What happened to the ‘Bosnian Spring’? In February of this year, thousands of angry protesters in Bosnia-Herzegovina threw stones at police and occupied government buildings, accusing their politicians of corruption and incompetence. The country’s unemployment rate is over 40% (with youth unemployment at almost 60%), and the complicated political system – negotiated at an Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio in 1995 and designed to defuse ethnic tensions – is gridlocked and plagued by inertia.

The February protests began in the industrial city of Tuzla, but soon spread to other cities and frustration at the ruling parties crossed ethnic lines. The unrest marked the largest display of public anger in the small Balkan country of 3.8 million people since the end of the war. Regional government leaders in four cantons resigned their positions following the unrest, and since then the protests have quietened. However, the prospects for change seem muted, despite general elections due to be held in October.

Bosnia-Herzegovina hopes to one day join the European Union, though formal negotiations seem a distant prospect. One of our commenters, Denis, pessimistically argued that “Bosnia has no European perspective because they have their own internal disputes all the time“, adding that the political situation is still too fragile for much progress to be made towards EU membership. We put this comment to Doris Pack, a German  Centre-Right MEP who recently authored a report on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. How would she respond?

pack-speaksHe says exactly what I wrote in my report, so I can’t contradict him. I can only say that there is a need to redesign the country’s overall political structure. We have to admit that the Dayton Constitution – which was not written by the Bosnian people themselves, but was rather agreed by the international community – the Dayton Constitution cannot work.

They agreed to two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. Okay, two entities are fine, but these entities should have been constructed in a way that was workable, and the current federation is not workable. The federation of Bosniaks and Croats is not workable as it is because it is constructed in municipalities, in 10 cantons, with 10 prime ministers, with 140 or 150 ministers, and above them the federal government, and above that is the Bosnia-Herzegovina government. How can that work?

All these different levels of government also increase the opportunities for corruption. So, the status quo is not workable. I think the current political structure should be reconsidered by the people in the country and I think that neighboring countries can help them because their leaders were in Dayton, and we in the EU can also give a helping hand. But the problem is that the politicians running this country are quite happy with the current situation because it gives them a chance to do what they want to do, not to go forward but to stick to their little courtyards.

We also had a critical question from Paul, asking why the EU should be interested in Bosnia-Herzegovina ever joining. He wanted to know how it might benefit him as an EU tax-payer for new countries to become members:

What’s in it for me? What is the benefit to me, a tax-paying EU citizen (by default) by allowing [new countries] to join?

How would Doris Pack respond?

pack-speaksIt is in our interests to have a stable neighborhood without conflicts or big problems as we had in the Balkans previously. We had, in the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from the conflict there which we had to care for, so it was in our interest to help them overcome this. Furthermore, we all benefit from having people in our neighborhood who are growing economically and are eager to develop. They are democracies, they want to become equal partners in Europe, and this is what we want too – for all people in the region, especially the younger generations, to have a better future. So, I think it is in the interests of the whole European Union if these countries can live in peace and prosperity.

Will Bosnia-Herzegovina ever join the EU? Or is the political situation still too fragile for progress to be made toward EU membership? Does the country need a new constitution? And what would be the benefits of Bosnian membership for the rest of the EU? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Eldar Spahic

59 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    I hope Bosnia will join EU

  2. avatar

    In 1998 European Union forced Bosnia to change flag and national symbol. Stars on the flag are representing EU. Irony is that 16 years later there is still debate about it.

  3. avatar

    God/ Allah does not exist.

    Therefore, common ground can be found across all religions.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Splendid assertion!

      BTW, have you any conclusive, scientific proof regarding same as even Professor Higgs [I’m sure you’ve heard of him] has stated that the existence of said particle does NOT mean the absence of God.

  4. avatar

    Much more abouth Bosnia you can finde on Problem is in political system where “leaders” useing just for personal enrichment by controling media, NGO with permition of EUSR, OHR and USA.

  5. avatar

    Bosnia certainly has a European future!

    The road ahead is a long one however, the political system will have to change dramatically. Unemployment should be the number one priority to begin with.

    It can be done but Bosnia needs the political will to make it so.

  6. avatar

    Bosnia and Herzegovina will join the EU only after the forthcoming peaceful dissolution. Though, then it will be no today’s B&H, but three new states.
    When it comes to multinational Slavic states: the EU message in the past was very clear:”… first dissolution, then accession…”

    It happened that way with Czechoslovakia, it happened with Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia), it is being happening with SR Yugoslavia (i.e. Serbia and Montenegro), it is being happening with Serbia (Serbia and Kosovo).
    BTW, let me remind you, big Yugoslavia was a strong candidate to enter the EEC in early 90s. If we all were goodfor the EU (EEC) then, well we are not different people 20+ years later.

