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A woman walks past election posters in Sarajevo.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Is Bosnia’s stability at stake?

Before Ukraine, the worst conflict in Europe since 1945 was the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina sparked by the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The region’s multiethnic population of Croats, Bosnian Muslims (aka Bosniaks), and Serbs wrestled for control from 1992-1995, when the West finally helped end the fighting, culminating in the Dayton Accords. The deal created a power-sharing peace agreement between the three ethnicities.

Nearly 30 years later, political tensions are rising again – with Bosnian Serbs challenging state institutions and threatening to secede as Croats are vying to gain more political representation – and Bosnia’s economy is struggling, raising the specter of another crisis. Against this backdrop, Bosnia and Herzegovina's voters head to the polls for presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.

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Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik in 2018.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

What We’re Watching: Trouble in Bosnia, China shifts Ukraine tone

Fears rise of new Bosnian conflict. As if one major conflict brewing on Europe’s doorstep wasn’t enough, rising nationalist rhetoric and threats over the possible breakup of Bosnia and Herzegovina are prompting fears of another. Bosnia’s Serb President Milorad Dodik wants to withdraw his Republic Srpska (RS) from key Bosnian institutions, most notably the armed forces, to establish Serb-only government bodies instead. Any such move would violate the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords and could spark another violent conflict in the Balkans. While Dodik — notably a Srebrenica genocide denier — has long threatened to secede, his talk of setting up a separate RS army is what’s causing real alarm. The US has threatened to use sanctions should the Bosnian Serbs secede and formally join Serbia. European foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday to discuss the situation. While many European countries want to impose sanctions, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia — in addition to Russia — are expected to stand behind Dodik.

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Bosnian Serbs Leaving Institutions in Reaction to Genocide Denial Law | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

Bosnian Serbs will boycott government over genocide denial law

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

Well, it's a reaction against a decision that was taken by the outgoing high representative during his very last days, after 12 years of having done very little in this respect, to have a law banning any denial of Srebrenica and other genocides. But this issue goes to very many other aspects of the Bosnian situation. So, it has created a political crisis that will be somewhat difficult to resolve.

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