Bosnia and Herzegovina https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/6447/all cached version 17/01/2019 23:38:06 en Identity politics benefits the Right. But not for long? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/mak-kasapovic/identity-politics-benefits-right-but-not-for-long <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Identity politics favours the political Right, since they are trying to win over a more homogenous group. Nowadays, as a result, the US eerily resembles Bosnia and Herzegovina.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29806080.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29806080.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>US President Donald Trump greeted by former US President Barack Obama after delivering his inaugural address. Xinhua/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Identity politics has become the driving force of US politics and it has brought along the scourge of ethno-nationalism. But to many of us living outside the United States, it’s nothing new. Take a look at Europe. It’s riddled with ethno-nationalistic populism in such places as Hungary, Italy, Germany, Sweden, and many more: all inundated by politicians <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36130006">betting on ethnic identity politics</a> to court the masses. </p> <p>Or take&nbsp;my home country as an example, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here, ethno-nationalism is engraved into the constitution, primarily reflected in stringent ethnic quotas put on public offices. As a result, identity politics is the only form of politics. Almost every party has an ethnic prefix; the presidency consists of three members representing major ethnicities; and the country is thoroughly Balkanized so that every ethnicity is politically autonomous, with some cities being in an apartheid-like state. Each policy is judged through the ethnocentric prism, and weighed on the principle of how much it affects the standing of one’s ethnicity compared to the others. And when ethnic affiliation becomes the sole criterion for political office, the more radical you are, the more authentic you appear.</p> <p>Needless to say, in all the aforementioned places identity politics favours the political Right. Sheri Berman notes that identity politics is “more powerful and efficacious … for right-wing populists” since they are trying to win over <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/14/identity-politics-right-left-trump-racism">a more homogenous group</a>. But more importantly, that homogenous group is almost always the country’s ethnic majority, whose ethnocentrism is easily stoked by presenting them with a paltry minority as a bogeyman.&nbsp;</p> <p>The US hitherto seemingly had a bulwark separating it from the abyss of the institutionalized tribalism of my country, called the two-party system, where both parties had a laissez-faire approach to ethnic and racial identity, so to speak. It is true that since the mid-twentieth century, minorities have had a leaning towards the Democratic Party, and the white majority towards the Republican Party. But they were drawn in by the economic ideas espoused by the parties, with minorities generally being less well-off.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, since the mid-twentieth century, income inequality has persisted across racial and ethnic groups, in some cases being <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/07/12/key-findings-on-the-rise-in-income-inequality-within-americas-racial-and-ethnic-groups/">even worse than in the 1970s</a>. Indeed, race and ethnicity are now <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2018/03/19/594993620/forget-wealth-and-neighborhood-the-racial-income-gap-persists">the best predictors of income inequality</a>, rather than class. That has created the opportunity for the ethnic distribution between parties to solidify, entrench itself, and eventually culminate into contemporary identity politics. As Francis Fukuyama <a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/americas/2018-08-14/against-identity-politics">lucidly puts it</a>, “The Republican Party is becoming the party of white people, and the Democratic Party is becoming the party of minorities.” </p> <p>In all fairness, that was somewhat the case ever since the Democratic Party supported the Civil Rights Act. But now, income is not the litmus test of party affiliation. It’s race. It is getting increasingly harder for whites to see themselves as Democrats, and for minorities as Republicans. </p> <h2><strong>The good news</strong></h2> <p>That isn’t to say that identity politics hasn’t had positive effects. The <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/24/115th-congress-sets-new-high-for-racial-ethnic-diversity/">current 115th&nbsp;Congress of the United States</a> is the most ethnically diverse in history, after a steady increase in minority representatives. There seems to be no indication of reversing course.&nbsp;&nbsp;Just last month, the <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/15/two-democrats-poised-to-become-the-first-muslim-women-in-congress.html">first Muslim women</a> were elected to Congress&nbsp;and a number of <a href="https://theintercept.com/2018/08/29/andrew-gillum-stacey-abrams-ben-jealous-black-governors/">African Americans</a> have made history by becoming the first black gubernatorial nominees in their states. There are many more milestones to come.&nbsp;It comes as no surprise that the Democratic Party is doing all the heavy lifting in that field, perhaps owing to their embrace of identity politics. No doubt, it’s a more innocuous type of identity politics than its white ethno-nationalist counterpart.</p> <p>But sure enough, identity politics still favours the homogenous ethnic majority, as seen by a president exclusively pandering to his mostly white voter base. Not only that, but his unwillingness to decry white supremacy and his sole <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/10/the-first-white-president-ta-nehisi-coates/537909/">goal of erasing the first black president’s legacy</a> led Ta-Nehisi Coates to aver&nbsp;that “he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact.” In the end, the US has come to bear an eerie resemblance to the institutionalized tribalism of my country: economic issues such as income inequality, which are inextricably tied to race, leave no clear alternative to identity politics; and ethnicity is being seen as a sole claim to political office. Then identity politics seems unavoidable. It’s just a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils.</p> <p>As is now commonly known, the US is on a one-way track to becoming a minority-majority nation. Although a conglomerate of ethnicities won’t be as homogenous as a single one, they will certainly be a majority. Neither paltry, nor in the minority any longer, they will become a potent political force and a coveted voter base. In that case, might the Democrats’ identity politics play out in the long haul, making them one of the few cases of successful left-wing identity politics?&nbsp;Indeed, the great question seems to be: will the Democratic Party rein in identity politics for short-term gains, or reap its latent harvest?</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU United States Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Mak Kasapovic Fri, 26 Oct 2018 18:57:04 +0000 Mak Kasapovic 120308 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The theatre group challenging Bosnia's ethnic divisions https://www.opendemocracy.net/build-bridges/bosnia-conflict-resolution <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>I was imprisoned in Omarska concentration camp. There's a growing danger it could happen again. That's why I’m working with young people to help stop it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/image for most mira article1_460.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/image for most mira article1_460.JPG" alt="People performing on stage" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"Most Mira is the opposite of school." Image: Kemal Pervanic</span></span></span></p><p>During the 1990s, I witnessed first-hand the horrific consequences of the rise of ethnic nationalism in my country, Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was born in Prijedor, one of the regions most severely affected during the Bosnian war and was among the thousands imprisoned in Omarska concentration camp. Since returning to the country in the years after the conflict, I’ve become keenly aware of the revival of scapegoating and demonisation of minorities; a political strategy that risks pushing young people into another conflict. Recognising this danger, I chose to dedicate myself to education, reconciliation and peace-building. In 2006, I started <a href="http://www.mostmiraproject.org/">Most Mira</a>, a charity which aims to bring together children and young people through creative and inclusive activities. By building bonds between people across ethnic divides in Prijedor, I hope we can prevent a repeat of the past suffering experienced in these very same communities. </p> <p>Some of the young people Most Mira has worked with have never met person of a different ethnicity to them—even though they were born, raised and educated often within walking distance of each other. The state’s ethnically divisive policies have fostered a climate of fear and resentment, especially among young people. During and after the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, people were so badly conditioned that they felt safer staying segregated, and this caution has been transferred, intentionally or not, to the next generations. </p> <p>Mary, who first got involved with Most Mira in 2015, recalls the animosity between different ethnic minorities in her childhood. “When I moved to Prijedor from my village I attended primary school, I was in sixth grade, with a Muslim girl. One day she gave everyone in the class a braided bracelet. She made them all herself. Another student, a fellow Serb, told me it was witchcraft. I then threw it away. Today I feel sorry that I have not kept it as it was a very nice gesture from her.”</p> <p>When Mary first joined Most Mira, her family didn’t approve of her participation. Some disliked that she was spending time around people from different backgrounds, and others thought acting was a waste of time. They could not understand the importance of the space we provided for young people like Mary—the only space in the society where they felt welcomed and free. Three years later Mary told me her mother has started supporting her and accepted her wish to study acting in the near future.</p> <h2><b>Generation with no future in Bosnia?</b><b>&nbsp;</b></h2> <p>Mary is part of a generation of young Bosnians—regardless of their nationality or ethnicity—who have been ignored and neglected by the Bosnian political system. They feel unwanted in the country of their birth. They pursue their studies with no expectation or hope of landing any job, let alone one for which they study in school. The authorities, unwilling or unable to support young Bosnians in education or employment, would prefer they left the country altogether. This has been a trend for more than a decade. It’s become a new normal, a way to reduce a burgeoning unemployment figure. Images of young men queuing outside foreign embassies, hoping to get a visa to start working in construction in Slovenia, Germany or Austria, and young women hoping to get a job in a care home has become the norm in a country rich with many resources. </p> <p>Most Mira has had the privilege of working with some of these intelligent young people whose talents are more needed in their own country than abroad. Their frustrations were best expressed earlier this year in a series of participatory video workshops which Most Mira ran in partnership with Elma Selman, an artist and psychologist who was born in Prijedor.</p> <h2><b>How does Most Mira work?</b><b>&nbsp;</b></h2> <p>“Most Mira is the opposite of school—our work in school kills creativity—we have to be the same and know everything and there are no excuses,” one participant told us. “If you give advice for something at school you are told no. A few teachers love new ways, but most of them don’t.”</p> <p>Every year, Most Mira brings together a group of high school students and facilitators—often their teachers—to participate together in a series of creative workshops which teaches them the importance of teamwork, solidarity and cooperation. The process consists of a number of challenging tasks which they approach in a creative manner, from testing student’s ability to build something innovative from scratch to dealing with conflict resolution. The entire project lasts for about four months and it involves producing a play (a comedy) which explores many of the student’s everyday problems, particularly issues which are not often discussed or addressed in public. One play, entitled <i>Moustaches</i>, dealt with sexual violence or gender inequalities:</p><p> <iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Vp5FOr2j57s" width="460" height="259" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Another, <i>One Day of Unlucky Man</i>, sums up frustrations associated with seemingly insurmountable bureaucratic barriers, nepotism and corruption Bosnian citizens face when they try to demand their basic rights from various official institutions.</p> <p>The young participants—assisted by the facilitators and professional trainers—learn how to take the lead in all different aspects of the project: acting, improvisation, playing games. In sharp contrast to their classroom work where their teachers control every aspect of their education process, students own and drive the process in Most Mira workshops. One participant said the project provided a space where “you can speak your mind”. Another said, “there is no wrong” at Most Mira; all ideas are welcome, and all issues can be discussed. Sometimes this causes friction with new facilitators and the teachers, who initially seem confused by this seemingly reversed role play. However, they too come to appreciate the process and recognise the benefits it provides not only for the young participants but themselves and their teaching too.</p> <p>“I think it’s a valuable experience to see different perspectives on how to work with children,” says Igor, a teacher and facilitator for Most Mira. “There is no hierarchy in the process and we are used to hierarchy—we are indoctrinated from kindergarten. Being open and giving the young people some space is important.”</p><p> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OyyJTUuGYug" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" width="460" height="259" frameborder="0"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This year’s project involved a new element: participatory video workshops led by Build Up facilitator Michaela Ledesma. The participants were divided into several groups and encouraged to select their own themes which they then used to produce short films. Within two weeks they learned about various filmmaking techniques and the different roles filmmaking crews perform in order to produce a successful project. In one film called <i>Bosnia the Desert</i>, one group painted a very bleak picture of the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This raw, yet brutally honest, video accurately sums up the current day-to-day reality faced by a &nbsp;new generation. It depicts an ever-increasing number of young people leaving the country year-after-year, until this hemorrhage of human capital, a resource they warn the country does not possess in abundance, leaves no-one to take care of the country. They leave for Germany to clean toilets, to provide care for the aging German population. The lucky ones end up marrying a German; the unlucky ones remain stuck in this quagmire.