Bosnia: Ethno-Religious Nationalisms in Conflict
Conflict Resolution and Secondary PTSD
1. The area has for centuries been comprised of long-suppressed religious and ethnic differences. Yugoslavia had always been made up of rival ethnic and cultural groups. Historically made up of Catholic Croats, Orthodox Serbs, and Muslim Bosniaks. In addition to cultural and religious differences, the area is strategic in accessing the Mediterranean, and has always been a flashpoint between the Ottoman Empire and the Hapsburg Empire.
They were united for a time after World War One and the Kingdom of the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes was renamed Yugoslavia. German occupation in World War Two devastated the country. Josip Broz Tito was able to mount a successful resistance to the Nazis and, after the war, established a new, federal, and socialist Yugoslavia. After his death in 1980 the country was no longer in the grip of a forceful, charismatic leader and “some argue that the 1990s were … the resolution of the ‘unfinished business’ of World War Two.”
Yugoslavia’s republics began vying for independence in the 1980s. Slovenia seceded, then Croatia and Bosnia. The former Yugoslavia renamed itself the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under the leadership of Slobodan Milošević. Croatia and Serbia settled into a cold war and Bosnia continued a multi-sided war until The Dayton Peace Accords led by the United States were signed in 1995.
2. Religious differences were a key element of the Balkan wars of the early 1990s. The dissolution of the Soviet Union was even described as a “victory of God” by Pope John Paul II. As previously noted Catholic Croats, Orthodox Serbs, and Muslim Bosniaks make up the majority of ethno-religious identities in the region. Yet religion itself had less to do with the violence as did the historical myths and cultural symbols associated with religion. Cultural symbols and religious shrines became important rallying points for the...
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