    So, no reason that highly arguing parts of so called Bosnia and Herzegovina (which are: Republika Srpska, Croatian part of FBiH i.e. Herzeg-Bosnia and BH-Muslim part of Federation of BiH) follow any other path.
    If it was good for Czechoslovakia and Yugoslav republics of Slovenia&Croatia – it is even better for the artificially and unnaturally created Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    The other thing is: the EU is not very sympathetic to the countries with orthodox Slavs majority or with large number of Muslims.

    So, all in all the verdict is: NATO-created Bosnia and Herzegovina is NEVER going to join the EU! …or at least, never in today’s shape.

    • avatar

      This is untrue and not based on historical facts.

      Czechoslovakia broke up when there weren’t even talks about EU accession.

      Yugoslavia broke up violently because of the rise of nationalist parties brainwashing citizens into killing each other for some land that does not really belong to anyone…

      BH will join the EU when they’ll forgive the errors of the past and start working for a brighter future.

    • avatar

      So, what’s untrue?

      All Slavic multinational countries went first through dissolution, then pieces were accepted into the EU (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia…it will the same for Montenegro (which was part of Yugoslavia and of Serbia and Montenegro…)- that’s a historical fact, sorry mate.

      It’s true, too – the EU is pretty xenophobic when it comes to accession of Orthodox Slavic nations and Muslims into the EU – therefore BiH has really, really slim chances , if any at all.

      Let me repeat the verdict: the parts of the BiH can join the EU, but only after the peaceful dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. BiH , in today’s shape, will NEVER join the EU.

    • avatar


      Bosnia&Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia were all republics in Former Yugoslavia, and each one of those countries has and has had for hundreds of years nationals who associate with that set country, where as republic of srbska was an attempt carv up a section of BiH and make it greater Serbia. why should we accept this type of barbaric state which emerged from the genocide. to put it simply Srebrenica is now in republica srbska. i cant understand why any serb would want to live there and happily claim that land after what has happened there. you just cant make a country pop into existance in 20 years, from a a wild mixture of fascism, murder rape and propaganda. its just not right.

    • avatar

      why should bosnia give there territory up ? The Croatian people and Serbian people already has a country and we all know that none of these countries would ever give up their territory. I agree the way it is today isn’t working but that doesn’t mean the country should be divided. These entities was created by force, the land was taken by force which means it was never legal and when something isn’t legal you can always claim the right.

  7. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I hope they join and wish them the best of luck, but as things are in the Balkans and in Europe right now, I do not predict an expansion in the region anytime soon. Perhaps only Montenegro will be ready to join soon enough, and Serbia if the European elites decide to allow it in the club prematurely for political reasons. I fully support further expansion in the Balkans but in reality I do not expect it to happen very soon. Besides it will be a mistake. Europe must seriously get its house in order before enduring another big bang expansion in the region.. And I fully agree with the German MEP on the issues of Bosnia.. Things are not quite working as they are, so changes must take place..

  8. avatar
    Ana Georgieva

    Poor people, those who made this total mess here on the Balkans since ’89 must be very proud and happy, they have acheived what they obviously had planed. For the sake of the ordinary people.

  9. avatar
    Marco Silva

    Aside post: I?m a scholar in Denmark researching on online debate platforms. I seek participants for an online workshop. Please, check your Facebook message folder ?Other?. Thank you.

  10. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    I hope not. We are not ready for more poverty. Give us all a break. These people are looking for a financial leg up, and could not give a monkeys about whether Europe lives or dies as a result.

    Ask them what they can and will do for Europe and its people ‘before they gain entry.’ Then you will see a slowing down of thought. They are not an asset on any level presently. Once they have raised themselves up to the European level of standards, then they could apply with hope. But, not now. They must prove their worth first.

    • avatar

      I agree to some degree. But, first the EU should give a break to us. The EU countries (basically, an occupying force in so called Bosnia and Herzegovina altogether with the USA) firstly brought the misery of war upon the Balkans, and after ruining this part of Europe, the EU&USA bear the biggest responsibility for the economic backwardness of the region.

      So, my take is – I really don’t need the EU, with all her hypocrisy, neo-liberal non-freedom, false democracy, xenophobia – I only need to take a good practices from the EU and that’s all…but, the trick is – the EU won’t let this region to follow its path.

  11. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    If BH joined the EU then that would be great for BH BUT not great for the EU net contributors or indeed EU net-charitable donation states as they would receive a smaller slice of the same sized SOLICHARITY pie.

    Pragmatically, BH has very little to offer the EU – perhaps like many other nations a quarter of a century after war they can upscale themselves without the need for an EU [or otherwise] begging bowl.

    If BH managed to bootstrap itself up to EU [Northern] levels of development and transparency then perhaps BH should be allowed to join the EU.

