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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Land Area: 51,200 square kilometres
Population: 3.76 million (2010, UN estimate)
Capital City: Sarajevo
Peoples: Bosniak (48%), Bosnian Serb (37.1%),
Bosnian Croat (14.3%), Other (0.6%)
Official Languages: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian
Major Religions: Islam, Serbian Orthodox, Roman Catholicism
Currency: Bosnian Convertible Mark (1 EUR = 1.95583 BAM)
(Currency Sign KM; ISO-4217 Currency Code: BAM)
Major Political Parties:
-- Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina - (SDP BiH) (Multi-Ethnic)

-- Alliance of Independent Social Democrats - (SNSD) (Bosnian Serb)

Party of Democratic Action - (SDA) (Bosniak)

-- Serbian Democratic Party - (SDS) (Bosnian Serb)

-- Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina - (HDZ BiH) (Bosnian Croat)

-- Croatian Democratic Union 1990 - (HDZ 1990) (Bosnian Croat)

Government: Federal Democratic Republic consisting of a State Level Government/Parliament and two Entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, which each have their own constitution, Government/Parliament and extensive legislative powers.

Head of State: Tripartite Presidency (with rotating chair) consisting of:
-- Bakir Izetbegović (Bosniak - SDA) (Chair from 9 March 2012 – 9 November 2012)

Nebojša Radmanović (Bosnian Serb - SNSD)

-- Željko Komšić (Bosnian Croat - SDP BiH)

Chair of the Council of Ministers: Vjekoslav Bevanda (HDZ BiH)
Foreign Minister: Zlatko Lagumdžija (SDP BiH)
Membership of International Organisations:

Council of Europe

-- Central European Trade Agreement (CEFTA)

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

-- Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE)

Regional Cooperation Council

-- United Nations (UN)

World Bank

Bosnia and Herzegovina was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2010 and 2011 terms.

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ECONOMY

Basic Economic Facts

Nominal GDP: US $16.5 billion
Annual GDP: 0.7% growth
GDP: US $4,242 per capita
Annual Inflation Rate: 2.1%
Unemployment Rate: 27.2%
Bosnia and Herzegovina is an upper middle income country, with its currency, the Bosnian Convertible Mark, pegged to the Euro. Post-conflict economic growth was initially generated by reconstruction efforts, but is becoming more driven by private sector investment. Fiscal policies, supported by the IMF within the 2009-2012 Stand-By Arrangement, remain relatively tight.

Please go to the UK Trade & Investment (https://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk/ukti/appmanager/ukti/countries?_nfls=false&_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=CountryType1&navigationPageId=/bosnia_herzegovina) Country Profile for more detailed information on the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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HISTORY

Longer Historical Perspective

The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed in 1918 in the aftermath of the First World War and changed its official title to Yugoslavia in 1929. Following the Second World War, Communist Partisan leader, Marshal Josip Broz Tito, took control of the country and ruled it for the next 40 years. Although presiding over a communist regime, Tito successfully steered his own path between East and West and was a founder member of the Non-Aligned Movement of countries in the United Nations.

Recent History

Following Tito's death in 1980, Yugoslavia began slowly to disintegrate in a process that culminated in the Balkans conflicts of the early 1990s. Slovenia, Croatia and Republic of Macedonia declared their independence in 1991, with Bosnia and Herzegovina declaring independence and Serbia and Montenegro declaring a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992. Between 1992 and 1995, there was a severe conflict between the ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This prompted a co-ordinated military response from the United Nations and the International Community, and eventually led to the Dayton Agreement of 1995. The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement, determined the external borders and constitutional structure under which Bosnia and Herzegovina operates today.

Since the end of the conflict, Bosnia and Herzegovina has followed a path of state-building, under the supervision of the International Community through the Office of the High Representative, towards eventual membership of the EU and NATO. An EU-BiH Stabilisation and Association Agreement was signed in 2008, and its accession to NATO is in the final phase of negotiation following a Membership Action Plan signed in April 2010.

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Relations with Neighbours

Bosnia and Herzegovina's relationship with Croatia has changed substantially since the death of Croatian President Franjo Tuđman in December 1999. In December 2000, the two countries signed a Free Trade Agreement, which was implemented almost immediately. In 2010, Croatian President Ivo Josipović made several official visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina in an effort to improve political relations between the two countries.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's relations with Serbia have improved significantly following the collapse of the Milošević regime in October 2000. Diplomatic relations were formally established on 15 December 2000, although some political tensions still remain. On 26 February 2007, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, pronounced its judgment on the case filed by Bosnia and Herzegovina against Serbia in March 1993, claiming violations of the UN Genocide Convention during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. The ICJ found that Serbia had not committed genocide through its organs or persons and had not conspired to commit genocide, nor incited the commission of genocide. However, the court ruled that Serbia did not use its influence to prevent the genocide of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in July 1995, and that Serbia's leaders had failed to comply with their international obligations to punish those who carried out the massacre. Members of the International Community called upon both countries to respect the judgment and react constructively. Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet recognised Kosovo as an independent nation.

