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Diplomacy in Action

Bosnia and Herzegovina (02/03)


For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Area: 51,233 sq. km, slightly smaller than West Virginia.
Cities: Capital--Sarajevo (est. pop 387,876); Banja Luka (220,407); Mostar (208,904); Tuzla (118,500); Bihac (49,544).
Terrain: Mountains in the central and southern regions, plains along the Sava River in the north.
Climate: Hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long severe winters; mild, rainy winters in the southeast.

Nationalities: Bosniak (Muslim), Bosnian Croat, Bosnian Serb.
Population (July 2002 est.): 3,964,388 (note: all data dealing with population are subject to considerable error because of the dislocations caused by military action and ethnic cleansing).
Population growth rate (2002 est.): 0.76%.
Ethnic groups: Bosniak 48.3%, Serb 34.0%, Croat 15.4%, others 2.3%.
(Source: UNDP Human Development Report 2002--Bosnia-Herzegovina) Religions: Muslim (40%); Orthodox (3 1%); Catholic (15%); Protestant (4%); other (10%).
Languages: Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian (formerly "Serbo-Croatian").
Education: Mandatory 8 years of primary school, 4 years in secondary school, and 4 years in universities and academies. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are 407 primary schools with 250,000 students, 171 secondary schools with 80,000 students, 6 universities in the major cities--Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja Luka, Tuzla, and Bihac--and 6 academies--4 pedagogic and 2 art academies.
Education: Adult literacy rate (%)--male 94.1, female 78.0. Health: Infant mortality rate--23.53 deaths/1,000. Life expectancy--male 71.0, female 75.0.
Work force (total): 633,860.

Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: The Dayton Agreement, signed December 14, 1995, included a new constitution now in force.
Independence: April 1992 (from Yugoslavia).
Branches: Executive--Chairman of the Presidency and two other members of three-member rotating presidency (chief of state), Chairman of the Council of Ministers (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative--bicameral parliamentary assembly, consisting of National House of Representatives and House of Peoples (parliament). Judicial--Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, both supervised by the Ministry of Justice.
Subdivisions: Two entities: Muslim/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (divided into 10 cantons) and Republika Srpska.
Political parties: Party of Democratic Action (SDA); Croatian Democratic Union of BiH (HDZ-BiH); Serb Democratic Party (SDS); Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH); Civic Democratic Party (GDS); Croatian Peasants' Party of BiH (HSS); Independent Social Democratic Party (SNSD); Liberal Bosniak Organization (LBO); Liberal Party (LS); Muslim-Bosniak Organization (MBO); Republican Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RP); Serb Civic Council (SGV); Social Democratic Party (SDP); Socialist Party of Republika Srpska (SPRS); Democratic Socialist Party (DSP); Social Democrats of Bosnia Herzegovina; Party for Democratic Progress (PDP); National Democratic Union (DNZ); Serb National Alliance (SNS); Coalition for a United and Democratic BiH (coalition of SDA, SBiH, LS, and GDS).
Suffrage: Universal at age 18.

GDP (2001 est., purchasing power parity): $4.7 billion.
GDP growth rate ( 2001 est.): 2.3%.
Income per capita (1997 est., purchasing power parity): 1,800 (note: figure heavily depends on the population and does not account for the gray economy).
Inflation rate (2001 est): 5.0%.
Natural resources: Coal, iron, bauxite, manganese, forests, copper, chromium, lead, zinc.
Agriculture: Products--wheat, corn, fruits, vegetables,livestock.
Industry: Types--steel, minerals, vehicle assembly, textiles, tobacco products, wooden furniture, tank and aircraft assembly, domestic appliances, oil refining.
Trade (1995): Exports--$1,003 million.

