bosnia report
No. 18 February - May 1997
What lies behind the FRY/RS Agreement
by Milan Sahovic

This is not an international treaty in the sense of one governed by international law. International treaties can be concluded only between states. In this case we have not two states, but on the one hand the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a state, and on the other an entity belonging to another state: BosniaHerzegovina. The Serb entity is just part of a state and Milosevic's agreement with it amounts to a very serious manoeuvre. For, on the basis of what is contained in this agreement, we can see Milosevic's attempt and desire to show that he is the person who has to exercise a protectorate over Republika Srpska. At the same time, with this agreement he is seeking to indicate the line that his cooperation with B-H will follow. For it is no accident that he has signed this agreement before establishing diplomatic relations with B-H. All this reveals a clear policy þ a wish to show that he is the person who will look after the Serbs in B-H, rather than allowing them to create a better future for themselves on the basis of the Dayton Accords, within the context of a new country.

* * *

The issue of equal relations between the two entities is interconnected with the issue of special links with their neighbours, namely with Serbia and Croatia. This was certainly one of the preconditions for FRY (as Republika Srpska's representative) accepting the Dayton Accords. But the whole procedure adopted in concluding this agreement between FRY and RS was irregular from the viewpoint of the constitution of B-H. Above all, it was signed by Krajisnik, who did not have the authority to do that. As a member of the Presidency of B-H he can sign international treaties, but only if he is authorized to do so by the Presidency þ in accordance with the constitutional provision that foreign policy comes under the jurisdiction of Bosnia-HerzegÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÀovina itself. Furthermore, an analysis of the content of this agreement shows that it encroaches upon a domain that is exclusively in the jurisdiction of the state of B-H, and that it oversteps the jurisdiction of Republika Srpska as an entity. Milosevic, through this agreement, is seeking to give himself a role in Bosnia-Herzegovina's future by way of Republika Srpska, without developing relations directly with the central government. This, of course, is contrary to the spirit of the Dayton Agreement, but it is wholly within the spirit of Milosevic's policies and his conception of the relations that should prevail between Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska. It is an attempt to involve FRY fully in the work and development of Republika Srpska, and is a strategic move. Naturally, Milosevic wants to use this agreement to satisfy his momentary needs on the domestic and international scene. Viewed in a longer perspective, however, it is a kind of framework for a programme of detailed linkage between Republika Srpska and FRY.

* * *

Mr Kissinger and people like him look at the situation quite abstractly and do not have sufficient insight into the real tradition of relations here. It is assuredly true, of course, that both Serbia and Croatia do harbour certain appetites for partitioning Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, this is contrary to any modern approach, which presupposes the survival of B-H as an independent state. Rather than a Greater Serbia we should create a Serbia that will be part of the integration of Europe. The same must hold for Croatia. Everything, of course, will depend on the relation of political forces. What is needed are solutions that would regulate relations in this part of the world on a modern basis. Bosnia-Herzegovina such as it is could, and should, help to change this situation and neutralize the appetites of those who are for a Greater Serbia or a Greater Croatia, in such a way as to create þ through a cooperation between Croatia and FRY in which B-H too would participate þ a space upon which a new integrative community could be founded. One that would not be any kind of supra-national community, of course, but in the context of which cooperation would be developed in accordance with the most modern principles of democracy and European integration.

Milan Sahovic is former director of the Belgrade Institute for International Politics and Economics. His comments were first broadcast on Radio Free Europe, and are translated here from Monitor (Podgorica), 21 March 1997.


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