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Bosnia and Herzegovina Defence and Security Report 2013

Bosnia-Herzegovina defence market: New market research published

Bosnia & Herzegovina spent most of 2011 in turmoil after an inconclusive general election result in October 2010 left the countrys political leaders squabbling over how best to form a coalition for the best part of 14 months, only resolving the issue in late December 2011 and electing a new government in February 2012. The political parties representing the countrys three ethnic groups - Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats - agreed to share power and distribute ministerial posts fairly among themselves, with Vjekoslav Bevanda of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) appointed Prime Minister and the presidency rotating between the parties every eight months (in accordance with the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord).

However, cracks began to emerge in 2012, not least in the form of infighting between the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) over the right to represent the countrys Muslim population. Their infighting and the SDAs refusal to vote for the 2012 state budget culminated in parliament voting to remove Deputy Finance Minister Fuad Kasumovic, Security Minister Sadik Ahmetovic and Defence Minister Muhamed Ibrahimovic as punishment in mid-October 2012 and could ultimately lead HDZ, the countrys leading Croat party, to assume the SDAs position in the ruling coalition. Bosnia suddenly seems no further forward in its quest for political harmony than it was when the polls first closed in 2010. Its hopes of following other former Yugoslavian states into the EU seem even more remote.

The Bosnian government was about to begin debating Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodiks controversial proposal that the country abolish its armed forces altogether at the time of writing in late October 2012. Bosnia & Herzegovina has a bulky military machine that spends too much money and doesnt give any results, Dodiks original proposal stated. The motion is set to be supported in parliament by the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats. Its president, Zeijko Mirjanic argues that Bosnia & Herzegovina does not currently need an army because of the ongoing presence of NATO soldiers in the territory and the legal obligation placed on neighbouring Croatia and Serbia to keep the peace following the horrific war of 1992-95. Mirjanic suggested that the expense involved in maintaining armed forces could be better used by investing it in the countrys recovering economy - still at risk from the knock-on effects of the eurozones sovereign debt crisis. Bosnia only formed a unified military in 2006 and opponent Safet Halilovic said he felt the initiative was unlikely to win support.

Assuming Bosnia & Herzegovina does retain its military and its central government manages to stay together, we anticipate defence spending of US$185.67mn in 2013, a 9.5% decline on the US$205.15mn spent in 2012, which in itself marked a decrease of 12.3% on 2011s US$233.93mn. This will account for just 0.93% of the countrys GDP. Bosnia and Herzegovinas military currently consists of around 15,000 active troops, 5,000 reserve troops and 1,000 civilian staff. From its population of 3.75mn, Bosnia has 1.8mn men and women aged between 16 and 49 theoretically available to serve in its armed, approximately 48.86%. While the country had 60,000 NATO and EUFOR peacekeeping troops in place in 1995, this has since been reduced to 1,200.

The war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at The Hague is still ongoing and continuing to capture the attention of the worlds media. Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after 13 years as a fugitive and stands accused of 10 counts of genocide, including orchestrating the notorious massacre of 7,000 Bosniaks at Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo in which 12,000 civilians were killed.

Karadzic has denied the charges and made headlines by insisting that he is a mild and tolerant man who should instead be acclaimed for reducing suffering. Meanwhile fellow Bosnian Serb excommander Ratko Mladic faces 11 charges of war crimes carried out during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. Video footage of local people panicking in a UN compound outside Srebrenica on July 11 1995 as Bosnian Serb forces approached was shown in the court on May 17 2012.

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