After the settlement of the suit regarding the building of two military training facilities on the territory of 21 villages near Glamoc, earmarked for the training of the Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina Army under the "Train and Equip" program, it will be known who will be blown away by "Barbara" and who will dance the mute Glamoc kolo [traditional Balkan circle dance].
For the pragmatics there are no dilemmas in this case: the powerful SFOR and the Federal Ministry of Defense, they deem, will not even acknowledge powerless cries of the local authorities in Glamoc, aided by the lamentations of the Association for the Return of the Serbs expelled from West Krajina Municipalities, which demand a stop to the further building of the military training facility. The legalists, on the other hand, support "underdogs", since the building of the aforementioned objects affects the most sensitive problem dating back from the Dayton Agreement: the return of refugees, as well as the disturbance of the ethnic composition of the population in the Glamoc Municipality, violations of human rights, and setting up of geostrategic facts on the ground totally incompatible with the declared Dayton principles.
Common Good: Did the representatives of the International Community think that they will charm the local folks by installing powerful technology in the midst of the Glamoc Polje [Field, denoting a karst valley], in the manner of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Gypsy Melquiades who fascinated the natives by showing them ice? Only with the most recent decision of the Glamoc local authorities about the stoppage of the building of the military training grounds, the opinion of the local population regarding the aforementioned object based on the logic "I came, I saw, I expropriated" became obvious. The evidence for that can be found in the decree issued by the Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina (FBH) Government to the Federal Defense Ministry which allows occupation of the real estate encompassed by the decision of the FBH Government about the building of the center for military training before the higher level decision regarding the legality of the expropriation decrees. In practice: the building of the military training grounds begins without any consultations with the owners of the affected real estate, otherwise according to the Dayton Agreement undeniable owners of the property. The justification of the decree states the following: "The urgency in the issuing of this decree is justified by the danger of a significant slowdown in the already initiated program of the enabling and training of the FBH Army". The decree is based on the Expropriation Law dating from 1987 and the former Yugoslavia, which violates both the Bosnian Constitution and the Dayton Agreement. To the question how something like that is possible in view of recent enactment of [High Representative] Petritsch's laws about the property, the SFOR press center replied that the peace agreement is irrelevant in this case, while the spokesperson of the Office of the High Representative Alexandra Stiglmayer concluded that even in Germany property is expropriated for public good, since public interest is more important than individual interest. No one in various international organizations can answer how it is possible that there is no right to appeal the decree issued by the FBH Government, nor why "owners do not have the right to refuse to give up their property". The Federal Defense Ministry has a "solomonic" explanation: "Because the Government's decision about the building of the military training grounds is in public interest". For the same reasons, the Ministry claims that the Glamoc local authorities do not have the right to stop the construction but can only argue about the amount that needs to be paid for the expropriated real estate. The strategy of fait accompli is also pushed by the representatives of the International Community. According to Bozo Jovicic, the president of the Glamoc local council, Dieter Woltman, the president of the Commission for the Oversight of the Construction of the Military Training Center, "suggested" to the local authorities to call a new session of the local council at which they would "have to declare their support for the construction of the military training center".
Geopolitics: The opposition of six Serb and three Bosniak councilors in Glamoc, with the approval of six Croat councilors from HDZ, according to Bozo Jovicic, clearly indicates in whose interest is the construction of the military training center. "DM 250,000, the amount earmarked for the payment to the owners of the expropriated real estate, is way too low for Serbs to fall in a trap and allow the establishment of a buffer zone which would prevent their return to the canton number 10 and Knin Krajina [in Croatia]. The construction of the military training grounds would 'amputate' a whole side of the Glamoc Municipality, 40 kilometers [27 miles] in length. To the east from that belt are Mrkonjic Grad, Sipovo and Kljuc which would normally serve as a logistic and support base for the returnees. All that serves Croat interest and the methodology, forced expropriation of the real estate, is nothing but a verification of the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from this region," Jovicic is convinced. He wonders why the construction of the military training grounds on the stretch Duvno-Livno-Kupres-Glamoc does not affect a single Croat household, while it includes 250 Serb households. The SFOR claims that they did everything in their power to avoid inclusion of a large number of households and minimize obstacles to the potential returnees. International Organizations emphasize that they cleared mines from two villages at the edge of the military training center and thereby established conditions for the return of population. Bozo Jovicic claims that all the houses in the villages of Opacic and Mladeskovci, earmarked for the return, were burnt down during the military exercises held on August 12 1998. "Live ammunition training on the military training grounds 'Barbara' caused eight fires, which destroyed 155 buildings between the villages of Dubrave and Prijani, including the villages of Opacic and Mladeskovci," says Jovicic. The SFOR assured us that only five objects were destroyed, while the Federal Defense Ministry admitted to 54 destroyed buildings "on the part of the training grounds used by SFOR" (known as "Pelican"). Regardless of the fact that from these claims it is impossible to establish correct locations of fires and the correct number of burnt houses one has to wonder: Who shall pay for the destroyed objects and for their reconstruction? Now, the owners of the destroyed real estate, based on the claims of Allun Roberts that the return to these villages is possible, are demanding an answer from the local authorities in Glamoc. And they, in turn, from international organizations.
