Bosnia – Bitter Balkan Conflict Grows Through Years

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Bitter Balkan Conflict Grows
Through Years

WAR-WEARY–This widow survived three wars: World Wars I and II and Bosnia’s recent conflict.


While the December, 1995, peace agreement signed by the presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, ended more than 43 months of war in the Balkans, peace isn’t coming easily to that region–nor has it ever.

In 1914, the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo sparked World War I. At that time, Bosnia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the close of the war, Bosnia became part of the newly formed kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which was named Yugoslavia in 1929.

At the end of World War II, the second Yugoslavia was created in 1945 under Marshal Josip Tito, who managed to keep the countries and ethnic rivalries together. After his death in 1980, the country stayed together for just over 10 years until the old six member Balkan federation (Bosnia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, and Serbia) broke up in 1991-92.

At the close of Yugoslavia, the country was 44 percent Muslim, 31 percent Serb and 17 percent Croat. Intermarriage wasn’t uncommon, and all spoke Serbo-Croatian. By 1991, however, the flames of nationalism between the ethnic groups smoldered, and, fanned by Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, they burst into fire. When he designed a new Yugoslav federation under Serb leadership, Slovenia and Croatia broke free. Shortly after, full scale war broke out.

In 1991, there were 4.3 million in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since then, more than 200,000 have died, with 200,000 injured, including 50,000 children. Now, the country is divided into two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina–shared primarily by Bosnian Croats and Muslims, and the Republic of Srpska, occupied primarily by Bosnian Serbs.

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