interview by Neven SANTIC
Professor Kasapovic envisaged the book as a case study within a comparative research into consociational countries, convinced that given the divided nature of the society and constitutional arrangements after 1995, the consociational model of democracy is the most suitable for Bosnia-Hercegovina (B-H). Professor Kasapovic attempts to determine why B-H has not managed to stabilize itself, and become an efficient democracy. In six chapters the author considers the sovereignty of B-H, theory and examples of consociational democracy, focusing on obvious examples of the Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland, the historical sources and existing modes of consociational democracy in B-H, B-H as a constitutional consociational democracy, problems of the consociational model in B-H that hobble the functioning of the democratic state, while in the final, sixth chapter the author offers her vision of the solution that would provide conditions for a functional democratic state.
Given the whole series of internal and external causes of instability in B-H, which one is the most important?
KASAPOVIC: I think that the most important factor of instability is the lack of meaningful political strategy of elites regarding the construction of a democratic state. In my opinion, that is a consequence of the habit to observe B-H from a shortened political perspective which in the best case goes back to 1945. The attempt is to generalize that period and apply it to the rest of history of Bosnia. We all know that the post WWII period had no open religions and ethnic conflicts. However, these conflicts did exist, but were hidden and suppressed.
Definitely controlled. Then, this brief period is interpreted as a fundamental, almost eternal characteristic of the society. There is a refusal to accept to what extent religious and ethnic divisions affected the structure and society and the consciousness of the people. Consequently, in 1990 and later everyone was shocked after the emergence of nationalist parties that received almost unanimous support from their respective ethnic groups. If you don't have that historical awareness and knowledge, then you do not have a clear realization and awareness of the type of the society you live in. Consequently, it is impossible to come up with a realistic strategy for the survival of that society and state. In my opinion, that is the key internal factor that ultimately led to the collapse of the Bosnian society and state in the early nineties. Later, international factors got involved and introduced even more confusion, lack of understanding, contradictory concepts and so on.
In the past some have compared B-H with Switzerland. However, in Switzerland the agreement of different communities works, while the same could not be said for B-H?
One of the paradoxes is that it is impossible to compare a democratic and a non-democratic society. The Swiss state has been developing democracy for more than a hundred years and that integration, consensus about the state commonwealth, has been achieved based on democratic principles. That did not happen in B-H. Another, even greater paradox is that Switzerland has been built on the principles and with institutions that are rejected in B-H. Wide ranging autonomy of cantons in Switzerland, which is formally a confederation, while de facto a federation, actually is very similar to autonomy of linguistic communities. In B-H, according to the Bosniak elite, such autonomy is rejected as impossible and intolerable, something that would lead to the destruction of Bosnia and so on. Therefore, they apparently want the Swiss model, but without Swiss principles and political institutions. That is the basic paradox.
Would it be easier to overcome problems in B-H if it were more economically developed?
I don't think so. If that were so, then there would be no ethnic and other problems in developed countries, such as Belgium or Spain. Of course money is important and it is difficult to expect the creation of a democratic political culture from total poverty, but wealth in itself does not guarantee political democracy, harmony in society and ideal functioning of the state.
What should then, be done?
Strategies would have to be created by politicians. I offered a model that is based on certain European models from former or current consociational states that knew how to overcome divisions in the society. They gave the key role to political elites that had to achieve minimal consensus to overcome that gap. Naturally, the additional difficulty in B-H is that some of the current consociational arrangements as well as the whole state organization were imposed from outside, so that it is possible to talk about forced or imposed arrangements. On the other hand, that is the political reality. That state was defined by the international community and is so far being preserved by the international community, and that should be accepted as some soft of a framework within which it is necessary to organize a state that can more or less function effectively. I offered models in which each one of the three political elites would to a certain extent modify its political strategy and abandon above all maximalist and exclusive political and national goals and interests and reach the minimal consensus by making deals with the remaining two elites. In that, it is very important not to insist on some neo-socialist version of brotherhood and unity, artificial and forced creation of closeness between different ethnic groups, forced unification, but simply to allow people to live and work in separate institutions if that is what they desire. If there are conditions, one day we'll have different modes of social and political organization.
Do you expect negative reactions regarding your book?
I do, because of what I offer, both as analysis and as possible solutions, and the fact that it has direct political implications and consequences that will not be equally suitable for everyone. However, I do not personally care whether someone "politically" likes my book or not. As a political scientist, I do care whether the study is theoretically sound, based on valid premises and convincing arguments.