Members of the riot control unit of the European Union's military force in Bosnia and Herzegovina train near Sarajevo, on Oct. 24, 2022. Elvis Barukcic/AFP via Getty Images

On Aug. 29, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) delivered a landmark decision against the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ruling by a 6-1 majority that the country’s constitution and its dominant ethnic power-sharing system grossly violated basic rights to equal democratic representation. Specifically, the court ruled that Bosnia’s constitution had unfairly limited the right to vote and be elected for large segments of the population through a “combination of territorial and ethnic requirements” that collectively amounted to “discriminatory treatment”.

Bosnia’s constitution is a strange thing. It is not a stand-alone social contract but Annex IV of the U.S.-brokered Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnian War (1992-1995).…  Seguir leyendo »

Pictures of people killed by Serb forces in the Bosnian city of Prijedor displayed as part of a 2019 ‘white ribbon’ commemoration in Sarajevo. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Stop a person on the street in Sarajevo and ask them what they think about the war in Ukraine, and they’ll tell you they think that almost everything that happened in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina is happening in Ukraine.

In April, we commemorated the 30th anniversary of the war against Bosnia-Herzegovina. We consider early April 1992 the moment a new era began: we have the before, during and after the catastrophe.

A month into the war in Ukraine I saw Ukrainians starting to use the phrase “before the war”. We went through everything that’s happening to them, but no one asks us about it or wants us to help.…  Seguir leyendo »

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (left) and members of Bosnia and Herzegovina's tripartite Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic (center) and Milorad Dodik (right) pose before a meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on May 26. Elvis Barukcic/AFP via Getty Images

The visit of U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to Sarajevo last week was a landmark event in the politics of the contemporary Western Balkans. Truss’s appearance in the Bosnian capital was the culmination of a quiet campaign by the United Kingdom for the last year to buttress London’s posture in the region. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.K. now believes that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina are the linchpin to the region’s stability, an opinion in sharp contrast with Washington’s and Brussels’s long-term policy of accommodating the Kremlin-aligned regime in Serbia.

While discussion about the growing geopolitical salience of the Western Balkans had become familiar following the initial Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, U.K.…  Seguir leyendo »

A parade for Republika Srpska's national holiday in Bosnia and Herzegovina, January 2022. Antonio Bronic / Reuters

In the Balkans, and especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, images from Ukraine of besieged cities, massacres, and mass displacement are re-traumatizing a society that has never been allowed to heal after the wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. Along with the rest of the world, Bosnians have watched the razing of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol with horror. But having lived through the siege of Sarajevo and similar atrocities, Bosnians recognize the velocity and brutality of Russia's war on Ukraine more viscerally than others­­—and it puts them on edge.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine comes at a time when the Western Balkans have reached a level of tension and uncertainty unseen in decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Watch List 2022. Europe & Central Asia. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Deterring Disintegration

Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries facing deadly conflict, humanitarian emergency or other crises in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could save lives and enhance prospects for stability.

The Dayton peace agreement that has held Bosnia and Herzegovina together since the 1991-1995 war is unravelling. For more than 25 years, that accord has united two self-governing entities – one dominated by ethnic Serbs and the other by Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) – in a single state. But now Serb leader Milorad Dodik is threatening to withdraw from state institutions, including the army, that are shared among the country’s three main ethnic groups, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, in a bid for greater autonomy that could be part of a drawn-out process of secession.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bosnia Is On the Brink of Breaking Up

A Serb strongman, who for years exploited ethnonationalist feelings to claim more power, publicly pledges to break his country apart, threatening to set off cascading conflict. The West, distracted by its own problems, barely notices.

No, that’s not Yugoslavia in 1991. It’s Bosnia and Herzegovina today. The country, whose complex constitutional order was painstakingly negotiated in the teeth of a bloody war and settled through the Dayton Accords, is on the brink of breaking up.

At the heart of the crisis is Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb leader and longtime separatist. In October, he announced plans to withdraw the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska, one of the country’s two administrative entities, from major state institutions.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view of the cemetery during a ceremony held the 28th anniversary of Ahmici massacre under coronavirus (Covid-19) measures in Vitez, Bosnia and Herzegovina on April 16, 2021. Elman Omic / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP

What is behind the current crisis in Bosnia?

Bosnia and Herzegovina (commonly referred to as Bosnia) is facing a dual challenge that threatens to undo the agreement that ended a war between Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks). The war was marked by the worst atrocities on European soil since World War II, with more than 100,000 people killed and more than two million displaced. By way of talks in Dayton, Ohio, the U.S. brokered peace agreements that brought the fighting to a close and established a Bosnian state composed of two self-governing regions: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bandera de Eslovenia. Foto Juliet Earth


¿Cuál es el futuro de la ampliación de la UE en los Balcanes Occidentales?


