Half a World Away

For reasons that even I’m not entirely sure of, I found myself wondering this evening (after a long and distinctly unpleasant day) what the current international status was of Kosovo. (In other words, which countries recognize it as an independent country and which to not.) It turns out that it’s barely changed at all in the past year (only seven additional countries, bringing the tally up to 71).

What struck me, though, was in reading about the countries that don’t recognize Kosovo, was this factoid under the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s entry:

On 21 February 2008, Republika Srpska, one of the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, adopted a resolution through which it denounced and refused to recognise the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo from Serbia. In addition, the parliament adopted a resolution stating that in the event that a majority of EU and UN states recognise Kosovo’s independence, Republika Srpska would cite the Kosovo secession as a precedent and move to hold a referendum on its own constitutional status within Bosnia and Herzegovina.

(A later paragraph also mentioned that Republika Srpska would quite possibly then announce it was joining Serbia.)

I’ve been interested in the political makeup of Bosnia and Herzegovina ever since reading Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde, and it’s always a little distressing to read about things not working well in the careful balance between Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the other half of the country composed of the Bosniak and Croat populations, versus the Serb population of Srpska).

And honestly, it’s been on my mind a bit after reading China Mieville’s The City & the City, with its twin cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma, which are as intertwined and hating of one another as the two halves of Bosnia these days. It makes me wonder what would happen if Srpska did end up breaking away. Would they try and take their half of Sarajevo with them, or instead give it up and shift their capitol to Banja Luka? And what happens to the Brcko District, a part of the country to the north that is administered by both halves of the country while simultaneously holding some autonomy? (The crazy thing is that Brcko is probably the most peaceful and integrated part of the country. Go figure.)

No easy answers, or even answers at all. There’s a story I read years ago where, in a fictional Eastern European country modeled strongly off of the former Yugoslav countries, the main character notes that blood and hated is soaked into the stones of the country itself. It’s a reference that I think about whenever I read about unrest in this part of the world. A lot of people say they never expect to see peace and an agreement between Israel and Palestine in their lifetime. I certainly feel that it’s partially true about Bosnia and Herzegovina. The war supposedly ended in 1995 but fifteen years later, it just looks like a nasty ticking time bomb. I don’t think we’ve really got peace there at all, just a very long fuse. If war breaks out in Bosnia and Herzegovina again, I’m not sure any of the residents will be able to recover from it a second time.

A cheery Thursday night update, I know.

(This installment of “things Greg spends far too much time thinking/worrying about and also has no control over whatsoever” has been brought to you by the “your day could have always been much worse” foundation. Civil war or pending oral surgery. Hmmm. I guess I’ll take the latter.)

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