That one hundred would include the High Representative and his legal advisors, members of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia-Hercegovina, president and deputy presidents of Federation B-H, president of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Federation B-H, together with his deputies, as well as all the members of the Parliament who confirmed the appointment of the new Prime Minister, and finally the Prime Minister with cabinet members he had named.
The Constitution of Federation B-H was first violated by members of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) of B-H who appointed Amir Jaganjac president of the Supreme Court of Federation B-H. Everyone should know by now that the Constitution of Federation B-H specifies that judicial appointments (presidents of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts and the prosecutor) can come only after the presidents of the House of Representatives and the House of Nations and Prime Minister are appointed. It is also well known that out of six above listed offices at most two can be held at the same time by officials from the same constituent nation [Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs are constituent nations].
On the other hand, it is true as the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council has pointed out that the procedure of filling political posts has been dragging along for a while, but the Federation B-H Constitution does not allow the HJPC to fill judicial posts before politicians finish their part of the job. Therefore, HJPC's appointment of Jaganjac is an obvious violation of the Federation B-H Constitution.
However, it would not be such a big deal if the HJPC was the only body that violated the Constitution, or that its illegal decision was corrected by other bodies that had powers to do so. Specifically, the High Representative has the mandate to impose laws, appoint and fire officials, to do as he pleases..., but he simply ignored the appointment of Jaganjac; more correctly, it did not even occur to him to change the decision of the HJPC. Even if he missed the fact that the president of the Supreme Court was appointed in violation of the Constitution, what about his legal advisors who get huge salaries in order to point out all constitutional and legal oversights in the country? If foreigners violated the constitution, local politicians should not have permitted themselves as much, if for no other reason than to demonstrate that in this country, after all, someone does care about respect for the Constitution and laws. Instead, Niko Lozancic, with support of his henchmen, known as Sahbaz Dzihanovic and Desnica Radivojevic, proposed Ahmed Hadzipasic for Federation B-H Prime Minister. President of the House of Representatives of the Federation B-H Parliament Muhamed Ibrahimovic included that proposal in the agenda of the Parliament, and representatives confirmed the appointment as well as appointment of Federation B-H government ministers and deputy ministers. Thereby the Constitution was violated not only by members of the parliament who did not oppose that proposal but also by ministers and deputy ministers who agreed to participate in the unconstitutional government.
And they had a solution at their fingertips. They should have appointed a Serb for either the Prime Minister or the president of the House of Representatives. Besides, the [Bosniak] Party of Democratic Action was the loudest and most persistent in it demands that all three nations be proclaimed for constituent nations everywhere in Bosnia-Hercegovina. These appointments only solidify the image of Federation B-H politicians who clearly put power ahead of law and the constitution, while they have already demonstrated that they place their official positions ahead of the interests of citizens.
Political parties as chief factors of constitutional changes can be both satisfied and dissatisfied, because none of the ethnic options has been able to push through its initial demands, as can be expected in countries in which several nations share sovereignty.
The speed and efficiency with which constitutional amendments were adopted in the Srpska Parliament surprised even the biggest optimists. It is obvious that political motives and cordial atmosphere created the day before significantly determined the flow of the crucial session of the Srpska Parliament.
Ethnic homogenization was obvious so that political parties could be divided into Bosniak, Croat and Serb and their purported ideological differences (between so-called nationalist and civic parties) were totally pushed aside. Such a situation indicates that political parties give priority to group rights based on ethnicity while the switch to individual rights is something left for the future that will require a lot of work.
It seems that the final straw was the decision of the Constitutional Commission of the Republic of Srpska in which Bosniak and Croat delegates voted against the Serb delegates which created fear among Serb political parties and pushed them to refuse to accept the ethnic majority vote of the Commission at any cost.
