Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
151 - (16/12/09)
news is good news
There is little to report from
Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is the good news.
A little while ago there was talk of
secession by the Serb Republic there,
whose leader, Milorad Dodik, is certainly
an ardent Serb nationalist. He was backed
in this by no less a figure than the
president of Serbia himself, Boris Tadic,
hitherto viewed as a moderate by Western
opinion. Tadic momentarily took up the
Bosnian Serb cause for opportunistic
reasons to outflank Vojislav Kostunica,
the PM of Serbia, an avowed champion of
Serb secession from Bosnia and
incorporation in Serbia itself endless
Western capitals took note and upped their
aid budgets for Bosnia. The Bosnian Serbs
are being in effect bribed by the West to
stay in place.
The West has a horror of irredentism. Its
leaders are well aware that there are any
number of territorial changes that could
be advocated by new-found nationalism. The
break-up of empires, let alone of
countries, is an awesome business.
Failure of the EU
The responsible people in Brussels have of
course long been aware of this about
Bosnia. In principle, the EU already has a
wealth of tools to shape Bosnia's future
a 2,000-strong military force, a police
mission, a special representative, huge
investment and leverage on local
politicians who aspire to join the bloc.
In practice, Bosnia-Herzegovina has only
illustrated Europe's shortcomings.
In many ways, the country already ought to
be a showcase success for European "soft
power". Since the United States brokered
the 1995 Dayton accord, the EU has largely
taken charge. Its special representative,
Valentin Inzko, doubles as the high
representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina (IHR),
an office established at the talks in
Dayton, Ohio, and he has wide powers to
overrule feuding local politicians.
The viewpoint of Ashdown
It is worth quoting the views of a former
high representative. "We are in a
dangerous dynamic," said former Liberal
Democrat leader Lord Ashdown and former
IHR. "And if we fail to operate in a
cohesive fashion, we could end up with the
de facto disintegration of
Lord Ashdown said he feared Europe, which
failed the Balkans in the 1990s, risked
doing so again, and could destroy its
credibility as a foreign policy player.
"If the EU, which has, in Bosnia, all its
instruments of foreign policy, can't get
things done there, what hope is there?" he
said. "It is pathetic if we have to rely
on the US in our own backyard."
Lord Ashdown also said the melding of Mr
Inzko's role with that of the head of the
European Commission's delegation, Dimitris
Kourkoulas which has been proposed in
the Lisbon Treaty was overdue.
He said: "The EU institutions and
mechanisms for the execution of foreign
policy are a disaster. The EU puts into
Bosnia at least twice as much money as any
other country, but if people want to get
things done, they go to the US embassy.
The US speaks with a single voice and
could get things done without taking 18
"Bosnia is dysfunctional, but not as
dysfunctional as Brussels."
Karadzic trial set and what about
The Hague counts as well as Brussels in
Bosnian matters. Radovan Karadzic, the
former Bosnian Serb leader accused of
waging genocide against Bosnia's Muslim
population in the early 1990s, is due to
go on trial, after a war crimes court
ruled against two appeals.
The United Nations tribunal said it would
not be bound by what Karadzic alleged was
a promise from US diplomat Richard
Holbrooke granting him immunity in
exchange for stepping down as leader of
the breakaway region of the former
Karadzic, 64, was arrested in Serbia on
July 21, 2008. He had been hiding as a
practitioner of alternative medicine.
There is yet another scoundrel or is it
a wastrel to be found: General Mladic,
the actual perpetrator of the dreadful
massacre at Srebrenica in 1995. He is
still quite unfound.
Who are his protectors? That is the