by Nerzuk CURAK
Even if every step forward would mean two steps back, the international community would not radicalize its political positions. If in the meantime, because of such an approach, the Bosnian political substance melts, the world will not see that spiritual reduction of the country as a problem. Namely, the leading political-security opinion in the world community is based on the control of the conflict region. In that sense, the intensity of the internal state and social impotence does not affect the leading idea. Consequently, as long as Bosnia-Hercegovina can function as an anti-Bosnian state and society without consequences for her surroundings (and under the care of the international community it can continue to do that for years to come) there is no reason to modify the strategy.
That is mostly so because of the so-called administrative reasons. Bureaucratization of decision-making institutions during the last decade of the twentieth century has reached the Orwelian scale, and that process is especially prominent in the international organizations. Their imitators in Bosnia, just like an enormous Leviathan, are creating and overseeing the Process in this country. If a state can resemble Kafka's Josef K. Bosnia definitely does resemble him. They are driving this country from a door to another door and behind every door there is another Proposal. Bosnia has been permanently in some sort of an experimental phase. The denouement could be deadly. Due to so much use of political and legal cures past their expiration dates, Bosnia-Hercegovina has become schizophrenic. It remains to be answered why, five years after the end of the war this Bosnia-Hercegovina hasn't become a state of its people. She is above all a country of domestic and international bureaucracy and the country of neighboring countries. These are the limits within which this state is being constructed.
Dogma, oh so hard Even the most recent proposals coming from Croatia about the new political internal organization of Bosnia-Hercegovina follow in the same mold.
If you keep offering some new version of the state organization of a country, you actually reveal a hidden motive - the only thing with which Bosnia-Hercegovina can and must be satisfied is that it has internationally recognized borders because of which it is formally and legally treated as a state within the international community. The current consciousness about Bosnia-Hercegovina is fenced in by two dogmas - there is peace in Bosnia and Bosnia has received a new (possibly) anti-nationalist government. What else could you want? As if the historical progress of a country is measured only by the fact that there is no war and by the fact that it has a new government. The true problem is exactly that superficial, horizontal perception of the international community. It thereby removes its own responsibility, and because of the logic of growing bureaucratization it remains here as an overseer with a sensible explanation - to make sure that the post Dayton ranch does not by some chance disappear in the irrational stampede of the local political spoilers.
By slavishly following these dogmas and because of hyper-cautious approach to the establishment of state institutions the international community has left to the opponents of Bosnia wide space for maneuvers and for continuous obstruction that the international community is trying to control. Thus, it is possible that the Republic of Srpska sign an agreement regarding special relations with Kostunica's Yugoslavia because she has the right to do so according to the Dayton Agreement, but it is impossible that a Bosniak or Croat become the Prime Minister of Srpska, although according to the Dayton Agreement, political representatives of those two nations have the right to that. Political iconography under which Sarovic and Kostunica expressed their loyalty to Bosnia-Hercegovina (because according to the Office of High Representative (OHR) that was loyalty towards the state) absolutely confirms our above mentioned view that Bosnia must be satisfied with everything that in the most direct manner endangers its territorial integrity. In other words, only an action that would (literally tomorrow, on March 16, 2001) endanger Bosnian sovereignty, if for example the Army of the Republic of Srpska by an order of the Chiefs of Staff of the Yugoslav Army became a Corps of the Yugoslav armed forces, would represent the direct endangerment of Bosnia-Hercegovina, and everything short of that is peaceful and active neighborly cooperation.
By going to Belgrade to talk to Kostunica in order to ask or force him (irrelevant) to keep the special relations between Belgrade and Banja Luka on the level of foreplay and without future consummation, Petritsch confirmed that every licking with Bosnia is permitted as long as there is no direct penetration and consumption of Bosnian territories by the lusty "mother-lands". The hard working administrator of Bosnia did not do that because he is glad to see Belgrade and Zagreb meddling in the Bosnian crisis; Wolfgang did that slavishly following dogma which states that anti-Bosnian forces are stronger than Bosnian forces and a realistic politician must take that into account. It is almost touching how international officials refuse to make a total switch and accept the dominant position of Bosnian forces, regardless of the fact that formally in the structures of government that domination has started!
And what else can in that case Drazen Budisa do but in a new way bring into question Bosnia, if those responsible for her cannot stop bringing her into question. Thus, Budisa in yet another destructive attack that he tries to portray as a constructive proposal, presented a new plan for Bosnia, so good that it saves Jelavic's clan. The plan is based on ethnic cantonization or perhaps clanization of Bosnia-Hercegovina, which is nothing but an attempt to legalize the so-called Croatian autonomy. That is the essence of Budisa's proposal if the Dayton Bosnia-Hercegovina must defend herself from small Tudman in a democratic frame.
