Fikret Abdić

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Fikret Abdić
Mayor of Velika Kladuša
Assumed office
8 November 2016
Preceded byEdin Behrić
President of the Autonomous
Province of Western Bosnia
In office
27 September 1993 – 7 August 1995
Prime MinisterZlatko Jušić
Preceded byPost established
Succeeded byPost abolished
1st Muslim Member of the Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
In office
20 December 1990 – 20 October 1993
Serving with Alija Izetbegović
Preceded byPost established
Succeeded byNijaz Duraković
Personal details
Born (1939-09-29) 29 September 1939 (age 84)
Velika Kladuša, Yugoslavia
(now Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Political partySKJ (1958–1990)
SDA (1990–1993)
DNZ (1993–2013)
LS BiH (2013–present)
Children4, including Elvira

Fikret Abdić (born 29 September 1939), also known as Babo, 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.[1]

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.[2][3] 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,[4] 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.[5] He was imprisoned again in June 2020 on suspicion of abuse of his office as Mayor.[6]

Early life[edit]

Fikret Abdić was born in the village of Donja Vidovska, Velika Kladuša, Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 29 September 1939.[7]

Early career[edit]

After completing his studies in agronomy, Abdić, as a relatively young engineer, became the director of the Agricultural Cooperative (Agrokomerc) in Velika Kladuša. By raising the small agricultural cooperative into a modern food combine which employed over 13,000 workers, the economy of the entire area was boosted and living standards improved, in a region previously unindustrialized and undeveloped.[2]

Agrokomerc transformed Velika Kladuša from a poverty-struck region to a regional powerhouse. Agrocomerc became recognizable countrywide utilzing advertising and marketing extremely skillfully, to the point that Agrokomerc's mascot, a chef with a tall white cap, was as ubiquitous as Vučko or Zagi (the 14th Summer Universiade's mascot). Tops biscuits, Agrokomerc's main product (a copy of the Jaffa Cakes), almost pushed its more famous predecessor off the market, in SR Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Local residents of Velika Kladuša reportedly called him Babo (Father).[8]

He ran the company with strong political backing from influential politician Hamdija Pozderac and his brother, Hakija,[9] utilizing combined socialist and capitalist methods.[10]

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 prosecuted for "counter-revolutionary acts endangering the social order of the SFRY " under Article 114 of the Criminal Code of the SFRY[11] and eventually 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.[9] Another of his controversial moves was erecting a monument to an Ottoman Bosnian başbölükbaşı, Mujo Hrnjica, on a hill above Velika Kladuša.[12]

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.[13] Under the constitution, voters elected seven members to the presidency: two Bosniaks, two Serbs, two Croats, and one Yugoslav.[citation needed]

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.[14][12]

Inter-Bosnian Muslim War[edit]

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.[12]

Western Bosnia in 1994

A few months later, Abdić decided to return to Bihać, where he was well known locally as an opponent of Izetbegović's government.[2] 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.[15] 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[2] in light of the Milošević–Tuđman Karađorđevo meeting and the Graz agreement that aimed to partition Bosnia and Herzegovina between Croatia and Serbia.[16][17]

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.[18]

During Operation Tiger '94, the 5th Corps of Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH), based in the south part of the Bihać pocket in western Bosnia[19] militarily defeated Western Bosnia. Abdić, however, raised an army which was supplied, trained, financed by (and fought alongside) the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and used Serbian counterintelligence against the ARBiH and Bosniaks loyal to Izetbegović and was able to successfully reinstate Western Bosnia during Operation Spider. The Serbs took advantage of the situation and strengthened their and Abdić's positions. In August 1995, an ARBiH offensive part of Operation Storm ended the APZB forcing him to flee to Croatia.[20]

Lord Owen, an English 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."[21]

After the war[edit]

After the war he was granted political asylum and citizenship[22] by the Croatian President Franjo Tuđman, and lived near Rijeka. The government of Bosnia and 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.[22] In 2002, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for war crimes committed in the area of the "Bihać pocket".[23] In 2005, the Croatian Supreme Court reduced the sentence to 15 years.[24] He was released from prison on 8 March 2012, after serving ten of his 15-years sentence, from the minimum security prison in Pula, whereupon he was greeted by thousands of joyful supporters who had been bused in from Velika Kladuša.[25]

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.[26] Bosnian law does not bar him from running for office since his conviction is in Croatia.

Abdić was LS BiH's candidate for the mayor of Velika Kladuša in the 2016 Bosnian municipal elections. He received 9,026 votes, or 48.10%, and was elected as the new mayor.[27] In June 2020 he was arrested by Bosnia's federal police as part of a corruption investigation which included a number of municipal officials.[28] He was put in pre-trial detention, but was released in late October after his lawyers petitioned the court to allow him to take part in the re-election campaign for the 2020 Bosnian municipal elections in November that year, which he narrowly won with 44.1 percent of the vote.[29] In March 2021 prosecutors formally indicted Abdić and six other municipal officials on charges of graft related to procurement tenders.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dawisha, Karen; Parrott, Bruce (13 June 1997). Politics, Power and the Struggle for Democracy in South-East Europe. Cambridge University Press. pp. 132–136. ISBN 9780521597333.
  2. ^ a b c d Emir Habul (7 August 2001). "The Man Who Divided the Krajina People". AIM, Sarajevo.
  3. ^ "Decision on admissibility: Case no. CH/00/4371, Ismet Gracanin vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina". Archived from the original on 23 November 2006.
  4. ^ "Ex-Bosnian Warlord Sentenced". The New York Times. 1 August 2002.
  5. ^ "Bosnian Warlord Freed From Croatian Jail After Serving War-Crimes Sentence". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 9 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Federal Police arrested Mayor of Velika Kladusa Fikret Abdic". 18 June 2020.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Sarah Kenyon Lischer (2007). "Militarized Refugee Populations: Humanitarian Challenges in the Former Yugoslavia". Retrieved 11 September 2007.
  9. ^ a b Kenneth W. Banta (28 September 1987). "Yugoslavia All the Party Chief's Men". Time magazine. Archived from the original on 28 February 2008.
  10. ^ Darko Sicel, Bozidar (1 June 2006). Freedom for Fikret Abdić. Chicago, IL: American Bosnian Association. p. 63.
  11. ^ Darko Sicel, Bozidar (1 June 2006). Freedom for Fikret Abdić. Chicago, IL: American Bosnian Association.
  12. ^ a b c "Miloševićevi ljudi" (in Serbian). NIN. 13 January 2000.
  13. ^ "Uspenje i sunovrat krajiškog Babe". Vreme (in Serbian) (1105). 8 March 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  14. ^ Dawisha, Karen; Parrott, Bruce (13 June 1997). Politics, Power and the Struggle for Democracy in South-East Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 133. ISBN 9780521597333.
  15. ^ Husarska, Anna (19 July 1993). "Pocket Change". The New Republic. Vol. 209, no. 3–4. ProQuest 212859791.
  16. ^ "ICTY: Naletilić and Martinović verdict". Archived from the original on 19 June 2009.
  17. ^ 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]
  18. ^ Voice of America: "Fikretu Abdiću 20 godina zatvora"[permanent dead link],, 31 July 2002.
  19. ^ Luke Zahner (28 February 2002). "Bosnia: Abdic Turns Spotlight on Bihac". IWPR.
  20. ^ Welle (, Deutsche. "Bosnian war criminal released from Croatian prison | DW | 09.03.2012". DW.COM. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  21. ^ Balkan Odyssey[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ a b Gabriel Partos (20 July 2001). "Warlord on trial in Croatia". BBC.
  23. ^ "Concerns Pertaining to the Judiciary". Human Rights Watch. October 2004.
  24. ^ "Background Report: Domestic War Crime Trials 2005 (page 23)" (PDF). Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission in Croatia. 13 September 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2007.
  25. ^ "Bosnian ex-warlord Abdic released after 10 yrs".
  26. ^ "Opći izbori 2002 - konačni rezultati" (PDF). Central Electoral Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 18 October 2002.
  27. ^ "Abdic are new mayor".
  28. ^ "Pripadnici federalne policije uhapsili načelnika Velike Kladuše Fikreta Abdića". Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  29. ^ "Sve izvjesnije da će Fikret Abdić ostati načelnik Velike Kladuše".
  30. ^ "Potvrđena optužnica protiv Fikreta Abdića zbog zloupotrebe položaja i ovlasti". Retrieved 27 September 2021.

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