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/most mira 2_460.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/most mira 2_460.JPG" alt="A group of people on a stage" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"Being open and giving the young people some space is important.” Image: Kemal Pervanic</span></span></span></p> <h2><b>The future</b><b>&nbsp;</b></h2> <p>This autumn, a biannual political circus will once again ignore the needs of young people. Every two years, over 150 political parties vie for power, the biggest among them campaign on promises of “protection” from the supposed threat represented by the other. This divisive rhetoric has been causing further rupture in an already war-damaged society. Young people have become the victims of such politics. The opportunities Most Mira offers them through our projects help them discover that they share the same talents and abilities that the best of us have. This work helps them understand that they too can make a valuable contribution to society. </p> <p>Unfortunately, 10 years after the financial crash Bosnia and Herzegovina’s youth have continued to flee their impoverished homelands, leaving behind fractured communities in the firm grip of right-wing political elements that virtually face no democratic opposition. At a time like this the work of grassroots organisations play a vital role in the struggle against this negative trend that may ultimately put everyone’s security at risk.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/build-bridges/belfast-community-peacebuilding-racism">Belfast is welcoming refugees with a radical new approach: speaking to them</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Conflict conflicts Build Bridges Kemal Pervanic Wed, 29 Aug 2018 11:32:55 +0000 Kemal Pervanic 119469 at https://www.opendemocracy.net We must not forget Srebrenica https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/dunja-mijatovi/we-must-not-forget-srebrenica <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Political and judicial authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia must improve their cooperation to end impunity, by identifying and punishing war criminals.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33534961.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33534961.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Potocari Memorial Center near Srebrenica, November, 2017, where 2,500 genocide victims had been laid to rest.John Heeneman/ Press Associaiton. All right reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Every July 11 since 1995, hundreds of people gather in Potočari to commemorate the Srebrenica genocide, the most horrific crime committed in Europe since WWII. </p><p>Survivors and victims' families demand justice, recognition and respect.</p> <p>In a few days of that July of twenty-three years ago, more than 8,000 boys and men were systematically and brutally executed, and 30,000 people violently displaced. </p><p>Since then, the relatives of the victims – and in particular mothers who have lost husbands, sons, brothers – have started a long, courageous walk to justice and recognition. <span class="mag-quote-center">They demand recognition, but their suffering is ignored, vilified or denied. </span></p> <p>Along that way, they have found some measure of each. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has determined that genocide was committed in Srebrenica and convicted some of the war criminals that orchestrated and took part in it. And grass-root organisations are overcoming great obstacles to starting the difficult journey to reconciliation. </p><p>All this carries a strong significance, but remains little consolation for the survivors of the genocide and the victims’ families. </p> <p>They demand that their loved ones be found: but the slow identification process can only inflict additional suffering. They demand health care to treat their trauma, and they get substandard therapy. They demand accountability, but many war criminals still go free and unpunished. They demand recognition, but their suffering is ignored, vilified or denied. </p> <p>The latter is certainly one of the most outrageous offenses that they have been obliged to endure during the post-genocide period. And yet, they have found the strength to continue their fight for truth and justice, despite the denial and minimisation of the genocide, which we see also happening in education.&nbsp; </p><p>Mono-ethnic schools and the “two-schools-under-one-roof” system still characterises education in Bosnia and Herzegovina.It is also characterised by the ignorance of the past and manipulation of the facts about the recent war.</p> <p>Such a situation perpetuates the ethnic divisions which made current and past tensions possible and hinder reconciliation and peace. We must reverse this. </p> <p>Civilian victims of the Srebrenica genocide must receive adequate social protection and improved legal assistance to assert their rights and obtain reparation. <span class="mag-quote-center">They must step up the search for mass graves and ensure that witnesses who may disclose the information necessary to identify all the other places where corpses have been buried feel safe to do so. </span></p> <p>Political and judicial authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia must improve their cooperation to end impunity, by identifying and punishing war criminals. They should also invest more in identifying all genocide victims and clarify the fate of those who remain missing. They must step up the search for mass graves and ensure that witnesses who may disclose the information necessary to identify all the other places where corpses have been buried feel safe to do so. </p> <p>Governments and decision makers must adopt farsighted policies that establish accountability and focus on education. This must become a shared responsibility, primarily for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, but also for other European countries, not only in the former Yugoslavia. </p> <p>The education systems in the region must become more inclusive. They must lead the young generations out of the caves of prejudice in which manufactured realities blur the truth and spread the seed of hate. School books, not only in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but all over Europe, must include an objective testimony of the Srebrenica genocide, portraying it without political or ethnic connotations. They must educate about the past, educate to debunk myths, educate about justice and equality for all.</p> <p>European countries should provide more support to grass-root initiatives for reconciliation. They should also put more pressure on politicians and other public figures in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to stop denying the past and to build more inclusive education systems and societies.</p> <p>Like the Holocaust and the Rwanda genocide, the Srebrenica genocide was not an accident. It began well before it occurred. </p><p>It started when human beings were singled out because of their ethnicity. It grew with a public discourse, fomented by some media, which dehumanised them and marginalised critical voices. It took shape in the systematic and industrial extermination of a large group of people, under the eyes of a passive international community. And it continues today, with denial and impunity. <span class="mag-quote-center">[European education systems] must lead the young generations out of the caves of prejudice in which manufactured realities blur the truth and spread the seed of hate.</span></p> <p>The Srebrenica genocide marked one of the darkest pages of European history. If we want to write a brighter future, we must remember what happened and treat all the victims as our victims, without political or ethnic connotations. We must acknowledge the suffering of the survivors and of the victims’ families. We must make their struggle for justice our goal.&nbsp;</p> <p>As Commissioner for Human Rights I will continue calling for justice for all the victims of the crimes that happened during the wars in the Balkans.&nbsp; Serving justice is the only way we can all confront the past and prevent it from repeating itself.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> Serbia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Serbia Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Dunja Mijatović Mon, 09 Jul 2018 08:30:45 +0000 Dunja Mijatović 118756 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How women in the Balkans are using social media to fight sexism https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lidija-pisker/women-in-balkans-using-social-media-to-fight-sexism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women are primary targets of bias and online harassment in the Balkans. Now, a growing number are using the internet to fight back.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-33539749.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Facebook logos on a computer screen."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-33539749.jpg" alt="Facebook logos on a computer screen." title="Facebook logos on a computer screen." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Facebook logos on a computer screen. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Bosnian science journalist and blogger Jelena Kalinić often anticipates disagreements when she comments on social media posts. But she did not expect Bosnian writer Goran Samardžić to flip a Facebook discussion about pregnancy in late February into a sexist intrusion into her private life.</p><p dir="ltr">“I can 'milk' some of 'it' into a coffee cup and freeze it for you if you want to get pregnant,“ Samardžić privately wrote to Kalinić following a public chat on her Facebook wall. The two were only acquaintances. Kalinić was shocked by his message and shared a <a href="https://mobile.twitter.com/JelenaSashimi/status/967883613198077952">screenshot</a> of it on Twitter with the comment “this is the bottom of the bottom.” </p><p dir="ltr">On social media, people started reacting and sharing the screenshot. Some commentators criticised her decision to share the private message from Samardžić. She <a href="http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/poznati-bih-pisac-znanstvenoj-novinarki-ponudio-da-ce-joj-dati-malo-svoje-sperme/1031723.aspx">explained</a> that she intended to publicly expose the insult, because she wanted people to know about it. </p><p dir="ltr">Traditional patriarchal rules, gender stereotypes, and a disregard for gender equality demands are pervasive in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia and other countries of the former Yugoslavia. Online, women are primary targets of bias and harassment. But now, a growing number of women across the region are also using the internet to combat sexism. </p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-center">‘Online, women are primary targets of bias and harassment. But now, a growing number of women across the region are also using the internet to combat sexism.’</p><p dir="ltr">Bosnian journalist and activist Masha Durkalić was among the first social media users to respond to the so-called “coffee cup” case. In a lengthy Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/blower.of.bubbles/posts/10156213394428410">post</a>, she condemned a tacit approval of online sexist harassment. She wrote: “The support system to sexists that exists in our society is frightening.” </p><p dir="ltr">What motivated Durkalić to engage in this debate online? She told me: “It came from my personal frustration with silence and with [the] constant disregard of so many obvious problems in Bosnian society.”</p><p dir="ltr">Durkalić’s post hit a public nerve. Dozens of Bosnian Facebook users shared her post, while several human rights websites such as <a href="http://diskriminacija.ba/kolumne/goran-samard%C5%BEi%C4%87-i-fild%C5%BEan-genetskog-materijala">Diskriminacija.ba</a>, which focuses on issues of discrimination, and <a href="http://www.mreza-mira.net/vijesti/razno/odluciti-da-se-ne-smijes-seksistickoj-sali-je-politicki-cin/">Mreža za izgradnju mira</a>, the online portal of a peace-building network, republished it as an article. </p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, at least two writers cancelled book deals with Samardžić’s publishing company Buybook. Lejla Kalamujić and Dragan Bursać <a href="https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/seksualno-uznemiravanje/29080060.html">announced</a> on their Facebook profiles that they “work against sexists, not for them.” </p><p dir="ltr">On 6 March, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1967396166922869&amp;id=100009575143238">Samardžić wrote on Facebook: </a>"I apologise to Jelena Kalinic and the general public for sexism. Aware of what kind of damage I have done, I withdraw from all positions in the Buybook Publishing House."</p><p dir="ltr">"Apart from being the author of the unacceptable content of the message and comments, I am a husband and father of two daughters, and I hope that the beginning of the "MeToo" movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which I was an unlucky generator of, will contribute to the depatriarchialisation of our society and open discussion of the problems which most women face," he added.</p><p dir="ltr">Durkalić sees education as vital to paving the way to respect for women. For this reason, she and her friends Amila Hrustić and Hatidža Gušić created <a href="https://zenebih.tumblr.com/">zeneBiH</a> (Women of BiH) – an online campaign which took place in March for Women’s History Month, to teach internet users about notable Bosnian women, such as scientists, writers and filmmakers. </p><p dir="ltr">They now want to produce a book about more than 50 Bosnian women, including their biographies and illustrations by Bosnian women artists and designers. They plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign for this project later this year.</p> <p><iframe allow="encrypted-media" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" height="417" width="450" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fzenebihknjiga%2Fphotos%2Fa.323274458198655.1073741829.320611468464954%2F323279421531492%2F%3Ftype%3D3&amp;width=450"></iframe> In Croatia, Nataša Vajagić, a coordinator at <a href="http://www.cgiporec.hr/">Centar za građanske inicijative</a> (Centre for Civic Initiatives), also takes an educational approach to tackling sexism. </p><p dir="ltr">Last year, she and a few other volunteers of the website <a href="https://libela.org/">Libela</a> created a Facebook page, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/seksizamhrvatska/">Seksizam naš svagdašnji</a> (Our Daily Sexism), which is now a project of the centre.</p><p dir="ltr">Seksizam naš svagdašnji identifies and denounces Croatian online media sources with explanations of why they are sexist. </p><p dir="ltr">It grew out of last year’s <a href="https://libela.org/sa-stavom/8541-prvi-rezultati-libelinog-istrazivanja-seksizma-na-domacim-news-portalima/">research by Libela</a>, which found that only 18% of news headlines published by the most popular online news portals in Croatia talked about women, while 4.5% of the headlines included explicitly sexist remarks. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">'Only 18% of news headlines published by the most popular online news portals in Croatia talked about women, while 4.5% of the headlines included explicitly sexist remarks.'