The Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia (Bosnian: Autonomna Pokrajina Zapadna Bosna), or Western Bosnia, was a small unrecognised state that existed in the northwest of Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1993 and 1995. It consisted of the town of Velika Kladuša, its capital, as well as a few nearby villages. It was proclaimed as a result of secessionist politics by Fikret Abdić against the central government of Alija Izetbegovic during the Bosnian War. For a short time in 1995, it was known as the Republic of Western Bosnia.
Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia
Autonomna Pokrajina Zapadna Bosna
|Historical era||Bosnian War and Yugoslav Wars|
• Autonomy declared
|27 September 1993|
|18 March 1994|
|7 August 1995|
|14 December 1995|
|Currency||German Mark, US Dollar, French Franc, Pound Sterling, possibly Yugoslav Dinar as well.|
|Today part of||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
In 1993, according to journalist Anthony Loyd, Abdić decided to try to carve out a little state for himself and succeeded in recruiting enough followers to make his dreams a reality. Abdić was able to hold power over his mini-state by using cult-like propaganda techniques over his followers and Serbian arms and military training. "Talking to his autonomist followers was much the same as speaking with cult converts anywhere in the world: a wooden dead-end dialogue hallmarked by the absence of individual rationale and logic."
The economy of Western Bosnia was largely reliant on the Agrokomerc company of Velika Kladuša.
The Autonomous Province cooperated with Serbia as well as Croatia against the Bosnian government in light of the Milošević–Tuđman Karađorđevo meeting that is believed to have been meant to partition Bosnia and Herzegovina between Croatia and Serbia. Abdić's role in undermining the rival authority in Sarajevo was awarded by the governments of Croatia and FR Yugoslavia (Serbia). Agrokomerc was granted a custom-free trade zone in the Croatian port of Rijeka and free trade with Serbian-controlled territories. Trade between Western Bosnia and Croatia occurred during the Bosnian War.
In 1994, Franjo Tuđman changed his policies towards Bosnia after diplomatic pressure from the United States and the UN Security Council. The Washington Agreement was signed in March 1994. The situation became very unfavourable to the future of Western Bosnia, as Fikret Abdić could no longer count on financial or military help by one of his protectors.
It was militarily defeated during Operation Tiger in June and August 1994, when the territory of Western Bosnia was seized by the Bosnian government troops. However, they were expelled later that year with the significant help of the Serbs in Operation Spider, and the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia was re-established.
The province declared itself the independent Republic of Western Bosnia (Bosnian: Republika Zapadna Bosna, Република Западна Босна) on 26 July 1995.
In August 1995, Operation Storm made it serve as the last line of defense of the Republic of Serbian Krajina in Croatia. The Republic of Western Bosnia was wiped out completely during the joint Croatian-Bosnian government army action on 7 August 1995.
Western Bosnia's territory was incorporated into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, within the present-day Una-Sana Canton. Fikret Abdić, who maintained friendly relations with Croatian President Franjo Tuđman, had acquired Croatian citizenship and lived in Croatia in exile.
After the death of Tuđman in December 1999 and the defeat of the Croatian Democratic Union in the Croatian elections of 2000, Abdić was eventually arrested and convicted for war crimes against civilian Bosniaks loyal to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The trial took place in Croatia, where Abdić was condemned to 20 years in prison in 2002. On 9 March 2012, he was released after he had served two thirds of his reduced sentence. In 2016, the citizens of Velika Kladusa elected Abdić mayor.
- "1994/01/23 19:33 if You Can't Beat Them - Join Them".
- Dawisha, Karen; Parrott, Bruce (1997-06-13). Politics, Power and the Struggle for Democracy in South-East Europe. Cambridge University Press. pp. 132–137. ISBN 9780521597333.
- Loyd, Anthony (1 February 2001). My War Gone By, I Miss It So. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-029854-1.
- Radan, Peter (2002). The break-up of Yugoslavia and international law. Routledge. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-415-25352-9.)
- "Bosnian Warlord Freed From Croatian Jail After Serving War-Crimes Sentence". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 9 March 2012.
- "Warâ€™s legacy and looming elections shape Bosniaâ€™s response to migrants". www.irishtimes.com. Retrieved 2019-01-24.