Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country in Southeastern Europe located on the Balkan Peninsula. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city. In the past it has been controlled by the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Yugoslavia before gaining independence in the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. It is a decentralized federation with power divided between the two autonomous regional governments of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which contains mostly Bosnians and Croats, and the Republika Srpska, which contains mostly Bosnian Serbs. The country has been a candidate for NATO membership since 2006 and European Union membership since 2022.
- Bosnia is under my skin. It's the place you cannot leave behind. I was obsessed by the nightmare of it all; there was this sense of guilt, and an anger that has become something much deeper over these last years.
- I don't think Bosnia is ready for reconciliation, but I do think it is ready for truth.
- My second job has been to try to use my power to create institutions of a modern state that could enter the European Union, and there was very little time. The door was closing, and I wanted to get Bosnia through before it shut.
- Bosnians may have gained their independence in the three-year civil war, but many have struggled to cope during the 22 years of peace.
- Malcolm Brabant, "Decades later, Bosnia still struggling with the aftermath of war" (19 November 2017), PBS NewsHour
- I am Bosnian by nationality... [T]he fact that my mother gave birth to me at a hospital in Belgrade does not mean anything.
- Milosevic realized that he could not rule Yugoslavia. Instead, he decided to build a powerful Serbia that would include all Serbs living in the other republics. To that end, he launched a war against Croatia, destroying frontier cities, occupying territory and supporting the large block of Serbs in the Krajina region. The biggest problem was Bosnia, which declared its independence in March 1992. It had a hopelessly mixed population of Serbs, Croatians, and Moslems but Milosevic wanted to dominate it. Rather than sending in the army, he operated behind the scenes by organizing and supplying paramilitary units who embarked on a programme of 'ethnic cleansing', which involved expelling or killing Moslems and establishing concentration camps. Hundreds of thousands fled as the Serbs occupied 70 per cent of the country and mercilessly shelled its capital Sarajevo. The violence culminated in the massacre of 6000 men and boys in the Moslem enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995. The Bosnian war turned the West against the Serbs. The UN imposed an economic blockade, the costs of the war led to hyperinflation, and the Serbian economy faced collapse. Despite constant demonstrations against his policies, and erratic attempts to achieve stability - most notably choosing a rich American Yugoslav as Prime Minister - Milosevic was re-elected in 1992, with the help of vote rigging. He realized it was time to make peace - the situation was growing desperate. By 1995 NATO was backing the Moslems and Croats who pushed the Serbs out of Krajina and much of Bosnia. Milosevic ditched the Bosnian Serbs and went to Dayton in Ohio for discussions that produced an agreement to divide Bosnia among the three communities. He was praised abroad as a peacemaker, but the Serbs saw the agreement as a defeat.
- Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2,500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption (2006), p. 205
- Bosnia and Herzegovina is so important to us, it’s so sensitive, we have the three nations living there, and for you who live in democracies that are based on individual participation, it’s difficult to accept and to understand the concept of the three nations, but in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the functioning of that country, it’s so important.
- Bosnia should be a secular state. A non-secular Bosnia would be terror.
- How will you prevent everyone from being killed in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
- Radovan Karadžić, speaking at the Bosnian parliament, on the night of 14–15 October 1991, in a charged atmosphere in a debate whether to declare the republic "sovereign", which would mean that republic's laws would take precedence over Yugoslav ones. (The term "Muslim people" refers to the people known as Bosniaks.
- The people of Bosnia -- meaning Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs -- could each say they're speaking their own, individual language. They say that it's their national language, and that it's not for Europe, Belgrade, or Zagreb to decide differently.
- August Kovacec, as quoted in "Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Or Montenegrin? Or Just 'Our Language'?" (21 February 2009), by Ljudmila Cvetkovic and Goran Vezic, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
- In Bosnia, a neighbor means more than a relative. In Bosnia, having coffee with your neighbor is a ritual... [I]n Bosnia, if neighbors can again shake hands, if our children can again play games together, and if they have the right to a chance... It is too late for me now, but for the children living in Bosnia now, it's not too late... The spirit of this unhappiness still hovers over our Bosnian hills, which have suffered so much.
- Not everyone in this country is a thief or corrupt. If I was, I would be a politician and be doing far better in life.
- The state cannot block the entity, but the entity can block the state.
- Haris Silajdžić, commenting about the power relations between the Bosnian entities, the Bosnian parliament and central government during a lecture at the School of Law of UCLA, 17 February 2009, as quoted in "Sound Governance, Justice Elude Bosnia and Herzegovina", UCLA International Institute, 20 February 2009
- In early October 1995, combined European and American pressure finally resulted in a cease-fire, and on 1 November 1995, the leading figures—Tudjman, Milošević, and Izetbegović—met at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, under the forceful negotiating of Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke and U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher. After more than two weeks, the parties finally came to a settlement. As a result of the Dayton Agreement, Bosnia remained in existence, its borders intact, its formal name now the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. But internally, it comprised two separate entities, a Serb one, the Republika Srpska, and a Muslim-Croat one, the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to the constitution determined at Dayton, each entity is granted the right to establish “special parallel relationships” with neighboring states, and each was also a signatory to major aspects of the agreement. The central state is very weak, with major powers left to localities and to the Federation and the Republika Srpska. These were all major concession to Serbs, granting them in fact some of the powers, if not all the territory, for which Serb nationalists had fought. In the words of the political scientists Burg and Shoup, “the constitution institutionalizes the ethnic division of the state.”
- Eric D. Weitz, A Century of Genocide (2018), p. 220
- Encyclopedic article on Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wikipedia