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Editorial: in Focus
Fear of Madrid
by Sejad Lukicin
Oslobodenje, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina, December 11 1998
Judging by the statements of international officials, the forthcoming Madrid Conference of the Council for the Implementation if the Peace Agreement should mark a new phase of the stabilization of the situation in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The three last years, according to these interpretations, were spent on the consolidation of peace, and the future will bring the true consolidation of the state of Bosnia-Hercegovina. The International Community, through carefully chosen series of actions, implemented during the past few days, has indicated strongly to the local politicians what it expects from them after the Madrid Conference. It is not by chance that in such a short period of time general of the Srpska Army Radoslav Krstic was arrested, three years old border dispute with Croatia in connection with the village of Martin Brod was put on the agenda, and the new Federal Government was formed almost overnight under immense pressure. However, no matter how much the International Community is determined to speed up the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, its effort will depend strongly on the local politicians and their readiness for cooperation. Objectively, that good will was definitely lacking until now and, judging by the recent statements, it will be scarce even after the Madrid Conference. Nikola Poplasen, the President of the Republic of Srpska, in his speech to the Parliament of that part of Bosnia-Hercegovina suggested that the authority of the International Community should be reduced and that of entities increased. Not so long ago, Poplasen called the presence of the International Community in his entity an occupation and it is not hard to fathom the goal of his initiative. However, Poplasen is not alone in his suggestion. Zivko Radisic, the President of the Bosnian Presidency, believes that the government should go back to its legal and constitutional framework. In other words, that is also a demand for the weakening of the influence of the International Community. These two statements demonstrate that the current leaders of the entity and Bosnia-Hercegovina will not accept the package from Madrid eagerly and that they will do all in their power to ensure it is not fully implemented. Only the International Community can prevent them in that intention. Whether Bosnia-Hercegovina will after Madrid really follow a different path primarily depends on the International Community's efficiency. If that does not happen, the changes of local politicians will not be sufficient. Probably, it will be necessary to reevaluate the approach of the International Community to the problem called Bosnia-Hercegovina. Therefore, the Madrid Conference will have the full impact only if the local politicians are not the only ones afraid of the package prepared there. Its conclusions would have to scare to a certain extent also those who are responsible for that problem.
Translated on 1/30/99