Achieving the ambitious goals of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (DPA) – forging a unified state out of the shaky Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and resistant and unstable Republika Srpska – is a complex and difficult undertaking which has not been made easier by the quest for a so-called “exit strategy”.
Prospects for lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina have improved in recent months as a result of a clear shift in approach towards implementation of the peace plan on the part of the international community.
Images that usually first come to mind in relation to the Balkans are of ‘ancient inter-ethnic hatreds’, irrational bloodletting among neighbours, and unpredictable eruptions of senseless violence.
On the night of 2-3 May 1997, some 25 houses were set ablaze in the Croat-controlled municipality of Drvar, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Federation).
Apart from stopping the fighting, silencing the guns and separating forces, the single clearest promise of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) was that Bosnian refugees and internally displaced persons would be able to return home.
Given the critical role that the media played in the destruction of both Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the on-going role they play in fanning the flames of ethnic hatred, the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina has devoted much time, energy and money to this field.
With the ongoing reconstruction efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and plans for the imminent privatisation of a number of industrial enterprises, the question has arisen as to whether the Bosnia and Herzegovina central government or the sub-state entities – Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – properly succeed to the immovable assets of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia located on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This memorandum seeks to answer this question.
The violent events in Mostar on 10 February – and the failure of the International Police Task Force (IPTF) and the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) to either anticipate or control them – constitute a mortal threat to the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the continued existence of the Bosniac-Croat Federation.
The Dayton Peace Agreement postponed a decision on the fate of the Brcko area, one of the peace talks’ most contentious and potentially explosive issues, until arbitration could take place. A decision is expected by 15 February.
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