Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia

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Croatian Republic of
Hrvatska Republika Herceg-Bosna
Unrecognized entity

Flag Coat of arms
location of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia (shown in red) within Bosnia and Herzegovina (shown in pink)
Capital Mostar
Languages Croatian
Government Republic
 •  1991–93 Mate Boban
 •  1993–94 Krešimir Zubak
Vice Presidents Dario Kordić
Božo Rajić
Prime Minister
 •  1993–94 Jadranko Prlić
Historical era Yugoslav wars
 •  Breakup of Yugoslavia 25 June 1991
 •  Republic proclaimed 27 April 1992
 •  Start of Croat-Bosniak War 19 June 1992
 •  Republic declared illegala 14 September 1992
 •  Washington Agreement 18 March 1994
Currency Croatian dinar
a. By the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia (Croatian: Hrvatska Republika Herceg-Bosna) was an entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina that existed between 1991 and 1994 during the Bosnian War. It was proclaimed on 18 November 1991 under the name Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia, and claimed to be a separate or distinct "political, cultural, economic and territorial whole" in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[1] The leaders of Herzeg-Bosnia never succeeded in seceding from Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor publicly acknowledged such a goal using such language.[2]

However, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) concluded on 26 February 2001,[3] that Herzeg-Bosnia was founded with the intention to secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina and unite with Croatia.[4]

According to the ICTY, these aspirations, supported by the Republic of Croatia, were manifest, among other things, by Herzeg-Bosnia's use of Croatian currency and Croatian language and the granting by the Republic of Croatia of Croatian citizenship to Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia illegal on 14 September 1992.[1]

Herzeg-Bosnia officially ceased to exist in 1994 when it was joined to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina upon the signing of the Washington Agreement by the authorities of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The official capital city of Herzeg-Bosnia was western Mostar. However, as Mostar was a war zone, the effective control centre was in Grude.[citation needed]


Ferdo Šišić's book, Herceg-Bosna

The term Herzeg-Bosnia appeared at the beginning of 20th century in some intellectual circles. Some Croatian historians used the term Herzeg-Bosnia with respect to all Bosnian territory. During the early 1990s, the HDZ used Herzeg-Bosnia to refer to all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[citation needed] After the proclamation of the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia, the term was used only to denote this polity.[clarification needed][citation needed]

After the Washington Agreement was signed in March 1994 and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was created, one of its cantons was named "Herzeg-Bosnia". In 1997, that name was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and officially renamed "Canton 10".[5]


Main article: Bosnian war

The former ruling party in the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), organized and controlled a branch of the party in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the HDZBiH. By late 1991, more extreme elements of the HDZBiH, under the leadership of Mate Boban, Dario Kordić, and others, with the support of Franjo Tuđman and Gojko Šušak, took effective control of the party. On 12 November 1991, numerous leading members of the Bosnian HDZ drafted a document that stated, among other things, that "[...] the Croat people in Bosnia-Herzegovina must finally undertake a decisive and active policy that should bring about the realization of our centuries-old dream: a common Croatian state"; this was signed by Boban, Kordić and others.[6][7]

On 18 November 1991, they proclaimed the existence of the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia, as a separate "political, cultural, economic and territorial whole", on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. An ICTY indictment alleged this was achieved through the use of ethnic cleansing against the non-Croat population and by crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Croatian and Bosnian Croat authorities against Bosniak civilians.[8]

Following Herzeg-Bosnia's establishment in November 1991, and especially from May 1992 forward, the Herzeg-Bosnia leadership engaged in continuing and coordinated efforts to dominate and "Croatise" (or ethnically cleanse) the municipalities which they claimed were part of Herzeg-Bosnia, with increasing persecution and discrimination directed against the Bosniak population.[9] In January 1992, Tuđman arranged for Stjepan Kljuić, president of the Bosnian branch of the HDZ who favored cooperating with the Bosniaks towards a unified Bosnian state, to be ousted and replaced by Mate Boban, who favored a Croatian annexation of Croat-inhabited parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[10]

The Croatian Defence Council (HVO), the military formation of Croats, took control of many municipal governments and services, removing or marginalising local Bosniak leaders.[11] Herzeg-Bosnia authorities and Croat military forces took control of the media and imposed Croatian ideas and propaganda.[12] Croatian symbols and currency were introduced, and Croatian curricula and the Croatian language were introduced in schools. Many Bosniaks were removed from positions in government and private business; humanitarian aid was managed and distributed to the Bosniaks' disadvantage; and Bosniaks in general were increasingly harassed.[13][13] Many were deported to concentration camps: Heliodrom, Dretelj, Gabela, Vojno, and Šunje.[citation needed]

On 9 May 1992, Karadžić and Boban met in Graz and formed an agreement on the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[14][15] Later that same month Major General Ante Roso declared that the HVO was the only legal military force in Herzeg-Bosnia (referring to areas under their control) and stated that "all orders from TO [Territorial Defence] command (of Bosnia and Herzegovina) are invalid, and are to be considered illegal on this territory.[16] This subsequently caused a breakdown in Bosniak-Croat relations, and between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[17]

