Open Letter

Author: Mostar Conference
Uploaded: Friday, 22 December, 2000

The participants in a conference organized by International Forum Bosna in Mostar on 'The Future of Bosnia-Herzegovina' issue an open letter to world opinion calling for a new commitment to ending the country's 'current agony'.




We, participants in the twelfth debate on ‘The Future of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Trust and Prospects for Civil Society’, held on 16 and 17 December 2000 in Mostar,

- concerned at the political, economic and cultural situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
- refusing to accept the situation and attitudes towards it,
- endeavouring to meet our human and civil responsibility for human rights, the rule of law and democracy in our country,

adopt the following


OPEN LETTER TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA AND IN THE WORLD AS A WHOLE


1.

The latest elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina have confirmed that once again the political phenomena and forces that were at the very basis of the war against this country and the lasting agony that it produced have been legalized and reinforced, and that these forces can also thank the international community for their continued maintenance. The growth of democratic, socially cohesive forces has been halted at a level that is inadequate for the process to be dynamically redirected towards the reintegration of society.
Three political parties, founded on the totalitarian demand for exclusive representation of individual peoples, are involved in the cause and effect sequence of the devastation wrought on Bosnia and Herzegovina: from Miloševic-inspired secession from the centre in order to create Greater Serbia, via the Tudman-inspired acceptance of common cause in the devastation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to establish Greater Croatia, to the Izetbegovic-inspired reciprocal reductionism. Direct links between these parties with external centres continue to be maintained, and the most significant factors of the international order are directly or indirectly accepting this, thereby assisting in sustaining the divisions imposed by war and the paralysis of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s society and state.


2.

Five years after the signing of the Dayton Accord, the political situation offers no guarantees for the democratic development of the country. An important cause of this is the failure of international organizations to offer sufficient support to the development of civil society, and in particular to genuinely active non-governmental organizations. Without a developed structure of civil society and citizens’ initiatives, it will not be possible to create true democracy either, and the electoral will of the electorate will continue to be subject to manipulation, intimidation and national homogenization.

3.

International organizations have invested huge sums of money in economic reconstruction and the social structure. Five years of such investment cannot be judged a success. Bosnia and Herzegovina is still today wholly dependent economically and socially on donor aid, unemployment and poverty are widespread, and the economy is non-functional. It is evident that the three local one-party systems are fundamentally to blame for this. However, it is time for international political assistance to be critically re-examined, together with support for the economic reconstruction and social restoration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We therefore call for transparency and a critical attitude towards international organizations and their political support. Both positive and negative experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be of great benefit to the Stability Pact and its policies.

4.

The current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be described as the active presence of ethno-nationalist elites, ideologies and organizations, masked by opportunistic appeals for sustainable peace. We consider it very important to analyze and objectively demonstrate their nature. The two ideological blocs – one democratic, persevering in attempts to revitalize Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unity, and the other pseudo-democratic, conserving the partition brought about by war – must not receive equal treatment from the international community, for this means assenting to the maintenance of an unjust situation imposed by violence and representing a constant threat to human rights. Thus far, systematic violations of human rights are being committed without hindrance in many parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in some areas exceeding even the grossest forms of apartheid.

5.

Unlike Croatia and Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s society and state are a complex identity shaped throughout the country’s history and territory by different confessional and ethnic communities. For this reason, nation-state ideologies such as have characterized Serbia and Croatia during the past two centuries are incompatible with the maintenance and development of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an entity and as a part of the Balkans and of Europe. This means that Serbia and Croatia, which took part as states in the war against Bosnia and Herzegovina, owe a long-term debt to the revitalization of this country. They must not only recognize her right to equality in relations, but also support the development of her political idea, which would strengthen the indivisibility of human rights and the rule of law on the unified territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first step towards this must be to break off all partial financial, economic, military and intelligence relations between Serbia and Croatia and the ethno-national oligarchies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the withholding of all support and sanctuary for persons who were involved in the war against Bosnia and Herzegovina.


6.

Specifically ensuring the rights of returnees, together with the reconstruction and revitalization of the ravaged components of their political, economic and cultural identity, is the most effective form of elimination of the aftermath of war and the best way to neutralize the factors of destruction. Their opposition to this brings them into conflict with the commitments and rights of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and enables legal sanctions to be imposed as a matter of urgency. Conversely, withholding the right of the population to return and to live a normal life in their houses and residential areas, and of the right to the renewal of the most important elements of their identity, reinforces the belief of the factors of destruction in their lasting immunity from the arm of the law.
We believe that the international community, its organizations and representatives, are not doing enough in this regard, as testified by the existence among them of ignorance, divisions and indecision towards the revitalization of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a healthy and sustainable society and state. Only resolute action by these structures can encourage and support the factors of integration and build trust between the participants in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s society as a whole.

7.

It is evident that the unremitting political territorialization of ethnic identities is a direct threat to the normalization of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s society and state, and that at the same time it cannot resolve any of the fundamental questions of any of these identities, be it the Serb, the Croat or the Bosniac. It merely prolongs the hopes of those who seek the ultimate partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina into two or three parts that would be subject to alien domination. The democratic forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina – which means political parties, institutions, non-governmental organizations and intellectual groupings alike – have yet to formulate a strategic response to this situation. For this reason they too bear part of the responsibility for the agony of society and state.
We appeal to all patriotic and democratic forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, political and cultural organizations, institutions and individuals, to initiate and build a comprehensive and long-term alliance for Bosnia and Herzegovina as an inseparable element i
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