BiH’s Relations with the wider International Community

The Peace Implementation Council (PIC) and the Office of the High Representative (OHR)

Around 40 nations and several international organisations including the United Nations, NATO, and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), met in London in December 1995 to consider how best to monitor and carry forward compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement. This group became known as the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) (http://www.ohr.int/pic/archive.asp?sa=on) . The PIC concluded that work on the military aspects of Dayton (e.g. demobilisation and separation of forces) could be conducted through existing structures, such as NATO. But the civilian elements of Dayton, including the introduction of a new constitution and the holding of elections, required the creation of new administrative machinery. Hence, a 'High Representative', working through the Office of the High Representative (OHR) (http://www.ohr.int/) , an ad hoc international institution, was appointed to lead and co-ordinate the civilian implementation programme. The UK is an active member of the PIC Steering Board, which provides the High Representative, currently Valentin Inzko, with political guidance.

The European Union

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a potential candidate country for EU accession following the Thessaloniki European Council of June 2003, at which the European Council made a commitment to the European perspective of all the countries of the Western Balkans region. The EU pledged to support those countries as they moved towards EU integration, and on 16 June 2008, Bosnia and Herzegovina signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union. Although this has now been ratified by all 27 EU Member States, it has not yet been brought into force as Bosnia and Herzegovina has yet to comply with the legally binding ‘Sejdić and Finci' Judgment, which ruled that Bosnia and Herzegovina's constitution did not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. In September 2011, the European Union strengthened its presence in the country, and appointed Peter Sørensen as EU Special Representative (EUSR) (http://www.delbih.ec.europa.eu/Default.aspx?id=0〈=EN) to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following the eventual closure of the OHR, the EUSR will play the lead co-ordinating role for the International Community in BiH.

On 2 December 2004 the European Union launched an EU-led military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) - Operation EUFOR ALTHEA (http://www.euforbih.org/) , as part of the Common Security and Defence Policy in support to BiH. The United Nations Security Council authorized EUFOR ALTHEA as a legal successor to SFOR, the previous NATO led operation. Operation ALTHEA’s job is to provide a military presence in order to contribute to the safe and secure environment, deny conditions for a resumption of violence, and manage any residual aspect of the Dayton Agreement. Additionally, EUFOR is tasked to support the Armed Forces of BiH in the areas of capacity-building and training. UN Security Council Resolution 2019 (2011) extended the mandate of EUFOR ALTHEA until November 2012.

The European Union Police Mission (EUPM) (http://www.eupm.org/Default.aspx) , which took over from the UN International Task Force (originally tasked with supporting the establishment of an apolitical, effective Bosnian police force), supports law enforcement agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina to fight against organised crime and corruption, whilst still retaining residual capacities in the fields of police reform and accountability. It also provides operational advice to the High Representative. The current EUPM structure will transition to a strategic Rule of Law section in the EU Special Representative’s office during 2012.

NATO

In 2005, agreement was reached on a package of defence reforms that would establish a NATO-compatible single military force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Presidency approved detailed proposals for the new Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 5 July 2006, which enabled BiH to begin the process of forming this force.

In 2006, Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with Montenegro and Serbia, was invited to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council at the Riga Summit of NATO Heads of State and Government. This was an important step on the path to closer integration with NATO and sought to promote defence reform, increase stability, diminish threats to peace and build a strengthened security relationship between Bosnia and Herzegovina and NATO.

At the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting held on 22 April 2010 in Tallinn, a decision was adopted granting Membership Action Plan (MAP) status to Bosnia and Herzegovina subject to one condition; the first Annual National Programme under the MAP will only be accepted when all issues concerning immovable defence property have been resolved.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member on 1 January 2010, for a period of two years. In January 2011, Bosnia and Herzegovina held the Presidency of the UNSC. The key theme of their Presidency was ‘Post-Conflict Institution Building’.

Relations with the United Kingdom

Diplomatic Representation

The United Kingdom established diplomatic relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, and currently has an Embassy in Sarajevo (http://www.fco.gov.uk/content/en/contact/europe/sarajevo-pst00044) and an Embassy Office in Banja Luka (http://www.fco.gov.uk/content/en/contact/europe/banja-luka-pst00608) . Her Majesty's Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina is Mr Nigel Casey, MVO.

