bosnia report
No. 14 February - March 1996

Dayton has created a new situation not just in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also in some respects for the Alliance. However, the very incoherence of its provisions - the contradictions between, on the one hand, military and constitutional aspects of the Accord that directly work against the integral, sovereign, multi-ethnic Bosnia for which we have always campaigned and, on the other hand, the formal recognition at Dayton of just such a state's survival, along with other potentially positive aspects of the Accord (eg. those that proclaim the right in principle of refugees to return home, and that provide at least in theory for free movement throughout the country, for free elections on the basis of prewar electoral rolls, and for the elimination of indicted war criminals from political life), means that the Alliance's role will be less altered in the coming period than might at first appear.

We remain convinced, of course, that only the survival of a multi-ethnic Bosnia-Herzegovina within its internationally recognized borders, putting paid to the regressive and illusory projects of a Greater Serbia (or Greater Croatia) carved out at Bosnia's expense, can bring lasting security to the region and provide some basis for a subsequent democratic evolution.

Achieving this will continue to depend in the first instance on the people of B-H themselves, who, having confounded the world by their heroic military resistance in four years of bitter warfare, now confront daunting tasks of economic, social cultural and political reconstruction in a forbidding context. But the Alliance can and must continue to play a role in clarifying the contradictions of Dayton, campaigning for its positive aspects and against its negative implications. Bosnia needs friends and allies now as much ÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌ°as ever.

The ADB-H delegation just back from Sarajevo and Mostar (see 'Alliance News') will be reporting in detail in the next issue, but Adrian Hastings offered Bosnia Report the following immediate conclusions:

'Sifting through a mass of information and conflicting views, the following seem the most pressing immediate political issues.

  1. Unification of the cities of Sarajevo and Mostar - an integration of populations and not merely of territories. If this succeeds, these two cities together with Tuzla may be able to provide a decisive lead for the subsequent reintegration of the country as a whole.

  2. Preparation for elections. It is crystal clear that if the present Pale regime continues to function, totally controlling what goes on within Republika Srpska, there is no possibility of genuinely free elections there in six months' time. The same is true for areas of the Federation controlled by the HVO. Within government controlled territory, on the other hand, almost a surfeit of independent parties exist, along with a strong free press and a radio and TV allowing considerable access despite a worrying increase in SDA control.

  3. Arrest of war criminals. The refusal of IFOR to take seriously its so-called 'secondary' mandate in this respect is seriously undermining its 'primary' mandate of establishing peace, since the only path to a peace that will last until 1997 is through genuinely open elections, something totally impossible while war criminals continue to hold power in Republika Srpska and 'Herzeg-Bosna.'

  4. We were continually reminded of the way loyal Serbs are being marginalized within the Federation, denied proper community status in Sarajevo or a return to Mostar, on the grounds that Bosniaks and Croats are equally denied recognition as communities within Republika Srpska. Yet if the Federation lessens its commitment to a inclusive Bosnian 'nationhood' and its moral obligation to treat equally all Bosnian citizens living within it, it is doomed. The Dayton Agreement does not forbid the Federation to create the democratic structures and practice that along can allow it to remain the core and model for a future reunified Bosnia-Herzegovina. Any other policy must set a seal of approval on territorial division along 'ethnic' lines, a division inherently unjust to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina and disastrous for the country's future.


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