Budisa offered the Vance-Owen plan, part two, without considering the movie and life rule known by every fan of horror movies - the sequel is always more bloody than the original. Budisa was not explicit - he did not specify whether the cantons with the same ethnic majority should have their own army. Should in the Euro-cantonized Bosnia "soldiers from minority nations" serve in the armed forces of the "majority nation"? Is Budisa advocating a new war, so that we can again all be happy once we again get peace? So that Bosnia is overjoyed that it has peace. And nothing else.
Money, development, prosperity, good life, who needs that! There are two many abstractions in Bosnia already.
From these two mini-images it is possible to put together a deadly collage. The plans offered to Bosnia are worse than the Dayton agreement, and better plans (in the sense of being realistic) do not exist.
The lack of acceptable solutions is compensated for by a surplus of myths and illusions. What are the mythological limits that burden the Bosnian step out into the acceptable future?
Khazar Dictionary Without intent to offer acceptable answers, let me put forward several questions:
Have Bosniaks, as the most numerous ethnic group in Bosnia accepted the post-Dayton Bosnia-Hercegovina?
Do they recognize the Republic of Srpska as a part of Bosnia-Hercegovina?
Are they prepared to put their intellectual and creative potential in service of Bosnia-Hercegovina that includes the Republic of Srpska as her integral part?
If they are not, what are they prepared to put in her service?
If they are, why are they not actively shaping some new reality? If they are not, and the international community persistently keeps repeating that there will be no changes of the Dayton agreement and that the Republic of Srpska remains as a state-like province of Bosnia-Hercegovina with clearly defined borders, what can they offer to make the international community change its mind?
If they cannot offer anything qualitatively new, then that refusal to accept reality is a version of the worst possible fatalism and unprecedented irresponsible attitude. Bosniaks do not have a consensus about anything, including the existence of the Republic of Srpska.
Both Serbs and Croats, much earlier than Bosniaks, have developed their own myths that have been additionally strengthened by Bosniak mythological challenges.
The Croat myth about Bosnia has never been more intense, and that ancient Bosnian nation has never been more confused regarding its attitude towards the country. Many institutions of this people share the "complex of Khazars", the fear of disappearance in the new Bosnian reality, and irresponsible and criminal political elites as the only solution to challenges offer ghettoization and pauperization of the Croat people in Bosnia. Jelavic has substituted Tudman's myth about the Croat State in her natural and historical borders by the myth about a Croat statelet in Bosnia.
The sad pupil of the Belgrade military establishment with his monstrous and aggressive attempt to reorganize Bosnia-Hercegovina for the sake of his Hercegovina-Croatia based mafia even more underlined the Serb political domination in the Balkan story at the beginning of this century. The result is the neutralization of Serb aggressive marauding expeditions from the last decade of the twentieth century and affirmation of Serbs as a progressive political element in Bosnia, as they supposedly strictly follow the Dayton Agreement. And to make things worse the international community is irritated by every attempt to reorganize the Republic of Srpska, now that they finally have constructive political partners in that entity.
The Serb myth about the Serb state in Bosnia is closely related to the reality. Some representatives of the international community are feeding into that myth. In the brief poll by Dani the ambassador of the United Kingdom in Bosnia-Hercegovina made a very strange statement. According to Hand "...as far as I know the cantonization of Bosnia-Hercegovina is not in any way acceptable to the government or the people of the Republic of Srpska.". He thereby stated that the British government views Srpska as a separate territory of the Serb people. Ambassador Hand knows very well that Croats and Bosniaks find the cantonization of the Republic of Srpska absolutely acceptable, so that it is obvious that the ambassador of the United Kingdom, as the biggest Ivanic's mentor and supporter, is sending a message that can only be read as general support for the Serb nationalism.
Ivanic's government, with such public support, can continue with its flexible and pragmatic relations with the international community and Bosnia-Hercegovina, as exactly such relations will prevent any intervention in the political and constitutional tissue of the smaller Bosnian entity.
The consequence of Jelavic's political outburst is the strengthening of the Republic of Srpska. For Europe, together with Yugoslavia, Srpska has become a constructive factor. In the crisis in the south of Serbia bad guys have become good guys and good guys bad.
In the unification of the Balkans, despite everything that Serbia has produced in our region, Belgrade is supposed to have the role of the unifier. Zagreb and Sarajevo are passively and irresponsibly ignoring for decades honed strength and finesse of the Serb diplomacy. And then Matic, Lagumdzija and Filipovic in a single party and bi-ethnic [Bosniak and Croat] delegation met with [Prime Minister of Croatia] Racan in Slavonski Brod and simply gave additional ammunition to the Republic of Srpska to continue her policy of only formal and no other recognition and view of Bosnia.
But, putting aside the gaffe of the uniform SDP delegation, it is much more important that the Alliance, although that seemed impossible, has managed to put together executive authorities.
