Balkans: Bosnian Serbs Forced to Make Nice


September 12, 2005: The Bosnian Serb Army will become part of the Muslim-Croat federal military force. On August 30 the Republika Srpska (RS) parliament decided to end its fight against federalization. The RS parliament had been demanding "separate institutions" since the 1995 Dayton Accords. The prospect of stiff political and economic sanctions from the EU and other European nations finally pushed the RS parliament to cave in.

The EU heralded the RS decision  as a major step towards Bosnia's eventual integration into the EU.  It was the first major concession that Bosnian Serb officials have offered towards the creation of a more unified Bosnia since the Dayton peace accords in 1995. Until now the RS has fiercely protected its right to maintain separate institutions, including the armed forces, as the Dayton deal allowed. It is hoped that this decision signifies a new willingness among the Serbs to form joint institutions and abandon the nationalist policies they pursued until now. The 1992-5 war in the former Yugoslav republic left Bosnia with three armies, the predominantly Bosniak Army of Bosnia and Hercegovina, the Croatian Defence Council and the Army of Republika Srpska. The three units had no single command or control center. Under strong international pressure, the Bosniak and Croat elements formed a unified entity army in the Federation. But the Serbs refused to join in. In 2003 and 2004,  a unified defense ministry was created,  but the Serbs still retained a separate army. Further pressure from the international community resulted in the set-up of an independent commission for defense reform in December 2004.  As well as calling for a single armed force, the commission recommended scrapping conscription in favor of a voluntary professional army. A year after the war ended, the RS army had 23,000 professional soldiers, 8,000 conscripts and 173,000 reservists. After cuts demanded by the Dayton treaty, the force was cut to 4,000 professionals and 20,000 reservists. Further reductions are envisaged if the commission's recommendations are acted on. The RS parliament initially rejected the commission's recommendation in March 2005, saying that it did not want to change its constitution. Parliamentarians were supported in their decision by various pressure groups, including veterans, former prisoners and the families of war casualties. But international pressure grew throughout the summer, demanding not only a unified army but a unified police force as well. The RS feared more economic sanctions from the EU, that would cause more economic damage than the Serbs would tolerate. Serbs have been increasingly unhappy with the police state in RS, and the military reforms are basically a response to the public will. Opinion polls show that the military reforms are popular. -- Gordana Katana

September 5, 2005: In Kosovo, president Ibrahim Rugova, the moderate president of the province, said he had lung cancer, but would not step down. Rugova is a moderate, and fairly clean among the usually corrupt Albanian politicians. If Rugova goes, all that will be left are corrupt politicians and gangsters. All of them, like Rugova, want an independent Kosovo. But Serb still considers Kosovo theirs, and are willing to fight over it.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close