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  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Republika Srpska's flirtation in June 2011 with a referendum is a reminder that Bosnia's smaller entity still threatens the stability of the country and the Western Balkans. It is highly unlikely that the RS will secede or that the Bosniaks will attempt to eliminate it, but if its Serb leaders continue driving every conflict with Sarajevo to the brink, as they have done repeatedly to date, they risk disaster. The agility of leaders and the population's patience need only fail once to ignite serious violence. Over the longer term, RS's determination to limit Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to little more than a coordinator between powerful entities may so shrivel the state that it sinks, taking RS with it. RS also suffers from its own internal problems, notably a culture of impunity for political and economic elites and a lingering odour of wartime atrocities. Its leadership, especially its president, Milorad Dodik, needs to compromise with Sarajevo on state building and implement urgent entity-level reforms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Štrpce, one of Kosovo's largest Serb enclaves and one of the few with good Serb-Albanian relations and economic prospects, risks falling victim to the status dispute between Belgrade and Pristina. But it also has a chance to demonstrate to Serbs that they can protect their interests within Kosovo's constitutional order. Since May 2008, the municipality has been governed by competing authorities, both Serb-led: an official government appointed by the UN in the face of local opposition and a parallel regime elected in defiance of Kosovo law. Neither has the capacity to perform its duties. The impasse has deprived this peaceful enclave of effective government and devastated its economy, notably by preventing regulation of its lucrative property market and blocking privatisation of the Brezovica ski resort. Local elections on 15 November 2009 can end the un- easy status quo, give Štrpce a legitimate government and unlock its economic potential. Belgrade, Pristina and the international community should encourage voting and thereafter equip the municipal government with the expanded powers and resources it needs.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Serbia, Balkans, Albania
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) post-war status quo has ended but the international community risks muddling the transition by delaying decisions on a new kind of engagement. Republika Srpska (RS), one of the state's two entities, has defied the High Representative, Bosnia's international governor, and the international community has not backed him up. Instead, the U.S. and the European Union (EU) launched in October 2009 on the Butmir military base outside Sarajevo a high-level effort to persuade the country's leaders to adopt far-reaching constitutional reforms and allow the mandate of the High Representative and his office (OHR) to end. Disagreements over the scope and content of reform make agreement uncertain. But Bosnia's leaders should adopt as much of the EU-U.S. proposal as possible, and the international community should end its protectorate in favour of a new, EU- and NATO-led approach including strong security guarantees.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Balkans