The principled attitude of the international community and its insistence that the decision of the Constitutional Court of B-H must be implemented fully and without caveats and that those changes cannot exceed the parameters set by the Constitutional Court also influenced the whole process. Constitutional changes in Srpska as well as in the Federation B-H essentially are nothing but adjustment of subordinate entity constitutions to the higher jurisdiction, state constitution, and the quality of changes will be observed in that context.
The harmful political atmosphere with the dominant fear that constitutional changes are to be or not to be issue for individual nations was exaggerated, since objectively in this case the matter was a legal obligation that kept being unnecessarily postponed.
The adjustment of the constitution, no matter how radical and significant, cannot in itself resolve numerous problems facing nations and citizens of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Approved constitutional amendments are an important foundation, but that foundation will prove to be insufficient unless political parties in their practice turn towards sincere nurturing of inter-ethnic trust and respect of human rights. It is not that important how many Serbs, Croats or Bosniaks are included in entity administrations; it is much more important what their cooperation will be like and if they will act as three perpetually clashing separate governments or as one functioning team. Inter-ethnic tolerance cannot be imposed by a constitution, or the High Representative. On the contrary, it has to be created by ourselves and concrete appointments at all levels of government will be as important as Constitutional amendments.
First, Serbs have again come together in fear of being outvoted and their ethnic homogenization is today perhaps stronger and firmer than ever before. That sort of fear has justified origin in the fact that Serbs were twice outvoted in the Constitutional Commission (thanks also to legal interpretation provided by the OHR!) and no less important fact that the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Hercegovina also typically reaches decisions with majority votes based on the ethnicity of the judges, while the votes of Serb judges typically end up in minority. Sidelining in making of the most important legal and political decisions reminds Serbs of the unfortunate 1992 when the [independence] referendum simply ignored the will of the [Bosnian] Serb electorate and prompted national unity among Serbs with very likely negative political consequences.
There is no doubt that Serb, Bosniak and Croat nationalism has benefited from that homogenization.
Serb nationalists will have no trouble in proving to Serbs that Bosniaks and Croats are their natural enemies and the greatest danger for the survival of the Serb nation, given that they prefer ultimatums and simple majority votes to agreements, thereby ignoring legitimate Serb interests. Following the same model, Bosniaks and Croats have demonstrated to their voters that they are prepared to fight legitimate Serb interests at any cost and that they will never compromise and give up their demands. The abandonment of political negotiations by the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ) was meant to demonstrate precisely that.
Secondly, political homogenization in Srpska has thoroughly destroyed Serb opposition, so that the only surviving political forces will promote more or less radical nationalist programs. It is very likely that a similar effect will be produced in the Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina.
If the situation develops in that direction, Bosnia-Hercegovina has taken a big step back and entered a phase of increased ethnic distrust and political challenges. The mode in which political parties negotiated demonstrated that political leadership has no political sense and feeling for political and social reality, which would imply readiness for compromise and deal making. These are bad signals for the Council of Europe and it is necessary to carefully reconsider the future of B-H.
New constitutional solutions, regardless of what they may be, have lost in their political, legal and psychological significance since the ethnic homogenization they have produced is in itself dangerous and prone to enhance discrimination.
Consequently, the political show we watched in the election year portends uncertain future. Have those who scripted the show had that in mind and have they foreseen all the possible consequences?
According to the 1991 census 7.35 percent of population of Bosnia-Hercegovina on the current territory of the Republic of Srpska declared ethnicity other than Bosniak, Croat or Serb. According to the same population census Croats constituted 9.39 percent of population on the same territory. According to the views advocated by political parties from Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina during the implementation of constitutional changes the 1991 population census was supposed to be the basis for the distribution of government offices in the entities. However, the March 27 "agreement" between the High Representative, political parties from the Alliance and the leading parties from Srpska marginalized and suppressed the category of "others". The parties from Federation B-H, especially Lagumdzija's Social-democratic Party (SDP) and Zubak's New Croatian Initiative (NHI) are responsible for that turnaround. These "democratic" leaders should be reminded that the category of others does not only include members of ethnic minorities but also autochthonous citizens of Bosnia-Hercegovina who used to declare themselves as Yugoslavs, or refused to declare their ethnicity as unimportant. Before the triumph of nationalists such attitude was widespread in B-H society and we do not see why it would not currently be popular among those who are sick of the policies of national political parties.
