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European-American Topics - Editorial - Bosnia

Bosnia: Is it Time to Go Separate Ways?

By Damir Barisic
Posted July 31, 2008


   Lord Ashdown’s article on the clear and present danger for the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina has stirred up more than a few spirits in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Miroslav Lajcak, the High Representative and the EU Special Representative is calmly determined to help the local political leaders reach an agreement that would loosen the Dayton imposed straightjacket before he sheds the former of his two functions.  

   Having in mind that the so-called political leaders only share the fact that they like to be called leaders, and roam the country in search of fine restaurants to be used as venues for their barren meetings, an uncoerced agreement on anything other than the menu is highly unlikely. The reason is quite prosaic.  

   The Serb leaders are fairly satisfied with the current arrangement. They remain focused on Republika Srpska and are dedicated to bring back ‘home’ the competencies the previous entity governments were forced to surrender to the state level at a political gunpoint.  

   The thought of Republika Srpska makes Bosnian leaders’ flesh crawl, and they are committed to using the Office of the High Representative as well as the undeniable war atrocities committed against them, to bring an end to the existence of this entity. However, their plans are flawed in more than one way. Namely, the existence of Republika Srpska is guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Accord and, even though the villains of the piece, the Serbs did not lose the war. The structure of the country provides ample evidence. 

   Croat leaders are so incompetent and egocentric that they are hardly able to speak in one voice. The Croat electorate in Bosnia and Herzegovina is shrinking at a rate, which will soon enable them to exercise direct democracy. They are ostensibly trying to secure an equal treatment for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina while using the trust vested in them to secure opulent lifestyles for themselves.  

   The Offices of the High Representative and the US Representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina still pack the biggest guns. However, their use is interpreted as a sign of failure and weakness i.e. if the attractive carrot (possible accession to the EU) needs to be supplemented by a stick the entire exercise becomes somewhat pointless.  

   The High Representative ought to consider leaving the (in)famous local leaders, and have them reach an agreement that would make the country somewhat less Frankenstein-like while proving that the trust of citizens was not misplaced. Should they fail this would be a clear indicator for the international community to either assume a long-term protectorate function or maybe, after almost thirteen years, the time has come for all the involved to go their separate ways. 

   About Damir Barisic: Age 35. Citizen of both Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia. Permanent resident of the US since 2005.  Holder of a BSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of London/London School of Economics and Political Science. From Jan 1999 until Dec 2005 (7 years) served with the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina in positions ranging from Assistant to Special Envoy of the High Representative to Return and Reconstruction Task Force Officer/Media Officer and Econ/Legal Officer. Currently working as a desk researcher.





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