27 years have passed since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the bloody war in Bosnia and Herzegovina of 1992-1995, in which hundreds of thousands of people died. The peace agreement, which succeeded in silencing the weapons in the war that lasted nearly 4 years, but brought one of the most complex political systems in the world to the country, is still under discussion despite all these years. The agreement, which was initialed on November 21, 1995 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, USA, after days of negotiations, was signed on December 14, 1995 in Paris, the capital of France, by the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Alija Izetbegovic, President of Serbia, Slobodan, and signed by Milosevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman.
With the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, an independence referendum was held in Bosnia and Herzegovina on February 29 – March 1, 1992. Bosnia and Herzegovina became an independent country with the victory of those who said “yes” in the referendum, which was boycotted by a large part of the Serbs in the country. The Serbs, who championed the idea of ”Greater Serbia”, started atrocities against non-Serbs in the country with the support of the Yugoslav army. The results of the war, which lasted almost 4 years, were also very heavy. While more than two million people were forced from their homes in the war, more than 300,000 people, mostly civilians, lost their lives. The Muslim Bosniaks, who defended their country against the Croats in the west and south of the country, and the Serbs in the east and north, won important victories against their heavily armed enemies. The Serbs, who set out with the goal of “ethnic cleansing”, carried out major massacres in cities such as Prijedor, Visegrad, Foca, Bijeljina, Zvornik, and Srebrenica. More than 8,000 Bosniak men were brutally murdered in Srebrenica in the east of the country in just a few days, and what happened in Srebrenica was later defined as “genocide” by international courts. And in the capital, Sarajevo, which has been under siege by Serbian forces for 3.5 years and bombed daily, more than 10,000 civilians lost their lives, while great damage was caused to the historical and cultural heritage. The bloody war, in which the largest massacres and destruction occurred in Europe after World War II, ended with the Dayton Peace Agreement.
The fairness of the Dayton Peace Agreement has been debated for years. Bosnian leader Alia said: “This is not a just peace, but it is fairer than the continuation of war. In this situation and in a world like this, no better peace can be achieved.” His remarks reveal the clearest thoughts of the Bosnian community on Dayton.
The deal got me stuck
Although the Dayton Peace Agreement ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it brought a complex structure to the country. Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs were recognized as the “founding peoples of the country” by the agreement. The country consists of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBIH), in which the majority of the population is made up of Croats and Bosniaks, the entities of Republika Srpska (RS), in which the Serb population is concentrated, and the Brčko region with special status. The FBIH entity is also divided into 10 cantons, each with its own government and grouping.
The highest authority in the state is the Presidency Council, which consists of three Bosnian, Serb and Croat members. In general elections held every 4 years, those elected as members alternately serve as “Chairman of the Council” for eight months. The Croat and Bosniak council members are elected by voters who live in the FBIH, and the Serb member by voters who live in Republika Srpska.
He also holds the position of “high representative” in the country. The High Representative, who has broad powers, reserves the right to dismiss all other state officials in the country, including members of the Presidency Council.
In this complex structure caused by Dayton, there are 5 presidents (3 of them are members of the assembly), 13 heads of government and 136 ministers at the cantonal, entity and state levels, and this complex structure often causes confusion among governments.
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