Articles on the Bosnia Conflict
NEW Bosnia, Serbia Unlikely to Copy Belgium's Genocide Denial Law The Belgian government has announced plans to criminalize denial of the Srebrenica genocide or other crimes recognized as such by an international tribunal. By Admir Muslimovic and Filip Rudic, Balkan Insight, April 17, 2019
This page does not attempt comprehensive coverage of post-war Bosnia, but we will include occasional articles of particular interest.
For regular updates on events and issues in the former Yugoslavia, see also
Balkan Insight by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN)
Click here for LETTERS from post-war BOSNIA, by PETER LIPPMAN
NEW Bosnian Serbs’ War Commissions: Fact-Seeking or Truth-Distorting? Two new commissions set up by Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity to examine wartime crimes in Srebrenica and Sarajevo have been accused of seeking to distort the truth to whitewash Serbs’ role in atrocities. By Albina Sorguc, Balkan Insight, February 25, 2019
NEW Bosnian Serb War Commissions Seeking to Revise Truth International academics warned in an open letter that commissions recently established by Bosnia's Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity to probe wartime crimes in Srebrenica and Sarajevo appear to be attempts to question established truths. By Filip Rudic, Balkan Insight, February 21, 2019
See the letter, published by the Humanitarian Law Center.
The Balkans' unravelling peace Up to ten years ago, the internationally-brokered peace agreements that pacified the Western Balkans after the Yugoslav wars were held up as hallmarks of post-Cold War diplomacy (by Western diplomats, anyway). A major rethinking is needed on the Balkans as a democratization success story and on international policy in the region. By Jasmin Mujanovic, OpenCanada, March 15, 2018
Division and Denial and Nothing Else? Culture of History and Memory Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina The article gives an overview of the fragmented culture of history in Bosnia and Herzegovina, twenty years after the end of the 1992-1995 war which left the country deeply divided along political and ethnic lines. Parallel ethnonational narratives about the past are dominating the public sphere, with especially controversial interpretations of the 1992 -1995 war and the Second World War. By Nicholas Moll, April 12, 2015
Video: Bosnia and Hercegovina in Spring This short documentary tells the story of the uprising in Bosnia and Herzegovina that started in early February 2014. The protests were started by workers from five factories in the northern city of Tuzla. For the first time, there is a class dimension that is more important than ethnicity.
Political statement by a teacher against Bosnian politicians (Click CC to turn on English captions on this video.)
Šeherzada Delić was a professor of literature before she became a filmmaker. This talk takes place in the Bihać parliament. She also tells the students to confront the politicians using their knowledge, including correcting the politicians' grammar, since they are illiterates. The plenum in Bihać has called itself the "Bosnian Spring," and they have been relatively effective. But as the teacher says, the politicians are just biding their time, hoping it will all go away. March 23, 2014
See also: Journalist Senad Hadžifejzović, the most prominent news anchorman and interviewer in mainstream Bosniak TV, gave a one-of-a-kind performance on the evening news perhaps never before seen in the profession of journalism. It was a showdown with politicians and political parties, with a salvo of insults hurled at all of them, without distinction. The uprising pushed him over the edge - temporarily. It’s refreshing to see him look at the camera, talking to politicians, and call them “you scum.” February 24, 2014
How Bosnia’s Protest Movement Can Become Truly Transformative Popular plenums continue to assemble and refine their demands and popular protests continue. I and other observers came away from the most recent Sarajevo plenum on Friday night, February 21st, impressed by the organization, the management, and the general disposition of the wide range of citizens attending. By Kurt Bassuener, February 23, 2014
Bosnia and Hercegovina: The Practice of a Different FutureProtests in Bosnia and Herzegovina continue. Their message is clear - the time of the ethno-nationalist elites, who stole the country's resources, common goods and capital in the blood of war and genocide, is over. It is not accidental that the 85 wealthiest oligarchs in Bosnia and Herzegovina are collectively worth $9 billion: this 'wealth' was looted from Bosnian citizens, whether in the shape of passing corrupt laws to pour money into their own pockets, or the siphoning off of money from the International Community to subdue the population into compliance with ethnic criminality for fear of a return to conflict. By Dr. Damir Arsenijevic, University of Tuzla, February 22, 2014
Stray Dogs and Stateless BabiesWhat the war didn’t destroy has been wrecked by Mafioso capitalism, practiced with equal zeal across ethnicities, in which private initiative is expressed in the form of corruption and cronyism. The political system’s primary function is allowing wealth to be amassed by the leaders of political parties, fully united, despite their presumed cultural and ideological differences, in their commitment to impoverish the people they lead. By Aleksandar Hemon and Jasmin Mujanovic, The New York Times, February 21, 2014
