A second reason for the examination of the validity of the Dayton Peace Agreement is the result of the general elections in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
The results are an exceptionally interesting starting point for a discussion because of expressed big support for "the national parties", which the world and the opposition leaders and their media accuse of obstruction of the peace agreement. In accordance with that, they interpret a victory of "national parties" as a serious blow to the implementation of the Dayton Agreement.
The third reason for the serious analysis of the implementation and validity of the Dayton Peace agreement is the recent decision of the BH Constitutional Court regarding the constituent character of all three nations everywhere in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Interpretations offered by participants of the Dayton meeting, as well as by others, differ, especially concerning whether the Dayton Agreement should be changed and, if it should, to what extent; then, whether that agreement secures a future for Bosnia-Hercegovina or not, etc. Others on the other hand claim that the agreement is unjust and that a change is necessary. Yet another group in turn claims that it should be totally abandoned because it legalizes the results of the war and definitely "divides Bosnia", while the fourth group praises it for stopping the war, but criticizes it for failing to guarantee the equality of nations etc.
Therefore, it is obvious that the opinions regarding the implementation of that key document for BH differ, just as the opinions regarding the future course of action differ. Five years should be more than enough to spot all the weaknesses and drawbacks that have become evident in the implementation and should be removed. Furthermore, if those weaknesses and drawbacks are fundamental, perhaps it is time for a new agreement.
However, it seems that a critical mass of consciousness among the most responsible people is still lacking. Consequently, it is still impossible to consider the BH reality objectively, independently of national, party, professional, and personal preferences. The best example for that are the assessments of the recent elections. All the parties are celebrating a victory, including the international community, but only in some cases expectations have been met by the results.
Namely, there is no doubt that the international community has suffered, together with the parties it favored in these third general elections in BH since the end of the war, its biggest defeat. However, its representatives are yet to admit that publicly. On the contrary, they fool themselves with statements that "national parties cannot form a government on their own", and that the SDP has significantly improved its results in comparison with the previous general elections. Their concept of the internal organization of BH, based on their own ideas, and without official and agreed change of the basic document, the Dayton Peace Agreement, has been rejected by nations and citizens, as was demonstrated in the recent elections. They should definitely ask themselves what the appropriate response to the consistent rejection of that concept is and what their remaining options are.
Under condition that they still want to be present politically and militarily in BH and do not any more insist on the application of unprecedented and hitherto in political and legal theory unknown concepts of internal organization of a state, they can consider, but always together with legitimate representatives of nations in BH, four main solutions.
First Solution: To persevere in the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement based on the current strategy. Therefore, BH is an independent state with two multiethnic entities and three constituent peoples. That model requires continued significant presence of the international community, military, political and financial. Without that the process would not progress for a single inch. It is obvious that none of the nations is satisfied with this model. True, the Serbs have the most reasons to be satisfied. They have an almost ethnically clean, Serb entity, their parliament, government, president, army, and elements of statehood missing from the Republic of Srpska are made up for on the state level. Bosniaks have lost in the war large territories where they used to be in majority and which remained in the Republic of Srpska, as did Croats in a part of the Bosnian Sava Valley region. It is clear that to both of them the Republic of Srpska is an obstacle to return and their own political yearnings. Therefore, this model suits only the Serbs and a part of the international community. Namely, the Serbs got a half of BH and a de facto state within a state with all (mono)ethnic institutions. Out of neighboring countries, this model will definitely be supported by Serbia, while Croatia has already stated its opposition.
In case of its implementation, which is hard to believe, the decision of the BH Constitutional Court about the constituent character of all three nations everywhere in BH, the entities will lose the reason for their existence. Further insistence on this model would be absurd.
