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Bosnia Serbia Conflict, Genocide and the Present Stage

The former Yugoslavia consisted of six republics and two autonomous regions. Today Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia are independent nations. Serbia and Montenegro
comprise the rump Yugoslavia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina make up a triangular-shaped republic, about half the size of Kentucky, on the
Balkan Peninsula. The Bosnian region in the north is mountainous and covered with thick forests. The
Herzegovina region in the south is largely rugged, flat farmland. It has a narrow coastline without
natural harbors stretching 13 miles (20 km) along the Adriatic Sea. It is an emerging democracy, with
a rotating, tripartite presidency divided between predominantly Serb, Croatian, and Bosnian political
Called Illyricum in ancient times, the area now called Bosnia and Herzegovina was conquered by the
Romans in the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. and folded into the Roman province of Dalmatia. In the 4th
and 5th centuries A.D, Goths overran that portion of the declining Roman Empire and occupied the
area until the 6th century, when the Byzantine Empire claimed it. Slavs began settling the region
during the 7th century. Around 1200, Bosnia won independence from Hungary and endured as an
independent Christian state for some 260 years.
The expansion of the Ottoman Empire into the Balkans introduced another cultural, political, and
religious framework. The Turks defeated the Serbs at the famous battle of Kosovo in 1389. They
conquered Bosnia in 1463. During the 450 years in which Bosnia and Herzegovina were under
Ottoman rule, many Christian Slavs became Muslim. Bosnian Islamic elite gradually developed and
ruled the country on behalf of the Turkish overlords. As the borders of the Ottoman Empire began to
shrink in the 19th century, Muslims from elsewhere in the Balkans migrated to Bosnia. Bosnia also
developed a sizable Jewish population, with many Jews settling in Sarajevo after their expulsion from
Spain in 1492. However, through the 19th century the term Bosnian commonly included residents of
all faiths. A relatively secular society, intermarriage among religious groups was not uncommon.
Neighboring Serbia and Montenegro fought against the Ottoman Empire in 1876 and were aided by
the Russians, their fellow Slavs. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, following the end of the RussoTurkish War (18771878), Austria-Hungary was given a mandate to occupy and govern Bosnia and
Herzegovina, in an effort by Europe to ensure that Russia did not dominate the Balkans. Although the
provinces were still officially part of the Ottoman Empire, they were annexed by the Austro-Hungarian
Empire on Oct. 7, 1908. As a result, relations with Serbia, which had claims on Bosnia and
Herzegovina, became embittered. The hostility between the two countries climaxed in the
assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, by a Serbian
nationalist. This event precipitated the start of World War I (19141918). Bosnia and Herzegovina

were annexed to Serbia as part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes on Oct.
26, 1918. The name was later changed to Yugoslavia in 1929.
When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, Bosnia and Herzegovina were made part of Nazicontrolled Croatia. During the German and Italian occupation, Bosnian and Herzegovinian resistance
fighters fought a fierce guerrilla war against the Ustachi, the Croatian Fascist troops. At the end of
World War II, Bosnia and Herzegovina were reunited into a single state as one of the six republics of
the newly reestablished Communist Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito. His authoritarian control kept the
ethnic enmity of his patchwork nation in check. Tito died in 1980, and with growing economic
dissatisfaction and the fall of the iron curtain over the next decade, Yugoslavia began to splinter.
In Dec. 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia and asked for
recognition by the European Union (EU). In a March 1992 referendum, Bosnian voters chose
independence, and President Alija Izetbegovic declared the nation an independent state. Unlike the
other former Yugoslav states, which were generally composed of a dominant ethnic group, Bosnia was
an ethnic tangle of Muslims (44%), Serbs (31%), and Croats (17%), and this mix contributed to the
duration and savagery of its fight for independence.
Ethnic Antgonism Erupts in War
Both the Croatian and Serbian presidents had planned to partition Bosnia between themselves.
Attempting to carve out their own enclaves, the Serbian minority, with the help of the Serbian
Yugoslav army, took the offensive and laid siege, particularly on Sarajevo, and began its ruthless
campaigns of ethnic cleansing, which involved the expulsion or massacre of Muslims. Croats also
began carving out their own communities. By the end of Aug. 1992, rebel Bosnian Serbs had
conquered over 60% of Bosnia. The war did not begin to wane until NATO stepped in, bombing Serb
positions in Bosnia in Aug. and Sept. 1995. Serbs entered the UN safe havens of Tuzla, Zepa, and
Srebrenica, where they murdered thousands. About 250,000 died in the war between 1992 and 1995.
U.S.-sponsored peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, led to an agreement in 1995 that called for a MuslimCroat federation and a Serb entity within the larger federation of Bosnia. Sixty thousand NATO troops
were to supervise its implementation. Fighting abated and orderly elections were held in Sept. 1996.
President Izetbegovic, a Bosnian Muslim, or Bosniak, won the majority of votes to become the leader
of the three-member presidency, each representing one of the three ethnic groups.
But this alliance of unreconstructed enemies had little success in creating a working government or
keeping violent clashes in check. The terms of the Dec. 1995 Dayton Peace Accord were largely
ignored by Bosnian Serbs, with its former president, arch-nationalist Radovan Karadzic, still in de facto
control of the Serbian enclave. Many indicted war criminals, including Karadzic, remain at large. NATO
proved to be a largely ineffective peacekeeping force.
Post Dayton Peace Accord