Bosnia's parliament declared the republic's independence on April 5, 1992. However, this move was opposed by Serb representatives who favored remaining in Yugoslavia. Full recognition of its independence by the United States and most European countries occurred soon after, on April 7, and Bosnia-Herzegovina was admitted to the United Nations on May 22. The war that then ensued was ended in 1995 with the crucial participation of the United States in brokering the Dayton Accords. After leading the diplomatic and military effort to secure the Dayton agreement, the United States has continued to lead the effort to ensure its implementation. U.S. troops participate in the Bosnia Peacekeeping force (SFOR), and the United States has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to help with reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, economic development, and military reconstruction in Bosnia. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has played a large role in post-war Bosnia, including programs in economic development and reform, democratic reform (media, elections), infrastructure development, and training programs for Bosnian professionals, among others. Additionally, there are many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have likewise played significant roles in the reconstruction.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Clifford Bond
Deputy Chief of Mission--Christopher Hoh
Political Officer--Ted Tanoue
Economic Officer--Harvey Lee
Consular Officer--Alma Gurski
Administrative Officer--Robert Bryson
Public Affairs Officer--Douglas Ebner
USAID--Howard Sumka

For the first centuries of the Christian era, Bosnia was part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of Rome, Bosnia was contested by Byzantium and Rome's successors in the west. Slavs settled the region in the 7th century, and the kingdoms of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia in the 9th century. The 11th and 12th centuries saw the rule of the region by the kingdom of Hungary. The medieval kingdom of Bosnia gained its independence around 1200 A.D. Bosnia remained independent until 1463, when Ottoman Turks conquered the region.

During Ottoman rule, many Bosnians converted to Christianity in favor of Islam. Bosnia was under Ottoman rule until 1878, when it was given to Austria-Hungary as a colony. While those living in Bosnia came under rule by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, South Slavs in Serbia and elsewhere were calling for a South Slav state. World War I began when Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Following the Great War, Bosnia became part of the South Slav state of Yugoslavia, only to be given to Nazi-puppet Croatia in World War II. During this period, many atrocities were committed against Jews, Serbs, and others who resisted the occupation. The Cold War saw the establishment of the Communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Tito, and the reestablishment of Bosnia as a republic with its medieval borders.

Yugoslavia's unraveling was hastened by the rise of Slobodan Milosevic to power in 1986. Milosevic's embrace of Serb nationalism led to intrastate ethnic strife. Slovenia and Croatia both declared independence in 1991, and Bosnia-Herzegovina soon followed. In February 1992, the Bosnian Government held a referendum on independence, and Bosnian Serbs, supported by neighboring Serbia, responded with armed resistance in an effort to partition the republic along ethnic lines to create a "greater Serbia." Muslims and Croats in Bosnia signed an agreement in March 1994 creating the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This narrowed the field of warring parties down to two. The conflict continued through most of 1995, ending with the Dayton Peace Agreement signed on November 21, 1995 (the final version was signed December 14, 1995 in Paris). BiH today consists of two entities, the largely Bosniak and Croat Federation and the primarily Serb, Republika Srpska.

Next to Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina was the poorest republic in the old Yugoslav Federation. For the most part, agriculture has been in private hands, but farms have been small and inefficient, and food has traditionally been a net import for the republic. The centrally planned economy has resulted in some legacies in the economy. Industry is greatly overstaffed, reflecting the rigidity of the planned economy. Under Tito, military industries were pushed in the republic; Bosnia hosted a large share of Yugoslavia's defense plants. Three years of interethnic strife destroyed the economy and infrastructure in Bosnia, caused the death of about 200,000 people, and displaced half of the population. However, considerable progress has been made since peace was reestablished in the republic. Due to Bosnia's strict currency board regime, inflation has remained low in the Federation and RS. However, growth has been uneven, with the Federation outpacing the RS. Bosnia's most immediate task remains economic revitalization. In order to do this fully, the environment must be conducive to a private sector, market-led economy. Bosnia faces a dual challenge: not only must the nation recover from the war, but it also must make the transition from socialism to capitalism.

Support for Eastern European Democracy (SEED) and other foreign assistance accounts for 20%-25% of economic growth in Bosnia. Movement has been slow, but progress has been made in economic reform. A Central Bank was established in late 1997, successful debt negotiations were held with the London Club in December 1997 and with the Paris Club in October 1998, and a new currency linked to the Deutchmark was introduced in mid-1998, and has remained stable.


General Government Framework Information and Information Regarding the President and the Cabinet
Under the provisions of the Dayton Peace Accords, the entities have competencies in areas such as finance, taxation, business development, and general legislation. Entities and cantons control their own budgets, spending on infrastructure, health care, and education.

