Fikret Abdić (born 29 September 1939) is a Bosnian politician and businessman who first rose to prominence in the 1980s for his role in turning the Velika Kladuša-based agriculture company Agrokomerc into one of the biggest conglomerates in SFR Yugoslavia. He won the popular vote in the Bosnian presidential elections of 1990.
|Mayor of Velika Kladuša|
|Assumed office |
8 November 2016
|Preceded by||Edin Behrić|
|President of the Autonomous|
Province of Western Bosnia
27 September 1993 – 7 August 1995
|Prime Minister||Zlatko Jušić|
|Preceded by||Post established|
|Succeeded by||Post abolished|
|1st Muslim Member of Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina|
20 December 1990 – 20 October 1993
Serving with Alija Izetbegović
|Preceded by||Post established|
|Succeeded by||Nijaz Duraković|
|Born||29 September 1939|
Donja Vidovska, Yugoslavia
(now Bosnia and Herzegovina)
|Political party||SKJ (1958–1990)|
LS BiH (2016–present)
|Children||4, including Elvira|
In the early 1990s, during the Bosnian War, Abdić declared his opposition to the official Bosnian government, and established the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, a small and short-lived province in the northwestern corner of Bosnia and Herzegovina composed of the town of Velika Kladuša and nearby villages.
The mini-state existed between 1993 and 1995 and was allied with the Army of Republika Srpska. In 2002 he was convicted on charges of war crimes against Bosniaks loyal to the Bosnian government by a court in Croatia and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, which was later reduced on appeal to 15 years by the Supreme Court of Croatia.
Before the war, Abdić was the director of Agrokomerc, a company based in Velika Kladuša that he raised from a small agricultural cooperative into a modern food combine which employed over 13,000 workers, and which boosted the economy of the entire area.
Agrokomerc transformed Velika Kladuša from a poverty-struck region to a regional powerhouse. Local residents of Velika Kladuša reportedly called him Babo (Dad).
In late 1987, just before the death of Hamdija Pozderac, Raif Dizdarević was about to take over the annual Presidency of Yugoslavia, during which a scandal arose. Abdić found himself imprisoned for alleged financial improprieties, and Hamdija Pozderac resigned. The scandal shook not only the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the whole of Yugoslavia. Another of his controversial moves was erecting a monument to an Ottoman Bosnian başbölükbaşı, Mujo Hrnjica, on a hill above Velika Kladuša.
After his release from prison, he made a last-minute decision to join the Party of Democratic Action and run for the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990 elections. Under the constitution, voters elected seven members to the presidency: two Bosniaks, two Serbs, two Croats, and one Yugoslav.
He and his future rival Alija Izetbegović ran for the two Bosniak positions, and were both elected. Once the positions were filled, the members of the presidency elected a President of the Presidency who acted as its head. Abdić won more popular votes than Izetbegović, but did not assume office for reasons which remain unknown to the public.
According to NIN, Abdić briefly appeared in Sarajevo when the Bosnian War broke out, hoping to assume the presidency after Izetbegović had been arrested by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). However, he was preempted by Izetbegović having already named Ejup Ganić for that position.
A few months later, Abdić decided to return to Bihać, where he was well-known locally as an opponent of Izetbegović's government. Using his expansive network of business connections, Abdić was able to keep the city supplied with consumer goods such as cigarettes, coffee and detergent, even as it was under siege by Serb forces. This gained Abdić so much popularity among the city's inhabitants that in 1993 he was able to reincorporate Bihać and its surroundings as the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia (APZB) and install himself as governor. Though characterised as treasonous by the Bosnian government, Abdić's fiefdom was recognized by Croat and Serb leaders, who were happy to weaken the Bosnian government in light of the Karađorđevo and Graz agreements that aimed to partition Bosnia and Herzegovina between Croatia and Serbia.
Abdić established prison camps for those who fought for the Bosnian government. Detainees at the camps were subjected to killings, torture, sexual assaults, beatings and other cruel and inhumane treatment. In addition to Abdić's paramilitary forces, a paramilitary unit from Serbia known as the Scorpions participated in the war crimes on Bosniaks.
When the 5th Corps of Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH), based in the south part of the Bihać pocket in western Bosnia tried to end the existence of APZB, Abdić raised an army which was supplied, trained, financed by (and fought alongside) the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and Serbian counterintelligence against the ARBiH and Bosniaks loyal to Izetbegović. The Serbs took advantage of the situation and strengthened their and Abdić's positions. In August 1995, an ARBiH offensive ended the APZB forcing him to flee to Croatia.
Lord Owen, a British diplomat and co-author of the Vance-Owen and Owen-Stoltenberg peace plans described Abdić as "forthright, confident and different from the Sarajevan Muslims. He was in favour of negotiating and compromising with Croats and Serbs to achieve a settlement, and scathing about those Muslims who wanted to block any such settlement."