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 UNs 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 courts 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 NATOs 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 January 2007, Bosnian Serb Nikola Spiric took over as prime
minister and formed a new government. He resigned in Nov. 2007 to protest against 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 countrys 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 countrys 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.
War Crimes in a chronological order
War crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, who was arrested in Serbia on 21 st July, 2008 started out as
defender of the Serbs in the 1992-95 Bosnian war but ended up a fugitive wanted on genocide
Feb 29-March 1 - Bosnias Muslims and Croats vote for independence in referendum boycotted by
April 6 - European Union recognises Bosnias independence. War breaks out and Serbs, under the
leadership of Radovan Karadzic, lay siege to capital Sarajevo. They occupy 70 percent of the country,
killing and persecuting Muslims and Croats to carve out a Serb Republic.
May - U.N. sanctions imposed on Serbia for backing rebel Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia.
Jan. Bosnia peace efforts fail, war breaks out between Muslims and Croats, previously allied against
April - Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde in eastern Bosnia are declared three of six U.N. safe areas. The
United Nations Protection Force UNPROFOR deploys troops and Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) attacks stop.
But the town remains isolated and only a few humanitarian convoys reach it in the following two
years. 1994:
March U.S.-brokered agreement ends Muslim-Croat war and creates a Muslim-Croat federation.
March - Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic orders that Srebrenica and Zepa be entirely cut off
and aid convoys be stopped from reaching the towns.
July 9 Karadzic issues a new order to conquer Srebrenica.
July 11 Bosnian Serbs troops, under the command of General Ratko Mladic, capture the eastern
enclave and U.N. safe area of Srebrenica, killing about 8,000 Muslim males in the following week.
The U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague indicts Karadzic and Mladic for genocide for the siege of

August - NATO starts air strikes against Bosnian Serb troops.

Nov. 21 Following NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslim President Alija
Izetbegovic, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic agree to a
U.S.-brokered peace deal in Dayton, Ohio.
Dec. 14 The three leaders sign the Dayton peace accords in Paris, paving the way for the arrival of a
66,000-strong NATO peacekeeping Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia. The international
community establishes a permanent presence in the country through the office of an international
peace overseer.
July West forces Karadzic to quit as Bosnian Serb president.
September Nationalist parties win first post-war election, confirming Bosnias ethnic division.
Having lost power, Karadzic goes underground.
Feb. 12 - Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic goes on trial charged with 66 counts of
genocide and war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.
Dec. - Ex-NATO commander tells the court Milosevic knew Bosnian Serbs planned to massacre Muslims
in Bosnia in 1995 2004.
June 11 - In a belated abandonment of its endless denials and under strong international pressure,
the Bosnian Serb government make a landmark admission that Serbs indeed massacred thousands
of Muslims at in Srebrenica, on Karadzics orders.
March 11 Milosevic is found dead in his cell in The Hague.
July 21 - Bosnian Serb wartime president Radovan Karadzic, one of the worlds most wanted men for
planning and ordering genocide, one of the worlds most wanted men, was arrested 13 years after he
was first indicted by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal.
The 63-year-old war crimes suspect faces genocide charges for his role in the massacre of more than
8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in Europes worst atrocity since the Second World War, and
for organising the siege of Sarajevo which claimed 12,000 lives.

