bosnia report
New Series No. 15/16 March - June 2000
Breaking the Mould

In this issue of Bosnia Report, we once again publish a number of texts reflecting the persistent and growing criticisms of the Dayton peace accord to be encountered these days in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The reality that inspires such frustration in the latter's citizens and in international officials alike - a frustration expressed through angry mutual attribution of blame - can be summed up very simply: a state that barely functions, a stuttering and largely obsolete economy, fragmented social structures, one quarter of the prewar population still unable to go home . . . the list can be extended. The internationally recognized independence and territorial integrity ceremoniously sealed at Dayton are perpetually undermined both by the constraints and injustices that the peace accord itself imposed and by the refusal of its big-power sponsors to interpret it creatively or implement it with resolution.

The latest Bosnian Institute publication - From Daytonland to Bosnia Rediviva, by Nermin Mulalic and Saba Risaluddin - concentrates upon one key aspect of this frustrating B-H reality: the countrywide institutions `necessary to preserve the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and international personality of Bosnia-Herzegovina' (Dayton Accord, Annex Four), but which have existed for almost five years now in a kind of limbo, in many cases literally poor (i.e. unfunded) relations of `entity' institutions that should be subordinated to them. If the OHR is serious about making Bosnia function without revising Dayton - which is what its representatives say - these institutions are one of its most obvious litmus tests.

The recent municipal elections saw an apparent reinforcement of SDS and HDZ power in parts of the country controlled by Serb and Croat nationalists, but on the basis of weaker voting performance. Elsewhere the big loser was the SDA, the big winners the SDP and to a lesser extent Haris Silajdzic's SBiH. These patterns, if repeated and intensified in the autumn parliamentary elections, could begin to break the political mould established after Dayton. But only if certain conditions are met. If the SDP begins to make gains in the areas where Croat and Serb nationalists at present hold sway. If the SBiH ceases to shore up the ethnic politics and structures it purports to oppose. And if Western governments begin to understand that a stable democratic B-H can be achieved only by looking beyond a status quo guaranteed by the signatories of Dayton.


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