According to Article 34.2 of the Constitution of Srpska: "No one is obliged to declare his or hers ethnicity". According to Article 33 of the Constitution of Srpska "citizens have the right to participate in the government and to be recruited in the administration under equal conditions". If we now compare these articles of the Constitution of Srpska with the new "Agreement" about constitutional changes in which the political demographics excludes the others, when we must wonder how is it possible that according to the March 28 "Agreement" the implementation of the decision of the Constitutional Court of B-H can go against that Constitution and below the level of European standards and below political democracy as the constitutional principle of entities of Bosnia-Hercegovina. The agreement about constitutional changes, which was essentially imposed by the High Representative, is an unbelievable, anti-European, un-democratic and uncivilized document. It is unbelievable that such a document comes from the High Representative who formed the so-called constitutional commissions and in them gave the delegation of others the same number of members as to the delegations representing constituent nations. It is worrisome that the advisor of the government of Srpska regarding protection of minorities and human rights also did not find it necessary to say something regarding the "Agreement". We have already mentioned that the masks have fallen as far as SDP B-H is concerned (that political party claims to be multiethnic). It is unbelievable that on the constitutional commissions of entities sit representatives of others from the SDP B-H. We must wonder if they plan to leave their party or resign from commissions. Or perhaps they agree with views of their political leader who does not see them as politically equal with other members of his party. But the most striking of all of these "miracles" is the one known as Minister for Human Rights in the Council of Ministers of B-H.
That minister is a veteran nationalist leader forged in the inter-ethnic war in B-H. We wonder if in the divided multiethnic community such as B-H, after an inter-ethnic war and the Dayton peace agreement, that ministry should have been kept for someone with a wider reach and spotless past. Alternatively, as is customary in B-H, perhaps that ministry should have been led by a collective or rotating minister. After all, the biggest miracle in the country of miracles is that such a minister will keep his office; it hasn't occurred to him to resign, nor has anyone criticized him, so that he'll keep "protecting" human rights in B-H in his inimitable way.
A long delay in the start of decision making did not bring any modifications in the way decisions are made. The High Representative did not offer any guidance regarding how the commission is supposed to make decisions. The commission has an equal number of members from four groups, representing Serbs, Bosniaks, Croats and others. Altogether there are 16 members, therefore an even number. That fact immediately dooms the commission to futility in case of an 8 to 8 split. But political mathematics is not an exact science. In politics eight does not have to be eight.
Thus the results of the first day of voting in the commission for proposed constitutional amendments indicate that the voting based on ethnicity in which Serbs remain in minority is back. This infamous "outvoting" started with the so-called referendum on independence of B-H, continued with decisions of the Constitutional Court of B-H about the so-called constituent character of nations and finally continued in the Constitutional Commission of Srpska. In the commission all adopted proposals were supported by the Bosniak and Croat delegations and two delegates of "others". In case of a 8-8 split the repeated vote would end up as 8-7 in favor of the non-Serb side. The adopted proposals were produced by the SDP B-H and the Party for Bosnia-Hercegovina (SBiH). Thus the new constitution of Srpska is being written by the Alliance for Changes, which is totally ignoring Serb proposals. On the other hand, the Parliament of Srpska will have to eventually adopt the proposed amendments. The key question remains: the council for protection of vital national interests, which is essentially a second house of parliament of Srpska, should not result in more ethnically based votes and "outvoting" of Serbs by other two nations. The constituent character of nations in B-H does not mean that one nation should be defeated by the other two. We all know that majority does not imply quality.
