Bosnia and Herzegovina, peace is still far away

    25 years after the signature of the Dayton Agreements that ended (or more appropriately, interrupted) the conflict that had raged between 1992 and 1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be deemed to be stable and secure yet. The political crises are numerous and affect the economy by impeding foreign investments. In fact, the country mainly draws investments from international organised crime. Another apparently insurmountable economy-related issue is of a demographic nature: on the one hand, the unrestrainable migration of its youth (also for political reasons), and on the other, the low birth rate due to the state of vulnerability that young couples live in. Against this backdrop, the numbers are bewildering. A census carried out in 1991 showed that 4,377,033 people lived in the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This data can be considered highly reliable, taking into account the methods in carrying it out and the fact that there were very few people leaving the country back then. The first census carried out after the conflicts that dissolved the Yugoslav Federation dates back to 2013 (the results were published two years later), showing that roughly 600,000 fewer people lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 3,791,622 registered subjects. Considering the casualties from the conflict, which amounted to approximately 100,000 deaths, the census results also bring to the fore the phenomenon of the diaspora. In comparison with the overall population, the communities living abroad are among the largest in the world. It goes without saying that the country is at a risk of depopulation.

    These are the consequences of four long years of war, during which Bosnia and Herzegovina was first attacked by its own army (the former Yugoslav Popular Army) and then devastated by an internal ethnic conflict. The problems remain unresolved. The country is technically split in two entities ruled by the three ethnic majorities recognized by the Dayton Constitution of November 1996. The Brcko District is controlled by a central Government that does not actually exist and has even been abandoned by the international actors settled therein. Such a blended composition leads to discontent and diffidence amongst Bosnians, orthodox Serbians and Croats (the local people), preventing Bosnia and Herzegovina from joining the EU and exposing it to China and Russia’s enormous economic and strategic interests.

    Nonetheless, the resources of the country are numerous and valuable. For exemple, the water resources are among the most important in Europe. And yet, the Constitution signed in Dayton prevents development by creating a political stalemate in the country due to the measures intended to find a balance among the political roles assigned to each of the three constitutive peoples. This situation has culminated in the appointment of the members of the three main parties professing nationalistic ambitions: Serbian-Bosnian, Croatian-Bosnian and Islamic Bosnian. All those who do not embrace the nationalistic ideas suffer from discrimination and a lack of human rights.