Bosnia-Herzegovina could be on the brink of a political collapse that triggers a new conflagration in the Balkans. There is a growing consensus among experts that this is the country’s most dangerous moment since the 1995 Dayton Accords, which ended a war that cost 100,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people. Analysts also say stability in the Balkans has been eroded recently by the disengagement of the European Union and United States.
“The prospects for further division and conflict are very real,” the international community’s chief representative in Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, wrote in a report to the United Nations that was leaked earlier this month.
Behind the rising tensions is Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who is pushing to withdraw the Republika Srpska—one of the two administrative “entities” established by the Dayton agreement—from Bosnian state institutions. Schmidt and many others see this as tantamount to secession, essentially creating a majority-Serb mini-state, complete with its own army. In a worst-case scenario, this could trigger renewed war, drawing in neighbors and potentially even regional powers like Russia.