Presidency. The Presidency in Bosnia Herzegovina rotates among three members (Bosniak, Serb, Croat), each elected for a 4-year term. The three members of the Presidency are directly elected (Federation votes for the Bosniak/Croat, RS for the Serb).

The Presidency is responsible for:

  • Conducting the foreign policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Appointing ambassadors and other international representatives, no more than two-thirds of which may come from the Federation;
  • Representing Bosnia and Herzegovina in European and international organizations and institutions and seeking membership in such organizations and institutions of which it is not a member;
  • Negotiating, denouncing, and, with the consent of the Parliamentary Assembly, ratifying treaties of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Executing decisions of the Parliamentary Assembly;
  • Proposing, upon the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, an annual budget to the Parliamentary Assembly;
  • Reporting as requested, but no less than annually, to the Parliamentary Assembly on expenditures by the Presidency;
  • Coordinating as necessary with international and non-governmental organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and;
    Performing such other functions as may be necessary to carry out its duties, as may be assigned to it by the Parliamentary Assembly, or as may be agreed by the Entities.
The Chair of the Council of Ministers is nominated by the Presidency and approved by the House of Representatives. He is then responsible for appointing a Foreign Minister, Minister of Foreign Trade, and others as appropriate. The Council is responsible for carrying out the policies and decisions in the fields of foreign policy; foreign trade policy; customs policy; monetary policy; finances of the institutions and for the international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina; immigration, refugee, and asylum policy and regulation; international and inter-Entity criminal law enforcement, including relations with Interpol; establishment and operation of common and international communications facilities; regulation of inter-Entity transportation; air traffic control; facilitation of inter-Entity coordination; and other matters as agreed by the Entities.

Legislature. The Parliamentary Assembly is the lawmaking body in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It consists of two houses: the House of Peoples and the House of Representatives. The House of Peoples includes 15 delegates, two-thirds of which come from the Federation (5 Croat and 5 Bosniacs) and one-third from the RS (5 Serbs). Nine members of the House of Peoples constitutes a quorum, provided that at least three delegates from each group are present. Federation representatives are selected by the House of Peoples of the Federation, and RS representatives are selected by the RS National Assembly. The House of Representatives is comprised of 42 members, two-thirds elected from the Federation and one-third elected from the RS. Federation representatives are elected directly by the voters of the Federation, and RS representatives are selected by the RS National Assembly (the National Assembly is directly elected by RS voters). The Parliamentary Assembly is responsible for enacting legislation as necessary to implement decisions of the Presidency or to carry out the responsibilities of the Assembly under the constitution; deciding upon the sources and amounts of revenues for the operations of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina; approving a budget for the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and deciding whether to consent to the ratification of treaties.

Judiciary. The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the supreme, final arbiter of legal matters. It is composed of nine members: four are selected by the House of Representatives of the Federation, two by the Assembly of the RS, and three by the President of the European Court of Human Rights after consultation with the Presidency. The Constitutional Court's original jurisdiction lies in deciding any constitutional dispute that arises between the Entities or between Bosnia and Herzegovina and an Entity or Entities. The Court also has appellate jurisdiction within the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both the Federation and the RS government have established lower court systems for their territories.

Principal Government Officials

State Level
Tri-Presidency--Mirko Sarovic (Bosnian Serb and Chairman), Dragan Covic (Bosnian Croat), Sulejman Tihic (Bosniak)
Chairman of the Council of Ministers--Adnan Terzic

Cabinet of Ministers
Foreign Affairs--Mladen Ivanic Deputy--Lidija Topic
Foreign Trade and Economic Relations--Mila Gadzic
Deputy--Momir Tosic
Treasury--Ljerka Maric
Deputy--Jusuf Kumalic
Civil Works and Communications--Safet Halilovic
Deputy--Zoran Tesanovic
Human Right and Refugees--Mirsad Kebo
Deputy--Ivica Marinovic
Security--Barisa Colak
Deputy--Dragan Mektic
Justice--Slobodan Kovac
Deputy--Niko Grubisic
Transport and Communications--Branko Dokic
Deputy--Haris Basic
BIH Parliament-House of Representatives
Speaker--Sefik Dzaferovic (Bosniak)
Deputy Speaker--Borislav Paravac (Bosnian Serb)
Deputy Speaker--Martin Raguz (Bosnian Croat)

