News / Europe

Turkey: No Time to Waste Fixing Bosnia

Anti-government protesters block Alipasina street holding banner that reads "EU help," Sarajevo, Feb. 11, 2014.
Anti-government protesters block Alipasina street holding banner that reads "EU help," Sarajevo, Feb. 11, 2014.
Regional power Turkey called on Wednesday for urgent political and economic reforms in Bosnia after the worst bout of social unrest in the impoverished Balkan country since its 1992-95 war.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotuglu made his appeal during a visit to Sarajevo as hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets for a second week over unemployment, corruption and political inertia in the former Yugoslav republic.
Some members of the European Union, Bosnia's chief sponsor, have said the protests are a wake-up call after years of political stagnation rooted in a labyrinthine power-sharing system created under a 1995 peace deal.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is expected to visit Sarajevo next week amid calls from some in the 28-nation bloc to accelerate Bosnia's integration.
"Today is the day to act in Bosnia and we must not wait any longer," Davutoglu said.
"Bosnia urgently needs international aid in the form of a new package of political and economic reforms."
Bosnia, whose central government has limited powers, is made up of an autonomous Federation dominated by Muslim Bosniaks and Croats and an autonomous Serb Republic. It has a three-member presidency with a representative from each major ethnic group.
Turkey is particularly influential among the Bosniaks, who are driving the protests. Much of the Balkans, including Bosnia, spent five centuries under Ottoman Turkish rule.
Suspicion and anger
Bosnia's Orthodox Christian Serbs and Roman Catholic Croats often view Turkey's role with suspicion, believing it supports Bosniak hopes for a greater centralization of power in Sarajevo, something they oppose.
Fueled by anger over factory closures in the former industrial hub of Tuzla, protesters last week set fire to government buildings in the city, in Sarajevo and two other towns, fighting with police in an unprecedented outburst of social unrest.
Several hundred people were injured, most of them police.
The violence has subsided and, though persistent, the protests are now small.
The crisis has already brought down four of 10 cantonal administrations in the Bosniak-Croat Federation and protesters are now calling for the resignation of its government.
The turmoil has exposed deep social discontent over the state of the economy, unemployment of more than 27 percent and a broken, unwieldy political system — set down by the 1995 Dayton peace accord — that has served to perpetuate ethnic divisions.
"The Dayton peace agreement was of outmost importance for it helped end the war but it is obvious that it now hampers the functioning of the country," Davutoglu said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague also called on Wednesday for a "renewed effort" by the EU to help Bosnia.
Bakir Izetbegovic, a Bosniak who shares the country's rotating presidency with a Serb and a Croat, said Ashton was expected to come to Sarajevo with EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule. Bosnia hopes eventually to join the EU and NATO.
Trying to harness what has so far been an apparently spontaneous outpouring of anger, informal protest leaders were due on Wednesday to establish a Citizens' Assembly to channel their demands.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Popeye
February 15, 2014 4:50 AM
Hmmm, this is a mostly Bosniak protest, not Serb, not Croat. They want to use chaos to achieve their goals of unified Bosnia under their control. That is the main reason behind these protests, you won't see protests in Republic of Srpska or in cities with Croat majority.
In Response

by: Bob
February 18, 2014 7:58 PM
I agree with Popeye 100%. This is a pure Muslim protest that wants to centralize Bosnia. They have been trying to do this from the moment they tried to leave Bosnia without Serb support in the early 90s before the war started. Hell its the reason the war started. I dont believe that we will have another war on our hands, but they muslims (or Bosniaks, what ever they are called now) need to understand that Rep of Srpska is not going anywhere.
In Response

by: Mel from: UK
February 16, 2014 8:41 PM
Popeye, your statement is so wrong and untrue! People have had enough of false promises, poverty and discrimination. Of course there were protests in predominantly Serb and Croat run areas although not as massive and destructive. Why? They live quite good in comparison.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs