Bosnia and Herzegovina – a predominately Muslim state in the heart of the Balkans, with significant Orthodox Serb and Catholic Croatian Minorities, amazing scenery, rich history, and a dark recent past. During the break-up of Yugoslavia, this was the place that saw the highest amount of violence and war crimes committed. During the Bosnian war of 1995, thousands of people were killed, and acts of ethnic cleansing were committed.
The most prominent example of this was the Srebrenica massacre, where more than 7 000 Bosnian Muslims were mercilessly slaughtered. In addition to the murders, almost 20,000 inhabitants were forced to flee the region, a procedure known as ethnic cleansing. The atrocity, which was Europe's worst case of mass murder since World War II, prompted the West to call for a cease-fire, ending three years of fighting on Bosnia's soil. Survivors, on the other hand, were left with significant emotional wounds, and political reconciliation among Bosnia's ethnic groupings has remained a long-term challenge.
Christian Schmidt, the international community's High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, warned earlier this week that the US-brokered peace accord agreed at the conclusion of the conflict is in danger of failing unless measures are taken to prevent Serbian separatists from pressing for independence. Milorad Dodik, the Serbian leader in Bosnia's three-person presidency, has threatened to secede from the remainder of the nation, which has been divided into two autonomous regions by a central government since the war. This time, he's putting flesh on the bones by proposing legislation that would separate Republika Srpska (Serb Republic) from the state's shared institutions, like the military forces and judicial authorities.
Milorad Dodik's proposals, according to Christian Schmidt, are an "existential threat" to the country. A break-up of Bosnia and Herzegovina has the potential to spark a new conflict in the Balkans, which could prove to be a disaster for millions of people. A new war on the peninsula must be avoided at all costs.