among Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks who disagree with their respective majorities. "That means that no one really can seize the initiative, " Prelec says. He argues that there's a misconception that the country "is divided into 'good' and 'bad' camps, and the 'bad' camp are nationalist and the 'good' camp are progressives or pro-state, pro-European people.
Fears of new conflict as Bosnia-Herzegovina faces - YouTube The peace agreement that holds together Bosnia-Herzegovina is under threat from a rise in Serb nationalism.More than three years of war
He says such probing in the past has threatened to erode the Bosnian state, and now he's "making it more imaginable and kind of pushing, pushing his agenda forward. " Mladen Lisanin, a research associate at the Institute for Political Studies in Belgrade, warns that even if Dodik is unprepared to organize violence in an effort to win independence, his statements and the resulting counterthreats risk grave consequences in a society like Bosnia's. "I think that even for [Dodik] and his immediate inner circle of advisers, and people who work for him, physical violence is currently a red line, because after all, it would be most likely a fatal blow to his own political career in the long term -- even if he didn't care about people's lives in Republika Srpska and the federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, " Lisanin says. "The danger is, of course, that if you're not actually ready to act on your threats of the use of force, that doesn't mean that someone else will not take you seriously because no one is obliged to understand your political logic behind your fiery rhetoric.
World Report 2021: Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina · Discrimination and Intolerance · Accountability for War Crimes · Asylum Seekers and Migrants · Domestic and Other Gender-Based
We don't need talk of a new war or a new conflict, " Tadic says. Their message took on new urgency in 2021 as fears intensified of a messy dissolution of Bosnia, which is still governed under the terms of a 1995 peace treaty known as the Dayton agreement that divides the country into a Bosniak and Croat federation and a majority Serb entity, Republika Srpska. The concerns have been sparked by a constitutional crisis and threats of secession from Bosnian Serbs, along with planned boycotts of next year's national elections over decades-old grievances that have left Bosnian Croats bitter over their level of representation in federal and national institutions.
Bosnia today - Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Almost half of Bosnia and Herzegovina's population was displaced by the conflict and still today many Bosnians chose to live abroad. The Bosnian diaspora
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Wikipedia This was followed by the Bosnian War, which lasted until late 1995 and was brought to a close with the signing of the Dayton Agreement. Today, the country