|President of the Autonomous
Province of Western Bosnia
27 September 1993 – 7 August 1995
|Preceded by||Post established|
|Succeeded by||Post abolished|
29 September 1939 |
Donja Vidovska, Velika Kladuša, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
|Political party||Democratic People's Union (DNZ)|
Fikret Abdić (born 29 September 1939) is a Bosniak 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. In the early 1990s, during the Bosnian War, Abdić declared his opposition to the official Bosnian government, and established Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, a small and short-lived province in the northwestern corner of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was 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. On 9 March 2012, he was released after having served two thirds of his reduced sentence.
Before the war, Abdić was the director of Agrokomerc, a company from Velika Kladuša that he raised from an agricultural cooperative into a modern food combine, which employed over 13,000 workers, and which boosted the well-being of the entire area. Agrokomerc changed the Velika Kladuša from a poverty stricken region to regional powerhouse. Local residents of Velika Kladuša called him Babo (Dad)." He ran the company with strong political backing from influential politician Hamdija Pozderac and his brother, Hakija.
In the late 1987, just before Hamdija Pozderac, Raif Dizdarević[who?] was about to take over annual Presidency of Yugoslavia, a scandal arose, and Abdić found himself imprisoned for the alleged financial malversations, 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 a Bosnian başbölükbaşı from the Ottoman Army Mujo Hrnjica on a hill above Velika Kladuša.
After his release from prison, he joined the Party of Democratic Action just 24 hours before the 1990 elections were scheduled and ran for the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under the erstwhile 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 unclear.
According to NIN, when the Bosnian War broke out, Abdić briefly appeared in Sarajevo hoping to assume presidency after Izetbegović had been arrested by the Yugoslav People's Army. However, he was preempted as Izetbegović had already named Ejup Ganić for that position.
A few months later, Abdić decided to return to Bihać and lead the people there. Popular locally, having ties to both Belgrade and Zagreb, Abdić was concerned with business interests in his fiefdom, and opposed Izetbegović's government He formed the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, a move which the government characterized as treason. He made peace deals with Croat (14 September 1993) and Serb leaders (22 October 1993) who were satisfied to weaken Bosnian government in the light of Karađorđevo and Graz agreements which aimed to partition Bosnia and Herzegovina between them. Fikret Abdić established concentration camps for Bosniak population loyal to the government such as Drmeljevo and Miljkovići. Detainees at the camps were subjected to killings, torture, sexual assaults, beatings and otherwise cruel and inhuman treatment. In addition to the Fikret Abdić forces, a paramilitary unit from Serbia known as the Scorpions participated in the war crimes on Bosniaks.
When the government 5th Corps of Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based in the south part of the Bihać pocket in western Bosnia tried to end the existence of APWB, Abdić raised an army which was supplied, trained, financed by (and fought alongside) the Army of Republika Srpska and Serbian counterintelligence against the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (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 Republic of Western Bosnia 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 war
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 10 out of his 15 year sentence.
- 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".
- "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.
- 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". http://web.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.
- "Biography, moljac.hr website (compiled from multiple sources)" (in Croatian).
- War in the Balkans, 1991-2002 by R. Craig Nation. p. 168
- "ICTY: Naletilić and Martinović verdict".
- 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 Karadordevo and an apparent partition of Bosnia agreed (Silber 1995,131-132). For his part, Milosevic 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", 31 July 2002
- Luke Zahner (28 February 2002). "Bosnia: Abdic Turns Spotlight on Bihac". IWPR.
- Balkan Odyssey
- 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)". Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission in Croatia. 13 September 2006.
- "Opći izbori 2002 - konačni rezultati". Central Electoral Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 18 October 2002.
- "Bosnian ex-warlord Abdic released after 10 yrs". http://www.khaleejtimes.com.
- 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.