El proceso de adhesión a la UE de los Balcanes Occidentales está atascado por la “fatiga de la ampliación”, por la “fatiga balcánica” (desilusión) y por la presencia de Rusia y de China, que cada día cobran mayor influencia en la región. La asunción de la Presidencia europea por Eslovenia podría ser una oportunidad para reinventar el proceso de adhesión, sin renunciar a la estrategia de “palo y zanahoria”, pero incluyendo mayores incentivos a los países balcánicos.

Análisis Introducción: la fatiga europea

El próximo 1 de julio Portugal cederá la Presidencia de la UE a Eslovenia, que la ejercerá por segunda vez desde su adhesión a la Unión en 2004.…  Seguir leyendo »

Milica Dekic en una escena del documental 'Hay alguien en el bosque'.Oriol Casanovas

Meliha Merdjic tenía 13 años, el ejército serbio entró en su casa, violó a las mujeres y asesinó a los hombres. A Milica Dekic la retuvieron las tropas croatas en un centro de violaciones y torturas con otras 20 mujeres, conocía a sus agresores. Nevenka Kobranovik fue violada durante la guerra, su marido la siguió violando al volver la paz. No pudo llevar su caso ante la justicia. Le faltaron pruebas.

La guerra no tiene rostro de mujer, la paz tampoco. No es más que una máscara. A 25 años de los acuerdos de Dayton, que pusieron fin a la guerra de los Balcanes, miles de mujeres viven una paz rota.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace 25 años, en una base de la Fuerza Aérea estadounidense en Ohio, con el Acuerdo de Dayton se puso fin a la guerra más devastadora del continente europeo desde 1945. Después de tres años y medio, la guerra en Bosnia se había cobrado más de 100 000 vidas, generó una inmensa destrucción y desplazó a millones de personas de sus hogares. «No será una paz justa, pero es más justo que seguir con la guerra», observó el líder musulmán bosnio Alija Izetbegović. «Dada la situación, y dado el mundo, no era posible lograr una paz mejor».

Demasiado cierto. Junto con los negociadores estadounidense y ruso, Richard Holbrooke e Igor Ivanov, presencié directamente los altibajos de esos 21 días en Dayton como copresidente por la Unión Europea de las negociaciones de paz.…  Seguir leyendo »

An elderly Bosnian woman mourns at the grave of her relative on July 11, 2015 at the Potocari memorial center, near the eastern town of Srebrenica. © Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP

It’s a quarter of a century—and half of my lifetime—since the 1995 Srebrenica genocide happened. Or, more accurately, since it was planned and committed by an army and a police force trained, equipped and sponsored by Bosnia’s neighbour, the state of Serbia. This genocide was also allowed to happen by important actors within the international community who chose to play the role of passive bystanders, even though that was not only morally wrong but also against international law and the 1951 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

This was the first act of genocide in Europe after the Holocaust.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mural painting in Belgrade depicting Ratko Mladic, convicted by an international tribunal for genocide in Srebrenica, as the defender of Serbia. © Oliver Bunic / AFP

Even 25 years after the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia) is a divided society, in which each of three major ethnic groups (Bosnian Serbs, Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats) cherish their own “version of truth” about war. The problem with this is that there is no “Serbian”, or “Bosniak”, or “Croatian” side of the story and there cannot be three “truths”.

Historical truth is only one river, regardless of how many influents it has. In every war, you can find only two sides of unequal positions – victim and war criminal, victims and organizers of genocide, defenders and attackers, conqueror and a threatened population, aggressor state and a threatened community.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nunca más”. Esta expresión, emblemática cuando se habla de los crímenes contra la humanidad, siempre me ha repugnado y me ha parecido una promesa hipócrita, incluso por parte de los mayores intelectuales jurídicos. La realidad es que, desde el Holocausto, no solo la humanidad sigue matándose (igual que lo hacía antes), sino que a la hora de prevenir o detener esos conflictos y esos crímenes, la comunidad internacional —todos y cada uno de nosotros— sigue siendo tan incapaz como siempre de reaccionar.

En Bosnia, Ruanda, Congo, en Siria, Libia, Sudán, en Myanmar (Birmania) y muchos otros lugares, dejamos que aniquilaran a nuestros congéneres, actuamos como si lo que les estaba sucediendo no fuera previsible y, sobre todo, escondimos la cabeza bajo el ala, con la actitud del que no tiene culpa ni responsabilidad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace hoy 25 años, en la ciudad bosnia de Srebrenica, se cometió la mayor masacre ocurrida en Europa desde el fin de la Segunda Guerra mundial. También el mayor encubrimiento orquestado por la Secretaría General de las Naciones Unidas, con la colaboración de los principales países miembros de su Consejo de Seguridad.

