Crisis to escalate? And while Bozo Ljubic's talks with the OHR above all resemble stalling and foot-dragging, in the field, above all in Hercegovina, conditions for a further escalation of the crisis are being created. The unsuccessful work of the "negotiating team" is also contributing to that. Furthermore, the parties in the Alliance for Changes haven't shown any readiness for compromise and even named new management in two key public companies: the Croatian Posts and Telecom Mostar and the Electrical Utility Company of the Croat Community Herceg-Bosna, and in the most successful exporter in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Aluminum.
Furthermore, the fuse has been burning. If the newly appointed management teams are not allowed to take control of the companies the federation government has threatened that it will "apply a wide spectrum of measures" against the disobedient companies. It is even possible that the assistance of the Office of High Representative will be sought, which again would not exclude a new use of SFOR forces.
Students, pupils, policemen Some media in Sarajevo have published claims that the HDZ and the parties participating in the Croatian National Assembly are planning mass protests regarding the appointment of new management teams in public companies, similar to those that already took place during the break-in in the Hercegovacka Bank. Civilian protests have so far turned out to be the most effective weapon of Croats from the start of the crisis.
However, as was the case until now, such threats will not be effective. Furthermore, it is not at all likely that the HDZ and the Croatian National Assembly are capable of bringing significant numbers of protesters to the streets.
On the one hand the morale of the citizens has flagged because of displayed lack of decisiveness regarding the declaration of the autonomy and the lack of courage of the group around Jelavic to either accept the risk or give up the whole concept of autonomy.
On the other hand the international community and the parties participating in the Alliance have skillfully timed the change of management teams early in the summer season. Namely, it is well known that pupils and students are the striking force of all demonstrations. They can at a suitable moment be released to the streets and thereby create the "mass momentum" which in turn draws additional protesters. During the summer not only are students and pupils on a vacation, but less people stay in the cities due to vacations, so that organization of serious civil protests is doomed in advance.
Hardliners seeking decisive action Because of displayed indecisiveness Ante Jelavic and the group of his closest collaborators have become targets of "hardliners" within the HDZ as well as other parties participating in the Croatian National Assembly, above all the Christian Democrats. They are demanding decisive action!
In that context, media have been leaked the story about the holding of a referendum about the creation of a separate Croat territorial unit, based on the well-known decisions of the Croatian National Assembly. However, a possible holding of a referendum will be only partly due to the pressures of the hardliners and even more due to the refusal of the international community and the Alliance to include the HDZ in the negotiations about the (re)organization of the country.
"Whether Bosnia-Hercegovina will be divided into cantons or made up from three federal units should be decided in an international conference about Bosnia-Hercegovina. If the involved sides show even a minimum good will, that burning issue can be resolved in a just way that will satisfy all three nations," Ante Jelavic said last week. However, the parties participating in the Alliance for Changes are rejecting any thought of an international conference as they are convinced that that would an introduction into dismemberment of Bosnia-Hercegovina. The current top representatives of the international community in our country apparently share that opinion and also abhor the idea of a referendum regarding the Croatian autonomy.
Jealvic on tour However, regarding the referendum, at this moment the assessment that such a move could above all split the Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina seems more interesting. Namely, it is difficult to believe that territories with Croat majority in central Bosnia would become a part of a possible third entity, so that resistance among Croats in central Bosnia to that idea is likely. At a meeting held between Ante Jelavic and local political leaders in the Central Bosnia Canton recently, allegedly a lot of discussion was dedicated to exactly these issues. Although Rudo Vidovic, the governor of the Central Bosnia Canton and a member of HDZ's "negotiating team" claims that on that occasion participants engaged in a constructive and fruitful discussion about the current political situation and that "the unity of the leading party representing Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina was confirmed yet again", media have been leaked information that allegedly Vidovic refused to partly finance the autonomy from state funds in his canton. Similar Jelavic's demands were rejected in some other Croat majority regions during his "tour" and his talks with party officials in different parts of the country.
However, as our source in the HDZ reveals, the situation is actually just the opposite. Allegedly the goal of above mentioned leaks was to provoke divisions among Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and as far as money is concerned only Croats from Hercegovina have reasons to be angry.
"Money collected for assistance to members of the HVO who supported the decisions of the Croatian National Assembly came from Hercegovina and was paid to Coat soldiers in the Sava Valley region and central Bosnia. Therefore Croats from Hercegovina contributed money for their less wealthy brothers in other parts of the country. Claims that supposedly Croats in central Bosnia do not want to support the legal leadership are supposed to imply that Croats in Hercegovina are isolated and prompt divisions," claims our source.