Useful Notes: Bosnia

Describe Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian: Bosna i Hercegovina, Cyrillic: Босна и Херцеговина) here.

Where to start? Slovenia and Croatia both managed to secede from Yugoslavia with relatively minimal fuss in Slovenia's case and rather more in Croatia's. The secession of Bosnia-Hercegovina was... something else entirely.

Without getting too involved — partially because it's far too complicated and partially because it's still very sore — there were three ethnic groups living in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosniaks (referred to at the time as "Bosnian Muslims"), Croats and Serbs. As a rough rule of thumb, the Bosniaks wanted independence, the Croats and Serbs wanted their bits of Bosnia to break away and join up with Croatia and Serbia, respectively. Needless to say, that was a recipe for trouble.

They fought. A lot. Eventually, a peace agreement was signed in Dayton, Ohio, which came up with a bit of a compromise that everyone could just about live with.

It goes without saying that the Dayton agreement, while fulfilling it's purpose (immediate cessation of hostilities) is nowadays regarded as less than ideal solution in terms of post-war situation, to put it mildly.

The agreement truly satisfied neither of the three sides. The Croats were disappointed as they were left without their own entity and instead they were clumped up with Bosniaks into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Serbs on the other hand, while heavily favored by the new agreement, were discontent with the arbitration of the Brčko district. Finally, the Bosniaks were embittered by the perceived disregard of human rights violations during the war (most notably that of Srebrenica massacre).

The situation was additionally complicated by the fact that the Bosnian constitution failed to recognize any other ethnic group/minority other than the three dominant peoples. This led to the famous case of Sejdić and Finci vs Bosnia and Herzegovina court case.

The Bosnian war gave the world the term Ethnic Cleansing.

The United Nations didn't cover itself in glory, either, with its "peacekeeping" forces often forced to watch impotently as civilians were massacred. One particularly notorious episode was the fall of Srebrenica.

Technically the nation is divided between the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniak and Croat) and Republika Srpska (Serb), with a third, Brčko District, directly ruled from the central government in Sarajevo, which is simultaneously led by three presidents, each representing a major ethnic group and expected to serve a single four-year term, though one of them would serve as "Chairman of the Presidency", which rotates between the Bosniak, Serb and Croat presidents every eight months.

Bosnia in fiction

The Bosnian Flag
The golden triangle alludes to the nation's three constituent peoples — Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs — as well as the nation's triangular shape. The stars represent Europe, and are meant to be infinite in number. The blue field can allude to either the United Nations or the European Union, whose shade of blue on its flag is used.