bosnia report
New Series No: 37-38 January - March 2004
A European Shame
by Branka Magas

The soothing claims of the European Union notwithstanding, Dayton Bosnia is not working. This is not surprising, for its structure was designed with the purpose of appeasing Bosnia's enemies. The plain truth is that the convoluted administrative structure established by the Dayton settlement prevents the state from exercising sovereignty on behalf and in the name of the people, and by doing so discredits the very idea of a democratic government. This labyrinth of mutually negating authorities serves the same purpose as that of the intricate network of underground roads and overhead bridges which, as part of the Vance-Owen Plan, were once supposed to link the areas of different ethnic majorities. That bizarre structure was discarded once the Srebrenica massacre 'tidied-up' the ethnic map or, more to the point, allowed Republika Srpska to have a continuous border with Serbia. But in order for this racist artefact to live, constructions in the physical space had to be replaced by fabrications in the legal space. As endless testimonies presented at The Hague prove, this para-state rests upon the graveyard containing the remains of Bosnian citizens, Bosnian culture and Bosnian democracy. Yet even the modest proposal for reform of the Dayton design on the part of the
European Stability Initiative, intended to improve the functioning of the central government, and hence also of the country as a whole, was summarily rejected by the EU representative in Bosnia - in the name of the democratic will of the Bosnian Serbs! Not long ago a British diplomat accredited to Belgrade described Karadziƒ’'s creation as an exercise of the right of self-determination. Miloševiƒ too makes this point day in and day out in The Hague. No wonder then that his party has emerged as the king-maker in the supposedly post-Miloševiƒ era, and that otherwise divided Serbian nationalists, who continue to dominate the life of unhappy Serbia, unite in treating Republika Srpska as the unredeemed Serbian land. The continued misery of southeastern Europe is too high a price to pay for the comfort of the EU -- a comfort based on the refusal to admit past and present policy errors.



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