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Western Bosnia (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Last modified: 2005-02-19 by dov gutterman
Keywords: western bosnia | zapadna bosna | bosnia and herzegovina | balkans | fleur-de-lys | bee | hexagone |
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Symbols of Western Bosnia

In the documents reprinted in several newspapers after the military ofensive of Croatian Army and 5. corps of Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (begining of August 1995), there were shown a coat of arms of the self proclaimed Autonomous region of Western Bosnia. It was seen on headers of official documents, and on other material, and I suppose that some kind of similar design was also used as a flag (as it is usual in this part of the World to put the coat of arms on flag).
It is an olive (?) coronet with three quadrangles underneath. I never saw it coloured. What is the simbolism and origin of it, I don't know. The coronet is presumably standing for peace, but what are the squares? I read them as a path (compare it to the similar road sign for highway). If that is true it should stand for "a road of three nations towards peace".
The Western Bosnia is a region around the town of Bihac, a Muslim enclave which was surounded on three sides with Croatian Serbs' Krajina, and on east with Bosnian Serb held teritory. The enclave was led by the politician Fikret Abdic, and the region was spared from major devastation at the beggining of the war in Bosnia. Later there was an argument between Abdic and the Sarajevo government, and he declared an Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia. The fighting started then between the government loyal troups in 5. corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Bihac and Abdic's forces stationed in the town of Velika Kladusa. Abdic's forces allyed with Serbs, and retreated to Serb occupied territory in Croatia. A week before the Croatian-Bosnian offensive, and the end of Serb Krayina in Croatia, and liberation of Bihac enclave, Abdic proclaimed the total separation from Sarajevo, forming the Republic of Western Bosnia.
The coat was used in the last days of this Republic, and if it was used before, also for Autonomous Province, I have no information.
Unfortunatelly, I misplaced the newspapers (the events happened during the summer holydays) where it was pictured, so I can't scan it. The best I can do is to make this sketch. I hope it would do for now.
Željko Heimer, 27 September 1995

Flag from Bihac

by Željko Heimer, 8 January 2005

Coat of Arms
by Željko Heimer, 8 January 2005

The flags from formed region of Western Bosnia have always be a kind of mistery among vexillologists. Several were reported among which some very doubious, like those in this page.
The only flag that I have witnessed myself is the flag of the national defence forces. That is however not the "national" flag, but just the flag of that force.
However, in the mean time I had luck to discover a new one. In the early 2004 I visited the Croatian history Museum, just at the same time when an antique dealer was there offering someof his item to the museum. Jelena Borošak-Marjanovic, who knew of my interest in flags showed me one of the items Mr. Mladen Vukuša was selling - a flag from Bihac. Jelena also courteously gave me a photo the museum photographer has made of this flag. I have drawn my gif according to the photo.   The flag is white intended for vertical hoisting, made of a single piece of artifical material (polyester) measuring ca. 150x300 cm. In the middle of it in dimater about 100 cm is an emblem silk-screen printed in two colours. The emblem, presumably the coat of arms of the autonomous region, consists of the coat of arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina (contemporary one with fleurs-de-lis and bend) infront of a meash of circular lines (presumably inspired by the UN emblem?) and within a wreath of leaves with a blue ribbon in the base bearing the white inscription "AP ZAPADNA BOSNA". Above the shield is blue inscription "REPUBLIKA BOSNA I HERCEGOVINA".
Željko Heimer, 8 January 2005

Autonomous Region of Western Bosnia, 1993 - 1995

by Željko Heimer

Adopted: after September 1993. Abandoned: 26 July 1995
The flag is based on the contemporary flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with honeybee as a symbol of prosperity. The flag is not confirmed by local sources, but some other vexillological sources quote similar flags for Western Bosnia.
Western Bosnia was an enclave in north-western part of B&H, surrounded by Serb held territory in B&H and Croatia, around the towns of Bihac and Velika Kladusa. The local polititian and businessman Fikret Abdic sucseeded in holding the (largely Bosniak populated) area unconquered, trading with all sides, and retaining kind of neutrality. In the crucial period in 1995 just before great Croatian offensive that lead to liberation of Krayina and large areas of B&H, he connected his 'dominion' with Serb side and in July proclaimed independence from Sarajevo government. Due to the strong offensive, this state lasted just for some 10 days.
Source: Jaume Olle's Electronical Bulletin of Vexillology from Catalonia
Željko Heimer