Bosnia and Herzegovina maintains an Embassy in the United Kingdom at:
5-7 Lexham Gardens, London, W8 5JJ
Telephone: +44 (0)207 373 0867
Fax: +44 (0)207 373 0871
Email: embassy@bhembassy.co.uk (embassy@bhembassy.co.uk)
Website: http://www.bhembassy.co.uk/ (http://www.bhembassy.co.uk/)

Cultural Representation

The British Council has been operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1996 as the UK’s principal international cultural relations agency. It is based in Sarajevo with English language centres around the country. Further information can be found on the British Council website (http://www.britishcouncil.ba/).

There are approximately 7000 Bosnians resident in the UK, and the Bosnian Institute holds regular lectures and seminars on Bosnian cultural issues. The Bosnian Institute can be contacted at:
The Bosnian Institute, PO Box 58835, London, SE15 6XL
Email: info@bosnia.org.uk (info@bosnia.org.uk)
Website: http://www.bosnia.org.uk/ (http://www.bosnia.org.uk/)

Recent Visits

Inward
-- 02 February 2012: The Minister for Europe, David Lidington, met with High Representative Valentin Inzko, in London.
-- 02 July 2011: BiH Foreign Minister, Sven Alkalaj, visited London where he met the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and discussed BiH’s EU perspective and reform priorities.
-- 17 February 2011: The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, met with High Representative to BiH, Valentin Inzko in London.

Outward

-- 11 July 2011: Baroness Warsi, Minister without Portfolio, represented HMG at the anniversary commemoration of the Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina
-- 07-08 June 2011: The Minister for Europe, David Lidington, visited Bosnia and Herzegovina. He met with a range of people, including the newly appointed House of Representatives Collegium, the members of the Joint Presidency, and High Representative Valentin Inzko
-- 11 July 2010: Baroness Warsi, Minister without Portfolio, attended the Srebrenica Commemoration Ceremony in Bosnia and Herzegovina to mark the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide.
-- 02 June 2010: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, visited Sarajevo to attend the Sarajevo Conference. He met with Foreign Ministers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia and expressed his strong support for the EU perspective of all the countries of the Western Balkans.

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GEOGRAPHY

BiH has borders with Serbia to the East, Montenegro to the South East and Croatia to the North and West. It also has a 20 kilometre coastline on the Adriatic Sea, near Neum. Its landscape varies from high altitude central mountains to arable land in the north and Mediterranean vineyards in the south, with most of the major towns being located in valleys. Climatically, Bosnian summers last from May to September and are warm and humid whilst winters tend to be foggy and snowy and last from November to February. Autumn and spring are usually short.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Trade and Investment with the UK

Bosnia and Herzegovina is open to foreign investment. It has a national treatment for exporters and a liberal trade regime. Still regarded as a transition economy, Bosnia and Herzegovina nevertheless sees the long-term goal of EU membership as a driver to further economic growth and development.

According to HM Revenue and Customs, UK exports to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2011 amounted to £21 million, mostly comprised of specialist electrical and industrial machinery, manufactured goods, telecoms and sound equipment, building materials and fittings, scientific and office equipment, and chemicals. UK imports from Bosnia and Herzegovina amounted to £13 million. The top imports were metal working products, ores, paper products and furniture.

For further information on doing business in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on UKTI services available in this market please visit the UKTI in Bosnia and Herzegovina website (http://www.ukti.gov.uk/pt_pt/export/countries/europe/southerneurope/bosniaandherzegovina.html?null) .

UK Development Assistance

The UK has provided bilateral aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina totalling more than £80m since 1993. The British Embassy in Sarajevo works proactively with international and local partners to implement a range of development projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We administer several funds that assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in the most challenging areas of the transition process. EU accession related reform is the main focus of our programmes including projects in Justice and Home Affairs, political transparency and good governance.

We also support a number of initiatives through the joint FCO/MOD/DFID Conflict Prevention Pool (CPP). Its objective is to reduce the causes of instability and potential conflict by enhancing the effectiveness of the state and assisting the transformation of the political culture. In addition, around 15% of the money the EU spends in Bosnia and Herzegovina is from the UK.

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POLITICS

Political Structure

The current constitutional structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was created by the Dayton Agreement, which recognised a second tier of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, comprising two Entities - the Republika Srpska (RS), which accounts for 49% of the country’s territory and roughly one third of its population, and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), which is further divided into 10 Cantons, each with its own Cantonal Assembly. Independent of the two entities is Brčko District, a small, self-governing area in north-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina which remains directly under international supervision. The Dayton Agreement also established equal political representation for each of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s three ‘constituent peoples’: Bosnian Croats, Bosniaks and Bosnian Serbs.