SDS forever Bosnia-Hercegovina faces a fierce battle between the traditional (national) view of the Bosnian crisis, whose proponents are the SDA, the HDZ and all the Serb parties apart from Dodik's SNSD and the technical-modern view, whose proponents are all the parties of the Alliance and again (functionally and insincerely) all the Serb parties including Dodik's SNSD. The SDA and the HDZ by their own, and also by the parameters used by the international community, cannot at the same time be both. Only the SDS can. Already now, five years after the end of the war against Bosnia-Hercegovina, in which the role of the SDS was absolutely dishonorable, puppet-like and anti-Bosnian, with strong leanings towards genocidal acts of many of its members and sympathizers, the very same SDS has the best political position in the current and forthcoming political reshaping of the Bosnian state. That is simply sensational. Unfortunately, it is also true.
The reductionist and essentially anti-Bosnian and anti-Muslim policy of the SDA, which has in the years after the war skillfully fed the current position of the SDS (although the leadership of the SDA will never understand or admit that, as to understand means to admit), has left as a legacy to the new left-center government a strong SDS and a shaken, therefore dangerous, HDZ.
Despite such difficult legacy, with new disturbing proposals for the reorganization of the state coming from abroad, the Alliance for Changes must make the new Bosnia-Hercegovina realistic. The position of that conglomerate-like political association is equal to that of Sisyphus. Can the leaders of that movement without a clear voter base pacify nationalism and through responsible dealing with state duties impose a new discourse in the political and public life of the country? Can dedicated work on the establishment of European norms and regulations, standardization of the legal regulations, moral renewal of the society, responsible social policy, etc. tone down nationalism, and pacify and civilize it to the extent that would not affect state duties? And can, consequently, in such a social atmosphere, tense, frustrating and uneasy story about the unfinished political organization of Bosnia-Hercegovina become unnecessary and the stuff for romantics?
I fear my own conclusion. Hence I will not put it down.
Kresimir Zubak, NHI: It is obvious that the peace agreement contains numerous irrational and less than functional solutions, but it should be respected as an expression of what was possible at that moment. However, only its full implementation would open possibilities to remove its defects, and they should be corrected in a democratic manner and in the institutions of the country.
The election message of the New Croatian Initiative in the most recent election campaign was that Bosnia-Hercegovina should be built on a rational, functional, and efficient state organization of cantonal type, similar to that of Switzerland. In that sense, the NHI will advocate the reorganization of Bosnia-Hercegovina into a state of cantons and we have no doubts that that project will be implemented. However, we do not expect that such an organization of Bosnia-Hercegovina will be achieved in some new international conference, but will take place in foreseeable future as an expression of needs and desires of all the citizens of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Sulejman Tihic, SDA: Drazen Budisa's proposal is unacceptable as it only takes into account ethnic criteria and legalizes the results of ethnic cleansing. The SDA is open towards ideas about improvement of the Dayton agreement and proposes organization of Bosnia-Hercegovina as a state with multi-ethnic regions, with strong central authorities, and protection of vital interests in the House of Nations on the national level.
Graham Hand, ambassador of United Kingdom: No one doubts that this initiative sincerely wishes to contribute to the stability of Bosnia-Hercegovina. However, it has several fatal flaws. First, cantonization of Bosnia-Hercegovina, as far as I know, is not in any version acceptable for the government or the people of the Republic of Srpska. Secondly, any conference that would discuss this issue would stop the political development of Bosnia-Hercegovina and the extremists from all ethnic groups would use it to achieve their goals, the goals that have very little to do with prosperity of ordinary people, and a lot to do with corruption and crime.
Consequently, I believe that this initiative is stillborn. Democratic governments of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina should instead work together to consolidate democracy, implement the Dayton Agreement and demonstrate that nationalism and extremism have no role to play in this region, as it is moving towards European institutions and the European Union.
