A Third Entity?: A Federalist Solution for Bosnia and Herzegovina's Constitutional Imbalance

Janko Bekic

The constitutional arrangement of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is an asymmetrical federation comprising 3 constituent peoples - Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, but only 2 territorial entities - The Federation of BiH (FBiH) and the Serb Republic (RS). The discrepancy between the number of Staatsvölker and federal units has been a source of friction between Bosniaks and Croats in the FBiH since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995. Namely, the fact that Bosniaks and Croats have been corralled together in one federal unit, instead of each group having its own, separate autonomy structure. This has led to a number of cases of 'political majorization', i.e. of the larger group electing officials on behalf of the smaller one (as was the case in the election of Željko KomÅ¡ić to the Presidency of BiH). The response of Croat politicians has been the advocacy for constitutional reform, including the creation of a third entity (with a Croat majority), that would eliminate the possibility of gerrymandering in favour of the numerically superior Bosniaks. However, the idea has been rejected by Bosniak political parties, the Office of the High Representative and some foreign governments involved in Bosnian state-building. According to them, the third entity project is a façade for Croat separatism and a step toward the disintegration of Bosnia. The purpose of this paper to examine whether Croat federalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina is in fact a latent separatist political agenda, or rather a middle path between the poles of Bosniak unitarism and Serb separatism. Analysis is drawn from an examination of primary and secondary sources, as well as semi-structured interviews with Croat politicians from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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