</p><p dir="ltr">This research showed that media coverage about women is prevalent only in showbiz and lifestyle sections and that women’s physical appearances and stereotypical gender roles as mothers, housewives, models or actresses are over-emphasised. </p><p dir="ltr">In some cases, online media outlets even used hate speech, attacking women on the basis of their gender, in articles that minimised reports of violence against women. </p><p dir="ltr">Last year, when a Croatian model pressed charges against three men who shared online explicit videos of her having sex with them, some portals focused on her behaviour, describing her as having been drunk, rather than the alleged crime of recording and distributing these videos without her consent. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">“It became clear to us that people often do not notice sexism because it is so deeply rooted they don’t even recognise it,” Vajagić told me. “They are accustomed to it and do not perceive it as something that contributes to inequality [between] women and men.”</p><p dir="ltr">Some social media users have criticised the project on Facebook for “seeing sexism in everything.” Vajagić counters that the precise purpose of the page is to make people aware that sexism is indeed omnipresent. &nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“It became clear to us that people often do not notice sexism because it is so deeply rooted they don’t even recognise it.”</p><p>A column published on the Libela website, entitled <a href="https://www.libela.org/stup-srama/">Stup srama</a> (Pillar of Shame), spotlights sexist statements by Croatian politicians. One of the most striking cases is of a member of parliament, Ivan Pernar, who <a href="https://net.hr/danas/hrvatska/bizarni-niz-seksistickih-provala-ivana-pernara-uzrok-nasilja-je-to-sto-je-zena-odabrali-zivjeti-s-nasilnikom/">told</a> the media last year that “the cause of the domestic violence is a woman who chooses to live with a man who bullies her.”</p><p dir="ltr">Such prejudice, which is widespread in the Balkans, is what drove Bosnian politics graduate Hana Ćurak to also employ social media in her battle against sexism. Her feminist Facebook page <a href="https://www.facebook.com/todos.brujas/">Sve su to vještice</a> (All of them are Witches) criticises sexism through satirical memes and has more than 40,000 followers. </p><p dir="ltr">Ćurak mocks sexist narratives in the Balkans. For instance, one of her memes says “Don’t make your mom worry,” which displays the patronising tone often used to discredit women’s behaviour or perspectives in the region.</p> <p dir="ltr">She also imagines short, satirical conversations between famous women such as Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf, mocking sexist patterns of communication through the specific choice of words and use of slang.</p> <p><iframe allow="encrypted-media" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" height="459" width="450" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ftodos.brujas%2Fposts%2F1489764187743694&amp;width=450"></iframe> Other women-led social media accounts, for instance <a href="https://www.facebook.com/krajnjeneuracunljive/">Krajnje Neuračunljive</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/dodjoskaa">@dodjoskaa</a>, also make fun of gender stereotypes. ”No, it’s not PMS [premenstrual stress], it’s you who annoys me,” is one of the former’s popular memes. </p><p dir="ltr">Ćurak is happy to see growing awareness of women's perspectives. It is also positive, she adds, “that there are new voices that use the internet to articulate” these.</p><p dir="ltr">In Serbia, feminist organisation <a href="https://www.womenngo.org.rs/en/">Autonomni ženski centar</a> (Autonomous Women’s Centre) also took to the internet to launch an awareness-raising campaign last year about violence in young people’s relationships. </p><p dir="ltr">“We understood that we have to be present in the online sphere if we want to reach youth,” said project coordinator Sanja Pavlović.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We understood that we have to be present in the online sphere if we want to reach youth.”</p><p dir="ltr">That is why the group’s <a href="http://mogudanecu.rs/">Mogu da neću – Ljubav nije nasilje</a> campaign (which translates roughly as “I can refuse – love is not Violence”) uses an online application called <a href="http://mogudanecu.rs/odchataj-tutorial">Aj’ Odchataj</a> (Chat Off) where young Serbians can share their experiences of violent behaviour in their relationships. </p><p dir="ltr">More than 240 young people – mostly women – have anonymously contributed their own examples of abusive discussions to the project’s online <a href="http://mogudanecu.rs/odchataj-gallery">gallery</a>.</p><p>“The application is a precious source of authentic conversations among young people in which the most common forms of violence – control, manipulation, isolation, and jealousy are clearly outlined,” Pavlović told me.</p><p dir="ltr">The application transforms real-life dialogues into smartphone chats, with each conversation ending with the campaign slogan “I can refuse.” According to Pavlović, this project can help women recognise patterns of violent behaviour and how to confront them. </p><p>Such confrontation is precisely what this new generation of women in the Balkans is doing. “I can refuse” might as well be the shared slogan of them all.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claudia-williams/young-women-mobilise-against-revenge-porn-online-abuse">Young women mobilise against ‘revenge porn’ and online abuse</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/tiffany-mugo/digital-future-of-sex">Coitus and conversation: the digital realm is taking sex to new levels</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> Croatia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Serbia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Serbia Croatia Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil society Culture Equality International politics Internet Women's rights and the media Sexual violence gender feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Lidija Pisker Wed, 18 Apr 2018 09:30:29 +0000 Lidija Pisker 117347 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Conflict prevention: will the United Nations return to its roots? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/stephanie-sugars/united-nations-reform-conflict-prevention <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The secretary general is an advocate for reform. But change will not be easy and the case of Bosnia shows how complex peacebuilding can be.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-17254450.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="&quot;The Knotted Gun&quot;"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-17254450.jpg" alt=""The Knotted Gun"" title="&quot;The Knotted Gun&quot;" width="460" height="322" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The "The Knotted Gun" by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reutersward sits outside of the United Nations in New York City. The scultpure was a gift from Luxembourg to the UN in 1988. Photo: Tim Brakemeier/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The United Nations’ charter, the global body’s founding document, defines its purpose ambitiously: “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Symbols of this mission abound at its headquarters in New York City. Outside the visitor center, an iconic blue helmet rests on a pedestal. The entrance to the general assembly hall is marked by a sculpture of a giant revolver, its barrel knotted and pointed upwards.</p><p dir="ltr">But the UN is a product of its member states, which insist that they are always, ultimately in charge within their own borders. This means that UN peacekeeping efforts have focused primarily on responding to “acute conflicts”, where violence is imminent. French delegates to the UN confirmed to me last week that this remains their priority as permanent members of the security council.</p><p dir="ltr">Critics say UN responses to conflicts do not come fast enough when they come at all. Some have called on the body to embrace its <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/myanmar-rohingya-united-nations_us_59b695c3e4b0dfaafcf95e79">"responsibility to protect</a>"; others have argued that preventing conflict is <a href="https://theglobalobservatory.org/2017/03/prevention-united-nations-guterres-syria/">more effective and cost efficient</a> than providing peacekeepers as actors of last resort. </p><p dir="ltr">Secretary general António Guterres agrees;<span class="st"> e</span>ven before he took over at the organisation in early 2017, the Portugeuse politician and former head of the UN's refugee agency <a href="http://www.un.org/pga/70/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/01/4-April_Secretary-General-Election-Vision-Statement_Portugal-4-April-20161.pdf">was advocating</a> for a shift towards preventing conflicts, emphasising education and development. Guterres also wants to <a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2017/03/iwd2017unsg/">address gender inequalities</a> within the UN itself. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-32799991.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in September 2017."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-32799991.jpg" alt="United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in September 2017." title="United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in September 2017." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in September 2017. Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>On Monday US President Donald Trump will <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/trump-and-un-chief-guterres-to-speak-at-meeting-on-un-reform/2017/09/07/f98a9786-941c-11e7-8482-8dc9a7af29f9_story.html?utm_term=.2323b3ec9dc9">host a meeting</a> of world leaders in New York to discuss UN reforms alongside the 72nd general assembly. Guterres is scheduled to speak on behalf of reforms which would bring the body closer to its original aims and would help achieve the daunting goals of the UN’s <a href="https://www.un.org/pga/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/08/120815_outcome-document-of-Summit-for-adoption-of-the-post-2015-development-agenda.pdf">2030 agenda for sustainable development</a> and <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12340.doc.htm">resolutions on sustaining peace</a> passed in 2016.</p><p>But the shift that Guterres is calling for, towards more work on conflict prevention, is not a simple policy change. It would require a fundamental break with the UN’s current approach, not to mention sizeable reforms to address the body's its sluggish response time to conflicts, its burgeoning bureaucracy, and how its different teams often work in parallel "silos", collaborating rarely. </p><p>Former UN under-secretary general, and former president of the security council, Anwarul Chowdhury told me that reforms are needed to improve coherence and achieve gender parity at all levels of the organisation. “Reform is a nice word" he said, but “reforms should be taken soberly, without hype, and based on their merit.” </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-31137436.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="UN peacekeepers in Somalia."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-31137436.jpg" alt="UN peacekeepers in Somalia, 2017." title="UN peacekeepers in Somalia." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UN peacekeepers in Somalia, 2017. Photo: Maurizio Gambarini/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The track record the UN does have on peacekeeping and conflict resolution also raises concerns. It includes cases of some success, for example in Guatemala and El Salvador, and others including Rwanda, where under-resourced peacekeepers failed to protect lives during the 1994 genocide. </p><p dir="ltr">“There is real political momentum to reform the UN now in practical ways,” <a href="https://www.ipinst.org/2017/09/advancing-the-culture-of-peace">said</a> Gillian Bird, Australia’s permanent UN representative, at a side panel during the 6th annual high-level forum on the culture of peace. </p><p dir="ltr">But she emphasised that change will require a new mindset, and “a shift towards longer-term planning, joint analysis and improved capacity to recognise and seize the sometimes-narrow windows for prevention.”</p><p dir="ltr">During the forum, diplomats from states including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Lebanon and Kuwait made similar statements about the necessity of instilling values of equality, cooperation and mutual respect and understanding in their citizens from an early age.</p><p dir="ltr">Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN assistant secretary general for peacebuilding support, spoke about a UN-funded program in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2014-2016 to encourage youth engagement in state politics and address ethnic divisions. He said it “has reached more than 30% of the population, and has reduced youth dissatisfaction and supported intercultural education.”</p><p dir="ltr">For peacebuilding and post-conflict aid workers in Bosnia, however, this example is loaded. More often, Bosnia is seen as an example of mismanaged intervention and reconstruction. </p><p dir="ltr">Bosnia has been a testing ground for different UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding policies for 25 years, from the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/past/unprof_p.htm">United Nations Protection Force</a> and <a href="http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/past/unmibh/mandate.html">Mission in Bosnia</a>, to the <a href="http://www.ohr.int/?page_id=1220">Peace Implementation Council</a> and <a href="http://www.ohr.int/?page_id=1161">Office of the High Representative</a>. But insufficient peacekeeping troops in 1995 allowed the safe zone outside Srebrenica to be overrun and the civilians they had promised to protect were massacred. For many, war still rages in parliament halls, news studios and school textbooks.</p><p>Kemal Pervanić, who has been running youth programs around the northwest Bosnian town of Prijedor for more than 10 years, told me earlier this year that while they live in relative peace, it’s a “negative peace,” and the children “carry so much trauma.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-32659920.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="School in Sarajevo."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-32659920.jpg" alt="School in Sarajevo." title="School in Sarajevo." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Children at their first day of school in Sarajevo, Bosnia, September 2017. Photo: Haris Memija/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Many peacebuilding programs like that mentioned by Fernandez-Taranco, it seems, are not mirrored in state policy, limiting their impact. </p><p dir="ltr">In Bosnia, Pervanić said that children often aren’t even taught the history of the wars of the 1990s. When they are, schools’ history curriculums vary widely depending on the ethnic majority in the area, and students often hear “stories” of hate and blame from parents or community and religious leaders. </p><p dir="ltr">Refik Hodžić, at the International Center for Transitional Justice and formerly the International Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, said that because of the constant flow of biased information, some young people “are worse nationalists than their parents.”