Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 104 - (01/01/06)
German Ex-Minister appointed new Bosnia Envoy
Former German cabinet minister Christian Schwarz-Schilling has been appointed as
the international community's new high representative in Bosnia. Following a
meeting in Paris of the international council overseeing the peace process in
Bosnia, the French Foreign Ministry said Schwarz-Schilling is to take up his new
functions "in a few weeks."
He will succeed Britain's Paddy Ashdown, who now retires and who will be a hard
act to follow. Schwarz-Schilling has been acting as an international mediator in
the Balkans since 1995, so is aware of the extreme complexities of this role in
Bosnia, one of the more difficult jobs on the planet.
Arrest of Gotovina stirs old memories
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia are intimately linked. An important event has
occurred. A prime obstacle to Croatia's accession to the European Union (EU) has
been removed. Croatian war-crimes fugitive Gen. Ante Gotovina has been arrested
after a four-year manhunt, boosting Croatia's bid to join the EU and increasing
pressure to track down other former Balkan War leaders still on the run. There
is no doubt that his capture is a major event, and a positive one for Croatia.
It can now come in from the cold. It has huge repercussions for Bosnia too.
The arrest by Spanish authorities, as Mr. Gotovina dined at a hotel in the
Canary Islands, underscores how the EU's policy of "soft power" --
holding out the carrot of membership in the world's largest trading bloc -- can
prompt countries into moving towards more democratic systems. Gotovina was
arrested on the Canary island of Tenerife on December 7th and flown to The
Netherlands aboard a Spanish military aircraft. From Rotterdam airport he was
taken to the detention unit of the U.N. court in The Hague. Gotovina had been a
fugitive since he was indicted by the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for
the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2001.
One of three top fugitive suspects from the 1990s Balkan wars, Gotovina, 50,
faces charges relating to the death of about 150 ethnic Serb civilians during a
Croatian offensive in the Serb-held Krajina region in 1995. The indictment said
Croatian forces under Gotovina went on a rampage of persecution, murder, plunder
of property, destruction of towns, deportation and inhumane acts. He faces three
counts of crimes against humanity and three of war crimes.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
hailed the arrest as "good news for Croatia and for the world." Olli
Rehn, the EU commissioner in charge of enlarging the 25-nation bloc, said he
hoped it would "urge other countries in the region to track down their
suspects" and allow Croatia to "focus on reforms and establishing the
rules of law." Bosnia take note.
Carla del Ponte, the chief United Nations war-crimes prosecutor who thanked
Croatian and Spanish authorities while announcing the arrest, immediately turned
up the heat on Serbia and Montenegro to help track down Bosnian Serb wartime
leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief, Ratko Mladic, the court's top
two remaining fugitives. "I'm still angry because Karadzic and Mladic are
still at large, and that is a real scandal," Ms. del Ponte said before
meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.
Bosnia is also closely implicated of course. Karadzic is probably lurking there,
while Mladic is likely to be hiding in Serbia, protected by its security forces.
Neither is going to be sunning himself in the Canary isles any time soon!
Serbian President, Boris Tadic, congratulated Croatia and said his government is
doing "everything possible" to bring in the six Serb war criminals
still at large. He also admitted that his government's policy of "voluntary
surrender" -- trying to lure war criminals through negotiation instead of
aggressively hunting them down -- might have to change. "Something has to
happen," he said after meeting with Mr. Rehn in Brussels. "Otherwise,
we can't join the EU." The same is true for the Bosnians.
Indeed, the EU, like NATO, has said it will deny membership to any country that
still has Balkan war criminals at large. The EU agreed in October to start
membership talks with Croatia after a U.N. ruling that the country was doing all
it could to find Mr. Gotovina. EU officials continued to say the missing war
criminal would be a stumbling block.
Now Croatia, with its strong economy and stabilizing political situation, looks
likely to join the EU in 2009, following the planned memberships of Bulgaria in
2007 and Romania in 2007 or 2008. Bosnia aspires to be next in line.
Progress at last
The Dayton peace agreement, whose 10th anniversary is marked on 14 December,
ended the war in Bosnia. But it divided the country in a way that protected, for
years, the perpetrators of war crimes. Those who had burned and murdered and
ethnically cleansed were safe inside their own ethnic enclaves.