Second Solution: BH organized as a multiethnic centralized state with all rights for all of its nations and citizens. That model is the closest to the pre-war organization, but now BH would be a multiparty and democratic state. This model has a lot of supporters abroad and in BH itself. However, its biggest problem is that it has a lot of opponents in BH. Namely, this model would be accepted by most Bosniaks, because it is closest to their political vision. Bosniaks believe that in long-term that model would suit them the best. On the other hand, Croats and especially the Serbs, are a priori against such state organization. That model would not provide Croats with sufficient means for protection of national identity and confirmation of the status of the constituent nation. The Serbs, on the other hand, have currently a much more favorable solution for themselves, their own national entity, the Republic of Srpska, and for them the return to the model of a multiethnic centralized state would be a step back on the way to their chief goal, their own independent state.
Third Solution: BH as an independent multinational (con)federal state with three (con)federal units or, using the Dayton vocabulary, entities. That model was envisaged in the Owen-Stoltenberg's plan in 1993, but failed because of excessive Serbian territorial appetites in BH and the Republic of Croatia. That model could offer a chance for truly equal status of all nations and protection of national and human rights of the citizens. However, the opposition to this solution springs up at its very mention. Supposedly, it is ethical and just that Serbs have their entity on 49% of the territory even though they are only 32% of the population, and that the other two nations do not have their entities. Instead they have the Federation BH which is tight for both nations. Resistance to this option comes form international circles, as well as (publicly) from Muslim leaders and neo-Communist Yugo-nostalgic groups, and needlessly fired up Bosnian integralists [Bosniaks-Muslims who claim that there are no Serbs or Croats in Bosnia, but that they are actually all Bosnians, only not aware of that]. Paradoxically and at the same time logically, the resistance also comes form the Serbs who already have an entity, because they are aware that in that new three-entity option the territory under their control would be reduced. Croats are the only nation supporting this model. There are no likely allies, not even in the Croatian government.
Fourth Solution: BH as a decentralized state, without entities, but with more cantons and greater concentration of authority in the central state institutions. However, it seems that in this phase only the Croats support this model. The international community may accept this model, but it does not have the courage to even broach this subject, fearful of the reaction in the Serb and even some Bosniak circles. The Serbs from the start reject this model because it is the negation of the Republic of Srpska, and Bosniaks because they believe that it is still possible to build a state, with assistance of the international community, without wide-ranging local self-rule. They prefer that model as the most numerous nation. The Republic of Croatia would support the model of cantonized BH, but Serbia would not.
In that case, is there a model that would be acceptable for the three constituent BH nations, as well as for the neighbors and the international community? Optimists would say that there is, but it needs to be found. As soon as the people are given a chance to take a stand on the present model, they reject it (elections). Unfortunately, the international community still insists on the model based on the Dayton Peace Agreement and stereotypes about certain nations, the history of Bosnia and region in general, in accordance with its own interests. If its prominent representatives continue to base their political moves on the prejudices that Milosevic, Tudman and Izetbegovic are to be blamed for the war in BH, or that national parties obstruct the implementation of the Dayton Agreement, then they can expect even bigger surprises than those served in the recent elections. If they do not take into account wishes of the people, their institutions, churches, they will never know the true situation, let alone be able to fashion it in a democratic manner. Instead of spilling platitudes about the illegitimacy of the referendum organized by the Croatian Popular Assembly, it would be much smarter to organize a referendum in all of BH with one short question: do you support BH as an independent state. However, they most likely think like one senior SDP official who recently stated that many do not support BH, but that their opinion did not matter.
Instead of propaganda and financial imposition of a single-party rule in BH (embodied in the SDP), rejected by the nations for the second time in ten years, the task of international representatives in BH should be to harmonize the relations between three nations and to foster and coordinate negotiations about inter-ethnic consensus regarding the organization of BH. Electoral engineering benefiting only one political option, even under the guise of alleged multiethnic character of that option, which of course is not true, only results in the deepening of the mistrust between nations and towards the international community. Peacetime should be used to forge a self-sustaining functioning model for BH. And such model is impossible without an agreement of three nations and their full equality. If that is not possible, then there is no single reason to preserve BH.