Safet Halilovic, SBiH: Mr. Budisa's idea about the cantonization of Bosnia-Hercegovina is one of draft models for the ending of war in Bosnia-Hercegovina, based above all on the projection of Prof. Komsic. This model predates the Washington Agreement, which resulted in the Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina with the current organization. The Federation, as such, satisfied important interests of Bosnian-Hercegovinian peoples and was accepted as a form of state and political organization of two nations, the Bosniak and Croat nation, before the definite end of the war and arrangement that would include the Serb nation. A return to pre-Washington experiments is a step backward. The cantonization advocated by Mr. Budisa does not contribute anything important to the quality of harmonization of relations of the three nations in Bosnia-Hercegovina, but only implements further ethnization of the territory, and rounds up national territories for individual peoples. Therefore, the cantonization of the whole Bosnia-Hercegovina - yes. By the way, the idea of cantonization was present in proposals by Cutilero in 1992 as well as in the projects Vance-Owen and Owen-Stoltenberg. However, the primary role of all of that was to assist Milosevic's and Tudman's division of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
A new cantonization of Bosnia-Hercegovina, which would not be based on ethnic and national principles, would be desirable, as it would evenly spread out forms of decentralization of Bosnia-Hercegovina on all of her territory. That possible new arrangement would have to be based on all relevant elements of regional development, instead only on the ethnic and national component. It is especially important that that arrangement must be implemented through legal institutional forms of political decision-making in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and should in no case be the means or political recipes offered for the sake of internal needs of political parties from neighboring countries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia-Hercegovina: The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Dr. Zlatko Lagumdzija did not want to personally comment on the proposal by the president of HSLS, Mr. Drazen Budisa, about the cantonization of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Instead Dani received the official reaction from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding that issue. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not have mandate to organize any international conferences, or modifications of the Dayton Agreement. Instead of stories about cantonization, revisions, the Ministry has the mandate and obligation to deal with much more concrete issues, on which the future position of Bosnia-Hercegovina in the region and the world depends. The basic goal is further improvement of good neighborly relations with Croatia and FR Yugoslavia and other countries in the region. It is necessary to strengthen state borders and prevent illegal immigration in Bosnia-Hercegovina. It is necessary to define and sign a whole series of property-legal treaties with neighboring countries for the mutual benefit of the citizens. As you know, Bosnia-Hercegovina is significantly behind other countries regarding the fulfillment of preconditions for the sighing of an association agreement with the EU. In connection with that it is necessary to as soon as possible adopt a permanent election law for Bosnia-Hercegovina, and then realize goals defined in the 'Road Map' document, without which we have no hope of joining European integration processes. Briefly, the Ministry will work on resolving problems that have so far stood in the path of faster integration of Bosnia-Hercegovina in Europe. The ministry has a mandate for that and furthermore has an obligation with respect to the citizens to do so. The ministry does not want to deny anyone's right to propose improvements in the territorial and legal organization of Bosnia-Hercegovina, but social consensus is necessary for something like that. Consequently that issue is outside jurisdiction of this ministry."
Bernard Bajolet, ambassador of France: As the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hubert Vedrine, stressed during his visit to Sarajevo on March 9 and 10, the most important thing is to respect the Dayton-Paris Agreement. When that agreement is implemented and fully functional, possible constitutional reforms can be proposed. Besides, the Bosnian constitution specifies the way in which it can be modified.
The widest possible consensus should be sought for every modification, including those in the legal domain (for example the election law, the law about the organization of the council of ministers...). That is the issue for Bosnians. Initiative must come from them, without pressures and meddling from abroad, even from friendly and neighboring countries. We believe that the priority of this country is not in constitutional changes. Rather, its priorities are economic reforms, improvement of daily life of citizens and drawing nearer to Europe. One should not deflect attention from true problems.
Ibrahim Djedovic, DNZ: I think that in principle every idea should be considered and discussed by all affected factors. The key problem in Bosnia-Hercegovina, in my opinion, is the lack of internal political will to find sensible solutions for all of her citizens and nations. Instead, time is wasted on endless stories about endangerment of this or that nation, always by another nation, and so on, around and around... That strategy aims to pull a curtain which, in the name of people, religion, state... hides theft, crime, corruption, enormous enrichment, incompetence... Fortunately, that curtain is wearing thin and the outlines of everything hiding behind it are becoming more and more visible. The speed of that process depends on those who have now taken power. That is their test.
By creation of internal political forces from the ranks of all three nations that would be prepared for a totally open dialog based on arguments, meeting of opinions, ideas and projects, Bosnia-Hercegovina will draw nearer to the possibility of creating a better life. With the existing organization of the state, enormous administration, three armies, three police forces, everything in triplicate, it is impossible to make that life better. When they responsibly agree with that view, then we shall be close to a good solution. I would rather not guess the possible character of that solution; I would prefer that we reach it together and in Bosnia-Hercegovina. At the moment when intellect overcomes emotions, activities and work empty stories, feeling of responsibility irresponsibility of elected and appointed officials, Bosnia-Hercegovina will get an organization that will be optimal for all of her nations and citizens. All those who are urging, assisting and directing us in that direction, regardless of their origin and name, are sincere friends of our country and all of us.
Thomas Miller, ambassador of the USA: As an American ambassador, I was sent here to implement the Dayton Agreement, which envisages one country, two entities and three nations. It is not my fault that this idea is in conflict with the Dayton Agreement. My government firmly supports the view that it is first necessary to implement the Dayton Agreement, before we start thinking about other things. And that agreement hasn't been fully implemented. That is my first job, my responsibility and that is what I am trying to do. I did not have the pleasure of talking to Budisa and hearing a fuller explanation of this idea. Budisa is a very serious Croatian politician, and I do not like to classify things as "serious" and "frivolous".