War Bosnia Yugoslavia

Weight of History: Bosnian Struggles Linger

Greg Marinovich

Bosnia. 1993 & 2012

Led by Britain and Germany, the European Union approved a Stabilization and Association Agreement pact with Bosnia on March 16, 2015, that paved the way for the country to join the EU. The move comes as part of an effort to encourage reforms after years of political and economic stagnation that led last year to widespread civil unrest.

Still lagging behind other former Yugoslav countries, Bosnia’s development has been hindered by its highly decentralized government, which divided power along ethnic lines and spawned huge networks of political patronage.

The EU Pact, which has been stalled since 2008, is an important step for a country still trying to overcome the legacy of a brutal war that ran from 1992-95 and claimed some 100,000 lives. The Bosnian war was marked by the systemic use of mass rape and murder, primarily of Bosnians by Serbian nationalists, as the Yugoslav republic was broken up into nation states.

The forced removal of populations – ethnic cleansing – saw the multi-cultural state divided into areas dominated by either Serbian Orthodox, Croatian Catholic, or Bosnian Muslim communities. More than two decades after the war ended, Bosnia and Herzegovina is riven by ethnic and religious tensions, and is the poorest nation in Europe. While the two other former Yugoslav republics have made economic progress and are on track for full membership within the European Union, Bosnia, the victim of both of those countries’ aggressions in the war, remains in the cold.