    • avatar

      @Tarquin Farquhar

      But, the trick is – the EU (with the main puppeteer – the USA) is holding back a possible progress (no matter how small it might be).
      So, artificial and unnatural as it is, so-called Bosnia and Herzegovina, has no possible mean of progress.
      It can only be forcefully absorbed in the EU (by the will of the EU, of course). And that is the only chance for the B&H (in today’s shape) to enter the EU…

      The better scenario is a peaceful dissolution. That is better for the EU, and for the people trapped in the NATO-created administration a.k.a Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      I’m really sorry old chap BUT your posting contained many English words BUT unfortunately [sorry] it did not make sense.

      I appreciate your efforts in communicating in English BUT unfortunately on this occasion you did not get your ideas across to me successfully. SORRY.

    • avatar

      No issues, matey, I am sorry that subject is too difficult [no wonder]…by time, some pieces will be collected and they might reach you ;)

  12. avatar
    Fahrudin Memic

    After the EU accession of Croatia some 400.000 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina with double BiH and Croatian nationality became EU citizens. The EU accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina some how already happened at least in the heads of the ordinary people living in here in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian spring was simply the consequence. And it is not finished yet. Protests continue every day in a non-violent way. So what is next… not sure but the next is coming for sure. For the time being the economy, economic integration/cooperation with EU and non-EU countries is the top priority for us the ordinary people here in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    • avatar

      Bet you want to come here and steal our jobs, undercut local workers and help corporations in the ‘cheaper labor’ race to the bottom.

      Say what, I got an idea. Us (NL), Britain, Germany, Denmark and Sweden go out of the EU, and you, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and Ukraine can have our places. The French would dearly love to double their EU contribution to pay for it all.

  13. avatar
    Ivan Bilokapić

    not even Serbia. a corrupt, underdeveloped nation with extreme guilt on war and suffering of the people of ex-yugoslavia. their current president is a war criminal who was involved personally in the murder of Croatian civilians and their prime minister was practically the deputy of the war criminal Vojislav Seselj and the leader of the radical serbian party who is in Den Haague.
    their political parties in the opposition and in government have not yet renounced or judged their extreme nationalist ideas from the 90’s, in fact those ideas are alive and well even today.
    Serbia does not belong into the EU.

    • avatar

      Well, comparing anti-fascist Serbia to the worst Nazi-puppet monstrous creation in the history of human kind, which is Croatia —> it is more then clear that anti-fascist Serbia belongs much, much more to the EU than the Hitler’s worst creation called independent state of Croatia.

      In fact, that Nazi-fascistic part of the EU (Croatia), in which:
      – racism is tolerated
      -ethnic hatred is stimulated
      -human rights derogated
      – rule of law is fictitious
      is a great reason for Serbia never to try to enter such organization which contains an insult to human history and civilization like it is Croatia (which is the only country in human history that established the concentration camp for toddlers!)

  14. avatar

    Well, first BH-Muslims, Croats and Slovenians should apologize for starting the war and destroying Yugoslavia, they should apologize for initial massacres, initial concentration camps, initial rape camps that sparked the civil war.
    Secessionist movements of breakaway republics (Croatia, Slovenia, Muslim-Croat part of B&H) and terrorists in them, pushed this region 20+ years backward.

  15. avatar
    Koutronas Vasileios

    At first Bosnia-Hersegovina will be seperated to Bosnia and Hersegovina. After that they will join the European Union.

  16. avatar
    Vladan Lausevic

    I will personally engage for Bosnia to become a member of EU. Even if I grow up there as a kid I still believe that people can live together and make a common future regardless of ethnicity. Today all the former Yugoslav republics are either in the union or aspiring to join it. Bosnia’s day will come because EU is one of the main antagonist for nationalism, especially the hatred ethnonationalism that has devastated Balkans several times during last 100 years.

    For me one priority for the future of Bosnia will be the process of “truth commission”as i Germany after World War II. Its citizens need to know why the war broke out and what happened during the 90’s in order to finally deal up with the past. Here the professional and fact-based history learning is vital in order to fight against the politicized and nationalist history writing.

    To mr “Inedepndet Srpska” I would like to say: Stop spreading the conspiracy theories that were made up by people such as Milosevic because they are the part of the problem why people in Ex-Yu are still hating each other instead of working together for the peace in the region.

    • avatar

      A shame that war criminal Izetbegovic isn’t around anymore, him or his radical jihadist/islamist friends from the Middle East.

      Bosnia is too artificial a construct and should be broken up, not maintained at any price despite large groups not wanting to be a part of it. This whole ‘borders are sacred’ nonsense must stop.

  17. avatar

    “Conspiracy theories”? Seriously?
    Hate? Really?
    You really have no idea what was going on in the Balkans, right?
    And you would teach citizen about the war, right? Well, that’s laughable..

