Doctrine and Ideology of “Russian World” in Bosnia, But Not by Russia


15.04.22. – 2

Doctrine and Ideology of “Russian World” in Bosnia, But Not by Russia

               Ethnocentrism and great-state nationalism are the doctrine and ideology of the “Russian World” (“Russkiy Mir”) as a specific model that has engendered tragic consequences in Ukraine.  The Russian expansionist doctrine and ideology under the name “Russian World,” are basically identical to the political policy and ideology of the “Serbian World” or the “Croatian World,” or for that matter other great-state nationalist projects.  These are merely variations of the same general doctrine and ideology that differ only in respect to the name of the specific nation state that is engaging in ethnocentrism.

            This was the ethnic model used in Ukraine in forming the so-called Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk following the annexation of Crimea.  It was this same ethnic principle during the war in Bosnia (1992-1995) when Serbia established Republika Srpska while Croatia set up the co-called Croatian community of “Herceg-Bosna.”  These areas were ethnically cleansed with the objective of eventually incorporating them into the so-called “mother states” – Serbia and Croatia, respectively.  The ideological model of Russia’s relationship with Ukraine is similar to Serbia’s and Croatia’s relationship with Bosnia and Herzegovina.  For Russia, Ukraine is not a state with its own citizens.  Similarly, for Serbia and Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a state with its own citizens, but rather an association of so-called constituent peoples.

            The President of Croatia has declared that Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be a state of citizens with equal rights, but rather a state of three ethnic communities, so-called constituent peoples, based on a model imposed by warfare, genocide and Joint Criminal Enterprises.  [“Joint Criminal Enterprise” is the term used in official determinations about Bosnia of the ICTY – International Criminal Tribune for the Former Yugoslavia – in The Hague in 2013 and confirmed by the ICTY in 2017.]  In this sense, Serbia and Croatia negate the national identity and political sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Their partner is not the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but rather the Serbian or Croatian ethnic community within Bosnia and Herzegovina.  That has been the problem posed by the ethnocentric and ethnonationalist approach to Bosnia, and it remains the problem to this day.

            Gabriel Escobar, U.S. envoy for the Western Balkans, has expressed the opinion that Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be a civil society until it becomes a member of the European Union, but this cannot in any case happen under the existing discriminatory political system as defined in Annex 4 of the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, neither of which envision full democracy.

            Why cannot Bosnia develop its own political system on the civil principles of liberal democracy like all current member states of the European Union?  It is as if a new embargo, this time against civil standards and democracy, has been imposed on Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Today in Bosnia we are witnessing a retrograde political and diplomatic strengthening of ethnic divisions, this allegedly being an easier political solution than the establishment of a civil society based on full democracy.  But it is an entirely misguided approach to emphasize ethnic separation within the Federation entity between the Croat and Bosnjak ethnic communities and on this basis to foster a political dialogue concerning limited modifications of the Constitution and of the electoral legislation for Bosnia.  We hear demagogical declarations about alleged democracy through the defending of ethnopolitical “legitimate rights” of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  But this is political manipulation with the purpose of ceding parts of Bosnia’s sovereignty to Zagreb and Belgrade, or to Croatia and Serbia, respectively.

            When it comes to achieving the legitimate democratic rights of all citizens including Croats in the Federation entity, the doctrine and ideology of the “Croatian World” in Bosnia in fact present us with a solution that is the very antithesis of democracy.  The real purveyor of this is the government in neighboring Croatia, which is attempting to achieve its goals through the ethnic community of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The Republic of Croatia, as a member of the European Union, is presenting its hegemonic ideology toward Bosnia through EU institutions and is endeavoring to draw the U.S. into this project.  Under pressure from neighboring Croatia, there are attempts to change the Constitution and the electoral legislation of Bosnia through limited modifications to both on the basis of the doctrine and ideology of the “Russian World.”  This would make the country even more dysfunctional and even more beholden to the interests of Croatia.  These changes to the electoral law would introduce an even greater territorial division into the electorate of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  This, in turn, would not be in harmony with European values and standards, nor with the practice of democratic elections.  Such an “electoral model” would introduce an eventual political inequality of citizens whereby one person’s vote in one area or district would be equated to at least five or six times the voting power of another person living in another area or district, but all in the same country.

            The Russian model of the “Croatian World” and the “Serbian World” is not being advocated by Russia in Bosnia and Herzegovina, rather it is being presented through unprincipled policies supported by certain political forces in the European Union and in the U.S.  And all of this is happening during the struggle against the Russian invasion of Ukraine which itself was based on the model of the “Russian World.”


Summary of Session of 10 April 2022

The presenter at this session was Prof. Dr. Enver Halilovic,  former Bosnian Ambassador to the Russian Federation and former Rector of the University of Tuzla (Bosnia). He is the author of numerous books and articles on Russian politics.

Adil Kulenović,  President

Association of Independent Intellectuals – Circle 99 (BOSN. – Krug 99) a leading Bosnian think-tank was established in Sarajevo in 1993, in the midst of the Bosnian war (1992-1995), while the capital was under siege.

Circle 99 provides a platform to bring together intellectuals of various professional and ethnic identities; university professors, members of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and other prominent figures from Bosnia and from abroad.

Multidisciplinary discussions and initiatives are held each Sunday throughout the academic year, in the form of regular sessions about politics, science, education, culture, economy, and other societal issues. The overall goal is to sensitise the public towards a democratic transformation, achieving and maintaining peace, and integration of modern Bosnia into the community of countries fostering liberal democracy.


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