Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 105 - (30/01/06)
German Named New International Overseer
Major Western powers have named former German Cabinet minister Christian
Schwarz-Schilling to oversee peace in Bosnia, and made a new call for the arrest
of fugitive war crimes suspects a decade after the Balkans war ended. He is the
new International High Representative in the forlorn former Yugoslav republic.
Schwarz-Schilling, 75, will replace British politician Paddy Ashdown, who
stepped down in January as High Representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina after more
than three years.
The Peace Implementation Council, a group of major countries and international
financial agencies, announced the decision after meeting to assess Bosnia's
progress since the 1995 Dayton accords.
The Parthian shot of Ashdown
Bosnia peace overseer Paddy Ashdown confiscated funds from the country's main
Bosnian Serb party because its founder, top war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic,
is still at large. Ashdown had frozen funds collected in 2005 by the Serb
Democratic Party (SDS), saying they would be released if Karadzic was handed
over to the Hague war crimes tribunal by the end of the year.
"This transfer has not taken place. Consequently, this money will, over the
coming months, be re-allocated to the budget of the Bosnia-Herzegovina
institutions," Ashdown's spokeswoman Ljiljana Radetic told a news
She said the funds -- about 100,000 euros (57,000 pounds) -- would be
transferred to the State Investigation and Protection Agency. (SIPA), the state
court's war crimes chamber and the election commission.
SDS officials were outraged, saying it was irrational to expect a political
party to arrest war crimes fugitives. The party distanced itself from Karadzic
several years ago and last November called for his surrender.
"This is sheer retaliation," said Serb Republic president Dragan Cavic.
"It will last until Karadzic and Mladic are in The Hague, regardless of
where they are found. Even if they are found in China or Pakistan, the SDS will
Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic are indicted for genocide by the
U.N. war crimes tribunal over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men
and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo.
The tribunal says Mladic is sheltered by hardliners in Serbia, and has put
Belgrade under pressure to find him and hand him over. Karadzic is said to use
hideouts in eastern Bosnia and his native Montenegro.
Ten years of peace
There is more than one view that can be held about the Dayton accords which
marked the end of the ghastly 1992-95 war in Bosnia. The West by and large
endorsed it and a succession of its officials have been administering the
There has been a lot of criticism of their performance inside Bosnia, especially
from the politicians. But the Western response is that the drastic measures
taken by for instance Ashdown, such as sacking 59 leading Bosnian ministers,
mayors and top figures for corruption and the like, were necessary and that the
critics, if honest themselves, know this to be true.
But there is a critique that can be made of the whole framework set up by Dayton
and we append it here. It is the more formidable for uniting the views of Daniel
Cohn-Bendit, who is president of the Green group in the European parliament. José
Maria Mendiluce, who has been coordinator for the UN humanitarian mission to the
former Yugoslavia and a socialist ME, and Haris Silajdzic, who has been both
prime minister and foreign minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina ten years on
by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, José Maria Mendiluce, Haris Silajdzic
We publish here an authoritative appeal for Bosnia's ethnically based Dayton
constitution to be replaced by one resting on citizenship - as befits a
democratic Europe. In our view, it must be said, the Dayton Accords reflected
not so much the need to end the war as such, but rather the desire of the
Contact Group powers to preserve their agreed 51%-49% partition plan against the
threat of a military collapse of the Mladic forces. However, since we argued
from the outset that any ethnic division of Bosnia-Herzegovina would be
injurious to its people's vital interests, as well as to the region's stability
and democratic potential, we urge readers to study carefully the authors' call
for an end to 'the insane policy of ethnic and religious separation', in favour
of the model democrats defend elsewhere in Europe.
We met again on the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. Beyond the
pain and the memory of those shameful crimes, we took part in the debates
organized in Sarajevo to mark the terrible date of 11 July. We were also at
Srebrenica to hear the mea culpas of the representatives of the international
community: the president of the World Bank, the UN secretary-general's
representative (Annan once again missing the opportunity to redeem himself in
Bosnian eyes), the British foreign minister Jack Straw (who forgot to say that
he was speaking in the name of the Twenty-Five), Javier Solana (who expressed
himself via articles in the British press).
