In 1991, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke apart, sparking a series of conflicts. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats fought to break away and unite with Serbia and Croatia respectively.

In 1995, a peace agreement was negotiated that saw the Bosnian Serbs reintegrate their self-proclaimed entity, Republika Srpska, into the Bosnian state – albeit with a high degree of autonomy.

At first, this reintegration appeared to be making progress. However, over the past decade this has been reversed. Much needed constitutional reforms have failed and political relations have broken down between the communities.

Meanwhile, senior members of the Bosnian Serb leadership have repeatedly and increasingly suggested that Republika Srpska might try to break away and either form an independent state or unite with neighboring Serbia.

In reality, it seems hard to see how either could happen. Secession is explicitly ruled out under the terms of the 1995 peace agreement and Bosnia’s territorial integrity has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the UN Security Council.

Nevertheless, threats of secession remain a source of genuine concern. Many feel that there’s a real possibility of a return to conflict if the situation is not managed carefully.

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