Bosnia: From Dayton to Brussels

When the Dayton peace accords ended the Bosnian war exactly ten years ago, it was of course good news, and the world’s media caravan rolled on elsewhere. Ever since, Bosnia has only ever merited the occasional story about the Srebrenica massacre or Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, the wartime Bosnian Serb leaders wanted for war crimes, or possibly as part of wider reports about organised crime or people trafficking. The result is that most well informed people could be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed in the last ten years. They would be totally wrong.

The World Today Updated 15 October 2020 Published 1 November 2005 4 minute READ

Tim Judah

Balkans Correspondent, The Economist

At the time of the Dayton accords, when sixty thousand NATO-led troops flooded into the country to enforce the deal, it was widely assumed that once they left, it would soon relapse into a state of perpetual ethnic warfare. So, it comes as a surprise for many to find that Bosnia is unrecognisable from the way it was ten years ago.

Today the NATO force has been replaced by a European Union (EU) one of just over six thousand troops. Freedom of movement is universal. The old frontlines are often difficult to identify, except by people who remember where they were. Bosnia has one currency, one passport, and an increasing number of common organisations.

Most significantly, of 2.2 million refugees, almost half of the pre-war population, perhaps only 250,000 are still waiting to go home. More than ninety per cent of property claims relating to the war of 1992-95 have been settled.

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