Bosnia and Herzegovina News & Current Events

After the Dayton Peace Accord, Challenges Remain

The crucial priorities facing postwar Bosnian leaders were rebuilding the economy, resettling the estimated one million refugees still displaced, and establishing a working government. Progress on these goals has been minimal, and a massive corruption scandal uncovered in 1999 severely tested the goodwill of the international community.

In 1994, the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia opened in The Hague, Netherlands. In Aug. 2001, Radislav Drstic, a Bosnian Serb general, was found guilty of genocide in the killing of up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. It was the first genocide conviction in Europe since the UN genocide treaty was drawn up in 1951. In 2001, the trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic began. He was charged with crimes against humanity. The expensive and lengthy trial ended without a verdict when he died in March 2006.

Under pressure from Paddy Ashdown, the international administrator of Bosnia authorized under the Dayton Accord, Bosnian Serb leaders finally admitted in June 2004 that Serbian troops were responsible for the massacre of up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. Until then, Serb leaders had refused to acknowledge guilt in the worst civilian massacre since World War II. In Feb. 2007, the International Court of Justice ruled that the massacre was genocide, but stopped short of saying Serbia was directly responsible. The decision spared Serbia from having to pay war reparations to Bosnia. The court's president, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, however, criticized Serbia for not preventing the genocide. The court also ordered Serbia to turn over Bosnian Serb leaders, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karakzic, who are accused of orchestrating the genocide and other crimes. Bosnians expressed disappointment with the ruling; they had demanded that Serbia pay war reparations.

In Dec. 2004, the European Union officially took over NATO's peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. It is the largest peacekeeping operation the EU has undertaken. In March 2005, Ashdown, the international administrator, sacked Dragan Covic, the Croat member of the presidency, charging him with corruption and abuse of office. Covic became the third member of the Bosnian presidency forced to resign since the tripartite presidency was established.

Small Steps Toward Inclusion in the EU

Elections in Oct. 2006 reinforced the lingering ethnic tensions in the country. The Serbian coalition, which favors an independent state, narrowly defeated the Muslim-Croat Federation that prefers moving toward a more unified country. In Jan. 2007, Bosnian Serb Nikola Spiric took over as prime minister and formed a new government. He resigned in Nov. 2007 to protest reforms introduced by an international envoy, who was appointed under the Dayton Accords by the UN and the European Union and has the power to enact legislation and dismiss ministers. Spiric said the reforms, which the EU said would help the country's entrance into the organization, would diminish the influence of Bosnian Serbs and enhance those of other ethnic groups. Crisis was averted later in November, when Spiric and the country's Croat and Muslim leaders agreed on a series of reforms approved by Parliament.

On July 21, 2008, Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb president during the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, was charged with genocide, persecution, deportation, and other crimes against non-Serb civilians. Karadzic orchestrated the massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995 in Srebrenica. He was found outside Belgrade. The arrest will likely bring Serbia closer to joining the European Union.

Since the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010, Bosnia had been in a political deadlock, without a government. In Dec. 2011, the Bosniak, Serb and Croatian communities successfully produced a government, bringing the country a little closer to EU membership.

In Oct. 2012, the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic began his defence at his war crimes trial in The Hague. Karadzic stands accused of ten charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during the war in the 1990s, including the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo.

2014 Brings Worst Flooding in a Century

In May 2014, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina were hit with the heaviest rains and flooding in over a century. Electricity was lost in several towns and villages. At least 44 people were killed in the flooding, and authorities believed that the death toll could rise. Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksander Vucic declared a state of emergency for the whole country. During a news conference, Vucic said, "This is the greatest flooding disaster ever. Not only in the past 100 years; this has never happened in Serbia's history."

In Bosnia, rivers surpassed record levels and army helicopters had to evacuate dozens stranded in their homes in the town of Maglaj. Authorities could not reach Doboj, a town in northern Bosnia, because all roads leading to the town were washed out. The government sent troops to central and eastern towns where thousands had to be evacuated, their homes destroyed by the floods. Sarajevo meteorologist Zeljko Majstorovic said, "This is the worst rainfall in Bosnia since 1894, when weather measurements started to be recorded."

In Nov. 2014, the new presidency took office. Mladen Ivani? was named chairman of the presidency. Dragan ?ovi? and Bakir Izetbegovi? would serve with him as members of the presidency. Three months later, Denis Zvizdic was named prime minister.

Federation Elects New Entity

In Feb. 2015, the Federation parliament confirmed Marinko Cavara, of the Croatian Democratic Union, as federation president. Melika Mahmutbegovic, from the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, and Milan Dunovic, from the Democratic Front, were also confirmed as Bosniak and Serb vice presidents.

The appointments were another big step by the country towards forming governments. Having a Federation entity would now enable a state government, called the Council of Ministers, to be formed. "We will soon have a government and start solving the accumulated problems," Cavara said after his confirmation.

On July 17, 2015, Dragan ?ovi? became chairman of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, succeeding Mladen Ivani?. Along with Bakir Izetbegovi?, Ivani? would serve as a member of the presidency, a three-member body which serves as head of state collectively.

See also Encyclopedia: Bosnia and Herzegovina

U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Agency for Statistics www.bhas.ba/ .