Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans
Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans
Report 27 / Europe & Central Asia

Dayton: Two Years On

Prospects for lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina have improved in recent months as a result of a clear shift in approach towards implementation of the peace plan on the part of the international community.

Executive Summary

Prospects for lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina have improved in recent months as a result of a clear shift in approach towards implementation of the peace plan on the part of the international community.  The new-found resolve has been characterised, in particular, by a snatch operation in Prijedor in July in which one indicted war criminal was captured and another killed, and the seizure by the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) of four transmission towers used by Bosnian Serb television’s (SRT) Pale studio which had hitherto been used to broadcast ethnic hatred and obstruct implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA).

The about-turn in international policy is, in part, a product of the change in government in Britain as well as the appointment of Madeleine Albright as US Secretary of State.  It also reflects a realisation that NATO forces will only be able to make a dignified withdrawal from Bosnia and Herzegovina once the groundwork for a lasting peace has been laid.  Maintaining a cease-fire for two and a half years and holding elections is simply not enough to prevent the country from slipping back into war as soon as international peace-keepers pull out.  While the more robust international approach to implementing the DPA has begun to pay dividends, it has also highlighted the magnitude of the remaining task necessary to rebuild Bosnia and Herzegovina after four years of war.

Sarajevo, 19 November 1997

Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker talks to Crisis Group expert Marko Prelec about the precarious situation in the Western Balkans, as Serb separatism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the frozen Kosovo-Serbia dispute continue to stoke regional instability.

The Western Balkans, a region defined in part by not being in the European Union, also contains several countries that were devastated by war in the 1990s. Now it faces new troubles, driven in part by the legacies of the old. Bosnia and Herzegovina is confronted with calls for secession in the autonomous Serb-dominated region, Republika Srpska, as well as the ongoing electoral grievances of its Croat minority. Meanwhile, efforts to resolve Kosovo’s dispute with Serbia over its independence have come to a standstill, leaving minority communities on both sides of the border vulnerable.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker talks to Marko Prelec, Crisis Group’s Consulting Senior Analyst for the Balkans, about why ethnic tensions persist in the region and whether there is any risk of a return to conflict. They discuss the prospects for European integration, asking whether the promise of EU membership remains an effective incentive for resolving these longstanding disputes. They also consider what impact Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had for stability in the Western Balkans, a region where painful memories of war are still very salient today.



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For more of Crisis Group’s analysis, make sure to check out our Balkans regional page and keep an eye out for our upcoming report on the risk of instability in the Western Balkans.

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