They all apologized. But these mea culpas added nothing of substance to the
'Never again' repeated every time it does happen again. Around us, the families
of the 8,400 individuals murdered, who with infinite patience endured those
conventional speeches accepting blame. In front of us, the last 610 identified
corpses to have been exhumed from mass graves.
Our reflections led us to certain conclusions that we shall try to outline here.
The diversity of our origins (in 'Dayton' terminology, Haris is a Moslem, Dany a
Jew and José Maria a Christian) and of our careers has not prevented us from
converging on the essentials.
We have supported unreservedly the International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia. Over time this tribunal has transformed a large proportion of
the crimes committed into proven facts, determined their nature and scope (war
crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide...), and continues to determine their
field of application. We likewise recognize the importance of the Dayton
Accords, at a moment when the process of Yugoslavia's destruction was filling
Bosnia-Herzegovina with mass graves and shaming a cowardly international
community in its active or passive complicity - revealed, albeit clumsily or in
part, by the commemorative speeches. For it was necessary at that time to call a
halt to systematic death as the only prospect, and to suffering as a fact of
For all these reasons and in the name of the 'Never again' that inspires us, we
feel it is indispensable to evaluate, ten years on, the content of imposed
accords (however welcome at the time) which were more like the text of a
cease-fire than a constitutional agreement guaranteeing a viable future for a
Bosnia-Herzegovina finally democratic and capable of meeting the standards
required for being not just a candidate for the European Union, but also a
worthy member of the Council of Europe.
The ethnic principle governing the country's division into 'entities', which
underlies the Dayton Accords, in fact constitutes the surest guarantee of
domination by the nationalist parties. Ten years on, some people are surprised
by how hard it is to bring forth organizations espousing the values of democracy
and citizenship rather than ethnic and religious ideologies. But the joint
premiers and the presidential functions that rotate (among Muslims, Orthodox and
Catholics) merely reinforce the worst options for the future of a country that
aspires, or at least should aspire, to join a Europe of citizens. The ethnic
principle also perpetually sabotages parties representing an alternative to the
logic that led to the war. Oddly enough, the same question ultimately confronted
both ourselves and the interlocutors we encountered: 'Why not a Bosnian-Jewish
president?' Bosnia-Herzegovina is the only country in Europe which forbids this,
by virtue of accords subscribed to with the blessing, support and encouragement
of the international community. An agnostic belonging to none of the three
ethnic groups or religions recognized by Dayton would be similarly unable to
assume that office.
Another terrible trap whose repercussions are evident in terms of corruption:
the criterion applied in relation to the privatisation process promoted by
international bodies. This criterion is simply that of ethnic balance. No, this
is not a joke! What is looked for is neither efficiency, nor skills, nor
infrastructure, nor even honesty, but weighting between ethnic entities. And who
represents these entities? The ethnically based parties.
So we can say today that Dayton may have been the best possible agreement to
halt genocide (though perhaps not for its victims). But this agreement involves
mechanisms which empower their current beneficiaries (because of percentages at
the level of representation) to block any application of clauses allowing them
to be modified.
Who in Bosnia's 'Serb republic' would take the initiative of changing a text
that allows the latter to exercise monopoly control over 49% of the country's
territory? Dayton incorporates mechanisms of permanent sabotage: the Bosnian
Serbs can thus prevent any change to the letter of Dayton without feeling
obliged to respect the Accords in either letter or spirit (the return of
refugees from other ethnic groups, for instance). In the last resort, this
perverse confusion between the texts and spirit of those texts makes the
parliament and the state institutions totally useless.
While we never stop repeating that Islamist terrorism will not change our civic,
democratic, secular model... we continue to defend for Bosnia a model based on
concessions to genocide (as defined by the ICTY, an institution of the United
Nations) and to the perpetrators of genocide. A fine example!
Dayton contains dozens of mechanisms ensuring that nothing can change, but also
a number enabling things to evolve. It is precisely the latter which we must
exploit, with unfailing support from the democracies. We - this means above all
the citizens of that united, muddled Europe which does not really know where it
is going, although some of us know very well where it must not go: above all,
towards ethnic or religious options to the detriment of civic freedoms.