The local HDZ leadership was included in Geneva peace talks which intended to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina into three ethnic republics; this was not accepted by Bosnian side, and on 28 August 1993, the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia declared itself the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia. (This entity, whether as the "Community" or "Republic", is referenced hereafter as 'Herceg-Bosna'). Neither the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina nor the international community ever recognised Herzeg-Bosnia. The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared Herzeg-Bosnia illegal, first on 14 September 1992, and again on 20 January 1994.[18]

The Herzeg-Bosnia leadership Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petković, Valentin Corić, and Berislav Pušić were convicted by the ICTY as part of a joint criminal enterprise which included mass war crimes against Bosniaks and other non-Croats during the creation of the ethnically pure Croatian quasi-state Herzeg-Bosnia on the territories of internationally recognized state of Bosnia and Herzegovina in an effort to join these areas as part of a "Greater Croatia". According to the indictment, numerous persons, including Franjo Tuđman, participated in this joint criminal enterprise. Each participant, by his or her acts, omissions, practices or conduct, both individually and in concert with or through other persons, substantially contributed to carrying out the enterprise and accomplishing its purpose.[19] According to IWPR, transcripts from secret conversations between Tuđman and Herceg-Bosna leadership show that there was a clear intention to completely break up Bosnia-Herzegovina, and divide the territory with Serbia.[20]


In 1991, per census data, in territory once considered part of Herzeg-Bosnia there were 1,238,512 people, of whom:[21]

The Bosnian War caused ethnic cleansing and forcible migrations. Bosniaks moved to territories held by the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croats moved to territories held by the Croatian Defence Council. Serbs moved to territories held by the Army of Republika Srpska.[citation needed]


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the poorest republic of the SFR Yugoslavia, along with Socialist Republic of Macedonia. Infrastructure and industry were poorly developed. The economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina totally faded during the Bosnian War. Many companies, which were successful before the war, were robbed and destroyed just at the beginning of the war. There was no economic activity due to the Yugoslav wars. Agricultural output was diminished, the traffic infrastructure was in collapse, construction was almost non-existent, and unemployment was very high. As a result of the wars, between 1992 and 1995, industrial production declined by 80% and an already poor infrastructure declined further. Croats left the war the most prosperous. Former Yugoslav companies were left without headquarters which were located on the territory of Herzeg-Bosnia. All banks were based in Sarajevo.

Following the proclamation of the Community of Herzeg-Bosnia, the Bosnian Government requested from the Presidential Council of Herzeg-Bosnia that a bank be established for financing the newly founded community of municipalities. In November 1992, the Croatian Bank of Mostar was founded to finance the Community and later Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia and Croatian Defence Council. In the whole territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the official currency was the Bosnia and Herzegovina dinar, but Herzeg-Bosnia used the Croatian dinar and later the Croatian kuna and Deutschmarks.


Since 2005 there have been attempts to restore Herzeg-Bosnia by creating a new third entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was started under the leadership of Ivo Miro Jović, as he said "I don't mean to reproach Bosnian Serbs, but if they have a Serb republic, then we should also create a Croat republic and Bosniak (Muslim) republic". The Croat representative on the federal Bosnian Presidency, Željko Komšić, opposed this, but some Bosnian Croat politicians advocated for the establishment of a third (Croatian) entity.[22]

Dragan Čović, president of one of the main Croatian parties in Bosnia, Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that "all Croatian parties will propose that Bosnia and Herzegovina be divided into three ethnic entities, with Sarajevo as a separate district. Croatian politicians must be the initiators of a new constitution which would guarantee Croats the same rights as to other constituent peoples. Every federal unit would have its legislative, executive and judiciary organs”. He claimed the two-entity system is untenable and that Croats have been subject to assimilation and deprived of basic rights in the federation with Bosniaks.[23]

Petar Matanović, president of the Croatian National Council, opposed creating a third entity, claiming that the division of Bosnia into four federal units would lead to a new war. He added that "we have to establish the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina in accordance with European standards and then regulate entities. It seems to me that this agreement entails an intention to strengthen entities and weaken the country."[24] Stjepan Mesić, former president of Croatia, opposed the creation of a third entity, stating that: “if the current division of Bosnia Herzegovina into two entities does not function, it will not function with divisions into three entities”.[25]

At a 31 January 2009 conference, Franjo Komarica, the Roman Catholic bishop of Banja Luka, stated: "...[O]ne's birth place is the most holy site for every man. Many of you think that the Croatian people failed the test. While other peoples successfully or less successfully advocated for the realisation of their unquestionable right to their birth place, it seems the Croat people gave others their heads to carry them. Because of this the Croats have proved to be spineless and greatest cowards because they forgot their place of birth ... - I have ground my teeth to the gums pleading that politicians make it possible for people to return to their homes. We have dozens of people who have a court verdict that they can return to their homes, but that is not being made possible for them".[26]

