Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 095 - (31/03/05)
Ashdown on the warpath again
Bosnia's international administrator, Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, has used his
sweeping powers to fire many a miscreant in BiH beforehand. Since 1998, around
150 officials have lost their jobs and Lord Ashdown has shown himself willing to
use his powers, sacking 59 people last June and a further nine in December.
He has targeted the Croat member of the country's three-person presidency, no
less, this time as a corruption case causes increasing difficulties. After
almost three weeks of pressure failed to persuade Dragan Covic to resign
voluntarily, Lord Ashdown forced him out of the job, saying the allegations had
made it impossible for him to continue in office.
The crisis came to a head after the European Union, the United States and other
international partners called on Mr Covic to stand down while contesting the
case in order that the credibility of Bosnia's political institutions be
In a statement Lord Ashdown described Mr Covic as, by and large, a "good
President", but said it was vital to maintain a principle that anyone
indicted on criminal offences resigns "so as not to damage the public
office they hold". He added: "To have a member of the presidency - the
body which is in charge of foreign policy - with whom BiH's main international
partners will not have contact, could do real and lasting damage to BiH's
immediate and long-term future." [BiH is the local acronym for Bosnia &
Herzegovina.] Officials feared that Mr Covic's refusal to quit would have dealt
a lethal blow to Bosnia's chances of joining Nato's Partnership for Peace
programme and would have threatened negotiations over an aid-and-trade deal with
Mr Covic, a member of the nationalist HDZ party, has enjoyed a high profile. He
was due to take up the rotating chairmanship of the tripartite Bosnian
presidency - which represents Bosnian Serbs and Croats and Muslim Bosniaks - in
The alleged offences were carried out between 2000 and 2003, while Mr Covic was
deputy prime minister of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation. He denies a formal
accusation which centres on allegations that he bribed the head of the
This decision underlines the scale of the task of rebuilding democratic
institutions in Bosnia and of ridding the economically depressed country of
corruption and organised crime. The EU took over peace-keeping in Bosnia last
year and, with sectarian tensions under control, has switched some of its focus
onto combating criminal gangs which have links to the top of the political
Lord Ashdown, seen as an energetic international representative of both the
United Nations and the EU, is due to stand down at the end of the year.
Mr Covic said the decision to fire him was unconstitutional, but he had no
alternative but to bow to the ruling. It is, however, unlikely to mark the end
of his role in public life as he will not be barred from party office and may
run for the presidency of the HDZ.
Ashdown's decision expected
"The High Representative's Decision is expected and I understand that
this was the only possible solution in the given situation that suits the
interests of BiH institutions and their reputation," BiH Presidency member
Sulejman Tihic told Fena when asked to comment on the decision of Ashdown to
remove the Croat member of BiH Presidency, Dragan Covic.
Tihic deems that this case, as well as others, clearly indicate that the
Election Law must be amended. One can anticipate an obligation in which the
mandates of public officials will terminate once the indictment for certain
criminal acts has been confirmed. "I deem that a confirmed indictment for
certain gross criminal acts is adequate and on basis of this fact the mandate of
all holders of public functions at the State, the Entity and other authority
levels would be terminated", said Tihic.
When asked how the BiH Presidency will function without one member, Tihic
responded that this institutions functions in two forms - each member of the
Presidency individually, and collectively at sessions.
"Until the third member of BiH Presidency has been elected, decisions will
not be issued at sessions. I hope that the election matter would be resolved
swiftly and that the House of Representatives session will be scheduled in the
next ten-fifteen days, which is the procedure for electing the Presidency member
so that we could be able to carry out our functions in full capacity", said
the Bosniak member of the BiH Presidency.
Cooperation with The Hague
Bosnia has been cooperating better with The Hague of late. The Republika
Srpska has transferred five major war crimes indictees to the International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia this year, compared to almost 10
previous years when they had not transferred a single one, Ashdown said in his
periodic briefing to the Security Council in February.
Recalling that he had warned about the failure of the Republika Srpska to honour
its obligations to the Tribunal in his last briefing, he said the situation now
seemed rather more hopeful, but it was early days yet and seasoned observers,
including Council members, should remain sceptical until the transfer process
had been properly opened up. The Republika Srpska authorities must change their
attitude and accept that the way towards the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina
lay through The Hague.
He said that earlier that General Vinko Pandurevic, arguably the third most
senior indictee after Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, had arrived in The
Hague, noting that other generals had also turned themselves over to the
Tribunal. However, General Mladic, their commander, who was still at large,
should reflect upon the fact that his subordinates had taken it upon themselves
to turn themselves in, while he scurried from one safe house to another. Ten
years after Srbrenica, calls for justice had not faded away and the process
would not end until Karadzic, Mladic and other remaining indictees were in the
Describing a failure to cooperate with the Tribunal as the biggest stumbling
block to Bosnia and Herzegovina's future within the European Union and the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), he said that the country's application to
join the NATO Partnership for Peace had recently been blocked for that reason,
but was being kept under close review and NATO might consider it again in the
third week of April. The Partnership for Peace and the beginning of the long
road to European Union membership were a watershed for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Japan to help Bosnia-Herzegovina reinvigorate economy - PM
Japan and Bosnia and Herzegovina reached a consensus on the need to
reinforce economic ties, including direct investment in the Balkan country by
Japanese companies, during a summit on March 4th, a Japanese Foreign Ministry
official said. Visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina Prime Minister, Adnan Terzic,
noted the importance of foreign direct investment in increasing jobs, telling
his Japanese counterpart, Junichiro Koizumi, that joblessness is running at an
estimated 20 per cent, Kyodo News Service reported.
Koizumi was quoted as saying Japan will do its utmost to help Bosnia and
Herzegovina reinvigorate the economy. The Japanese official said Terzic, before
his meeting with Koizumi, held talks with Osamu Watanabe, chairman of the Japan
External Trade Organization, a semi-governmental group working for promoting
Terzic and Watanabe agreed to a plan to have the Japanese trade organization
sponsor a seminar in Tokyo aimed at encouraging Japanese corporations to boost
investment in Bosnia and Hercegovina but details such as when it should be held
were yet to be determined, the official said.
Bosnian, Chinese foreign ministers discuss economic cooperation
Bosnia-Herzegovina Council of Ministers Chairman, Adnan Terzic, met recently in
Sarajevo with Chinese Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing, on reform processes in the
two countries, Onasa News Agency web site reported.
Terzic congratulated Chinese officials on their "economic boom" and
called on them to assist the existing economic reforms in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
the CoM's information service said in a statement.
Zhaoxing said he was pleased with the visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, assessing
that talks with Bosnia-Herzegovina officials were extremely successful for
speeding up cooperation between the two countries on the economic, trade and
He stressed he will call on the business world in China to invest in
Terzic accepted an invitation to visit China, where he will discuss with the
Chinese prime minister methods of advancing the economic cooperation. A
delegation of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, led by Zhaoxing, was on a two-day
visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina.