Bosnia-Herzegovina's fragile system undermined by internal and external disputes

Published 17.10.2018 00:00
Updated 17.10.2018 00:44

Elections held a week ago in Bosnia-Herzegovina ended in a Serbian nationalist winning one of the presidency posts in the tripartite presidential system. On Oct. 7, more than 3.5 million voters were eligible to cast their votes; yet, the turnout remained at around 53 percent, indicating that many citizens were reluctant to fulfill their legal right. Despite the fact that the elections were held without any major problems throughout the country, Bosnian Serbs have expressed their disappointment under the pretext of irrelevant incidents.

Senior members of the opposition in the country's Serb-led entity, the Repubika Srpska, on Sunday joined a demonstration, seeking the truth about the death of a young Serb, David Dragicevic, that occurred last March. The demonstration and displeasure with the results have demonstrated the fragility of the country.

Some theorize that the Balkans are on the verge of new conflicts due to the ongoing disputes among Serbia, Kosovo, Serbians in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bosnians. Bosnia-Herzegovina seems to be the region's most fragile country, which has its own internal problems and has become a clash of interests for foreign powers. Based on a fragile political system in which three presidents are elected for ruling ethnic-based cantons, the country is facing the threat of disintegration. It has repeatedly been voiced that the increasing nationalism and the anti-genocide discourse among Serbians may destroy the Western-imposed peace at a time when Russia has also increased its influence.

Recently elected Serbian leader Milorad Dodik is also recognized as pro-Russian in coherence with the current Serbian government's stance. There are discussions circulating on TV channels and think tank reports that claim Bosnia-Herzegovina is on the brink of making a choice between integrating into the EU or disintegration, based on ethnicities. It is clear the country has become a disputed area between the West and Russia as Russian President Vladimir Putin has openly endorsed Dodik, while the U.S. has imposed sanctions on him.

Bosnia-Herzegovina's system was established through the Dayton Agreement, penned in 1995. The agreement partitioned country into two sections. On the Serbian side, Serbians live and are ruled by a Serbian. On the other side, Bosnians and Croatians live together. Since 1995, the country has been under the supervision of foreign powers. As a result, different ethnic groups are often pitted against each other. For instance, High Officer Valentin Inzko addressed the people last week, saying: "Make your voice heard. Decide for yourself about your future. Otherwise, others will decide for you."

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