Re-Repairing Bosnia

The Dayton Accords of 1995 ended Serb-instigated ethnic cleansing and established peace in Bosnia, but failed to create a functional Bosnian central government with the capacity to undertake the reforms needed to meet the terms of accession to the EU. Unless the EU acts quickly to fix what Dayton left broken, it could find itself bordering a failed state with a Muslim plurality.

Bosnia’s future is becoming increasingly uncertain. An ethnic veto has long made the central government ineffective, and, most recently, Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Serb-controlled entity, Republika Srpska, has responded to efforts at reform with a threat to hold a referendum on independence.

Many consider secession unlikely, but Dodik’s threat does heighten fear that today’s fragile status quo could break down. While nobody expects the mass violence of the 1990’s to recur, that does not justify diplomatic indifference and inaction.

The Dayton Accords of 1995 ended Serb-instigated ethnic cleansing and established peace in Bosnia. But that agreement did not create a functional Bosnian central government with the capacity to undertake the reforms needed to meet the terms of accession to the European Union.

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