After the warEdit
After the war he was granted political asylum and citizenship by the Croatian President Franjo Tuđman, and lived near Rijeka. The government of Bosnia-Herzegovina charged him with the deaths of 121 civilians, three POWs and the wounding of 400 civilians at Bihać. Croatia refused, however, to extradite him. After Tuđman's death in 1999, and the change in government in Croatia the following year, Croatian authorities arrested and tried him. In 2002 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for war crimes committed in the area of the "Bihać pocket". In 2005 the Croatian Supreme Court reduced the sentence to 15 years.
Abdić ran for the position of Bosniak member of the Bosnian presidency in 2002 on the Democratic People's Community party ticket in 2002 and won 4.1% of the vote. Bosnian law does not bar him from running for office since his conviction is in Croatia. He was released from prison on 8 March 2012, after serving ten of his 15-years sentence.
- Dawisha, Karen; Parrott, Bruce (1997-06-13). Politics, Power and the Struggle for Democracy in South-East Europe. Cambridge University Press. pp. 132–136. ISBN 9780521597333.
- Emir Habul (7 August 2001). "The Man Who Divided the Krajina People". AIM, Sarajevo.
- "Decision on admissibility: Case no. CH/00/4371, Ismet Gracanin vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina". Archived from the original on 2006-11-23.
- "Ex-Bosnian Warlord Sentenced". New York Times. 1 August 2002.
- "Bosnian Warlord Freed From Croatian Jail After Serving War-Crimes Sentence". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 9 March 2012.
- "Federal Police arrested Mayor of Velika Kladusa Fikret Abdic". 18 June 2020.
- Bartrop, Paul (2012). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporary Genocide: Portraits of Evil and Good. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-313-38679-4.
- Sarah Kenyon Lischer (2007). "Militarized Refugee Populations: Humanitarian Challenges in the Former Yugoslavia". mit.edu. Retrieved 11 September 2007.
- Kenneth W. Banta (28 September 1987). "Yugoslavia All the Party Chief's Men". Time magazine.
- "Miloševićevi ljudi" (in Serbian). NIN. 13 January 2000.
- "Uspenje i sunovrat krajiškog Babe". Vreme (in Serbian) (1105). 8 March 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Dawisha, Karen; Parrott, Bruce (1997-06-13). Politics, Power and the Struggle for Democracy in South-East Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 133. ISBN 9780521597333.
- Husarska, Anna (19 July 1993). "Pocket Change". The New Republic. Vol. 209 no. 3–4. ProQuest 212859791.
- "ICTY: Naletilić and Martinović verdict". Archived from the original on 2009-06-19.
- Dr. Gerard Toal; Dr. Carl Dahlman (2007). "Displacement and return in Bosnia-Herzegovina" (PDF). United States National Science Foundation award number BCS 0137106. Retrieved 30 September 2007.
But unlike Bosnian Serb claims to demographic dominance and self-determination, Croat nationalists sought to gain territory on a largely historic claim to western Herzegovina, a territory that would enlarge Croatia's southern region by incorporating most of southern Bosnia. These plans were discussed in 1991 by Milošević and Tuđman at Karađorđevo and an apparent partition of Bosnia agreed to (Silber 1995, pp. 131-32). For his part, Milošević wanted most of eastern and western Bosnia, and Tuđman was willing to give up the Croat areas of northern Bosnia for his interests. Between these territories, they would leave a buffer Muslim state.[dead link]
- Voice of America: "Fikretu Abdiću 20 godina zatvora"[permanent dead link], voanews.com, 31 July 2002.
- Luke Zahner (28 February 2002). "Bosnia: Abdic Turns Spotlight on Bihac". IWPR.
- Balkan Odyssey[permanent dead link]
- Gabriel Partos (20 July 2001). "Warlord on trial in Croatia". BBC.
- "Concerns Pertaining to the Judiciary". Human Rights Watch. October 2004.
- "Background Report: Domestic War Crime Trials 2005 (page 23)" (PDF). Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission in Croatia. 13 September 2006.
- "Opći izbori 2002 - konačni rezultati" (PDF). Central Electoral Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 18 October 2002.
- "Bosnian ex-warlord Abdic released after 10 yrs". khaleejtimes.com.
- "Abdic are new mayor". klix.ba.
- Svetlana Vasovic-Mekina (17 August 1996). "On the Brink of Capital Punishment (Interview with Abdić)". Vreme News Digest Agency No. 254.
- Aubrey Verboven's book Border Crossings - An Aid Worker's Journey into Bosnia provides an extremely detailed depiction of life in Velika Kladuša and the Batnoga refugee camp in 1994-95. It also bears witness to the concentration camp inhabitants and Serbian paramilitaries who roamed Velika Kladuša during that time.