Half of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s population was displaced by the conflict, and still today around one million (of the prewar population of 4.5 million) live abroad. The Bosnian diaspora is concentrated in the USA, Germany, Croatia, Serbia, Austria, Slovenia, Sweden, Canada and Australia. Remittances from these former refugees now make up a significant portion of Bosnia’s economy.
Destruction of historical monuments was a major part of the ‘ethnic cleansing’ which took place during the Bosnian war – mosques and Ottoman-era buildings were particularly targeted. The Dayton Agreement called for cultural heritage to be designated, restored and preserved. The most famous reconstruction is the Stari Most, a 16th century Ottoman bridge in Mostar, which was destroyed by shelling in 1993.
Bosnia continues to function uneasily under the Dayton Peace Agreement – with a complicated constitutional structure overseen by the international community, in the form of the High Representative, who can overrule local politicians when he decides to. There is little trust between Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Former High Representative Paddy Ashdown has said ‘All three ethnic groups are cohabiting peacefully, if not yet cooperating enthusiastically, and the economy is growing, albeit from a very low base.’
Bosnia is a potential candidate for membership of the EU and NATO, but is unlikely to join the EU in the near future, unlike neighbouring Slovenia and Croatia.
Whilst political reconciliation has been challenging, the Bosnian economy has made progress and tourism is growing rapidly.
Since the Dayton Agreement the rest of the former Yugoslavia has continued to change rapidly. By 1998 the situation in Kosovo, an Albanian majority autonomous province of Serbia, had descended into war. NATO bombed Serbia after Milošević refused to agree to peace accords. Around a million ethnic Albanians fled Kosovo during the conflict, but Serbia was forced to withdraw in June 1999 because of the NATO action. Kosovo became independent in 2008.
Milošević lost the Serbian presidential election in 2000. He was extradited to the ICTY in 2001.
Yugoslavia ceased to exist as a country in 2006, when Montenegro gained independence in 2006. Slovenia joined the EU in 2005, and Croatia is due to join in 2013.
UK charity providing education and information on the history and culture of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with a special concern for the past and present development of its social, economic, governmental, legal and cultural conditions, organizations and institutions.
Most Mira – Bridge of Peace is a UK and Bosnian charity working to encourage understanding and tolerance between young people of all ethnic backgrounds in Prijedor area.