Bosnia and Herzegovina
Population: 3,87 million
Area: 51 197 km2
GDP (PPP): 39 billion dollar (estimate 2015)
GDP per capita (PPP): 10 200 dollar (estimate 2015)
Rate of growth: 2,1 percent (estimate 2015)
Head of state: Mladen Ivanic, Bakir Izetbegovic, Dragan Covic (rotating)
Head of government: Denis Zvizdic
The disintegration of Yugoslavia resulted in an armed conflict in 1992 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the wake of the Dayton Agreement, signed in November 1995, a peace process was initiated in the Balkans which eventually brought a three-year conflict among the ethnicities to an end.
A multi-ethnic, democratically elected government was formed with responsibility for foreign policy as well as economic and fiscal policy. Domestic policy is set on a lower level, with two governing entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska.
To guarantee the security in the country former peacekeeping missions was replaced by the EU force EUFOR Althea, in 2004. Initially this force consisted of about 7,000 men, but it has gradually decreased and today about 600 men are stationed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Respect for democratic principles and understanding of democratic values is not sufficiently wide-spread. Nor is the situation in terms of human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to convene and freedom of opinion satisfactory.
The presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina rotates among three members of the Presidential Council – one Serb, one Croat, and one Bosniak. The Office of the High Representative (OHR) has great political influence. This institution, which was created by means of the Dayton Agreement, and was first upheld by Mr Carl Bildt, has played a critical role in Bosnian politics. The goal is to dismantle the institution, but in the current situation there is no forecast of when this can be done. Mr Valentin Inzko, who now holds the office, said in an interview with the BBC (2014-03-13) that nowadays the Office has a supervisory role, focusing on local ownership.
The need for constitutional reform is big. The state apparatus rests upon the Dayton Agreement and its complicated arrangement to meet the requirements of the three conflicting parties, the bosniaks, the croats and the serbs. One reform waiting is in accordance with the so called Sejdic-Finci case. In a ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2009 the present Bosnian constitution is discriminating smaller Bosnian ethnic groups since the Presidency troika is reserved for Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. In February 2014 Commissioner Stefan Füle expressed (2014-02-08) the EU’s dissatisfaction that no solution was in sight. In the international election observers report from the parliamentary elections in October 2014 the same discontent was mentioned.
However, European Stability Initiative (ESI) writes in a report from October 7, 2013, that this dissatisfaction with the inability to agree on reforms in no way may lead to blocking of further negotiations with the EU. The report argues that the Sejdic-Finci case is only a small part of the reforms needed in order to replace the Dayton Agreement and the EU has a major role to play when it comes to press for the implementation of these reforms.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the poorest countries in the Balkans and the economy is developing at a sluggish rate. The black economy is relatively large. Official unemployment rates are high, around 40 percent, but these figures represent a lot of people who make their living in the black economy.
In February 2014 pivot protests arose against the social situation which gradually deteriorated as the Bosnian economy stagnated. The partially violent protests were considered a sign of frustration over the economic stagnation in the country as well as over the widespread corruption and political inertia. Many were quick to talk about a Bosnian spring, but the protests petered out in the spring.
On October 1, 2006 national and regional elections were held. These were the first elections since the Dayton Agreement conducted entirely by the national administration and there were no major incidents. The following elections in 2010 and 2014 have also mostly fulfilled international standards, but there are still points to improve according to reports of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE.
The government period after the parliamentary elections in 2010 has been characterized by instability. Initially it took sixteen months before a government could be formed. The government received much criticism both nationally and internationally for its inability to implement the reforms needed to get the country back on its feet. The latest national elections were held on October 12, 2014.
The Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation cooperates with Party of Democratic Progress / Partija demokratskog progresa (PDP) and Party of Democratic Action / Stranka Demokratske Akcije (SDA) as well as HDZ BiH and HDZ1990. SDA, PDP and HDZ BiH take part in the government coalition.
The PDP was founded in 1999 and is of a conservative/liberal orientation. It has been a member of several governments and is based in Republika Srpska. PDP has been a long-term partner of the Foundation and considerable development has been witnessed over the years. In the 2014 election, the party chairman, Mr Mladen Ivanic, was elected the Serb member of the Presidential Council.
Since 2007 the foundation has also cooperated with the SDA as well. The SDA is a Bosnian party with a centre-right alignment. SDA has for a long time been one of the country’s leading politic parties and became the largest party in the 2014 parliamentary elections. The SDA candidate, Mr Bakir Izetbegovic, was elected the Bosniak member of the Presidential Council.
In Bosnia the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation focuses on women and young politicians, an increased EU-integration and increased regional cooperation.