</p><p dir="ltr">Half-baked institution building in Bosnia – including the fact that all ministries <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/oct/08/bosnia-herzegovina-elections-the-worlds-most-complicated-system-of-government">exist in triplicate</a> – appears largely to blame for stalled peacebuilding efforts. </p><p dir="ltr">In his April 2016 vision statement, written while a candidate for the UN secretary general position, Guterres <a href="http://www.un.org/pga/70/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/01/4-April_Secretary-General-Election-Vision-Statement_Portugal-4-April-20161.pdf">noted </a>that bolstering state institutions (such as education ministries and judiciaries) and building their capacity is vital for sustainable development, conflict prevention and human rights. </p><p>Hodžić described the paralysis of the Bosnian state as a tactic of the ruling class. “They use the past very deliberately to constantly stoke this feeling of tension and the possibility of the conflict, to keep the country paralysed so that there is no oversight, there are no strong institutions,” he said.</p><p>Today Bosnia is just one example of division and uncertainty internationally. At last week’s high-level forum, Bangladesh’s UN ambassador Masud Bin Momen described an “alarming rise of sectarianism, xenophobia, religious intolerance as well as terrorism and violent extremism worldwide. Conflicts continue to rage; refugees stream in across various parts of the world; asymmetric warfare by non-state actors is becoming endemic; spectre of nuclear-warfare looms large; inequality and injustice still persists.”</p><p>As the UN prepares to debate these issues during general assembly, will it return to its roots and focus more on conflict prevention? In his vision statement last year, Guterres said the “future of the UN will be determined by its readiness to change and adapt.” This is putting it mildly; nothing less than the future of global stability is at stake.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Bosnia and Herzegovina Conflict International politics women and power 50.50 newsletter Stephanie Sugars Mon, 18 Sep 2017 07:56:48 +0000 Stephanie Sugars 113396 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The five 'infections' of the social democratic 'family' in the Western Balkans https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/othon-anastasakis/five-infections-of-social-democratic-family-in-western-balkans <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Social democracy is failing all across Europe; but it's impotence in the Balkans especially is having serious consequences for the region.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-20759848.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-20759848.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nikola Gruveski, Macedonian Prime Minister, with Angela Merkel. Markus Schreiber/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Looking at the current Western Balkans’ political landscape, in the first half of 2017, one notices that in all of the former Yugoslav states, nationalists dominate the scene and all governments are formed by parties that were involved in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s on the pro-independence side. </p> <p>From the Tudjman founded HDZ in Croatia to Serbia’s Progressive Party (born from the Party of Radicals), from Montenegro’s one party rule to Bosnia’s ethnic tri-partite Presidency, and from Kosovo’s former fighters to Gruevski’s authoritarianism in Macedonia, the region oozes nationalism, identity politics, border disputes and rival historical claims. </p> <p>All of these governing parties are on the right-wing side of the ideological spectrum (except Montenegro), they are socially conservative, openly neo-liberal in their economic policies and not particularly tolerant towards ethnic minorities. The parties of the centre-left, the so-called social democratic parties, are currently in opposition in the Western Balkans and have a limited impact. In an environment of increasing social inequalities, dodgy privatisations, de-industrialisation and the lowest GDP per capita in Europe, the centre left space is left without a voice. </p> <p>This has not always been the case, as there are a large number of parties in the Western Balkans that call themselves social democratic or socialist, which have played a significant role in the post-communist transformation of these polities, in the context of a variety of cleavages of right versus left, authoritarianism versus democracy, nationalism versus cosmopolitanism and extremism versus moderation. </p> <p>In this piece, I argue that the social democratic parties in the Western Balkans are in a state of ideological confusion and lacking political strategy. In their declarations, all of them affirm their allegiance to a progressive and moderate political agenda, they present themselves as solid pro-Europeans, conciliatory vis a vis ethnic minorities and socially sensitive. </p> <p>In reality, however, they practice very little of all that, and most of them have compromised their ideas for the sake of power. They fail to propose any alternatives to the current dominant conservative paradigms and in that sense they are emulating the wider European centre-left story. </p> <p>Today, social democracy in the Western Balkans is suffering from five “infections”. These are the communist, the neo-liberal, the ethnic, the fragmentation and the external.</p><h2><strong>1.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The communist infection</strong>&nbsp;</h2> <p>What we call social democracy in the Western Balkans today is in historical terms a choice between continuity and rupture with the pre-1989 communist parties. The initial formative years of regime change and transition have left a clear imprint on party politics, <a href="https://bib.irb.hr/datoteka/859978.Dolenec_Democratization-in-the-Balkans.pdf">in general</a>, and social democratic politics, <a href="http://sam.gov.tr/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Othon_Anastasakis.pdf">in particular</a>. Back in the 1990s, the re-labelling social democracy was the passport to the new world of democratic politics, indicating the ideological transformation and decommunistisation of the former totalitarian parties. </p> <p>As in other East European countries, the electoral success of these parties depended on their rebranding as social democratic. As it happened, following the collapse of the communist rule, the communist parties either reformed early (FYR Macedonia), or reformed later (Croatia, Albania), or turned nationalist (Serbia, Montenegro). Many of the reformed communist parties, played a pivotal role during the years of transition, as important power contenders, in government or opposition, giving birth gradually to new formations, a “second generation” of social democratic parties in the Western Balkans. </p> <p>The real question, which remains until today, is to what extent they succeeded in ridding themselves from communism, by democratising their internal procedures, embracing new issues, attracting new members, especially from the younger generation. While all these parties adjusted to the new competitive environment of elections, in most cases, they retained much of their prior political culture of top down hierarchical structures, clientelist distribution of administrative jobs and resources, internal fights among personalities and resistance to new ideas. </p> <p>Many of these parties are still struggling to attract new members, they are slow in introducing internal reforms and display an unconditional obedience to the party leader. Some of them like Djukanovic’s party in Montenegro or Dodik’s party in Republika Srpska are criticised openly for authoritarian practices and anti-social democratic tendencies. But even in the case of Albania where the Socialist Party has been lately trying to modernise and embrace new members, there has been heavy criticism on the adopted party rule that the leader of the party cannot be challenged or removed if he or she loses the election. There is often a feeling in the region that social democratic parties are still guided by “unreformed communists”.</p><h2><strong>2.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The neoliberal infection</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>During the long transition years, the regional economics were dominated by the hegemonic discourse of neoliberalism. As all of the economic policies were designed from abroad, with no domestic input whatsoever, the practices of privatisation, de-industrialisation, and labour reforms were never challenged, despite the fact that they were generating all sorts of market deviations, oligopolies, corrupt practices and social inequalities. </p> <p>For all the Western Balkan states, the post-communist economic model comprised infrastructural, tourist and construction opportunities, leading mostly to <a href="http://www.bankofgreece.gr/BogEkdoseis/From_Crisis_to_Recovery_FINAL_lores.pdf">economies of services and consumption</a>. Following the FDI boost, the consumption boom and the high rates of growth of the 2000s, the financial and the eurozone crises affected the small, open and vulnerable economies of the Western Balkans by hitting their banking sectors, decreasing investment, exacerbating growth rates, widening social inequalities, increasing unemployment and weakening welfare provisions. The rising numbers of outward migration and brain drain to advanced western Europe, during the last few years, testifies to the gloomy economic conditions and the lack of opportunities in all Western Balkan states. </p> <p>Where has social democracy stood in this sequencing of transition, boom and bust? From the start, the social democratic parties distanced themselves from the disgraced communist dogmas by adopting ad hoc and less ideological positions and abiding to the new economic principles. Hostages to “the end of ideology” thesis, they refused to explore any regional deviations from the hegemonic liberal and neoliberal consensus while at the same time losing their traditional clientele, the working classes and trade unionism, all of which disappeared in the new space of deindustrialisation. </p> <p>By espousing wholeheartedly, the European Union perspective, they attached themselves to the rhetoric of structural reforms, fiscal discipline and spending cuts, largely designed by the IMF, and resigned from any claims to social justice, equality, trade unionism and social protection for the sake of the TINA (There Is No Alternative) thesis. Today, some social democrats in the region justify their ideological obedience to neoliberalism by claiming that their countries may need more free market opportunities before they can improve on social policies and implement the true social democratic ideals!</p> <h2><strong>3.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The nationalist infection</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>Like all other political parties in the Western Balkans, social democratic parties have not been immune to the nationalist claims and ethnic divisions that have tormented the post-Yugoslav space. </p> <p>While they adopted a pro-European liberal orientation and declared themselves more tolerant towards ethnic and minority rights, many of them were actively or passively responsive to nationalist ideas, if these helped them win elections and remain in power. Djukanovic flirting with Yugoslav nationalism at first, co-cooperating with Serbian nationalism later, before embracing full hearted Montenegrin nationalism, helped sustain himself and his party in power for the last three decades and becoming the longest serving post-communist leader in Central and Eastern Europe. &nbsp;In fact, his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) due to its chameleon-like changes managed to enjoy power uninterruptedly since 1991, making Montenegro’s polity a “dominant party system”.&nbsp; </p> <p>Elsewhere, social democratic parties, like Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) in Bosnia abandoned their ideals for the sake of independence for Republika Srpska. The ethnicisation of Bosnian politics infected even the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SDP BiH), the only influential multi-ethnic party and the only alternative to the dominant ethnic party system, which constantly faced serious dilemmas, whether to give in to nationalists in power-sharing arrangements or defend its multi-ethnic cause in opposition. </p> <p>In Kosovo, what was originally a promising and fresh social democratic option, Vetevendosje turned into a purely nationalist movement, currently monopolising the patriotic agenda by disrupting the parliamentary process against any border deals with Montenegro and normalisation with Serbia. Most of the social democratic parties in the Western Balkans, for fear that they will be criticised by the nationalist parties as anti-patriotic, opt for ambiguity on issues of national interest, adopting unclear, non-credible approaches on the sensitive national questions. </p> <p>This is the case of the social democratic parties in Serbia, most of which are not trusted to handle relations with Kosovo, <a href="https://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/serbiakosovoworkshopreport.pdf">leaving the space</a> for formerly hard and currently reformed nationalists, such as Aleksandar Vucic and Ivica Dacic, to have their “Nixon in China” moment with Kosovo and claim their nationalist credentials.</p><h2><strong>4.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The infection of fragmentation</strong></h2> <p>It is well known that the biggest fights are usually within the family and that the biggest political enemies are always from within. This is certainly true for the social democratic political family, where political infights are often personal and for the sake of power grabbing and access to state resources. </p> <p>All social democratic parties in the region have been infected by fragmentation and creation of new political formations, all of which have declared their true allegiance to social democracy and end up fighting each other, instead of the ideological enemies beyond. </p> <p>This is very visible in Montenegro where even under the dominating shadow of Djukanonic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the centre left space includes a number of smaller alternatives, such as currently the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Social Democrats (SD) and the Democratic Montenegro, among others. </p> <p>In Serbia, following Tadic’s electoral defeat in 2012, the centre-left space is inundated with social democratic parties all of which have been struggling to surpass the 5% parliamentary threshold; this includes the Democratic Party (DS), the Social Democratic Party of Serbia (SDPS), the Social Democratic Party (SDS), the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), Together for Serbia or the Party of United Pensioners for Serbia all of which are represented in the National Assembly of the 2016 elections totalling 40 MPs all together out of 250. </p><p>The fragmentation of the centre left space is further exacerbated by the existence of a number of socialist, green or other one issue parties. This has allowed the present strongman of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic to use consecutive elections (three in the last three years) to benefit from the opposition’s fragmentation and consolidate his own position. </p> <p>In the April 2017 presidential elections, Vucic triumphed from the first round with 55% followed by the independent Sasa Jankovic who just got a 17%, raising fears among European democrats that Serbia is gradually turning into another “Orban’s land”.