January 29, 1996 Vreme News Digest Agency No 225

A Divided Bosnia

The Poor and the Raw Materials

by Aleksandar Ciric (maps by Aleksandar Ciric)

What came to belong to whom of the industrial capacities, mine resources, power stations, forests, plowed fields...

Until they were forced to authorize Slobodan Milosevic as their representative in front of the world, the furthest that the leaders of the Bosnian Serbs got to during negotiations on the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina were unclear hints on the "exchange of quantity for quality". Now it's all a part of the far past, and the counting of the "received" or "seized by knife" neither consoles nor encourages anyone regarding the future.

The estimates of the value of what has remained on the territory of the Bosnian-Croat Federation that is of the Serb Republic (RS) are based on the condition they were in prior to the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B-H), in April 1992. However, the reality is changed in the measure that allows us to talk of the former and Dayton separation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as of two worlds. Primarily and at most with regards to the population; according to the estimates of the B-H government, around 2.5 million people - almost 60 percent of the pre-war 4.3 million citizens of B-H - are now either refugees or homeless people. There is no precise data on the number of those who had left B-H; figures are mentioned in the span of one to two million people. In the case of Sarajevo, that means that the population of around 470 from the pre-war period is reduced to 350 thousand people. Realists believe that estimate is too optimistic. In Sarajevo it is estimated that on the territory of the Federation close to 2.5 million people now live, and on the territory of Bosnian Serbs (RS) around 900 thousand, which makes the density of population less than the one prior to 1991, especially on the Bosnian Serb territory (according to the census of 1991, the present RS territory was inhabited by around 1.3 million people).

Those who had left B-H not wishing to take part in the bloody division of historical, national, ownership, religious and other "rights", are richer, highly educated people as well as the younger part of the pre-war population. Since the international refugee statistics have been kept, it has not been noted that on a certain evacuated territory more than 35-36 percent of the refugees had returned even in conditions far superior to those that exist in Bosnia and Herzegovina today or in the near future. Which means that the return of the qualified can not be counted on, regardless of loud announcements made by what we call the international community.

After this war, it is obvious - and in a certain sense understandable - that there is a lack of any mass enthusiasm for the restoration and reconstruction as was carried out from 1945 until the sixties.

A good part of the reasons for it are visible by merely glancing at the map of the "Dayton" B-H. Finally, as Dr Refik Secibovic says, assistant professor at the School of Economics in Belgrade, "we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina is in essence divided into three, and not two parts". The Bosnian part of the Federation, on whose territory three out of five pre-war industrial centers are located (Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica) is confined traffic-wise to the north, by the "Serbian" corridor, and to the south, by a closed access to the "Croatian" sea. Dr Secibovic reminds us of the fact that the decision on the B-H independence of 1992 was political and that in the meantime it wasn't even declaratively supplemented by some kind of economic determination; the acceptance of the Kuna in Herzeg-Bosnia and the "Serbian" Dinar in RS in that sense are as important as all the signatures on the Dayton papers.

"Banja Luka and Tuzla are, to my knowledge, in the best position as far as preserved pre-war industrial capacities are concerned", says Dr Secibovic. "However, we shouldn't forget that that industry, even before the collapse of Yugoslavia, was out-dated and that, if it is put into operation again, it is unclear how it will function, since it was constructed in proportion to the overall Yugoslav market of the time." Sarajevo and Mostar as industrial centers (Map 1) have met with the worst devastation, while Zenica has remained almost completely devoid of the Serb and Croat population and, proportionally, qualified employees and part of the expert technical personnel. Mostar, on top of that, has been thoroughly robbed; the former military airplane industry, as from a long time ago, does not exist there anymore, just like numerous car industry plants from Sarajevo's vicinity.

During the Dayton negotiations, journalists of Sarajevo's independent newspaper Slobodna Bosna have looked into the question of "gains" in the separation to a Bosnian-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic. It turned out that on the RS territory almost two thirds of all iron deposits are located, while all plants for its production and processing are on the Federation territory. As far as bauxite is concerned, three fourths of the deposits are on RS territory, while the center for its processing is (or was) in Mostar (Map 2). Lead, zinc and salt are on the territory of the Federation, as three fourths of the coal deposits are. However, almost all pits of peat, essential for the operation of the thermal power plants in the Federation, are located in RS. Forests (Map3) and wood processing are divided almost half-half, yet the larger part of the more advanced plants of the wood industry are on the territory of the Federation.

The greatest discrepancy to the benefit of the RS is visible in agriculture and food manufacturing. All agricultural land, which was always deficient in B-H (56.8 percent of the complete territory lies on over 500 meters above sea level), has found itself on RS territory (Map 4). Before the war Bosnia and Herzegovina produced only 37 percent of the food needed; all else came from other parts of Yugoslavia or was imported. That problem is now incomparably bigger, since practically all the population of the Federation depends upon foreign food imports.

A fundamentally meager transportation infrastructure (barely more than 1000 km of railroad tracks and roads which in a boastful way went by the names of highways) was divided almost in half by the Federation and RS. Alongside that, a somewhat larger part of the tracks (55 percent) and roads is located on the territory of the Federation. The traffic isolation of eastern Herzegovina from the rest of RS and the Yugoslav hinterland has practically turned it into a blind alley (Map 5). Two thirds of electric power in pre-war B-H was produced by steam power stations; the larger part is located on the territory of the Federation. Banja Luka is, as the sole urban area of RS and the industrial, cultural and educational center in an especially difficult position as the largest consumer of electric power, and without their own sources (power stations in Jajce and Bocac are under the control of the Bosnian Croats). The unpredictable fate of the Corridor, the nonexistence of a serious network of long-distance power lines and, finally, the electric power situation in the "mother country" Serbia makes the position of Banja Luka even more unpleasant (Map 6). Although, "in the possession" of the left bank of Drina, RS even in a more long term period isn't in a much better situation because of its hydroelectric potentials. Even former Yugoslavia didn't have enough funds to construct a complete power system on the Drina; it is difficult to believe that united Belgrade and Pale could prove to be mightier investors. Buildings of the textile, chemical, pharmaceutical and leather industry are in most cases situated on the Federation territory. Still, the conclusion of the colleagues from Slobodna Bosna can hardly be called optimistic; while a united B-H shows growth possibilities, especially by economically associating with former Yugoslav republics, divided it "doesn't look as though it is economically maintainable".