Bosnia should not count on the West for helpThe experiences of 1992-95 should have taught Bosnians that they can never count on the West. A scenario can be envisaged whereby Bosnia and Serbia eventually join the EU; the RS then declares independence, and its independence is recognized by Serbia, Russia, and maybe some other countries. Sanctions would be difficult to enforce against those within the EU. Right-wing Islamophobic opinion across Europe would support the RS. In such circumstances, why should we expect the West to take action, when it has failed to act to reverse the partitions of Cyprus or Georgia ? No: if Bosnians want to save their country, they will have to rely on their own strength. By Marko Hoare, January 12, 2014
Extinguishing Politics: The Euromaidan & EU Policy in BiHIn BiH we are witnessing precisely the kind of exclusionary "managed democracy" that the protestors in the Ukraine feel their country will become unless they take concrete steps to become part of the EU bloc. In BiH, however, it is Brussels not Moscow that has facilitated the emergence of this disastrous state of affairs. ... In truth, the EU does not really want BiH in its fold and the BiH political elite certainly do not want to become part of an actual legal order. The result is a permanent state of quasi-candidate status that along with the constant drone of chauvinist rhetoric substitutes for actual political discourse. The implementation of "reforms" is as staged as the daily clashes between the ethno-nationalist camps, dutifully splashed across the country's front pages. By Jasmin Mujanović, The Balkanist, December 12, 2013
Something big comes this wayThe story about how everyone on a particular territory was always unified by the same bad ideas looked pretty saleworthy for a while. It certainly provided a useful lesson to predatory politicians: whatever you want to get away with, pitch it as a response to the nation being threatened. That way everybody will believe everything and nobody will demand anything from you, least of all that you respond to the public’s needs. The nationalists’ claim to a monopoly on public sentiment was always bogus, but for a period it was a successful political strategy. If anyone was looking for a sign showing that it no longer is, look no farther than some key protests of the past month. By Eric Gordy, June 7, 2013. For more details on the recent protests, click here.
Local authorities are threatening to destroy a monument in Višegrad's Stražište cemetery because it uses the word "genocide." See a protest campaign at this Web page.
Mladic Arrest Brings Little Comfort to Srebrenica Massacre SurvivorsRelatives of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre victims are relieved that Ratko Mladic, the architect of the killings, is finally facing justice in The Hague. But his trial has not calmed their sense of dread as they prepare for next week's anniversary of the massacre. More than 550 more victims have been identified over the past year by the International Commission of Missing Persons, and they will be reburied on July 11 in the cemetery at Potocari where the massacre took place. Thousands of mourners are expected. By The Advocacy Project, July 2, 2011
Justice in Bosnia after Mladić The expectation that Mladić’s arrest will “close a chapter” --as stated by Serbian President Tadić-- on the war of aggression, or open a “new chapter” for Serbia, fails to recognize that Mladić’s genocidal legacy lives on in the form of the political entity known as Republika Srpska. By David Pettigrew, June 2011
Only Integrating Bosnia Will Complete the Balkan MosaicFifteen years on, the world has yet to define itself clearly in relation to the Srebrenica crime – and unfortunately, this ambiguity encourages Serbia to continue obstructing efforts to rebuild Bosnia. The Srebrenica genocide is and will remain an enduring trauma. Each new judgment passed by the Hague tribunal reveals new details and lays bare the enormity of the crime. But 15 years since the atrocity, people’s consciousness in Serbia remains largely unchanged, blocked by organized amnesia and relativization. By Sonja Biserko, Balkan Insight, July 8, 2010
Private security firms in the Balkans harbor corruption, observers sayOrganized crime has infiltrated southeastern Europe, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, and corrupted legitimate business in the region, according to a regional network of investigative journalists. The Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said this development put into question the ability and willingness of the region's governments to combat crime and detain war criminals. Deutsche Welle, June 20, 2010
The Hague Convicts His Comrades, Mladic Enjoys Himself Despite the countless promises over the years by various governments in Belgrade that Mladic would be arrested shortly, and the many widely-publicized actions in which special police units were seen on television searching some building where he was supposed to be hiding, the man indicted on charges of genocide for organizing the July 1995 massacre of some 8000 Bosnian Muslim men in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica is still on the run. By Charles Simic, June 11, 2010