At the state level, the Government is traditionally formed by coalition and is headed by a tri-partite rotating Presidency. The Presidency has a member drawn from each of the three constituent peoples, and is primarily responsible for conducting Foreign Policy. It is also responsible for proposing an annual budget to the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for nominating the Chair of the Council of Ministers. The Chair is then responsible for appointing the remaining ministers as appropriate.

The Council of Ministers is responsible for carrying out policies and decisions in the fields of defence, intelligence, foreign policy, foreign trade policy, customs policy, monetary policy, finances of the institutions and for the international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, immigration, refugee, and asylum policy and regulation, international and inter-Entity criminal law enforcement, including relations with Interpol, establishment and operation of common and international communications facilities, regulation of inter-Entity transportation, air traffic control, facilitation of inter-Entity coordination, and other matters as agreed by the Entities

The House of Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina are the two chambers of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH. The House of Representatives of BiH is the lower chamber and consists of 42 members which are elected by party-list proportional representation. 28 members are elected from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 14 from the Republika Srpska. The upper chamber consists of 15 delegates; five Bosniaks and five Bosnian Croats nominated by the Federation House of Peoples, and five Bosnian Serbs nominated by the Republika Srpska National Assembly. Each ethnic group is granted a veto right, under which they can block any proposed legislation by declaring it contrary to their 'vital national interest'.

Below the state level each Entity also has its own government and administration.

Elections

A General Election was held on 3 October 2010 for: The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, The House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, The President and the Vice-President of the Republika Srpska, The National Assembly of the Republika Srpska, The House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the 10 Cantonal Assemblies. For over a year afterwards, parties were unable to reach agreement on the formation of the State-level Government, and as a result the previous Government remained in place in a caretaker capacity. On 28 December 2011, the leaders of the six main political parties (as per the results of the October 2010 General Election) finally reached an agreement on the ethnic and party split of Ministerial posts in a new Government. On 12 January 2012, Vjekoslav Bevanda, the former Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was confirmed by the State Parliament as the new Chair of the Council of Ministers, and on 10 February 2012 the new government was formally sworn in.

Municipal Elections are due to take place in the autumn of 2012, and the next General Election in 2014.
For further information, please consult the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina website: http://www.izbori.ba/ (http://www.izbori.ba/)

Constitutional Reform

On 21 November 2005, Bosnian political leaders signed a commitment to pursue constitutional reform. Constitutional reform remains crucially important for Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to improve the functionality of the country in line with EU requirements, and to bring the constitution into line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in the case of ‘Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina’ on 22 December 2009. The Court found that the ineligibility of some minority groups to stand for election to the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the constitution, was discriminatory. The Court's decision is binding on the Bosnian government.

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HUMAN RIGHTS

War Crimes

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) continues its crucial work pursuing prosecutions against those indicted for War Crimes. Further information can be found on the ICTY website: http://www.icty.org/ (http://www.icty.org/)

On 21 July 2008, Serbian authorities in Belgrade arrested Radovan Karadžić, the former President of the Republika Srpska. He is charged with genocide; crimes against humanity; violations of the laws or customs of war and grave breaches of the Geneva conventions of 1949. Karadžić was transferred to The Hague on the 29 July 2008, and his trial began on 26 October 2009.

On the 26 May 2011, Ratko Mladić, the former Chief of Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska, was arrested by Serbian authorities in the village of Lazarevo, Serbia. He is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and numerous war crimes including responsibility for the 1992-1995 Siege of Sarajevo, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Mladić was extradited to The Hague on the 31 May 2011, and his trial is due to begin on 14 May 2012.
Goran Hadžić, the Tribunal’s last remaining indictee was arrested by Serbian authorities on 20 July 2011.

Srebrenica Memorial

On 31 March 2003, the burial of 580 victims of the Srebrenica genocide took place in the purpose-built Potočari Cemetery outside Srebrenica. This was the first stage in the establishment of a larger memorial that aims to provide solace for the victims' families and increase awareness of the genocide that took place at Srebrenica, in which at least 8,000 people were killed. In July 2005, the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, and other senior figures from the International Community and the region, attended commemorations to mark the tenth anniversary of the massacre. In 2011, Baroness Warsi represented the British Government at the commemorations, and the Prime Minister made a statement (http://ukinbih.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=News&id=629613682) expressing his deep sympathy for the victims and their families.

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Last Updated: March 2012

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