It has taken 10 years, but something remarkable has started to happen. The
guilty men are no longer safe. It is not just The Hague that is indicting now.
It is the Bosnian courts.
Bosnians of all three nationalities have begun arresting their own suspected war
criminals. Eleven hundred are currently under investigation. This year a
pan-Bosnian state tribunal was set up under the auspices of the International
High Representative, Paddy Ashdown. But it is not internationally administered.
Suspects appear before Bosnian prosecutors and Bosnian judges - Serbs, Croats
and Muslims sitting together in pursuit of a justice that, for the first time,
is not distorted by ethnic loyalties. This is good news all round for a country
that still has plenty of problems.
Bosnian economy blues
A decade after the Dayton peace accords brought an end to almost four years of
bloody conflict, Bosnia is still struggling to shore up its economy. A
staggering 40% of the Balkan state's workforce is unemployed - one of the
highest rates in the world. But analysts insist the situation is not so bleak,
pointing out that Bosnia has the strongest currency and the lowest inflation
rate in south eastern Europe.
In addition, after a growth rate of 5% last year, forecasters expect the economy
to expand by about 5.5% this year before accelerating to 6% in 2006, powered by
engineering sector and a pickup in foreign investment. But with about 18% of the
population living below the poverty line, the positive economic indicators have
so far failed to trickle down to the daily lives of many people.
Moreover, authorities are battling to overcome a burgeoning grey economy and a
massive current account deficit as well as restrictive bureaucratic structures
imposed on economic life as a result of the Dayton agreement. Estimates show the
grey economy is worth more than 40% of GDP. But next year's launch of a round of
tax reform, including the introduction of a value-added tax, might help to rein
in the grey economy.
While economists say the size of the grey economy means real unemployment is
likely to be about half the official rate, the sheer size of the bureaucracy
needed to run post-Dayton Bosnia is seen as acting as a brake on growth.
Bosnia's constitution - a product of the Dayton peace negotiations brokered by
the US to stop the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia - created one of the most complicated
government structures in the world.
More to the point, dividing up the country into two ethnic entities resulted in
double the number of administrative authorities, with another separate
administration also functioning at state-level. This means that about 50% of
public spending in Bosnia is eaten up by the country's administration.
Such a system, according to Milan Lovric, vice president of Bosnia-Herzegovina's
Chamber of Foreign Trade, has significantly slowed a recovery of the economy,
which was completely destroyed in the war. "Due to the system created in
Dayton, the transition processes in Bosnia were too slow, leaving the country
far behind its neighbours," said Lovric.
Ten years after Dayton, he said, a climate for economic integration has not been
created, meaning the country still does not function as what he described as
"a single economic space." Therefore, he said, Bosnia is unable to
compete with the stronger economics of neighbouring countries.
Despite such problems, Bosnia-Herzegovina's energy resources and its steel
sector present great potential. "There is so much unexploited energy here,
which could draw the attention of the foreign investors," said Lovric.
Analysts believe that measures adopted last year aimed at reducing poverty by
2007 should help economic prospects.
Strong industrial growth of 9% in the Srpska Republic and 14% in the
Moslem-Croat Federation, coupled with an increase in foreign investment to 137m
Euro (US$160m) in the first four months of this year, have raised hopes.
With the World Bank having officially declared Bosnia's changed from a
post-conflict nation to a regular transition country, Bosnia hopes to make up
for lost time by competing for new international funds that this change of
Slovenian largest retailer Mercator invests in Serbia
Mercator opened a shopping mall, its fourth in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the
capital Sarajevo. Mercator said it expects its 2005 sales in Bosnia to rise by
31% on the year to 48.4 million Euro. It has a 2% share of the Bosnian retail
market, New Europe reported.
Mercator will open a mall in western Serbia, and another one in Central Serbia.
Currently, the Slovenian retailer has only one mall in Serbia, in the capital
Belgrade. Mercator's competitors in the Serbian market are German Metro, French
Cora, Greek Veropoulos and Serbia's three largest retail chains: Maxi, C-Market
and Pekabeta. Mercator's consolidated 9-month net profit went up 135.3 per cent.