</p> <h2><strong>5. The external infection </strong></h2> <p>Much of what is happening in the Western Balkans is reminiscent of the state of European social democracy, and is a reflection of a wider social democratic malaise in the continent. </p> <p>To be sure, the ideological problems with European social democracy have their roots in the 1980s and 1990s, which led the British political philosopher Ralf Dahrendorf famously predict the “end of the social democratic century”. &nbsp;Indeed, the start of the new century signalled the futility of “the third way” in its ideological closeness to market liberalism while, at the same time, some of the socially progressive ideas, traditionally espoused by social democrats were gradually embraced by the parties of the centre right too. </p> <p>Consequently, the consecutive economic crises gave a big blow to the most influential social democratic parties in Europe including Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and most prominently Greece, not only because they had no alternative to the dominant socio-economic model but also because they were largely seen to be responsible for the severe economic downturn. </p> <p>One after the other the social democratic parties have been performing badly in national electoral results while the 2014 European Parliament elections confirmed this negative trend across Europe’s social democracy, with its lowest representation since 1979. </p> <p>Similarly, social democracy is suffering electorally in central and eastern Europe with conservative parties currently prevailing almost everywhere from Bulgaria to Poland and Hungary, the latter shifting clearly towards authoritarianism. No wonder then that the impact of Europe’s social democracy on their Western Balkan counterparts is bound to be weak in terms of political guidance and ideological inspiration.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>It should be added here that the European Party of Socialists (and the Socialist International) to whom most of the Western Balkan social democratic parties are attached, have no commonly agreed yardsticks or examples of best practice for democratic party development that could be transposed to social democratic parties in the region. The best they have been offering is their influence on keeping the accession process of the Western Balkans alive but with not much <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/government-and-opposition/article/limited-influence-the-role-of-the-party-of-european-socialists-in-shaping-social-democracy-in-central-and-eastern-europe/1F8E677386C7621688113DA3D2634E2C">practical guidance</a> along the way. If there is any leverage this comes mostly from the European Commission, in the context of the accession process and this relates more to inter-party relations, rather than intra-party developments, such as brokering in parliamentary boycotts in Albania, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro or Kosovo. </p> <p>In fact, by focusing on executive politics and prioritising inter-party relations and consensus politics, the EU and its social democratic parties have underestimated the importance of democratisation and modernisation of the party machines, while the preference for technocrats and capacity building depoliticises the parties and strips them from their ideological dynamism. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Conclusion</strong></h2> <p>Between the years 2012 to 2016, many Balkan states experienced citizen’s unrests, starting with Bulgaria and Romania and extending to Croatia, Bosnia, FYR Macedonia and Montenegro. Social democratic parties failed to cease the moment and capitalise on such mobilisation because in the eyes of the electorates they were seen as equally responsible for their dismay and discontent. This essay has shown that the reason why social democratic, centre left politics are failing to capture the imagination of the electorates is because they are suffering from multiple infections of internal and external nature. </p> <p>Social democracy in the Western Balkans like with the rest of Europe lacks the full package - consistent ideology and credible political strategy. It suffers more when compared with the existing political alternatives which are clearer and even, dare one say, more authentic in their ideological proclamations: from the radical left which has embraced a critical anti-globalisation, anti-neoliberal discourse but totally lacks political strategy, to the conservative, centre right political alternatives which are openly embracing nationalism, neo-liberal policies as well as use a statist friendly discourse and dominate political praxis.</p> <p>On the contrary, the centre left cannot convince that they have genuinely reformed from the communist times, that they can deal with the difficult national questions, that they can address the social and economic inequalities, nor that they can stay united as a credible alternative. One then would expect that Europe’s social democratic family should try to be the guide for genuine reform in the Western Balkan region, but in order to do this, it needs first to find its own orientation.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Albania </div> <div class="field-item even"> Bulgaria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Serbia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Macedonia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Kosovo </div> <div class="field-item even"> Montenegro </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> Croatia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Croatia Bosnia and Herzegovina Montenegro Kosovo Macedonia Serbia Bulgaria Albania What happened to social democracy in Europe? Othon Anastasakis Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:33:27 +0000 Othon Anastasakis 110242 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Sarajevo 25 years after: paradigm for the future https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/wolfgang-petritsch-christophe-solioz/sarajevo-25-years-after-paradigm-for-future <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The dynamic and sometimes dramatic interplay between the essence and the fate of a city provides the key for a wholesome national reintegration process.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/24582212071_34d7a0a8ab_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/24582212071_34d7a0a8ab_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sarajevo-Spirit, January 2016. Flickr/sundeviljeff. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Twenty-five years after the outset of the war in Bosnia, it’s high time to end the bleak post-war period. In spite of some modest results, the country’s overall situation is depressing. Nothing really new, but meanwhile the regional and international context has changed considerably. Bosnia’s situation consequently begs reassessment.</p> <p>At regional level, Croatia’s membership is neither enhancing Bosnia’s stability nor its integration. After decades of international intervention and anaemic strategies supposed to enhance regional cooperation, the results are unreliable and the territorial integrity of various Balkans’ states (Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosovo) should not be taken for granted. While Russia’s and Turkey’s influence in the region increases, the western block’s soft powers appear to be dramatically weakened. More worrying, the overall security situation in central and eastern Europe is endangered and our twenty first century bears a frightening resemblance to aspects of the 1930s. On top of this, experts and political leaders on all sides seem both disoriented and helpless.</p> <p>This is not the best of all possible worlds for solving Bosnia’s problems. <span class="mag-quote-center">Art — that brings us closer to truth — should become the compass in difficult times. </span></p><p>Since the 2003 EU Summit in Thessaloniki – where the promise was made to bring the Balkan countries into the European Union – the EU has been unable to stick to its word. The sole, disastrous, EU strategy for the Balkans has consisted in maintaining the status quo. As for Bosnia, the EU nevertheless has a binding responsibility. Two key issues are at stake.</p> <p>First, the Dayton Agreement, whatever the sense it admittedly had back in 1995, now completely obstructs the country’s fate. Local, regional and international actors are all accountable for what are now inevitable policy changes. It is indeed unavoidable to reopen Pandora’s box in order to retrieve something that lay at the bottom: that is, hope –and an end to the fairy tale of the two ‘entities.’ Nobody should be afraid of a Dayton II process.</p> <p>Secondly, over the centuries, Bosnia’s integrity has proved stable only under various “umbrellas”: the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the various Yugoslav states. Today, only the EU can provide such a framework. Bosnia’s EU integration process is thus imperative – a partnership being a priority as a short-term first step.</p> <p>Key too is nevertheless a locally anchored political process.</p> <p>In his 1992 Letter to his Sarajevo Friends, Bogdan Bogdanović highlighted: defending the city is the only moral paradigm for the future. The often-mentioned Sarajevo-Spirit consists in something strong, hardly destructible: the essence of a city. As Bogdanović wrote, “We all carry, even now, our eternal city within – if only because we do not know another way to structure the world around us.” But neither Bogdanović nor we who are writing this ever thought that this essence would descend from the heavens: we have to shape a new city modelled on the old one.</p> <p>The dynamic and sometimes dramatic interplay between the essence and the fate of a city provides the key for a wholesome national reintegration process. Sarajevo, as well as Bosnia’s other cities, Mostar, Tuzla, Banja Luka, Brčko and Bihać may well form the heart of a new regional framework ­– a design repeatedly formulated by local intellectuals – much more in line with Bosnia’s past and adapted to present and forthcoming challenges.</p> <p>The new generation must not abandon this battleground. As with the previous one, this fight must be fought in and for the country. The 2014 Bosnian Spring faded away, but it nevertheless planted the seeds of hope. This principle of hope, superior to both fear and disillusion, must now flourish. The remarkable Bosnian art scene has here a significant role to play. Art — that brings us closer to truth — should become the compass in difficult times.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/wolfgang-petritsch-christophe-solioz/undeluded-going-astray-in-bosnia">The undeluded going astray in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/christophe-solioz-wolfgang-petritsch/bosnia-what-course-after-storm">Bosnia: what course after the storm?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mirela-zarichinova/bosnia-and-herzegovina-twenty-years-on-from-dayton">Bosnia and Herzegovina: twenty years on from Dayton</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/tea-hadziristic/women-in-bosnia">Is Bosnia the worst place in Europe to be a woman?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/peter-lippman/refugees-return-to-kozarac-in-bosnia-to-rebuild-community">Refugees return to Kozarac in Bosnia to rebuild community</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Christophe Solioz Wolfgang Petritsch Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:28:13 +0000 Wolfgang Petritsch and Christophe Solioz 109659 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Two schools under one roof: a lesson in ethnic unmixing from Bosnia’s segregated school system https://www.opendemocracy.net/wfd/can-europe-make-it/tea-hadziristic/two-schools-under-one-roof-lesson-in-ethnic-unmixing-from-bosnia- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What about one inclusive people that welcomes differences while looking for similarities? Who stands in the way?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/wfd"><img alt="wfd" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/bannerforarticle.png" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-21362430.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-21362430.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The bridge, Stari Most in Mostar was destroyed in the Bosnian War, subsequently rebuilt, and has been a part of the UNESCO world heritage list since 2005. Hauke Schroeder/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In 2015, an episode of Radio Free Europe’s <i>Perspektiva</i> sent ripples through Bosnian press and social media. The brainchild of Sarajevo-based filmmaker Ada Sokolović, <i>Perspektiva </i>sends popular musicians to various ex-Yugoslav cities to talk to high school students about issues they face – nationalism, segregation, homophobia, bullying, poverty, misogyny, etc. In Bosnia, episodes often reveal both ingrained nationalist attitudes about ‘mixing’ with others, as well as students who reject such attitudes.</p> <p>The Mostar episode, which talked to students in both segregated and unified schools, exhibited high-school students who had never crossed Mostar’s unofficial dividing line between the east (Muslim) and west (Croat) of the city, the former Boulevard of the Revolution. Students from both sides talked about fear of what would happen if they did traverse this border. Though these sorts of divides are more or less common knowledge, a furore arose following one segment showing a Croat student who claimed that he could easily distinguish between Croats and Muslims based on appearance (claiming that the latter are darker as a rule) and that he had never once been to the ‘other’ part of town. </p> <p>What the episode and response to it showed (as do more recent episodes in Bosnian cities, such as Sarajevo, Jajce, Banja Luka, and Prijedor) was that the influence of wartime divides on Bosnia’s young people has been underestimated. It also seemed to demonstrate how segregated schooling had directly contributed to keeping generations born after the war physically and emotionally divided, and how deeply ingrained fairly new ideas about the unacceptable nature of ethnic mixing had become in two short decades since the war.</p> <h2><b>Two schools under one roof</b></h2> <p>Segregated schooling, called “two schools under one roof” (<i>bcs. dvije škole pod jednim krovom</i>), is common in the central and southern parts of the country primarily populated by Muslims (Bosniaks) and Croats. </p> <p>As the term suggests, the main features of the system are that students effectively constitute two distinct schools in one building. Students attend school in two shifts, with a long break in between to minimize contact. In some schools, they enter in different entrances or must use different stairwells, or risk disciplinary action – by teachers or other students. They use different textbooks, have different teachers, and even an entirely different administrative system. Even in so-called ‘unified’ schools such as the Mostar Gymnasium, Bosniak and Croat students are enrolled in different curricula – together in gym class and in the computer lab, but learning apart in different language, religion, geography, and history classes (what Bozic calls the ongoing ‘historiography war’<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a>). <span class="mag-quote-center">In some schools, they enter in different entrances or must use different stairwells, or risk disciplinary action.