The resolution of the national question in B-H, or now in Srpska, cannot imply that any one of the three constituent nations should be "outvoted" by the other two constituent nations. The national question in B-H will be correctly resolved if each one of the constituent nations can decide about its vital interests as a sovereign nation. Others should respect and tolerate defense of everyone's national interests, instead of suffocating, suppressing and preventing it. If such practice continues I fear a return to the unfortunate 1992. The national question in B-H and the constituent character of B-H nations cannot be resolved by simple majority votes. Everyone attempting to impose or support constitutional arrangements according to which one nation can be forced to accept decisions made by the other two nations is the biggest enemy of B-H and its nations, regardless of his or her name and purported attentions.
Most modern states have constitutions as highest legal and political documents. Such constitutions regulate the basis of organization of state authorities, provide guarantees of human rights and freedoms, and create basis for the economic and social system and order. It is well known that the Constitution of the USSR under Stalin had the largest number of guaranteed and individually listed human rights and freedoms that were most often enjoyed in the icy Siberian expanses.
On the other hand, the United Kingdom does not have a constitution, but nevertheless does have a developed democracy and civil society rivaled by only a few other countries. That indicates that a constitution is a political and legal condition for the rule of law, but that in practice the rule of law very often depends on a general level of conscience and political relations in the society.
In our case, implementing the process of alignment of the Srpska constitution with the decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Hercegovina about the constitutional status of nations, in the end, as a member of the Constitutional commission I have reached the following conclusions:
The only agreement majority of parties involved in the process could reach is in their attempt to minimize the importance of ethnic minorities and other citizens. That demonstrates that most of the political factors currently on the scene are advocates of the ideology of collective ethnic rights, rather than individual rights, rights of citizens, or if I may - human rights.
Furthermore, to prove greatness, one has to demonstrate the ability to protect and respect those less numerous who live together with him and fulfill all of their obligations. Does that mean that they are in the same manner antagonistic with respect to other constituent nations but are afraid to say that openly due to the presence of representatives of the International community, while their attitude towards ethnic minorities reveals their true attitude towards other constituent nations as well?
Also, sometimes I get the impression that many do not care about the essence of constitutional changes. Instead for them these changes are part of a wider strategy whose ultimate goal is weakening or destruction of the Republic of Srpska.
If Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats are constituent nations, would not it be fair to say that in the official use there are three equal languages, official languages used by Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats?
Isn't there a way to protect vital national interests of, for example, Croats, if the body for the protection of their interests is named the Council for the Protection of Nations, if representatives of the Croat nation are elected by Croats only, if representatives of Croats have the right to lodge complaints against every proposed law provided they believe it endangers their vital national interests, and if ultimately Croats decide about that through qualified majority? The mentioned proposal creates a mechanism for the strongest possible protection of national interests. Driven by politics, some care more about the name of the body that would protect national interests, while in my opinion it is more important to find a compromise solution that would satisfy all the parties involved.
Participation in the government, as proposed by Mr. Milorad Dodik, based on the voter rolls is more than a fair approach, without political implications. Lists or registered voters have been compiled under supervision of the OSCE several times since the end of the war and all those who lived in 1991 in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and are still alive, had an opportunity to be added to voter rolls. Those who have registered to vote have demonstrated an interest to participate in the political life in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Participation in the government based on over rolls is a satisfactory method to achieve fair representation of constituent nations and ethnic minorities in executive authorities and the state administration. The above mentioned proposals are my personal contribution and with a bit of good will make it possible to reach the goal. Political and democratic processes in Srpska and B-H have been improving and there will be opportunities in the future to improve on the currently offered solutions.
It is necessary to demonstrate that we can create our own country on our own, with two equal entities and three constituent nations. To impose a solution, among other, would create conditions for ethnic homogenization and strengthening of nationalist parties and would ensure their victory in the coming elections. It is time to take responsibility. It is time for B-H to start walking on its own, without help from the "Big brother".