There Are Reason to Be Cautious About Breaking Up Bosnia

Central Intelligence Agency map of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Dayton Agreement, published November 24, 1995
Central Intelligence Agency map of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Dayton Agreement, published November 24, 1995 (Library of Congress)

Daniel Berman, who occasionally writes for the Atlantic Sentinel, poses an interesting question at his blog, The Restless Realist: Why not break up Bosnia?

The current situation seems untenable. Bosnia is divided in two: an autonomous Republika Srpska for the (mostly Orthodox Christian) ethnic Serbs and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the (Muslim) Bosniaks and (Catholic) Bosnian Croats.

The federation is itself divided into ten autonomous cantons, five of which are Bosniak-ruled, three Croat and two mixed. Read more

Balkans Could Fall Victim to Putin-Trump Deal

NATO soldiers guard a road in Kosovo, January 5
NATO soldiers guard a road in Kosovo, January 5 (KFOR Kosovo)

Rumors of war abound. The simmering conflict of the Balkans may well grow to war again.

So go the whispers from Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. From Reuters to the The Globe and Mail, reports of war-like rhetoric between Kosovo and Serbia have emerged. Read more

Lines on a Map: Five Examples Worse Than Sykes-Picot

The centennial of the Sykes-Picot Agreement has flooded the better-informed parts of the Internet with everything from the depressingly familiar (blaming the treaty for all the Middle East’s problems) to the refreshingly critical. There seems to be more and more of the latter, which is heartening.

Sykes-Picot was after all not the only plan to partition the Ottoman Empire after World War I, as Middle East expert Adam Garfinkle writes in The American Interest. And blaming it, or any Western design, for imposing “artificial borders” on the region is a dangerous proposition, as the Atlantic Sentinel has argued. Taken to its logical conclusion, the idea that only borders that perfectly encompass certain ethnic groups are legitimate invites more conflict, not less.

The Middle East is not the only part of the world that can attest to that. Here are five examples where drawing lines on the map caused even bigger problems. Read more

Ethnic Serbs Undermine Bosnia Power Sharing

Milorad Dodik, president of the Serb Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina, greets President Tomislav Nikolić of Serbia in Banja Luka, December 27, 2012
Milorad Dodik, president of the Serb Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina, greets President Tomislav Nikolić of Serbia in Banja Luka, December 27, 2012 (Republika Srpska)

A precarious power-sharing agreement that has kept the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina for two decades is threatening to break down as the large Serb minority seeks further autonomy from the Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats who make up the majority of the country. Read more

Balkans Vulnerable to Russian Meddling, Expert Warns

View of Belgrade, Serbia, August 22, 2011
View of Belgrade, Serbia, August 22, 2011 (Serzhile)

The Balkans are vulnerable to Russian meddling if President Vladimir Putin wants to put pressure on the European Union, a top Bulgarian foreign-policy expert warns.

Writing in the Financial Times, Ivan Krastev, who chairs the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria and is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, argues that if Putin seeks to regain the initiative in his standoff with the West, the Balkans would be a “likely hotspot.” Read more

Germany Concerned as Russia’s Balkan Influence Grows

Russian president Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel attend a conference at the Moscow Kremlin, November 16, 2012
Russian president Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel attend a conference at the Moscow Kremlin, November 16, 2012 (Bundesregierung)

Germany fears Russia intends to block further European Union expansion into the Balkans, according to a confidential Foreign Ministry analysis seen by weekly Der Spiegel.

The magazine reports that German diplomats worry Russia is levering its influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Serbia with an eye toward preventing both countries from fully joining the West. Read more