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Europe’s forgotten conflict that threatens the survival of Bosnia | Research News,The Indian Express

As ethnic tensions escalate in the Balkans, Bosnia is at risk of disintegrating, sparking fears that the region may once again descend into conflict, much like it did during the bloody years of the 1990s

While the eyes of the world are on Ukraine, there is another conflict simmering in the Balkans, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter known as Bosnia.) 

Tensions have risen sharply in Republika Srpska (RS), an ethnically Serbian entity within Bosnia, since the 2020 election of Milorad Dodik, a staunch Serb nationalist and advocate for Serbian autonomy. Dodik has been sanctioned by the US and the UK for threatening to undermine the stability of  Bosnia, but he has largely retained public support, thanks in part to his backers in Moscow. Currently there is no unified opposition to Dodik as the West has largely ignored the conflict and internally, Bosnian Muslims (known as Bosniaks) and Bosnian Croats are engaged in a power struggle of their own.

The current situation in the Balkans is frighteningly reminiscent of that of the early 1990s, when the region was engulfed in a bitter ethnic conflict in which the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia was divided into six new countries across ethnic lines. The war was particularly devastating for Bosnia, due to its complex demography which included Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks.  

In 1995, over 8,000 Bosniak Muslims were massacred in the town of Srebrenica by the Bosnian Serb army, under the command of Ratko Mladic. Known as the butcher of Bosnia, Mladic’s crimes during the Bosnian War were so extreme that his daughter allegedly killed herself after hearing about the atrocities he committed. A UN tribunal found Mladic to be guilty of genocide, having deliberately targeted Bosnian Muslims during the war. Mladic, however, remained defiant. Today, caricatures of him adorn the streets of RS. 

The Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was established in 1945 under Josip Broz Tito who ruled the federation until his death in 1980. In the decade to follow, the federation, which consisted of six republics, began to unravel. By 1992, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Bosnia declared independence, leaving behind only Serbia and Montenegro.

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