In 2009, Miroslav Tuđman, son of the late Franjo Tuđman, called for the establishment of a Croatian entity.[27][28] Čović stated, “We want to live in Bosnia-Herzegovina where Croats will be equal to the other two peoples according to the Constitution.”[29]

18 November is celebrated as the holiday in West Herzegovina County as the day of Herzeg-Bosnia's foundation.[30] One of the cantons of the Federation used the name "Herzeg-Bosnian Canton", but this name was deemed unconstitutional by the Federation Constitutional Court, and it is officially referred as Canton 10.[31] A memorial plaque in honor of Herzeg-Bosnia and Mate Boban was placed in downtown Grude. The official website of Herzeg-Bosnia contains a section, Nation Building, which states that the "Croatian counties" will seek a referendum of leaving Bosnia-Herzegovina.[32]

Memorial plaque in Grude, made as a tribute to Mate Boban and leaders of Herzeg-Bosnia

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "ICTY - Mladen Naletilic and Vinko Martinovic judgment" (PDF). 
  2. ^ Lučić, Ivica (2013). Uzroci rata. Zagreb: Hrvatski institut za povijest. ISBN 978-953-7892-06-7. 
  3. ^ Background,; accessed 13 August 2015.
  4. ^ "ICTY - Kordic and Cerkez judgment - E. The Parties' Cases and Trial Chamber Findings". Retrieved 7 April 2015. Having considered all the evidence on this topic, the Trial Chamber rejects that given on behalf of the Defence and finds that the weight of the evidence and all the circumstances point to the conclusion that the HZ H-B was founded with the intention that it should secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina and with a view to unification with Croatia. 
  5. ^ U-11/97 at the Wayback Machine (archived April 19, 2008)
  6. ^ "Plans for a 'Greater Croatia' (document)". Bosnian Report. 1 (Bosnian Institute). November–December 1997. 
  7. ^ Kordić and Čerkez ICTY judgement, p. 348
  8. ^ "Naletilic and Martinovic ICTY profiles (IT-98-34-PT)" (PDF). Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "ICTY: Blaškić verdict - A. The Lasva Valley: May 1992 – January 1993 c) The municipality of Kiseljak". 
  10. ^ Ramet (2006), p. 434
  11. ^ "ICTY: Blaškić verdict - A. The Lasva Valley: May 1992 – January 1993 - b) The municipality of Busovača". 
  12. ^ "ICTY: Blaškić verdict — A. The Lasva Valley: May 1992 – January 1993 - c) The municipality of Kiseljak". the authorities created a radio station which broadcast nationalist propaganda 
  13. ^ a b ICTY: Kordić and Cerkez Judgement - III. EVENTS LEADING TO THE CONFLICT - A. July – September 1992 - 1. The Role of DarioKordić - [1]
  14. ^ Williams, Carol J. (9 May 1992). "Serbs, Croats Met Secretly to Split Bosnia". Los Angeles Times. 
  15. ^ Lukic (1996), pp. 210-212
  16. ^ Ramet (2006), p. 436
  17. ^ Lukic (1996), pp. 212, 215
  18. ^ Jadranko Prlić profile,; accessed 27 April 2015.
  19. ^ "The Prosecutor v. Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petković, Valentin Ćorić & Berislav Pušić" (PDF). 
  20. ^ Bullough, Oliver (7 November 2007). "Transcripts Suggest Croatia Conspired to Break Up Bosnia". Institute for War & Peace Reporting. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  21. ^ Hrvatska politika unutar BiH u kontekstu deklarativnog i realnoga opsega HZ/HR HB; accessed 13 August 2015.(Croatian)
  22. ^ Staff. "Bosnia: Regionalization proposal on table". B92. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 
  23. ^ "BOSNIA: 'Sanctions if no progress on reform', warns top envoy's deputy". ADN Kronos International. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  24. ^ Petar Matanović comments,; accessed 27 April 2015.
  25. ^ Stjepan Mesić comments,; accessed 27 April 2015.
  26. ^ Bishop: Bosnian Croats Are Spineless and Cowards,; accessed 13 August 2015.
  27. ^ [2],; accessed 28 April 2015.(Croatian)
  28. ^ [3],; accessed 28 April 2015 (Croatian)
  29. ^ [4],; accessed 27 April 2015.
  30. ^ 18 November commemoration,; accessed 27 April 2015.
  31. ^ Canton 10 profile,; accessed 27 April 2015.
  32. ^ Official website of Herzeg-Bosnia (in so-so English); accessed 27 April 2015.


  • Lukic, Renéo Lukic; Lynch, Allen (1996). Europe From the Balkans to the Urals: The Disintegration of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-829200-7. 
  • Ramet, Sabrina P. (2006). The Three Yugoslavias: State-Building and Legitimation, 1918-2004. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-271-01629-9. 


External links[edit]