The impact of ethnic and religious diversity in the Herzegovina-Neretva canton on the socio-economic situation of inhabitants in 2005-2015

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sport
Address: Poland, Gdansk
Affiliation: University of Gdańsk
Address: Poland, Gdansk
Journal namePskov Journal of Regional Studies
EditionVolume 17. No4 /2021

The break-up of Yugoslavia at the end of the 20th century showed the importance of national and religious diversity for the peaceful existence of the region. The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995) and the peace that followed, showed how difficult it is to coexist in a nationally and religiously divided society. The aim of the analysis is an attempt to show the impact of ethnic and religious diversity and conflict in the area of the Herzegovina-Neretva canton in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the economic situation of its inhabitants in the analyzed period. The research was conducted based on the analysis of existing data, decision-making processes and literature analysis. The undertaken analysis confirmed that the main reasons leading to the political crisis in the studied Herzegovina-Neretva canton include the cultural, ethnic and religious mosaic. The novelty of the research undertaken is the indication of the impact that the conflict had on the economic situation of the inhabitants of the canton and its neighboring regions. Ethnic and religious mosaic and the related conflict led to an increase in unemployment and economic migrations. It had a negative impact on the level of education and contributes to the lack of clear solutions in terms of the competences of many cantonal and government services.

KeywordsBosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, canton, economy, ethnicity, Islam, religion, Catholicism
Publication date05.12.2021
Number of characters20603
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1 Introduction. The break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s revealed the strength of national and religious antagonisms. In all countries, the so-called Socialist bloc social and political changes took place through the Velvet Revolution. Only the changes in the Balkans took their dramatic character [24]. The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina of 19921995 was one of the bloodiest and most difficult to resolve conflicts in Europe after World War II. Importantly, national and religious conflicts still complicate the internal situation and international relations not only in this region [11]. The aim of this work is to show the impact of ethnic-religious diversity / conflict in the area of the Herzegovina-Neretva canton in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was an example of non-cooperation and where this diversity is most visible. The research was conducted based on the analysis of existing data, decision-making processes and literature analysis [6; 15].
2 Among the main reasons leading to the unstable situation in the canton, the most frequently indicated are a mosaic of cultures, nationalities and religions [1]. In the name of their own convictions, the worst crimes were committed against believers of other faiths or people of different origins, while at the same time forming coalitions against their own religious community (the commander of the defence of Sarajevo, during the siege of the city by Serbs, was a Serb of origin). The remnant of the conflict was the creation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a kind of Yugoslavia in miniature. Its area is still inhabited by three main ethnic groups of the former federation, whose members are followers of Islam, Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The multi-ethnicity of this area was expressed, among others, by in the structure of the legislative power, on the one hand fostering antagonism in society, and on the other hand submitting to it.
3 Historical conditions. For centuries, the area of the Herzegovinian-Neretva canton, and in particular the port of Neum, was a contested area between the ruling countries in this area. From the beginning of the 10th century, the territory of the canton was under Croatian rule. This was not prevented by the attempts by Venice to remove the tribute to the kingdom of Dalmatia and Croatia, paid in exchange for the possibility of free navigation in the Croatian waters of the Adriatic Sea. The situation changed after 997, when a civil war broke out between the sons of Držislav — the first king of Croatia and Dalmatia. Venice intervened in this conflict, which, in agreement with the Byzantine emperor, seized the islands and cities along the Adriatic coast, making them dependent on itself [18]. Croatian rule over this territory was re-established by Stephen I. This was favoured by his good relations with Byzantium, which contributed to the fall of southern Italy. The authorities on the territory of the Apennine peninsula were taken over by the Normans, who for decades played an important role in international relations on the Adriatic coast. In the mid-fourteenth century, Stefan Tvrtko the I became a Bosnian ban. By 1390 he conquered all of Croatia south of Velebit and assumed the title of king of “Croatia and Dalmatia, as well as Raška and Przymorze” [13]. Vladislav of Naples joined the fight for the Hungarian crown and influence in Bosnia and Croatia. He landed with his troops in Zadar in 1409 and was crowned king there [7]. However, when he realized that he was unable to win the Hungarian throne, he decided to betray the faithful Croats by selling to Venice such cities as Novigrad, Vrana and Zadar and his alleged rights to rule Dalmatia. By 1420, the Venetians took control of almost the entire territory of the Adriatic coast. Thus, the territory of the canton was ruled by the Republic of Venice, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Croatia and Dalmatia.
4 Due to the expansionist policy of the Ottoman Turks, Bosnia fell in 1463, and Herzegovina fell in 1482 [25]. This was due to a low desire to defend against invasion and a greater fear of the papacy than of the Turkish invasion.
5 The beginnings of the division of the coastal zone of the territory of Herzegovina from the areas currently recognized as Croatian date back to 1699, when the Peace of Karlowice was signed. Under it, the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnicka) gave a piece of its territory (today's Neum) to the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The purpose of this operation was to ensure its safety against possible attacks by the Republic of Venice.
6 In 1875, an uprising broke out on the territory of Herzegovina, which spread to Bosnia within a few months. This uprising was soon supported by the Principality of Montenegro and the Principality of Serbia [10]. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, with the support of the German Empire, took over the political initiative. On April 24, 1877, the troops of the Russian Empire entered Bulgaria, which led to the signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty in 1978. Under it, Bosnia and Herzegovina was granted autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. This de facto situation led to the strengthening of the position of the Russian Empire in the Balkans, which resulted in opposition from other powers. A peace congress has been called in Berlin. Under its provisions, the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina came under the armed occupation of Austria-Hungary, while remaining within the borders of the Turkish Empire [13]. At the end of 1878, the Croatian Sabor petitioned the emperor to join Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia, which was rejected as a result of Hungarian protests. This was the case until 1908, when Bosnia and Herzegovina was finally annexed by Austria-Hungary [26].

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