"It is obvious the International Community has not earmarked a single cent for the payment. The only explanation arrived from the SFOR and it was verbal: we do not feel guilty," claims Jovicic.
Compensation: Jovicic points out another example of hypocrisy: only the houses in the villages of Opacic and Mladeskovci are outside of the military training zone, while the fields and pastures of their owners are within the military training centers "Barbara" and "Pelican". The military zone includes houses, fields and pastures of 21 villages in the Glamoc Municipality: 18 Serb and 3 Bosniak villages. "Divide the amount of DM 250,000 earmarked for the compensation of real estate owners between 704 claimants and you'll see what they are supposed to receive [about $240 each]. Although I was ordered to assist the search for the owners I will not give them a single address. First, because until recently no one even made any inquiries about the owners, let alone consulted them regarding anything. Secondly, I want to talk to all the owners and point out to them that the strategy of ethnic cleansing is in work here," Jovicic is resolute. To the question why contacts with real estate owners were not made earlier, Reporter received several totally contradictory answers, followed with the tossing of the "hot potato" from one hand to the other. "Why not earlier? We could not expropriate the property before the decree was issued since in agreement with the Government's decision this was a public interest process," Ante Colak, a legal expert with the Federal Defense Ministry, stuck to his story. The SFOR replied that the Federal Defense Ministry had failed to contact real estate owners since "the Association of Refugee Serbs [had] refused to assist the process". Alexandra Stiglmayer, the Office of the High Representative spokesperson, emphasized that the Federal Defense Ministry was putting off the decision regarding the compensation for the expropriated real estate and that the OHR believes that they do not intend to respect the law in this case. Stiglmayer reminds that an account was supposed to be set up last year and the initial amount of DM 250,000 moved to the account and that the representatives of the Federal Defense Ministry failed to do so. "It is not true that the Federal Defense Ministry is delaying the expropriation process and agreement regarding the payment. That is pure politicizing and disinformation," replies Ante Colak, adding that the Defense Ministry has planned to request from the FBH Government additional allocation from the budget for the compensation of the owners.
Politicization: Colak, on the other hand, claims that "the whole case is politicized only in order to raise the price of the expropriated real estate". Bozo Jovicic retorts with the question: "Why are all four members of the Commission for the Appraisement of the Real Estate Croats?" Exactly that fact, believes Jovicic, opens a possibility that real estate will be under-appraised. These and all other essential questions are deflected by representatives of the SFOR and OHR to other addresses claiming that they "know nothing". In the meantime, owners of expropriated real estate, denied the right of return to their pre-war homes, are waiting for an answer to an essential question: Who guarantees that the compensation will be appropriate and how and when will it be made? Bozo Jovicic says that houses and land plots were appraised according to the condition they were in 1995, and Alexandra Stiglmayer claims that the property will be appraised according to its current condition, giving a strange explanation for that: "Why should these people receive hundreds of thousands of German Marks based on the earlier condition of their houses. In that case all citizens of Bosnia-Hercegovina would demand money for their houses."
Ante Colak also cannot with certainty state how the problem of compensation for real estate owners will be resolved. "They will get some sort of compensation, which will in some manner help them to resolve that; some will build from scratch, some will perhaps be given a new location; the compensation is not only financial but also takes into account the new location; no one will be denied a just compensation; the International Community will be included..." Bozo Jovicic warns that among the real estate owners, a majority escaped in 1995 from Glamoc and are now, according to Petritsch laws, facing eviction from their current accommodation. To the question how their problem will be resolved, Alexandra Stiglmayer has this to say: "The compensation they will get will not be bad and will be sufficient to allow them to build new objects. They can open a store or start a new business". In case evictions occur before the compensation is given Stiglmayer has a "creative" solution: "In that case owners will be proposed alternative accommodation [euphemism for refugee camps] until their problem is resolved". Thus, the "exceptions" are given another alternative: to dance the mute Glamoc kolo [regional Balkan circle dance; this type is unique for Serbs and originates from the period of Ottoman rule over Bosnia and Serbia when Serbs were not allowed to play music and had to develop "silent" dances]. Even if they stomp with all their might, no one shall hear them.
The Federal Defense Ministry refused to comment.