He is likely to be put on trial at The Hague in the most high-profile prosecution arising from the
Balkans conflict since that of Slobodan Milosevic ended with the death from natural causes of the
former Serb president in 2006 before a verdict could be reached.
Kosovos declaration of independence
Kosovos declaration of independence from Serbia was enacted on Sunday, 17 February 2008 by a
unanimous quorum of the Assembly of Kosovo, with 109 in favour and with no opposition, with all 11
representatives of the Serb minority boycotting the proceedings. International reaction was mixed,
and the world community continues to be divided on the issue of the international recognition of
A number of states expressed concern over the unilateral character of Kosovos declaration, or
announced explicitly that they will not recognise an independent Kosovo. The UN Security Council
remains divided on this issue: of its five members with veto power, three (the United States, United
Kingdom, France) have recognised the declaration of independence, while the Peoples Republic of
China has expressed concern, urging the continuation of the previous negotiation framework. Russia
has rejected the declaration and considers it illegal.

On 15 May 2008, Russia, China, and India

released a joint statement where they called for new negotiations between the authorities of Belgrade
and Pristina.
In Serbia, the ICJs judgment left the governments policy towards Kosovo in ruins. Since 2008, the
Serbian government has argued strongly that Kosovos independence was against international law,
and called for new status-talks over the territorys future; it also attached a lot of weight to the ICJs
forthcoming decision. Yet as the verdict grew closer and perhaps in anticipation of a negative outcome,
Serbias foreign minister Vuk Jeremi was emphatic that Belgrade would not recognise Kosovos
independence irrespective of the outcome. The same view was reiterated by President Boris Tadi after
the court published its opinion.
Current News
July 22, 2010
Kosovos unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia was legal under international law,
declared the World Court in a groundbreaking ruling with implications for separatist movements
around the world and for Belgrades stalled EU membership talks. The ruling taken up by the
international court of justice after a complaint from Serbia is likely to lead more countries to
recognise Kosovos independence. The tiny state is backed by 69 countries but needs 100 to join the
UN. The court said the declaration was not in violation of UN resolution 1244, which Belgrade
interprets as a guarantee of Serbias territorial integrity, as the resolution contained no provisions to
prevent a unilateral declaration.
July 27 2010

Bosnias Serb entity vowed on Tuesday never to recognise Kosovos declaration of independence from
Serbia although it was ruled legal by the World Court, and to back future Serbian moves on the matter
The July 22 ruling rocked Serbia and analysts said it could both spur more states to recognise ethnic
Albanian dominated Kosovo and embolden separatist minded regions everywhere including Bosnias
Serb Republic, to more autonomy. The Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, told the reporters that it was best
to follow Serbian policy. He feels that the Serb Republic must not take a position of recognising
Kosovo regardless of the fact that major world powers believe the ICJ opinion resolves the Kosovo
issue. He added that the Serb Republic, which along with the Muslim Croat Federation comprises post
war Bosnia, would form a panel to analyse the ruling.
Serbias parliament on 25th July 2010, passed a resolution rejecting the ICJ ruling and mandating the
government to lobby for new talks on the status of Kosovo by proposing a United Nations Security
Council resolution.
The day after the ruling, Dodik revisited the idea of secession but the United States was quick to rule
out any fresh partition of Bosnia, wrecked by inter ethnic fighting in 1992 95 and still under
international supervision. Dodik, known for his separatist rhetoric, has called the meeting of all
Bosnian Serb party leaders to discuss the effects of the world court ruling on Bosnia but most of them
failed to show up, saying the meeting was arranged for Dodiks promotion.
Borislav Bojic, of the biggest opposition Serb Democratic Party (SDS) said that Dodik had tried to
exploit the situation around Kosovo for his own political promotion instead of securing consensus
about such an important issue.
Bosnian Serbs continue to look for support to their wartime patron Serbia as well as Russia, which
criticised the ruling and has not recognised Kosovo as an independent state.
They have made no secret of being unhappy in post war Bosnia and have threatened to call a
referendum on secession, encouraged by nationalist politicians in Serbia angered by the Kosovo
Marko Pavic, head of the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DNS) which is part of the ruling coalition led by
Dodiks Alliance of Independent Social Democrats party, said the ICJ opinion could well apply to the
Serb Republic.
Continued bickering between Bosnian Muslims and Croats who want a stronger and functional central
state, and Serbs who are keener on autonomy and closer ties with Serbia, has stalled Bosnias
progress towards EU and NATO membership.