Biden’s Presidency Might Prove to be a Turning Point for Bosnia
Bosnia and Herzegovina has long struggled with both internal and external problems. After a disappointing four years from former President Trump to help improve the Balkan Region, President Biden might prove to finally be a point of hope for the country.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country that is struggling with poverty, huge brain drain, political instability, and corruption. The unsatisfactory state of the country can be largely attributed to its broken political system, which distributes power among competing ethnic groups.
The current state of affairs is the result of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, where the modern-day Bosnian political system was adopted. However, the 1995 Dayton Agreement was created to stop the war, not to create a lasting political solution. The agreement separated the country into two separate political entities, with one entity being ruled jointly by Bosniaks and Croats and the other one by Serbs. The state is therefore organized as a federation of two autonomous entities. In other words, key decisions are taken at the federal level, while the various ethnic groups retain a degree of autonomy.
This system might sound good on paper, but there are huge issues. The respective ethnic parties usually do not agree on much, as ethnic tensions still run high 25 years after the war. These tensions often prevent much-needed political consensus and as a result halt progress. Many Croats and Serbs do not even recognize the Bosnian state, feeling loyalty only to their respective ethnic groups. This feeling is especially high among Bosnian Serbs, who are calling for greater autonomy, and even independence. The Bosnian Serb leader, Milorad Dodik, has spent the past few years undermining Bosnia’s territorial integrity and political stability.
Guaranteeing the stability of the Bosnian state was once one of the key cornerstones of U.S. foreign policy in the region. However, under President Trump, the pivotal role that the U.S. played in the region faded, as the president was more concerned about PR stunts such as the Kosovo-Serbia normalization deal than real policy. Unfortunately, this has been felt in Bosnia, as Bosnian Serbs have become increasingly aggressive in their push for independence.
However, with newly elected President Biden in the White House, it can be expected that the U.S. will now do everything in its might to curb Serbian aspirations. Joe Biden is a person who is very well known in Bosnia, as he was one of the few people in the western world who understood the war in the 1990s as a result of one-sided Serbian aggression, and as such supported direct U.S. involvement in the conflict to stop the aggressors.
His actions have not been forgotten in the country, where he remains a popular figure. As President Biden is a seasoned policy-maker and has quite a deep understanding of the politics and history of the country, many Bosniaks hope that the new president could change the status quo in the country for the better.
Therefore, it can be expected that President Biden will take a much harder stance against Serbian aspirations in the region, pushing for a more centralized Bosnian state, which will hopefully bring more stability to the troubled country. However, President Biden will not magically eradicate corruption, poverty, and instability. It is primarily the task of the Bosnian government and citizenry to do that, as now they have a unique opportunity to finally fix the political system and take steps towards the modernization of the country. With the steadfast support of the new American President, they might be able to do just that.