Bosnians had a fixed stake in the result of this year’s US presidential election. In the days following November 3 – polling day in the United States – messages of compliments for President-elect Joe Biden poured in from the Balkans.
In Sarajevo, the Bosnian flag and the Stars and Stripes were projected onto the facade of the city’s National Library with the words “Bosnia remembers” and “Unity over division”. It perhaps fits that Biden’s elevation to the presidency falls in the very month that Bosnia and Herzegovina reflect on 25 years of peace.
For many, his election brings into sharp focus Bosnia and Herzegovina’s continued attempts to move ahead from the devastating war which ripped it apart in the early 1990s. Biden, for his part, was one of the strongest supporters of lifting an arms embargo imposed on the warring factions and called for US intervention to end the genocide of Bosnia’s Muslim population when he was a US senator.
The US and NATO intervention that eventually came ultimately led to the Dayton Agreement, brokered at an airbase on American soil in November 1995 under the auspices of President Bill Clinton. While the accords agreed a quarter of a century ago today (Saturday) brought the war and killing to an end, it continues to have a chequered legacy.
What was the Dayton Agreement?
Agreed on November 21, 1995, at an airbase in Dayton, Ohio in the US, the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or the Dayton Agreement or Dayton Accords as it became known, officially brought the Bosnian War to a close.
By the time it was officially signed by the presidents of Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia in Paris weeks later on December 14, over 100,000 people had died in a bitter conflict which saw the first ethnic cleansing in Europe since the Second World War and over two million people uprooted.