BIH Parliament--House of Peoples
Speaker--Velimir Jukic (Croat)
Deputy Speaker--Mustafa Pamuk (Bosniak)
Deputy Speaker--Goran Milojevic (Serb)

President--Niko Lozancic (Croat)
Vice President--Sahbaz Dzihanovic (Bosniak)
Vice President--Desnica Radivojevic (Serb)
Prime Minister--Ahmet Hadzipasic
Deputy Prime Minister--Dragan Vrankic
Deputy Prime Minister--Gavrilo Grahovac

Cabinet of Ministers
Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry--Marinko Bozic
Defense--Miroslav Nikolic
Development and Entrepreneurship--Mladen Cabrilo
Education, Science, Culture, and Sports--Gavrilo Grahovac (also Deputy Prime Minister)
Energy, Mining, and Industry--Izet Zigic
Finance--Dragan Vrankic (also Deputy Prime Minister)
Health--Tomo Lucic
Interior--Mevludin Halilovic
Justice--Borjana Kristo
Refugeesand Displaced Persons--Edin Music
Social Welfare and Labor--Radovan Vignjevic
Trade--Maid Ljubovic
Transport and Communications--Nedzad Brankovic
Urban Planning ans Environmental Protection--Ramiz Mehmedagic
War Veteran Affairs--Ibrahim Nadarevic

Federation Parliament--House of Representatives (42 members)
Speaker--Muhamed Ibrahimovic (Bosniak)
Deputy Speaker--Josip Merdzo (Croat)
Deputy Speaker--Dusanka Pecanac (Serb)

Federation Parliament--House of Peoples (15 Members)
Speaker--Slavko Matic (Croat)
Deputy Speaker--Vahid Heco (Bosniak)
Deputy Speaker--Spomenka Micic (Serb)

Republika Srpska
President--Dragan Cavic (Serb)
Vice President--Adil Osmanovic (Bosniak)
Vice President-- Ivo Tomljenovic (Croat)
Prime Minister--Dragan Mikerevic

National Assembly (83 members)
Speaker--Dragan Kalinic
Deputy Speaker--Safket Hafizovic

Governance and Local Self-Governance--Slaven Pekic
Defense--Milovan Stankovic
Education and Culture--Gojko Savanovic
Economy, Energy and Development--Milan Bogicevic
Foreign Economic Relations--Omer Brankovic
Finance--Simeun Vilendecic
Health and Social Policy--Marin Kvaternik
Interior--Zoran Djeric
Justice--Saud Filipovic
Refugee Affairs--Jasmin Samardzic
Science and Technology--Dzemal Kolonic
Trade and Tourism--Boris Gaspar
Transport and Communications--Dragan Solaja
Urban Planning, Utilities, Environment--Mensur Sehagic
Labor and War Veterans Issues--Mico Micic
Water Resources and Forestry (Agriculture)--Rodoljub Trkulja

The implementation of the Dayton Accords of 1995 has focused the efforts of policymakers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the international community, on regional stabilization in the former Yugoslavia. However, with the efforts to bring peace in Kosovo and Macedonia, donor resources for Bosnia have diminished. Bosnia and Herzegovina's relations with its neighbors of Croatia, Albania, and Serbia have been fairly stable since the signing of Dayton in 1995. The U.S. role in the Dayton Accords and their implementation has been key to successes in Bosnia. Since the Dayton Accords were signed, over $14 billion in foreign aid has moved into Bosnia, approximately $940 million of it coming from SEED funds. As stated above, this support has been key to the growth and revitalization of the economy and infrastructure in the republic. In addition to SEED funding, USAID programs have been crucial to the redevelopment of Bosnia and Herzegovina. USAID has programming in the following areas: economic policy reform and restructuring; private sector development (the Business Development Program); infrastructure rebuilding; democratic reforms in the media, political process and elections, and rule of law/legal code formulation; and training programs for women and diplomats.

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