</span></p> <p>Indeed, at the heart of segregated schooling is the reification of supposedly irreconcilable identities: while Bosniak students learn Bosnian history, Croat students learn the history of neighbouring Croatia. While Bosniak students are taught the language they speak according to newly minted rules of Bosnian grammar and spelling, Croat students are taught the same language using Croatian grammatical standards. </p> <p>Learning in the same school and using the same curricula, proponents argue, would submit the will of one group to the other. The Minister of Education of the Central Bosnian canton, Katica Čerkez, <a href="http://www.diskriminacija.ba/teme/dvije-%C5%A1kole-pod-jednim-krovom-ru%C5%BEi%C4%8Dastim-stepenicama-do-usmene-opomene">argues that</a> it would be unacceptable for schools to unify and thus force one language on all of the students, given that “we all have our own language.” The fact that students are already enrolling in schools dominated by ‘other’ ethnic groups due to better academic options, and thus evidently doing so comfortably in another language, apparently presents to her no irony. </p> <h2><b>Still mobilising minor differences</b></h2> <p>Many prominent linguists agree that Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian belong to the same dialect continuum and are mutually intelligible.<a href="#_ftn2"><sup><sup>[2]</sup></sup></a> Using the term ‘BCS’ to collectively refer to these languages is a norm in the academic community.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> In Bosnia, the entire country speaks the same dialect (<i>ijekavica</i>), while each town has its own oft-recognizable slang, accent, and vocabulary. <span class="mag-quote-center">The “idea of mutual incomprehensibility” (Pupavac) is reinforced by the international community.</span></p> <p>In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find two people in Bosnia who could not understand each other, but the absurdity of the language question is so far gone that it is rarely questioned even by local social critics. The “idea of mutual incomprehensibility” (Pupavac) is reinforced by the international community, which sometimes treat the three dialects as distinct languages (for example, having all three options on their website) and provide translations of documents into each. The fact that minor dialectical differences have ballooned into a major stumbling block to unified education in Bosnia is thanks to two decades of concerted efforts by ruling ethnonationalist political parties to mobilize minor differences between ethnic groups.</p> <p>Indeed, segregated schooling in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the direct result of wartime ethnic cleansing and attempts to ethnically ‘unmix’ the Bosnian population.In Bosnia and Herzegovina, this process began with the 1991 electoral victories of ethnonationalist parties, as well as the irredentist nationalism growing in neighbouring Serbia and Croatia. In her classic text, <i>Burn This House: The Making and Unmaking of Yugoslavia</i>, Jasminka Udovički outlines how Slobodan Milošević and Croatian president Franjo Tuđman had by 1990 reached a tacit agreement to partition Bosnia between the two countries, each making claims about the necessity of unifying members of each ethnic group in a single state. For Tuđman, claims to Bosnian territory were focused on the borders of the fascist Independent State of Croatia which existed during the Second World War. By 1992, the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) was in conflict with the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) after a brief period of working together. </p> <p>The conflict was centred in Herzegovina and central Bosnia, where a majority of Bosnia’s Croat population lived. The autonomous region of Herceg-Bosnia was declared in 1991, and while its existence was never truly acknowledged, cities under its military purview adopted the Croatian flag, currency, official language, and school curriculum. </p> <p>While schools became ‘Croatian’, non-Croats fled or were expelled from these areas (ethnic cleansing par excellence), effectively achieving homogeneity. In zones controlled by the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), a Serbian curriculum was imported, while in ARBiH-controlled areas a version of the prewar Bosnian system was used, modified to include Islamic education and greetings<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a>. The disintegration of a schooling system which had been functionally unified since Austro-Hungarian rule began in 1878 was well under way during the war. </p> <h2><b>Segregated schooling</b></h2> <p>While war and ethnic cleansing initially separated students and ‘unmixed’ many previously multiethnic towns in the region, it was in the postwar period that segregated schooling was institutionalized. The Dayton Peace Accords (formally, the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina<b>) </b>ended the war in 1995, creating the Serb entity (Republika Srpska) and the Muslim-Croat Federation. While Republika Srpska is a fairly unitary entity, the Federation consists of ten cantons, and myriad levels of institutional and political control which often lead to uneven applications of laws among cantons.<span class="mag-quote-center"> It was in the postwar period that segregated schooling was institutionalized.</span></p> <p>After the war, as some of the two million forcibly displaced people and refugees returned to their previous homes, returnees often experienced discrimination in areas where they had effectively become minorities. In areas where Bosniaks returned to Croat-controlled territories, schools continued to teach curricula from neighbouring Croatia, while schools bore symbols of the Croat state, such as the checkerboard coat of arms. </p> <p>Returnees were so anxious about sending their children to such schools that many preferred either to bus their children to faraway schools where they wouldn’t be minorities, or organized informal home-schooling. As Pašalić Kreso puts it, “their options were limited to choosing between total assimilation and complete rejection,” and the majority leaned toward the latter, given how recent the conflict was.<a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a></p> <p>Witnessing the incomplete integration of returnees, the OSCE ordered Federation schools to effectively share their buildings with returnee (“minority”) students of different ethnicities. Hence the genesis of “two schools under one roof” began in the 1997-2000 period of return and attempts at integration. The creation of these segregated schools was aided at the time by the lack of a state-level education ministry, though its creation in 2004 failed to make much of an impact. <span class="mag-quote-center">“their options were limited to choosing between total assimilation and complete rejection”</span></p> <p>In effect, segregated schools are the result of a failure of a policy of re-integration of returnees. Former Minister of Science, Education, Culture, and Sport Fahrudin Rizvanbegović <a href="http://www.diskriminacija.ba/teme/dvije-%C5%A1kole-pod-jednim-krovom-ru%C5%BEi%C4%8Dastim-stepenicama-do-usmene-opomene">told a Bosnian portal</a> that at the time, ‘two schools under one roof’ was a huge step forward, which was initially aimed at bringing schoolchildren together at least physically. Initially supported by the UN, OSCE, and American ambassador, it was conceived that the schools would eventually be unified in curriculum and use the same textbooks. Rizvanbegović recounts that several ‘unified’ textbooks were printed by the World Bank, only to be rejected by Croat politicians. The international community quickly found that “such a system only exacerbates segregation” <a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a> and that the model was an evident failure. </p> <h2><b>Ethnically isolated and ethnically overfed</b></h2> <p>What was originally conceived of as a temporary solution to get returnees enrolled in school has stubbornly remained the norm in about <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnia-no-end-to-two-schools-under-one-roof">57 schools</a> in the Federation. ‘Two schools under one roof’ is most prevalent in the Central Bosnian, Herzegovina-Neretva, and Zenica-Doboj Cantons. Rather than move towards integration and reconciliation, the system has merely reinforced boundaries. A Sarajevo high school teacher <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/32527058/">told NBC News</a> that the postwar generation was “young, intolerant, ethnically isolated and ethnically overfed,” suggesting that segregated schooling paralyzes the two-decade-old conflict in a particularly harmful way. </p> <p>Indeed, the model posed additional burdens upon anyone who would choose to ‘mix’ with others, something that Azra Homadžić found involves “effort, risk, and the possibility of being hurt on the long road of (re)building relationships.” What had been thought of as the ‘necessary evil’ of segregation became the goal of local politicians. </p> <p>In response to the inability of the two schools under one roof model to achieve its aim, its dismantling has been called for by various international actors since 2003: the Peace Implementation Council (the body responsible for enforcing the Dayton Peace Accords), the Office of the High Representative, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the UN Committee on&nbsp;Economic,&nbsp;Social and Cultural Rights, without success. Reforms have mainly been blocked by political parties and slowed by the country’s inefficient education system<b>: e</b>ach of the Federation’s cantons has its own ministry of education, which makes addressing the problem even more cumbersome. <span class="mag-quote-center">Reforms have mainly been blocked by political parties and slowed by the country’s inefficient education system.</span></p> <h2><b>Homogenous voting blocks and the Dayton accords</b></h2> <p>Local initiatives to end the model were spurred in recent years by advocacy group Vaša Prava, who lodged a discrimination suit in regards to two segregated schools in Herzegovina. In 2014, the Federation’s higher court ruled that the Herzegovina-Neretva canton had to put an end to segregated schooling – with the implication that all segregated schools in the Federation ought to do the same. </p> <p>The ruling has yet to be implemented, with local politicians claiming that they <a href="http://www.nezavisne.com/novosti/drustvo/HNK-Ne-znaju-kako-da-ukinu-dvije-skole-pod-jednim-krovom/346015">“don’t know” how</a> to end segregation. The Minister of Science, Education, Culture, and Sport of the Central Bosnian Canton, Joza Jurina, <a href="http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/kako-ukinuti-dvije-kole-pod-jednim-krovom/26674298.html">told Radio Free Europe</a> that segregation was not discriminatory, but rather a way of guaranteeing each of Bosnia’s three constituent peoples the right to schooling in their own language. </p> <p>The ineffectiveness of political leaders to implement laws or court rulings should not merely be ascribed to a lack of know-how. Indeed, for the ruling ethnonationalist parties of the country, ethnic segregation suits them quite well, as it solidifies ethnic divisions, breeds fear and mistrust, and leads to homogenous voting blocks. <span class="mag-quote-center">Ethnic segregation suits them quite well, as it solidifies ethnic divisions, breeds fear and mistrust, and leads to homogenous voting blocks. </span></p> <p>In short, it keeps them in power. Wartime ethnic cleansing is continued by other means, with similar goals: ethnic homogeneity. And as Ljuljjeta&nbsp;Goranci-Brkic puts it “obstructing the process of return, manipulating war crimes and victims, provoking violent interethnic incidents, threatening, and economic discrimination are tactics used to keep groups homogenized.”<a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> </p> <p>According to Asim Mujkić, Bosnia is “a democracy of ethnic oligarchies”<a href="#_ftn8"><sup><sup>[8]</sup></sup></a> run by political elites who use nationalist politics to&nbsp;“obscure the process of economic dispossession”<a href="#_ftn9"><sup><sup>[9]</sup></sup></a> of the populace. The continued rule of ethnonationalist parties is linked to country’s constitutional arrangement which was defined by the Dayton Accords. By enshrining the three ‘constituent peoples’ (Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs), not only does Dayton constitutionally exclude ‘Others’ (Roma, Jews, Bosnians,<a href="#_ftn10">[10]</a> the undeclared, and others) from political representation,<a href="#_ftn11"><sup><sup>[11]</sup></sup></a> it also petrifies an “increasingly dysfunctional political system.”<a href="#_ftn12"><sup><sup>[12]</sup></sup></a> </p> <p>By insisting on the division of the Bosnian population on broad ethnic lines, parties who prey on the resulting ethnic factionalism have by and large remained popular, reinforcing these divisions yet again. For ruling parties, the current constitutional structure offers limited incentives for institutional change.<a href="#_ftn13"><sup><sup>[13]</sup></sup></a></p> <p>Focus on divisions and differences is thus dominant not only among nationalist parties but within the international community as well as local critics. One of the poignant things about <i>Perspektiva</i>’s Bosnian episodes is not just the ways in which many students reify the differences between ethnic groups by using ‘us and them’ terminology, but how supposed critics of this discourse often fall into the same trap. In the Mostar episode, political scientists who comment on the students’ thoughts champion integration and unity, but primarily argue that this will teach students to respect differences (rather than, say, find similarities). </p> <h2><b>Student-led resistance</b></h2> <p>Resistance to segregation has popped up in <a href="https://iwpr.net/global-voices/segregated-bosnian-schools-reinforce-ethnic-division">several</a> Bosnian towns in the past years, led mostly by students themselves. Most recently, resistance to segregating previously unified schools in Jajce led to continued protests by students, <a href="http://balkans.aljazeera.net/vijesti/nekada-smo-se-mrzili-sada-se-smijemo-nacionalizmu">who threatened to boycott classes</a> if a separate Bosniak institution was created. </p> <p>Though it appears that the system does not have many outspoken advocates, attempts to challenge it on the part of parents have not been widespread. Former teacher Jasminka Drino Kirlić <a href="http://www.diskriminacija.ba/teme/dvije-%C5%A1kole-pod-jednim-krovom-ru%C5%BEi%C4%8Dastim-stepenicama-do-usmene-opomene">points out</a> that although politicians often cite parents’ wishes as a reason to maintain segregated schooling, no polls support this notion. Pašalić Kreso claims that more than half of parents “do not agree with the policy of dividing and segregating schoolchildren, and are facing serious difficulties as they attempt to explain to their children why it exists.”<a href="#_ftn14">[14]</a> While legal rulings on the discriminatory nature of such schools languish, it seems to have fallen to students themselves to reject further or continued divisions. <span class="mag-quote-center">More than half of parents… “are facing serious difficulties as they attempt to explain to their children why [segregation] exists.”</span></p> <p>The success of future models of education will depend on ending the veneration of ethnic identity and focusing on fostering a truly inclusive education system for the country as a whole – which, admittedly, seems unlikely, at least without institutional change as a whole. </p> <p>However, unifying schools in name while retaining separate curricula in the name of language rights or minority rights will only continue the process of ethnic unmixing that began during the war. Vanessa Pupavac argues that the promotion of linguistic human rights since the 1990s has linked language rights to identity recognition, which exacerbates ethnic divisions. She claims that in the Western Balkans, “linguistic human rights discourse, despite its conscious goal of preventing discrimination, has actually helped legitimize ethnic divisions” because nationalist politicians use language rights to assert differences between groups.<a href="#_ftn15">[15]</a><b> </b></p> <p>Gordana Bozic points out that despite recent events, there is continuity in the way that the educational system in Bosnia has been used as a tool for bolstering ethnic identity since the Austro-Hungarian era.