    You realize that people from the ex-Yugoslavia were candidates to enter the EC in early 90s?
    You realize that people from the ex-Yu traveled without restriction around the world?
    You realize that people from the ex-Yu worked, lived, played, drunk, ate..etc… together since 1945?
    You think that Yugoslav people from 1990/1991 are different than Yugoslav people from 1995/1996? Seriously?

    All in all, no matter how clueless you are on the subject, it changes nothing –> Artificial NATO administration, so called Bosnia&Herzegovina, will never enter the EU. As simple as that.

  18. avatar
    Vladan Lausevic

    Well Marcel, Islamist militants would never have been in Bosnia if the war was prevented on time. Breaking up Bosnia means giving up to nationalism. It would be a really bad symbolical message to the rest of the world if you have new states that are created by war crimes as ethnic cleaning, massacres and genocide.

    • avatar

      Which means, of course, breaking up Yugoslavaa was a giving up to Croat ethno-chauvinism, which further means – Croatia was created by war crimes, massacres and the most horrible genocide in human civilization (including concentration camps for Serb toddlers)…

    • avatar

      So breaking up countries is bad, except when it concerns the few cases in which you would actually support it?

      Well, I am waiting for your campaign to restore the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union, Sudan, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Yugoslavia etc… though I fear one or two of those might be mutually exclusive.

      And any way, why not restore the Soviet Union? Why give in to Ukrainian nationalists and their nationalism? It would be a really bad symbolic message to the rest of the world, wouldn’t it.

      I guess what I am trying to say is that you are cherry picking, as in things are good when you are for them and bad when you are against them. Which is it? Breaking up countries is good or bad?

  19. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar


  20. avatar

    This so called debate isnot a one at all. Putting blame on serbs, muslims, croats is not a way to help or to get bosnia in the eu. For gods sake that is why they are not in the eu to begin with. Bosnia is a beautiful country with great people that has a lot to offer. Yes they may need help however statements that they got nothing to offer are unfair and untrue. You are telling me all the countries in the eu were great countries with no issues? Yeah freakin right!

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      I’m not too familiar with BH, what does BH have to offer BTW?

  21. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    @DEBATINGEUROPE why on earth do you continually allow RACIST comments [like StoneCold’s] to persist on your fora?

  22. avatar

    BH is a muslim country and naturally BH isn’t in the Europe and impossiable to join the EU.

    • avatar

      its not a “muslim country” it’s actually a secular country with a very balanced percentage of Muslims and Christians (Orthodox and Catholic), and its obviously in Europe. your comment only stand on racist/ prejudicial grounds.

    • avatar

      Its population is 53% Christian (Orthodox and Catholic together). Do you ever studied geography? The country is in the Western Balkans, bordering with Croatia, and how it’s not in Europe?

  23. avatar

    Just scrolling through these comments, I can already pick up on nationalistic views from
    those who love to see Bosnia suffer. Nationalism is one of the many problems Bosnia faces today in it’s prevention from joining the EU. Breaks my heart…

  24. avatar
    Just a Balkan Opinion

    The Bosnian people have accepted the Islamic religion from the Ottoman Turks. Originally they are South Slavs that speak a Serbian language.

  25. avatar

    It’s sad that Bosnia and Herzegovina with ”triangle government” can’t join EU or NATO, only if total change of political system is applied, or any kind of a reform, then the country will be able to step forward. In the other hand, any kind of a political reform will lead country to another, maybe worse conflict/war than in 90s. I live in Bosnia and Herzegovina and I can tell that if Bosnian Spring (unrest) continued for a month or two, war would be raging now at the moment. It would be Ukraine here. Propaganda is strong, media controlled, corruption and lack of freedom.


  26. avatar

    I think Bosnia and Hercegovina deserve to join in EU,
    because croatia ,romania ,bulgaria ,etc,they not better then Bosnia so with this comment am begging Bosnian people to never ever say that Bosnia and Herzegovina should not come to EU.People Bosnia have everything good just goverment bed ,I live in EU they not better then you people ,You get attack you didnt attack nobody you deserve the best .
    And please fight for your rights because other countys and people are not better then you,they just telling you wrong.EU is beatiful so i think Bosnia deserve to come in EU and give them fruit,vegetable and other beatiful thinks which Bosnia have
    EU need Bosnia and Herzegvina

  27. avatar
    Arif Hussain

    I hope soon Bosnia and Herzegovina will join EU.

  28. avatar
    Syed Arif Hussain Abidi

    I have to doubt about that Bosnia and Herzegovina will join European Union because it has strong business relationship with Germany and other European Union members.

  29. avatar
    Arif Hussain

    Yes Bosnia and Herzegovina soon join EU maybe in 20225.

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