Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 097 - (26/05/05)
The International High Representative in Bosnia for the last
four years has been Paddy Ashdown, or more strictly Lord Ashdown, being a
citizen, as he is, of the last country on Earth to confer entitlements to
nobility on its most distinguished subjects, which is actually a more correct
term, rather than 'citizens,' given its monarchical head of state.
He is a highly thoughtful man, who has indeed distinguished himself by sacking
local dignitaries whenever there is a whiff of corruption.
Here is an extract translated from a longer interview with him published in
Nacional (Zagreb), 18 January.
The viability of Dayton Bosnia?
Nacional: Your mandate as High Representative will end this year. What kind of
Bosnia will you be leaving behind?
Ashdown: During the past nine years Bosnia-Herzegovina has achieved what many
people believed was impossible. It has satisfied practically all conditions for
signing the Agreement on Stabilisation and Association with the EU. There is
also a serious application for Bosnia to join NATO's Partnership for Peace.
Bosnia-Herzegovina's future lies in its integration into the Euro-Atlantic
structure. Membership of NATO will provide this country, which nine years ago
was devastated by war, with security, while membership of the EU will bring new
investment and other benefits.
Nacional: Will the two entities, the Republika Srpska and the Federation of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, soon be abolished?
Ashdown: I doubt that in fifteen or twenty years' time these entities will still
exist in Bosnia. Changes, however, can be made only by agreement of all the
peoples of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Nacional: Will it be necessary to change the Dayton Agreement, or has it already
been changed in a way?
Ashdown: The Dayton Agreement was not designed for state building but to end a
war. It ought to be changed, perhaps, but that is not the business of the
international community. This issue will be decided by the citizens of
Bosnia-Herzegovina because it is their country. The Dayton constitution is their
constitution.* Bosnia-Herzegovina, however, is not functional as a state, since
65% [of its budget] is spent on administration and only 35% on the citizens. The
people of Bosnia-Herzegovina should reform Dayton to make their political system
more efficient. They have already begun this work, since the decision last year
to bring the country's military forces under state control does indeed alter
Dayton. This change is the result of internal Bosnian agreement and not an
imposition by me. The decision to create a single system of taxation is another
alteration of Dayton which has increased the state's effectiveness. One should
mention in this context also the proposal for reform of the police. Changes to
this part of the agreement have already begun and are due to speed up.
* It should not be forgotten that the Dayton Agreement (and constitution) was
negotiated with Miloševic and Tudman, responsible in the view of the Hague
tribunal for aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
One of the many difficulties still left to deal with concerns the reluctance of
the Serbs to merge their Serbian identity with a Bosnian one. They feel that to
do so is not to merge their identities, but to submerge their own in a larger
Bosnian Serb military conscripts break state law
The NATO official in Bosnia recently condemned Bosnian Serb army conscripts
who took a military oath to the Bosnian Serb entity, the Srpska Republic,
instead of to the state - Bosnia-Herzegovina, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.
Taking the military oath at ceremonies near Banja Luka and in southern Srpska
Republic, conscripts of the Bosnian Serb army declined to take the oath to the
Bosnian state as demanded by national law.
"The act of breaking a law of the state, particularly by a military
organisation is one of the worst things that can happen within an institution
within government," the head of the NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, US
Brigadier General, Steven Schook, said.
Schook said that following the incident, NATO and the international community's
administrator in Bosnia demanded Bosnian Serb Defence Minister, Milovan
Stankovic prepare a detailed report about the event.
"Minsiter Stankovic has to give to us a complete report to explain the
event - how it occurred, why it occurred, who was responsible and who is
accountable for this event's occurrence," Schook said.
The timing of the incident, he added, "could not be worse, with the April
20 to 21 NATO meeting in Vilnius" and where possible Bosnia's accession
into the partnership for Peace Programme might be discussed, the report said.
Schook said he was also deeply disappointed with the lack of concrete statements
accepting responsibility for the event by the Bosnian Serb authorities.
"I am extremely disappointed that obstructionist elements within the Srpska
Republic are still able to influence the military of the entity," said
Schook. The incident, as he said, showed again that Bosnia-Herzegovina's
state-level Defence Ministry does not have effective control of the armed forces
in the country, which was seen as the major precondition for Bosnia's accession
into the Alliance's Partnership for Peace Programme.
Bosnia-Herzegovina's Defence Ministry was formed in early 2004 as the result of
a wide defence reform aimed at getting the country closer to Euro-Atlantic
The ministry was created to take control over the armed forces in the country
and to be responsible for national security. After the 1992-1995 war in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, the country was administratively divided into two ethnic
entities, the Serb-run Srpska Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation with each
entity controlling its military forces formed on ethnic principles.
Police reform to go ahead
Ashdown has rebuffed Bosnian Serb objections to police reforms by presenting
his detailed plans for an ethnically united police force for post-war Bosnia.