<a href="#_ftn16">[16]</a> Struggles for ethnic autonomy in education meant that in the late 1800s, “education became a mechanism for translating confessionalism [i.e., religion] into nationalism,”<a href="#_ftn17">[17]</a> focusing particularly on language and alphabet as a battleground for identity. Indeed, the Romantic era idea of the ineluctable link between nationhood and language re-emerged during the war, when the idea of separate languages “helped support political claims to separate statehood based on a Romantic ideal of one nation.”<a href="#_ftn18">[18]</a></p> <p>Given that partition remains a looming threat, establishing Bosnia and Herzegovina as a unified and multiethnic state in <a href="http://balkans.aljazeera.net/vijesti/stolac-vise-smeta-nezaposlenost-nego-podjele">which its citizens can thrive</a> ought to be in the interests of anyone who wishes to put an end to the frozen conflict of more than two decades. Desegregating schools would be a first step towards undoing the violence of ethnic cleansing spurred by the war and the unmixing that was then inscribed into law after it. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Gordana Bozic , “Reeducating the Hearts of Bosnian Students: An Essay on Some Aspects of Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” East European Politics and Societies 20:2, 2006.</p> <p class="BodyB"><a href="#_ftnref2"><sup><sup>[2]</sup></sup></a><sup> </sup>Peter Trudgill, <i>Sociolingiustics, </i>4th ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2000)<i>,</i> Snježana Kordić, <i>Jezik i nacionalizam </i>(Zagreb: Durieux 2010), and Ronelle Alexander, <i>Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian: A Grammar with Sociolinguistic Commentary</i> (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006). </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> Vanessa Pupavac, “Discriminating language rights and politics in the post-Yugoslav states,” <i>Patterns of Prejudice</i> 40:2, 2006.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> Adila Pašalić Kreso, “The War And Post-War Impact On The Educational System Of Bosnia And Herzegovina,” <i>International Review of Education</i> 54, 2008.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a> Adila Pašalić Kreso, “The War And Post-War Impact On The Educational System Of Bosnia And Herzegovina,” <i>International Review of Education</i> 54, 2008.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a> Gordana Bozic , “Reeducating the Hearts of Bosnian Students: An Essay on Some Aspects of Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” East European Politics and Societies 20:2, 2006.</p> <p class="booktitle"><a href="#_ftnref7">[7]</a> Ljuljjeta&nbsp;Goranci-Brkic, “Interethnic Dialogue and Cooperation for Integrated Education in BiH: The Practice and Experiences of the Nansen Dialogue Center Sarajevo,” <a href="http://link.springer.com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/book/10.1057/9781137280985">Integrated Education in Conflicted Societies</a>.</p> <p class="BodyAA"><a href="#_ftnref8"><sup><sup>[8]</sup></sup></a> Asim Mujkić, “We, the Citizens of Ethnopolis,” Information 14, no.1 (March 2007), p.113.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref9"><sup><sup>[9]</sup></sup></a> Jasmin Mujanović, "The&nbsp;<i>Baja&nbsp;</i>Class and the Politics of Participation" in Arsenijević, Damir (ed.),&nbsp;<i>Unbribable Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Fight for the Commons</i> (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2014), p.138.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref10">[10]</a> In BiH, citizens who choose to identify as ‘Bosnian’ rather than one of the three ethnic identities are in the minority and are not structurally validated by the country’s constitutional structure.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref11"><sup><sup>[11]</sup></sup></a> Hodžić and Stojanović, “New/Old Constitutional Engineering.”</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref12"><sup><sup>[12]</sup></sup></a> Ismet Sejfija and Danica Fink-Hafner, “Citizens’ Protest Innovations in a Consociational System: The Case of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Teorija in Praksa 53, no.1 (2016), p.197.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref13"><sup><sup>[13]</sup></sup></a> Sejfija and Fink-Hafner, “Citizens’ Protest Innovations,” p.186.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref14">[14]</a> Adila Pašalić Kreso, “The War And Post-War Impact On The Educational System Of Bosnia And Herzegovina,” <i>International Review of Education</i> 54, 2008.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref15">[15]</a> Vanessa Pupavac, “Discriminating language rights and politics in the post-Yugoslav states,” <i>Patterns of Prejudice</i> 40:2, 2006.”</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref16">[16]</a> Gordana Bozic , “Reeducating the Hearts of Bosnian Students: An Essay on Some Aspects of Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” East European Politics and Societies 20:2, 2006.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref17">[17]</a> Gordana Bozic , “Reeducating the Hearts of Bosnian Students: An Essay on Some Aspects of Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” East European Politics and Societies 20:2, 2006.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref18">[18]</a> Vanessa Pupavac, “Discriminating language rights and politics in the post-Yugoslav states,” <i>Patterns of Prejudice</i> 40:2, 2006."</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/wfd"><img style="padding-top: 10px;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u548777/edu2.png" /></a>openDemocracy was at the World Forum for Democracy, exploring the relationship between inequality, education and democracy. </p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/robin-wilson/towards-dialogue-in-northern-ireland">Towards dialogue in Northern Ireland</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wfd/rosemary-bechler-siamak-ahmadi-hassan-asfour/dialog-macht-schule-taking-dialogue-into-schools">Dialog macht Schule: taking dialogue into schools</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/lynda-stone/silent-lunches-how-do-we-get-to-educational-reform-in-us">Silent lunches: how do we get to educational reform in the US?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wfd/uk/ted-cantle/in-world-of-hate-fear-and-alternative-facts-education-really-does-matter">In a world of hate, fear and ‘alternative facts’, education really does matter</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/huw-williams/mind-your-language">Mind your language</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina World Forum for Democracy 2016 Tea Hadziristic Fri, 03 Mar 2017 11:45:41 +0000 Tea Hadziristic 109200 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Is Bosnia the worst place in Europe to be a woman? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/tea-hadziristic/women-in-bosnia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Despite huge strides made during socialism, the position of women in work and social life in Bosnia has taken a huge step back since independence. Why?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/45391729_07d61fd721_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/45391729_07d61fd721_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A group of friends chatting in Sarajevo. Flickr/Kashfi Halford. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>When I read that the gender wage gap in Bosnia and Herzegovina is <a href="http://www.expertmarket.co.uk/gender-pay-gap-in-europe">the worst in Europe</a>, with women making only <a href="http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---gender/documents/publication/wcms_170832.pdf">54% of what men make</a>, my first thought was that my grandmother would have been appalled.&nbsp; </p> <p>She grew up in the era of Yugoslav socialism, in a time where women were flooding the labour market and universities for the first time. She saw unthinkable social progress compressed into a few short years after World War II – she joined the Anti-Fascist Women’s Front, volunteered in work actions, studied nursing, and took a job in another city, where she was given her own apartment and earned more than her ex-husband throughout their careers. </p> <p>Given the strides made during socialism, it’s perhaps even more surprising that the post-war transition to a market economy has failed to significantly improve gender inequality. In Bosnia, the gender wage gap has actually regressed significantly during transition. Women now earn 6% less in relation to men than during the socialist era. Meanwhile, Slovenia, another post-Yugoslav state, has Europe’s smallest gender wage gap at just over 3%. Why has women’s equality suffered so much in in the Bosnian <a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/1781-welcome-to-the-desert-of-post-socialism">desert of post-socialism</a>?</p> <p>In a 2015 assessment of gendered wage disparities, a World Bank report <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/754241467992483659/pdf/97640-ESW-P132666-and-P152786-Box385353B-PUBLIC-BiH-Gender-Disparities-in-Endowments.pdf">advances the claim</a> that “social values in BiH remain conservative with most men and women expressing traditional perceptions of gender roles.” The report claims that post-war laws and institutional measures aimed at gender equality “not yet been fully successful at creating different attitudes towards women and their traditional role in society,” pointing to patriarchal values and the remnants of the communist order as key obstacles to the development of women’s rights and prospects in general.</p> <p>What studies like these appear to posit is the idea that women’s rights will blossom once traditionally regressive values have been left behind and the transition out of socialism completed. This would appear to hold water if one looks at the fact the Slovenia, a post-Yugoslav state which has entered the EU and effectively completed its transition to a market economy, has the lowest gender pay gap in Europe with women earning just over 3% less than men. </p> <p>On second glance, though, there is vast evidence that the gender wage gap is not correlated with transition. Rather, post-communist countries have experienced widely varying effects on the gender wage gap since the end of communism. In many cases, almost no change was noticed. In richer parts of Yugoslavia, like Slovenia, which had higher employment rates and a well-developed service sector, the gender wage gap was always lower than in poorer republics like Bosnia or Kosovo.</p> <p>This tells us two crucial things: the gender inequality we see in Bosnia today has the same structural roots as it did in the Yugoslav era, but it has only been negatively affected by the destruction of war and the neoliberal economic policies of the postwar period.</p> <h2><strong>The economics of post-socialism</strong></h2> <p>Bosnia and Herzegovina has one of Europe’s highest unemployment rates – 27.5% in 2014,<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn1">[1]</a> with youth unemployment at 58% in 2016,<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn2">[2]</a> and a sizeable grey economy (estimates range at about 30-50% of GDP). Much of this can be ascribed to the legacies of the plunder that began in the 1992-1995 war and the physical destruction of factories and infrastructure – something most other post-Yugoslav states did not experience. </p><p>Along with this, critics have pointed to rapid post-war privatization and deregulation as evidence of the predatory actions of local political elites whose pillage of state assets began during the war.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn3">[3]</a> Bosnia is among the region’s most <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/228531467999134102/pdf/97643-REVISED-P132666-P152786-Box393190B-BiH-Poverty-and-Inequality-in-BiH.pdf">unequal states as a whole</a>, with significant differences between the urban and rural populations.</p> <p>Regional patterns of “general impoverishment, huge public and private indebtedness … widespread deindustrialization, social degradation, depopulation through diminished life expectancy and emigration, and general unemployment”<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn4">[4]</a> are all visible in BiH. According to the first postwar census (though its results were contested)<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn5">[5]</a> from 2013, the population has declined by 20 percent in the past 25 years,<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn6">[6]</a> the biggest drop in Bosnia for more than a century, and the largest decline in the region, with many assumed to have emigrated for better economic opportunities. </p> <p>Generally, <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/gender-pay-gap/causes/index_en.htm">calculations of the gender wage gap</a> take into account direct discrimination (being paid less for the same position), segregation in the labour market (and women’s overrepresentation in underpaid sectors such as service, public administration, health, and education), a lack of women in senior oversight positions, and the burden of unpaid care work (which is disproportionately placed on women). These factors have arguably been exacerbated in Bosnia due to the sputtering economy (which has encouraged a gendered division of labour<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn7">[7]</a>) and the failure of the postwar state to provide adequate services.</p> <p>Women make up 45% of the unemployed population, but are 62% of the ‘inactive labour force,’<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn8">[8]</a> many of whom are housewives or <a href="http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---gender/documents/publication/wcms_170832.pdf">unpaid family worker</a>s. Women are also 68% of those registered as employed in family business without a regular wage. Many women are not encouraged to join the labour market at all, and these women are not counted in the unemployment rate. </p><p>Though notoriously difficult to calculate, the 2016 Bosnian Labour Force Survey shows that women do 67.9% of the unpaid household work, including agricultural labour, which has become more important in the absence of industry. The gender wage gap (and the unemployment rate) would undoubtedly be much higher if ‘inactive’ and unpaid women who work in the home and in agriculture were factored into it.</p> <h2><strong>Socialist patriarchy</strong></h2> <p>Women’s rights in Yugoslavia made immense strides after WWII, including gaining total legal equality and the right to vote. Rapid industrialization and rebuilding propelled women into the public sphere and the labour force in record numbers. After the war, the Anti-Fascist Women’s Front found that women were mostly undereducated, almost 85-90% illiterate, over-exploited in domestic, agricultural, and industrial work, trapped in patriarchal family modes, and with a complete lack of feminist consciousness. </p><p>With the dual goal of creating new socialist subjects and economically independent women, the Women’s Front taught literacy courses and ran a swathe of activities to educate women about cultural and social issues. They also took on a significant amount of childcare and domestic labour in order to allow women to play a greater role in economic and political life. They ran maternity homes, ambulances, crèches, playgrounds, nurseries during harvest time, kindergartens, public restaurants and canteens, laundry-houses, and so on.