Those who have followed the events in connection with Michael Steiner over the last few weeks, in the light of an aggressive Serbian media and diplomatic offensive, could without any difficulty draw parallels with the late nineteen eighties when Milosevic's media-propaganda juggernaut crushed and eliminated its political opponents first in Serbia and then elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia. In the Serbian media, political rhetoric and diplomatic missives, during the last few weeks Steiner enjoyed the status that was at the time of Milosevic's escalation reserved for enemies from the Communist elite nomenclature from other former Yugoslav states, such as Hamdija [Pozderac] and Branko [Mikulic], [Josip] Vrhovec and [Stipe] Suvar, [Azem] Vllasi and [Fadil] Hoxha, France Popit and Janez Stanovnik...
However, these parallels are essentially highly superficial and inappropriate for the gravity of the events on the relation Serbia-Kosovo. The authorities in Serbia have for months discretely, and during the last few weeks openly and forcefully, demanded that the UN pull their administrator Michael Steiner from Kosovo, justifying that with claims that his actions (in violation of UN resolutions) are pulling the province from the jurisdiction of the mother country, Serbia. After several weeks the UN announced that Steiner's tenure was over (strange tenure, lasting 17.5 months) and that Steiner was leaving Kosovo and moving to a new duty as a German ambassador in Geneva, if I correctly understood.
At least two aspects of this incident have impact on us in Bosnia-Hercegovina, which very directly and clearly corresponds to the Kosovo paradigm. Bosnia-Hercegovina, just like Kosovo and Serbia, is tailored by international protectors. Synchronized political, humanitarian, media and finally diplomatic campaign of Serbia targeting the international community (leading to the replacement of administrator Steiner) indicates that the diplomatic elite that has over the last ten years marched through this region is not untouchable. On the contrary, they are mostly diplomatic light-weights [light-farts in the original] who managed to stay afloat only due to bureaucratic inertia, personal instincts and our chips on the shoulder. Analysis of leading experts of the ESI institute, excerpts of which were published in the British Guardian, and which described our protector Paddy Ashdown as a mediaeval "subtle tyrant" was published here in Bosnia-Hercegovina with obvious fear and caution, or not published at all. None of the local politicians, both from the parties in power and in opposition, dared say anything about this seminal analysis that accurately dissects the root of the tragedy of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
In conclusion, by forcing the removal of Michael Steiner from Kosovo, Serbia demonstrated that all those high representatives, protectors and colonial administrators who arrived over the years with the task to pacify and civilize savage Balkan tribes are vulnerable, subject to control, checks, criticism and can be replaced...
The other, for us much more significant, aspect of the Kosovo and Serbia story in connection with Steiner, has to do with the demand from Serbia that Kosovo be returned within the constitutional and legal system of that country. That requires a more serious analysis, lacking within the media and diplomatic establishment in Bosnia-Hercegovina, although over the last few years territorial exchanges have been proposed on many occasions (not only by late Djindjic, but also by his heir Zivkovic), which attempt to tie the status of Kosovo with unity of Bosnia-Hercegovina, that is the status of the Republic of Srpska. I only have superficial knowledge of all UN resolutions and proclamations of the EU about the Serbia-Kosovo issue. However, none of them defines Kosovo as an independent state and political entity without links with Serbia.
In the spring of 1999 the West finally decided to brutally and openly punish several-years-long criminal campaign of Slobodan Milosevic in pretty much all accessible parts of the former Yugoslavia. The excuse was the systematic and thorough campaign of violence of the regime in Serbia against Albanians in Kosovo, lasting for about 15 years. Four years ago, Milosevic's regime capitulated to the Western alliance, the Serb army withdrew, and one million expelled Albanians returned to Kosovo. The West offered to the Albanians almost undeserved opportunity to organize Kosovo according to their wishes, to return to this part of the Balkans the rule of law, respect for human rights, respect for minority rights. However, they turned to merciless terror against the non-Albanian population, expelled Serbs, then Bosniaks, and finally Roma; with the assistance of NATO, Albanians did in Kosovo what Serbs, with the assistance of the Yugoslav People's Army did in occupied parts of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina - ethnically cleansed territory, murdered those who are not Albanians, set their religious objects on fire, murdered children...
Thanks to Milosevic's military defeat by the West, Albanians were given by the world a green light to rule Kosovo. Serbs in Bosnia-Hercegovina, thanks to Milosevic's military victory were given the right to rule over one half of this state.
In four years, during which Albanians in Kosovo had a chance to create with the international assistance in Kosovo an organized, democratic, tolerant and relatively hopeful country, they turned to savagery, violence and terror. Kosovo has become a rubbish heap for all sorts of gangsters, scum and crime. National-romantic nonsense of imminent unification of Kosovo and Albania has become increasingly less likely as Albania has turned to the European Union as its natural ally, and accession to the EU is not possible without definite borders. Kosovo Albanians simply gambled away the war loot NATO presented them with.
Serbs in the Republic of Srpska were given four years more than Albanians in Kosovo to democratically cultivate or at least cosmetically refresh that half of Bosnia-Hercegovina. By resorting to terrorism, nationalist exclusion, and mediaeval geopolitics, Serbs have long time ago exhausted their right to their own entity, their own territory occupied in wartime in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
If the message from the most recent summit of the EU held in Greece according to which the Western Balkans must be organized and stabilized before accession to the EU is true, then the international community must take two essential steps: return Kosovo to Serbia and return the Republic of Srpska to Bosnia-Hercegovina! Therefore, implement conclusions of the Badinter's commission from 12 years ago: the borders of the former Yugoslav states cannot be changed unilaterally and by the use of force. And Kosovo and the Republic of Srpska are two entities produced by violence, true different sort of violence. It is clear that Mladen Ivanic is rooting for Thaci and Rugova, convinced that that is his shortest route to Belgrade. However, it is unclear why those who hold the key of the statehood of Bosnia-Hercegovina reason in the same manner.