Ethnic divisions threaten Bosnia again as Prime Minister quits over 'interference'

The Prime Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina resigned yesterday, claiming that interference from the international community had made his job impossible. The exit of Nikola Spiric, a Bosnian Serb, plunged the ethnically divided state into its worst crisis since the war ended in 1995. "For 12 years, foreigners have run this country and this is not good," Mr Spiric said. "I resign and this is the only right decision."

Mr Spiric's departure comes after Miroslav Lajcak, the High Representative to Bosnia appointed by the United Nations and the European Union, introduced measures aimed at improving the efficiency of Bosnia's government. Mr Lajcak, a Slovak diplomat, reduced the number of ministers needed to be present to pass laws, preventing any one ethnic group from creating a deadlock by walking out. He called Mr Spiric's resignation "too emotional" and "completely irresponsible".

The arrival of Mr Lajcak was intended to help Bosnia achieve its long-term goal of joining the EU by speeding up the decision-making process in the country's often fractious central government. Instead of consensus, Mr Lajcak introduced the simple majority principle, which was fiercely opposed by Bosnian Serbs. They fear they will lose influence to the country's other ethnic groups and their semi-autonomous mini-state within Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The crippling legislative system was established in 1995 by the Dayton Peace accord, which ended three years of war between the Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs in Bosnia. The agreement divided the country into two mini-states – a Bosnian-Croat Federation and a Serb Republic – each with their own police, judiciary, parliaments and governments. In an attempt to unite the two factions into one state, centralised institutions and a rotating, three-person presidency were grafted on top. However, deep ethnic rivalries have impeded the work of central government ever since and no international effort has been able to glue the country together.

Critics say one key reason for this is that the war ended without a clear winner or loser, and the Dayton accord served only to cement the ethnic divisions which were so brutally apparent during the war. Multi-ethnic cities turned into mono-ethnic ones, as their populations moved to parts of Bosnia where one ethnic group dominated, taking their hatred and intolerance with them. The two mini-states have separate education systems, the country remains poor and economic recovery has been slow because of the persistent divisions. Full integration is fiercely opposed by the Bosnian Serbs, who look to Belgrade as their capital, rather than Sarajevo.

On Wednesday, Mr Lajcak's reforms won support from the steering board of Bosnia's Peace Implementation Council, which comprises more than 40 countries and overseas organisations and oversees the conditions of the peace agreement. However, his decisions were criticised by the nationalist government of the Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, who described them as another conspiracy against Serbs in the Balkan region, which would lead to independence for Kosovo and the "disappearance" of the Bosnian Serb Republic.

Earlier this week, Bosnian Serb leaders organised protest rallies against Mr Lajcak and appealed to Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, to "help endangered fellow Serbs". They may call a referendum on independence once Kosovo proclaims its autonomy. Analysts say this could destabilise the entire region.

The crisis in Bosnia cannot be solved by new elections. Under the law, the presidency – which alternates between a Bosniak, Serb and Croat leader – has to nominate a candidate for prime minister to be approved by the central parliament. Bosnian Serb MPs are unlikely to support any new candidate, meaning the country will in effect be left without an acting administration.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up