We can and must frame an overall vision for the future of the region, but
without mixing everything up together. Bosnia is not Kosovo. Certain
'sophisticated' lines of argument of the 'Bosnia in exchange for Kosovo' or 'Kosovo
in exchange for Bosnia' type make our flesh creep. It is to be hoped that there
are many millions of us sharing this reaction. The international community, and
the EU in particular, must not consolidate an ethnic and religious separation
that is completely insane, and that renders extremely difficult the expression
of modern, European and democratic forces. Today such forces are penalized by
Accords that were welcome at a given moment, but that ten years on represent
above all a guarantee that nothing will change.
It is time to call the entire basis of the Accords into question, in order to
establish a Bosnia-Herzegovina in conformity with the model we claim to be
defending in Europe. Unless we believe that its 'tribes' will never achieve the
status of European citizens. If that is the case, so much the worse for us, we
shall only be strengthening the sales-pitch of the fanatics.
If, however, we think that no genetic factor or divine determinism is involved,
we must act to avoid the consolidation of ethnic determinisms and orient
ourselves towards a democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina capable of demonstrating to
the other territories of former Yugoslavia that they can and must attain
European citizenship as of right, and become members of that Europe which we are
involved in building with so much effort and so many ups and downs.
Bosnia rejects Mol/INA purchase offer
According to a Reuters report the parliament of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation
rejected a government decision to sell a majority stake in fuel retailer
Energopetrol to the consortium of Hungary's Mol and Croatian INA on January
Energopetrol has 65 filling stations and a 15 per cent share of the Bosnian
market. Federation Prime Minister, Ahmet Hadzipasic, said the government would
continue talks with the Mol/INA consortium but was not optimistic. He said a
bankruptcy procedure for Energopetrol would be launched at the end of February.
The Bosnian government chose a bid submitted by a consortium of Mol and
Croatia's INA in a tender for a 67 per cent stake in Energopetrol in May last
year. Negotiations stalled, however, in the summer after Mol and INA rejected
the Bosnian government's proposal for the two oil companies to pay more up
front, but eventually continued in October.
In October the Bosnian government agreed with Mol and INA that the two may
acquire 67 per cent of Energopetrol, if they invest 75 million Euro in the
company, retain its 1,060 employees over the next three years and pay off
Energopetrol's debts, which stand at 30 million Euro.
Bosnia-Herzegovina starts association talks with EU
Representatives of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the European Union said on January
25th their first round of Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA)
negotiations were very constructive. The negotiations, formally approved by the
EU two months ago, started recently in Sarajevo as the first step of the
country's eventual membership in the European integration. Head of Bosnia's
team, Igor Davidovic, said at a press conference the first day of the first
two-day round of SAA talks was "in a very positive atmosphere and was very
Director of the EU Directorate for Western Balkans, Reinhardt Priebe, who led
the EU team at negotiations, said the focus of the first meeting was on
"the general articles of the treaty." "We also discussed a very
important part of the agreement, which is the arrangement on cooperation between
the EU and Bosnia-Herzegovina on all EU relevant policies," Priebe said,
New Europe reported.
Besides the general issues, the two teams also discussed deals for the EU
financial assistance to Bosnia- Herzegovina. The first round of negotiations in
Sarajevo is to continue with more technical issues on the agenda. The
negotiations are expected to last one year during which, Priebe said, "more
and more intensive contacts between the EU and Bosnia's authorities have
objective to bring this country closer to European standards and then to
EIB loan for railways in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The European Investment Bank provided an 86 million Euro loan to Bosnia and
Herzegovina to rehabilitate and modernise both the North-South and the East-West
railway routes. The 20-year loan, carrying a 5-year grace period and
representing some 50 per cent of the total finance, will contribute to overhaul
the track, rehabilitate and reconstruct bridges, tunnels, and stations.
Furthermore, the signalling systems, the electrification and the
telecommunications will be updated so as to enhance safety and increase the
speed on these key lines, New Europe reported.
The project includes the preparation of detailed design studies, construction
works supervision, management consulting activities and, if needed, land
The design work is to start in 2006, while the construction works are planned
for the period 2008-2011. The project, which is co-financed with the EBRD and
the European Commission, will help to redevelop the existing heavy industry by
making available efficient and environmental-friendlier transport of heavy goods
between national industrial centres, and across borders for export.
This is the fifth loan provided by the EIB to Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1995.
The previous loans totalled 224 million Euro for roads, energy and for the
railway network. Future projects will concern additional improvements to road
transportation and the energy sector.