Republic of Western Bosnia, 1995

by Željko Heimer

Adopted: 26 July 1995. Abandoned: 5 August 1995.
The flag of the Republic proclaimed in the last days of the Western Bosnia authonomy allegedly changed some blue parts of the previous flag to green. This is not confrmed by local source.
Source: Jaume Olle's Electronical Bulletin of Vexillology from Catalonia
Željko Heimer

Coat of Arms

[Symbol of Western Bosnia]
by Željko Heimer

National Defence of Western Bosnia

by Željko Heimer, 29 April 2001

The flag of the National Defence of Western Bosnia (Narodna obrana Zapadne Bosne), the military formation organized in Western Bosnia in (or not much before) 1995 as the defence force of the Authonomous Region under the leadership of Fikret Abdic.
The flag was shown yesterday (28.APR.2001) in a documentary clip about Fikret Abdic, showing some celebration of the said formation. The flag was hoisted "normal" way but the design was obviously mented to be used vertically. Being seen in only a brief moment on TV, this is just a sketch - I am not quite sure about the colour that I have presented blue in my image - quite possibly it was green. Also the text might have had little differences as well as the shape of the shield.
The flag was most certainly abandoned in summer 1995 when Western Bosnia dissolved as entity.
Željko Heimer, 29 April 2001

Some Historical Facts on Western Bosnia

Fikret Abdic, the leader of the moslim rebels in the moslim enclave of Bihac (Northwestern part of Bosnia and Hercegovina), has declared 26 July 1995 the 'Republic of West-Bosnia' over the territory in his possession. In september 1993 he declared the enclave already autonomous from Sarajevo.
Source: NRC Handelsblad (Rotterdam) 27 July 1995.
Jos Poels, 30 July 1995

It is, of course, the coat of Abdic's state that no longer exists.
And to satisfy your curiosity, Abdic, as all of his followers, are abolished (but those that are accused for war crimes, and I haven't heard if any is). Newspapers speculate that Abdic is in Zagreb, and the Croatian government has indirectly confirmed that. The Bosnian government have not sent any request for extradiction, and the matter is on ice, for the time being. I think that he is not going to be pursecuted, because of the fact that he is a very strong businessman needed to resurrect the Bosnian economy.
When I said that Abdic was abolished I was reffering to the Law on Abolition, passed by the Croatian parliament, granting abolition of prosecution to persons who joined (of free will or by force) the enemy troups. In this way, most of the soldiers that surrendered to the Croatian Army are now free citizens of Croatia, or if they wished they could go to third countries (as it is said here, meaning that they didn't want to stay in Croatia, so thay left, mainly to Serbia).
The law was intended first of all for rebel Serb soldiers, but as Abdic, and his followes, surrended to Croatian Army, the part of the treaty of surrender was that the same law would act for them also.
Željko Heimer, 29 September 1995

Other Arms of Western Bosnia

In a report on Euronews (some months ago), I saw two arms which could be former projects of the arms of the former Republic of Western Bosnia.
The first is the same as the Bosnian one but there is a thick yellow border around it. On the diagonal stripe appear three blue hexagones, and over all on the diagonal stripe just above the second lower fleur de lys a big yellow bee or something like that with blue wings, as well as blue "contours".
The second one is the same but the fleurs de lys are yellow on green (green maybe here for Muslims), the bee is yellow with green wings,there is just one hexagone (and under the bee) in green on the diagonal stripe which is still white.
I think the "bee" and the hexagone are coming from the logo of AGROKOMERC the firm of which Fikret Abdic was the manager.
In the report, it was said that there was a flag, and I think that it was white with the arms in the centre but I'm not sure of that.
Pascal Vagnat, 23 November 1995