Bosnia is divided into two entities, the Bosnian Serb-dominated Republika Srpska
and the Croat-and Bosniak-dominated Federation. Bosnia is the only country in
Europe that does not have a state-level police apparatus.
The new police force will be divided into nine regions, plus one central force
and one strictly for the capital, Sarajevo. According to the plan, these forces
will ignore entity boundaries and sometimes cross entity lines. 'The proposed
plan is a huge improvement over the current fractured and fragmented situation.
It will also mean huge cost savings from today's overstaffed and inefficient
set-up,' Ashdown said in a statement. For now, the plan does not discuss the
possibility of abolishing the entities' separate interior ministries, a decision
that Ashdown has left up to the B-H state parliament, which has been considering
the issue for two months.
The idea is that if the separate entity ministries can work together in the
redefined police force, across entity lines, there may be no need to disband the
ministries in favour of one state ministry. The RS government had resigned in
December 2004, in protest over Ashdown's proposed police reforms - reforms they
view as being tantamount to the end of the Bosnian Serb entity. The complete
proposal will be sent to the central government and parliament for discussion.
It is likely that Bosnian Serb representatives in those institutions will reject
The EU has set police reform as a key requirement for Bosnia's further progress
towards the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), the first step
towards EU membership. EU leaders believe that the disunity of the police force
in Bosnia has both failed to prevent and potentially fostered organized crime,
graft, and human and drug trafficking in the country. The Chief of the EU Police
Mission (EUPM) in Bosnia, Kevin Carty, said the existing police forces in Bosnia
did not have the capacity to fight crime, while Ashdown's proposal of nine new
cross-entity regions would create a police force with better coordination and
resources. 'Bosnia is a transit route for drugs smuggling and human trafficking.
Criminals are not limited by entity borders, therefore, the police should not be
limited by entities,' he said in a statement.
Bosnian police watch for Karadzic
One significant police operation was under way in early May.
Police and spies practically took over the house of Bosnia's most-wanted war
crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic, anxious to see if he would return home for the
funeral of his mother, Jovanka Karadzic, 83, who died on May 5th after a short
illness in a hospital in the north-western town of Niksic in neighbouring
Serbia-Montenegro. Her funeral would have been an opportunity to arrest the
Bosnian Serb wartime leader.
But of course he was far too canny to attend, doubtless having been explicitly
told by his mother not to.
The daily, Dnevni Avaz, reported that scores of local police and intelligence
officers as well as dozens of international intelligence agency officials had
moved in on Radovan Karadzic's house in his wartime headquarters in Pale, a
village 10 miles east of Sarajevo, where his wife still lives. The house of his
daughter Sonja was also under surveillance.
"It is very likely that Radovan Karadzic might give in to emotion and come
to the funeral ... despite the risk of being arrested," one reporter said.
Actually very unlikely indeed.
Radovan Karadzic led Serbs in the Bosnian war and was indicted in 1995 by the
Netherlands-based UN tribunal for atrocities, including genocide, during the
1992-95 armed conflict with Bosnia's Muslims and Croats.
Karadzic is the tribunal's most-wanted fugitive and has been on the run since
the war ended. He is thought to be hiding in eastern Bosnia. Karadzic has dodged
several attempts by Nato and the European Union Peace Force, EUFOR, to capture
him despite a US-sponsored £2.6 million reward for information leading to his
Radovan Karadzic and his older brother Luka were born in northern Montenegro,
where their mother lived. Radovan Karadzic was reported by Montenegrin media to
have visited his sick mother several times while in hiding. "I'd prefer
that Radovan take his own life than be taken to The Hague," Jovanka was
quoted as saying in the past, the key statement.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Turkey seeks closer economic cooperation with Bosnia - minister
Turkish State Minister Besir Atalay indicated recently that the cooperation
protocol signed between the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO) and the
Bosnia-Herzegovina Chamber of Foreign Trade (BHDTO) is quite important and that
Turkish government is trying to find ways to develop trade relations with
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Anatolia News Agency reported.
Atalay was in Sarajevo to attend the Second Turkish Export Products Fairs.
Atalay remarked that many economic agreements have been signed between Turkey
and Bosnia-Herzegovina. "Soon we will sign an agreement about
double-taxation. As the government, we are working on making procedures easier
for private investors. The rest depend on you, business people," said
Atalay commented that certain bureaucratic and legal processes must be revised
to encourage more Turkish investment in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "Such concerns
have been brought up in our meetings," stressed Atalay.
Meanwhile, ITO Chairman Murat Yalcintas has remarked that they pay great
attention to the development of the region. "Trade volume between Turkey
and Bosnia-Herzegovina must be increased. We can help Bosnian companies open up
to international markets. We will help Bosnian students so that they can attend
the Istanbul Trade University," commented Yalcintas.
BHDTO Chairman Mahir Haci Ahmetovic has said that they wish to see more Turkish
investments in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "There are some excellent examples of
Turkish investments in our republic," mentioned Ahmetovic.