Seven Senior Bosnian Serb Officials Convicted of Srebrenica Crimes The former high-ranking Bosnian Serb military and police officials were convicted by Trial Chamber II of a range of crimes committed in 1995 in relation to the fall of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Žepa, eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), June 10, 2010
The Pillar of Shame Project The project aims to erect a permanent sculpture serving as a lasting reminder of the guilt of western politicians and military officials for the genocide of Srebrenica. The Pillar of Shame is to serve as a metaphor for the immense betrayal of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and as a warning to all future co-workers of the United Nations. The plan: the 16,744 shoes (representing 8,372 victims) should form two gigantic letters measuring eight metres in height and coloured in shimmering white. The two letters (‘U’ and ‘N’) will be penetrated by three monumental bullet holes with real shoes found in mass graves embedded in them. The actual location of the Pillar of Shame, and the names of western politicians and army generals whose names will be shamed by the Pillar will be selected by the mothers themselves. The Center for Political Beauty and the Society for Threatened Peoples that together organised one of the biggest memorials for the genocide of Srebrenica in 2009, will also initiate a discussion about the responsibility of the United Nations that has been completely pushed aside in the West for the last fifteen years. 2010
Serb mayor says U.S. lacks courage to help reunite Bosnia Foca's Serb mayor, Zdravko Krsmanovic, has reached out to Muslims, who once were a plurality in Foca, by establishing close ties to Gorazde, a mainly Muslim town just downstream that Serbs bombarded mercilessly but never conquered. By Roy Gutman, McClatchy Newspapers, April 25, 2010
Continuing Struggles for Bosnia and Hercegovina A report on political and social tensions and the role of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (15-minute video) By Kira Kay and Jason Maloney, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, November 18, 2009
West’s Last Chance To Get Serious on Bosnia Talk of partition as ‘inevitable’ is in danger of becoming an attractive excuse for the EU and US to make a speedy exit from Bosnia’s current stalemate. By Bodo Weber Democratization Policy Council December 1, 2009
The Karadzic trial and Bosnian realities The trial of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is a test of justice and accountability over terrible crimes. But the trend of events in Bosnia itself also demands the international community’s urgent attention. By Martin Shaw openDemocracy, November 3, 2009
Author Aleksandar Hemon brings a touch of Sarajevo to Berlin Bosnia is bad in a very stable way. I don't think there will be any dramatic changes. The logic of the decline is entirely clear. Many of us could see this happening years ago. The root problem being the Dayton Accord and the way the country is set up. It cannot possibly work the way it is set up. Even if those in power had the best intentions - and they have no intentions other than pilfering their own country. Deutsche Welle, September 18, 2009
US Military Met With Mladic After IndictmentAmerican Professor Charles Ingrao says research shows US military often encountered Hague tribunal’s top war-crimes indictee in 1996 but failed to arrest him because that was not then their policy. Balkan Insight, March 4, 2009
Sliding toward the Precipice: Europe’s Bosnia PolicyOver the past three years, Bosnia’s political environment has noticeably worsened: the current trajectory could lead to attempts at secession and renewed conflict. Among Bosnians, perceived threats to personal safety and livelihood have risen to new post-war heights as international listlessness has permitted Bosnian politicians to believe they can pursue wartime objectives without challenge. For years the European Union has claimed that reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina is heading in the right direction, albeit slowly. EU officials point to the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) signed on 16 June 2008 as evidence of progress. But Bosnia has not only stagnated over the past three years – it has been sliding backwards at an accelerating pace. By the Democratic Policy Council, November 7, 2008 (PDF)
Genocide's Epic Hero After the initial exhilaration, many Bosnians find Radovan Karadzic’s arrest less satisfying than one would expect. Though he might spend the rest of his life in the comfortable dungeons of the Western European prison system, he will live eternally in the verses of decasyllabic meter written by those for whom the demolition of Bosnia was but material for the grand epic poetry of Serbhood. Bosnians know he should have been booed and run off the stage at the peak of his performance. He should have been seen for what he really was: a thuggish puppet whose head was bloated with delusions of grandeur. He should have let us live outside his epic fantasies. By Aleksandar Hemon, The New York Times, July 27, 2008