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Modus Operandi

En librairie

Transformation de conflit, de Karine Gatelier, Claske Dijkema et Herrick Mouafo

Aux Éditions Charles Léopold Mayer (ECLM)


Paris, novembre 2007

Bosnia and Herzegovina country profile

The 1992-1995 conflict centred on whether Bosnia should stay in the Yugoslav Federation, or whether it should become independent.

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  • Full name: Bosnia and Hercegovina

  • Population: 3.8 million (via UN, 2006)

  • Capital: Sarajevo

  • Area: 51,129 sq km (19,741 sq miles)

  • Major languages: Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian

  • Major religions: Christianity, Islam

  • Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 77 years (women) (UN)

  • Monetary unit: 1 convertible marka = 100 convertible pfenniga

  • Main exports: Wood and paper, metal products

  • GNI per capita: US $2,440 (World Bank, 2006)

  • Internet domain: .ba

It is now an independent state, but under international administration. Its three main ethnic groups are Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Croats and Serbs. The war left Bosnia’s infrastructure and economy in tatters. Around two million people - about half the population - were displaced.

International administration, backed at first by NATO forces and later by a smaller European Union-led peacekeeping force, has helped the country consolidate stability. But early in 2007 the International Crisis Group, a think tank, warned: « Bosnia remains unready for unguided ownership of its own future - ethnic nationalism remains too strong. »

The 1995 Dayton peace accord, which ended the Bosnian war, set up two separate entities; a Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina, and the Bosnian Serb Republic, or Republika Srpska, each with its own president, government, parliament, police and other bodies.

Overarching these entities is a central Bosnian government and rotating presidency. In addition there exists the district of Brcko which is a self-governing administrative unit, established as a neutral area placed under joint Serb, Croat and Bosniak authority.

Dayton also established the Office of the High Representative. The Office’s representative is the state’s ultimate authority, responsible for implementation of Dayton and with the power to “compel the entity governments to comply with the terms of the peace agreement and the state constitution”.

Critics of Dayton said the two entities came too close to being states in their own right and that the arrangement reinforced separatism and nationalism at the expense of integration. Negotiations to amend the existing constitution, established by Dayton, in order to centralise functions and transform the country into a non-ethnic parliamentary democracy, are ongoing.

Underlining how far the country had progressed since Dayton, EU foreign ministers gave the go-ahead in late 2005 for talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the start of Bosnia’s long journey towards possible EU membership.

The prospect of talks with the EU is likely to increase still further pressure for the capture of two key Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Although some of those wanted by The Hague’s war crimes tribunal have been captured, the fact that these two key figures remain at large has given rise to international condemnation.


  • President: The presidency rotates every eight months between a Serb, a Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and a Croat.

The responsibilities of the presidency lie largely in international affairs.

  • Prime minister: Nikola Spiric

Nikola Spiric, a Bosnian Serb, was asked to form a government in January 2007 after the parties which gained the most votes in general elections in October agreed on a coalition.

  • Parliament approved the new government in February.

Acknowledging the challenges facing Bosnia, he promised to « talk less and work more ». He backs European integration and says reform of the ethnically-divided police force will be a key challenge.

The administration is the first to run Bosnia without international supervision since the end of the 1992-95 war.

Mr Spiric, from the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, is a former speaker of the central parliament.

His predecessor, Adnan Terzic of the Muslim Party of Democratic Action, was the first prime minister since the end of the war in 1995 to serve a full four-year term.

Previously, the post was rotated between representatives of the three main ethnic communities


The war in Bosnia-Hercegovina turned most media into propaganda tools in the hands of authorities, armies and factions. Since the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord efforts have been made - with limited success - to develop media which bridge inter-entity boundaries.

The most influential broadcasters in Bosnia are the public radio and TV stations operated by the Bosniak-Croat and Serb entities. The Office of the High Representative (OHR), the leading international civilian agency in Bosnia, is overseeing the development of a national public broadcasting service.

The OHR and other international organisations have encouraged the development of media which support a civic rather than a nationalist approach.

The media are partially free, but outlets and journalists come under pressure from state bodies and political party structures in both the Bosniak-Croat and Serb entities.

More than 200 commercial radio and TV stations are on the air, but their development has been hampered by the weak state of the advertising market.

The press

  • Oslobodjenje - Sarajevo, daily

  • Dnevni Avaz - Sarajevo, daily

  • Nezavisne Novine - Banja Luka, daily

  • Glas Srpske - Banja Luka, Bosnian Serb government daily

  • Dnevni List - Mostar, daily

  • Dani - Sarajevo, weekly

  • Slobodna Bosna - Sarajevo, weekly

  • Reporter - Banja Luka, weekly


  • Public Broadcasting Service of Bosnia-Hercegovina - state-wide public broadcaster, operates BHTV1 channel

  • Federation TV (FTV) - public TV service of Bosnian Muslim-Croat entity, operates two networks

  • Serb Republic Radio-TV (RTRS) - operates public TV service of Bosnian Serb entity

  • Mreza Plus - commercial, near-national coverage

  • Open Broadcast Network (OBN) - commercial, near-national coverage

  • TV Pink BH - offshoot of Serbia-based commercial network


  • Public Broadcasting Service of Bosnia-Hercegovina - state-wide

public broadcaster, operates BH Radio 1

  • Radio FBiH - public radio service of Bosniak-Croat entity

  • Serb Republic Radio-TV (RTRS) - operates public radio service of

  • Bosnian Serb entity

  • Bosnian Croat Mostar Radio

  • Bosanska Radio Mreza (BORAM) - private network

  • BM Radio - private, Zenica-based

  • Radio Stari Grad - private, Sarajevo-based

News agencies

  • Federation News Agency (Fena) - state-run, Sarajevo-based,

  • English-language pages

  • SRNA - state-run Bosnian Serb agency

  • Onasa - private