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Doing Business in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Overview

Doing Business in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Overview

Doing Business in Bosnia and Herzegovina will consist of 6 consecutive articles to provide a general guide only on the subject matter. The key purpose of this guide series is to assist international entrepreneurs and other parties interested in doing business in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As it does not exhaustively cover the subject yet is intended as a synopsis of some of the important initial issues of concern for those planning to do business in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Burak Alan lived for 5 years between 2010-15 and got the bachelor’s degree at International University of Sarajevo. Besides, he obtained his master degree at Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.

Imagine a country with its “East-meets-West” atmosphere coming from blended Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires in the European continent. Yes, I am talking about Bosnia and Herzegovina. A small country that is located in Southeastern Europe. The capital is Sarajevo which is the largest city. The country gained its independence after the fall of Yugoslavia 26 years ago in 1992 – holding an independence referendum. In other words, the country emerged from the carcass of Yugoslavia so to speak. Only two days after declaring the result of the referendum, things did not go well immediately for Bosnia.

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The appalling Bosnian War occurred between 1992-95 in which human rights abuses and, most frightening the genocide took place in the center of Europe especially, just in front of the eyes of the United Nations. Having said that, it is known as “The Siege of Sarajevo” which was the siege of the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and as well as the longest of a capital in the modern history (1.425 days). I think this must be more than enough for us to understand how devastating it was for humanity and, also for the people who experienced the bloody scene.

On 14 December 1995, the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed between Bosnian Croatian and Serbian leaders in Paris, France. The main purpose of this agreement was to stop the war and promote peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yes, the Dayton Agreement did stop the war but, at the same time, it has brought a complex political system into the country that, even today, it is being discussed. Bosnia and Herzegovina comprise two autonomous entities: The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, as well as with a third region, the Brčko District, which is governed under the local government.

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However, there is a three-member Presidency constituted of a member of each major ethnic group. Above that, there is the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR) whose purpose is to oversee the civilian implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Think about having a “high” international civilian representative above the “president”, who has the authority to dismiss elected and nonelected officials and enact legislation in your country.

If you are complaining about the political system or the complex bureaucratic procedures of your country, you better think twice because the Bosnian political system and its bureaucracy are the most complex system existing in the world!

As you can see, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself indeed is a complex and consists of 10 cantons. The country has been a candidate for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and is a potential candidate for membership to the European Union. When we talk about the education or specifically, university life in Bosnia mostly, in Sarajevo, I could say that since the early 2000s besides the state universities, the number of the private universities have gone up. With the help of foundations or initiatives, universities, education centers started being established in the heart of the Balkans.



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