Me explico. Por aquellos días, mientras las Naciones Unidas celebraba con legítimo orgullo el desmantelamiento del abominable régimen del apartheid en Suráfrica, Lord Peter Carrington y el canciller portugués José Cutileiro, en representación de la Comunidad Europea, proponía un plan de paz para Bosnia y Herzegovina, cuyo punto central era la partición del país en tres distritos autónomos delimitados exclusivamente por razones étnicas y religiosas.…  Seguir leyendo »

I covered the war in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, and I know what I saw. I traveled to besieged Sarajevo and to ethnically cleansed regions in eastern and central Bosnia where I interviewed victims of rape camps and bombing campaigns, mothers whose children were killed building snowmen, and the relatives of the elderly who were shot by snipers chopping wood to keep warm in the deep Balkan chill.

It left a painful scar that I can hardly bear to touch. Much of it is wrapped in guilt: My colleagues and I lived with the local population and tried desperately to keep their tragic narrative in the public eye.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bascarsija square in Sarajevo. Photograph: Getty Images

The European Union’s recent decision to freeze any further enlargement into the Balkans made me think of a moment from a quarter of a century ago, when I saw the EU flag for the first time. I was a 16-year-old Bosnian refugee, standing in dirt, holding a humanitarian aid package in my arms. The box I had received contained rice, flour and other relief items that were supposed to last me two weeks. I took out a can of corned beef and on the side saw a dazzling circle of gold stars on a blue background. The text beneath the EU flag read: “Donated by the European Community.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Police forces mark the 26th anniversary of the creation of Republika Srpska, which ignited the devastating Bosnia war. Photograph: Amel Emric/AP

In the opening scenes of Danis Tanović’s Oscar-winning film No Man’s Land, set in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, a soldier in the Bosnian army reads the newspaper in a trench. Worriedly, he exclaims: “Look at this shit in Rwanda.”

This scene, said to be based on a true anecdote, turned out to be a litmus test for viewers.

Whether you laughed or not, you could read it in two ways. First, as a testament to the ability of Bosnians to empathise with the misfortune of others, even amid their own dire circumstances. The second reading is less flattering: might the unnamed soldier be so insensible to his own desperate situation, the death and destruction that defined the early days of Bosnia’s independence that the Rwandan genocide loomed larger in his mind?…  Seguir leyendo »

Sean Gallup/Getty Images An apartment building with bullet holes from the 1992–1995 Bosnian War standing near a gleaming new office building, Sarajevo, Bosnia, June 29, 2014

Like many Americans and Henry James characters before him, Steve Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, wants to make his name in Europe. His new project, called “The Movement,” hopes to prop up “right-wing populist nationalism” across the continent. Right-wing governments have already taken power in countries like Hungary, Austria, and Italy, and he hopes to help install like-minded politicians in the European Union parliament next year. But as of now, one of Bannon’s main targets is, of all places, Bosnia.

Even though he is an unofficial, non-state actor, Bannon’s efforts as an American in Bosnian politics constitute a dramatic break with the past.…  Seguir leyendo »

Srebrenica es recordado como un enclave en Bosnia-Herzegovina donde, a partir del 11 de julio de 1995, se cometió el mayor genocidio acontecido en Europa después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, cuando en un par de días fuerzas serbias masacraron a cerca de 8.000 musulmanes bosnios.

A pesar de haber transcurrido 23 años de estos hechos, solo se habla de los principales criminales responsables, Slobodan Milosevic, el general Ratko Mladic y Radovan Karadzic, pero poco o nada de la enorme responsabilidad de la comunidad internacional en este abominable crimen cometido en la Europa de Maastricht .

Indiferencia , prejuicios anti musulmanes y hasta complicidades de algunos de los principales países, y hasta del entonces secretario general de las Naciones Unidas Boutros Ghali, se sumaron para no detener semejante tragedia.…  Seguir leyendo »

I have a vivid memory of standing by a muddy road on a dark December afternoon in 1995, when I was chatting with two friends, one a Bosnian Muslim, the other a Bosnian Serb. We were all in the Bosnian city of Tuzla, working on CNN’s coverage of a war that had already claimed 100,000 lives and displaced millions — the worst conflict in Europe since World War II. The warring parties had just signed the U.S.-brokered Dayton Accords, meant to put an end to three years of carnage.

I asked them whether they thought peace would hold, and they nearly winced at the question.…  Seguir leyendo »