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn9">[9]</a></p> <p>The Women’s Front was abolished in 1953, with the idea that women’s rights were a subset of class rights, and that the emancipation of women was more or less ‘complete’ and could be dealt with via labour laws.<strong> </strong>The childcare system in Yugoslavia <a href="https://www.academia.edu/222850/Od_socialisti%C4%8Dne_k_neoliberalni_kapitalisti%C4%8Dni_dru%C5%BEbenoekonomsk_iureditvi_redefinicija_dr%C5%BEavljanstva_%C5%BEensk_Transition_from_a_socialist_welfare_state_to_a_neoliberal_market_economy_redefinition_of_citizenship_for_women">remained generous</a>, but various informal strategies of managing the double burden remained widespread. It was common to have an older woman living in a household – a mother or mother-in-law – who took on significant tasks in terms of childcare and domestic labour. </p> <p>Labour was central to the lives of women under socialism. In 1980, more women were employed in socialist Eastern Europe than in Western Europe.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn10">[10]</a> Workplaces such as factories were the providers of housing, childcare, healthcare, food, and social services in general, as well as serving as a <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0023656X.2017.1244331">cultural hub and space of friendship and community</a>. The gender pay gaps were low by international standards.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn11">[11]</a>&nbsp;</p><p>However, gendered labour segregation was clear. Women clustered in areas of low-paid employment such as low-skilled white-collar work and service, and in economically disadvantaged industrial sectors like textiles<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn12">[12]</a> and an extremely low percentage of women held top managerial or political positions.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn13">[13]</a></p> <p>Though traditional socialist thought held that compelling women to joining the labour force would give them greater power within their own relationships to insist on an equitable division of household labour,<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn14">[14]</a> the burden of unpaid work was never lifted from women. Socialism ultimately failed to significantly challenge the gendered power dynamics of the private sphere, and care and domestic labour remained the duty of women, governed by ‘norms of love and duty rather’ than by law.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn15">[15]</a> &nbsp;</p><p>Surprisingly, though attitudes about gender equality were positively influenced by urbanization and the educational and occupational attainment of women, patriarchal attitudes in the private sphere remained strong, showing that “culturally embedded features of agency”<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn16">[16]</a> changed far slower than structure. </p> <p>In particular, the disastrous consequences of the 1990s civil war retrenched traditional gender norms and led to a significant backsliding in women’s rights. Indeed, the ‘social values’ regarding gender that appear prevalent today would have seemed regressive prior to the war.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn17">[17]</a> </p><p>They are in large part a result of the aggressive nationalism of the 1990s wars, which featured militarized masculinities, ‘witch hunts’ of prominent female intellectuals, anti-abortion policies, a retrenchment of gendered norms, and sexual violence on a mass scale. As Cynthia Enloe writes, the “patriarchal structures of privilege and control that characterize the wartime societies tend to live on in the post-war period.”<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn18">[18]</a> </p> <h2><strong>Duties of care in a failing state</strong></h2> <p>Feminist authors have argued that the internationally-brokered peace was not ‘gender-just’<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn19">[19]</a>, and that the international economic interventions after the war have negatively affected women’s rights. Vanessa Pupavac claims that the erosion of the state, along with massive privatization (a result of international economic measures) has made women in particular more socially vulnerable. With decreased economic opportunities comes decreased economic independence for women – and the patrimonial networks of corruption and ‘favours’ has made women “more dependent on kinship ties.”<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn20">[20]</a></p> <p>The state’s historically strong social protection services are failing in a massive way. The country spends a comparatively high amount (4% of GDP) on its welfare system, but only 17% of that reaches the county’s poorest – which are on the rise as unemployment grows. More than 70% of that spending ‘leaks’ to people who are in relatively secure socioeconomic positions and war veterans.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn21">[21]</a> </p><p>As a result, a very large percentage of the population lives in circumstances of dire poverty, relying on a set of informal coping mechanisms in the absence of adequate state support. Services for the disabled, elderly, or those living in rural areas are meager, while members of minority groups such as Roma and returnees are particularly at risk of deep poverty.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn22">[22]</a> &nbsp;</p> <p>The state’s inability to provide adequate and accessible services for long-term care, childcare, and elder care are equally troubling. In the absence of services, the brunt of these duties fall to women, who often sacrifice paid work in order to care for family members. Unpaid care work is considered to be a major contributor to the gender wage gap and of economic inequality between men and women, which feeds into continuing patterns of poverty that persist for women later in life.”<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn23">[23]</a>&nbsp; </p> <p>Because of a lack of adequate maternal leave and childcare, women more often have interrupted work histories due to childbearing, childcare, and care of the elderly.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn24">[24]</a> While mothers get some level of recognition from the state in the form of small monetary benefits, people who cannot work due to being long-term caregivers of ill or elderly family members receive <a href="https://www.academia.edu/23807030/Intersecting_Inequalities_in_Social_Protection_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina_Results_of_an_Empirical_Study">no support or recognition</a>. This inactivity in the labour force due to care duties <a href="http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---gender/documents/publication/wcms_170832.pdf">reinforces poverty,</a> which in turn contributes to gender inequality. </p> <h2><strong>Paradoxes in education and women’s work</strong></h2> <p>There is evident polarization <em>betwee</em>n Bosnian women that tracks closely with urban/rural divides in terms of income inequality. On the one hand, a much larger percentage of women are illiterate (5%) or have only completely primary school. While men and women have equal rates of university and postgraduate degrees, twice as many women have only a primary school education or less. </p> <p>However, more women currently attend university than men, and their rates of enrollment are growing faster than their male counterparts. Women with higher rates of education <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/754241467992483659/pdf/97640-ESW-P132666-and-P152786-Box385353B-PUBLIC-BiH-Gender-Disparities-in-Endowments.pdf">also have higher labor force participation rates</a>. This suggests that returns on education are high, but also that rural women are being left behind in a large way. Women continue to outnumber men in the study of education, arts and humanities, social sciences, law, and medicine, while traditionally ‘masculine’ areas of study like engineering and hard <a href="https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=3&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjAne_svpfQAhXJ1IMKHSaBD-4QFggrMAI&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bhas.ba%2Ftematskibilteni%2FTB_zene_i_muskarci_bh_2015_eng.pdf&amp;usg=AFQjCNGY2tMrytQTdihZRLrgRJheFptShg&amp;sig2=-RdR2kM1vynXEel_bCZRzQ&amp;bvm=bv.137904068,d.amc">sciences remain dominated by men.</a></p> <p>Crucially, however, women are kept out of the upper echelons of education. Though more women than men obtain undergraduate and master’s degrees, men outnumber women when it comes to PhDs. For female academics who do move on to higher tiers of academia, they typically face what’s called <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/06/female_academics_pay_a_heavy_baby_penalty.html">the ‘baby penalty’</a>, where having children significantly impacts their career advancement. </p> <p>Indeed, women outnumber men as teachers in pre-school, primary, and secondary schools, but are <a href="https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=3&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjAne_svpfQAhXJ1IMKHSaBD-4QFggrMAI&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bhas.ba%2Ftematskibilteni%2FTB_zene_i_muskarci_bh_2015_eng.pdf&amp;usg=AFQjCNGY2tMrytQTdihZRLrgRJheFptShg&amp;sig2=-RdR2kM1vynXEel_bCZRzQ&amp;bvm=bv.137904068,d.amc">outnumbered by men</a> when it comes to teaching positions in higher education and universities. Despite the fact that more women than men graduate from university, women in academia are more likely to get jobs as research associates and other kinds of technical and support staff – rather than as professors.</p> <h2><strong>A step b</strong><strong>ack</strong></h2> <p>Bosnia’s long transition into a market economy, overseen by the international community, has not only failed to achieve gender equality, but has failed to protect the gains made in women’s rights during socialism. While recognizing the fact that patriarchal structures remained strong during socialism, the changes ushered in during this era were of startling scale and impact. </p> <p>One of the reasons why the post-war order has done little to advance women’s rights has been the fact that it has not confronted the fact that “social values” surrounding gender equality had regressed significantly due to the <a href="https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjG3-iKnpjQAhXM5iYKHRqyDZUQFggfMAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.doiserbia.nb.rs%2Fft.aspx%3Fid%3D0038-03181501072Z&amp;usg=AFQjCNG8UsUeH3dybsX0WAL2veVo8WvrPg&amp;sig2=LAFgO_XwLwEaC_2arO0jtQ">intensely patriarchal</a> modes of nationalism and war that characterized Yugoslavia’s break-up. </p> <p>Another is that the primary structurally embedded drivers of the gender wage gap – unpaid care/domestic labour, labour segregation, and the patriarchal norms that naturalize them – have been furthered exacerbated by the economic devastation caused by rapid post-war privatization and crony capitalism that characterizes Bosnia’s economy. On the whole, transition has left the wages of women relative to men in ex-Yugoslavia largely unchanged,<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn25">[25]</a> while rampant poverty has only had negative effects on women’s lives and livelihoods in particular. </p> <p>Regional patterns of development have continued to play a large role. In the socialist era, wealthier republics like Slovenia and Croatia had higher employment rates and so by default had a higher rate of women in the labour force, as well as better-paid sectors and better job opportunities for women.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn26">[26]</a> These patterns remain evident – in undeveloped post-Yugoslav regions, unemployment is high and so is the gender wage gap. The inequalities<em> between</em> Yugoslav republics widened significantly in the 1980s,<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn27">[27]</a> and it seems that they’ve continued to grow. </p> <p>In Vera Stein Erlich’s <a href="http://www.europa.clio-online.de/essay/id/artikel-3809">seminal anthropological study</a> of patriarchy in 1930s Yugoslavia, she demonstrated that higher levels of ‘traditional’ patriarchal relations and the oppression of women was correlated to the legacies of empire and to the scale and pace of economic and social change – not, as some would have it, essential cultural or religious norms. </p> <h2><strong>Other futures</strong></h2> <p>In the 1950s, socialist feminisms were considered progressive<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn28">[28]</a> because they were slightly ahead of the curve in terms of question of women’s emancipation, suffrage, equal pay, maternity and childcare, reproductive rights, abortion, and family law (especially divorce). Women’s activists arguably used communism as an ideological tool to make previously unimaginable legal and social gains. Not only have many of these gains been lost (particularly surrounding childcare and reproductive rights), but gender equality (at least theoretically) is no longer encoded in the country’s reigning ideology. </p> <p>If the Second World War and its immediate aftermath could “wrench women from their patriarchal anchors”<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftn29">[29]</a> in so quick a time by catapulting women into the economic and political spheres of the country, one wonders why the postwar era has failed to be similarly transformative. The fact that Bosnia has experienced such radical feminist shifts in its history ought to confront the idea that the problem is solely one of ‘tradition’. </p> <p>Rather, the degenerated state of the gender order has been naturalized as ‘traditional’ – a problem of Bosnian culture – by both its own citizens and the international community. Any postwar order that wants to significantly strive toward gender equality must begin by picking up where socialist feminism left off – and by working towards a more just economic model as a whole.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <hr size="1" /> <p class="Body"><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Mirna Jusić and Amar Numanović, “Flexible Labour in Inflexible Environment: Reforms of Labour Market Institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina in Comparative Perspective,” <em>Analitika Center for Social Research</em> (Sarajevo: 2015).</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref2">[2]</a> Ages 15-24. Dino, Jahić, “Nations in Transit 2016: Bosnia and Herzegovina,”Freedom House (2016).</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref3">[3]</a> Srecko Horvat and Igor Stiks, Welcome to the Desert of Post-Socialism: Radical Politics After Yugoslavia (London: Verso Books, 2015), p.2.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref4">[4]</a> Srecko Horvat and Igor Stiks, Welcome to the Desert of Post-Socialism: Radical Politics After Yugoslavia (London: Verso Books, 2015), p.2.</p> <p class="Body"><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref5">[5]</a> See: Samir Huseinovic, “Politiziranje popisa stanovništva u BiH,” <em>Deutsche Welle</em> (4 April 2016), Charles Recknagel, “Bosnia Erupts In Feuding Over New Census Data,” <em>Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty</em> (30 June 2016).</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref6">[6]</a> Agency of Statistics for Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Census of Population, Households, and Dwellings in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2013: Final Results” (Sarajevo: June 2016).</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref7">[7]</a> Pupavac, Vanessa. "Empowering Women? an Assessment of International Gender Policies in Bosnia."&nbsp;<em>International Peacekeeping</em>&nbsp;12.3 (2005): 391-405. </p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref8">[8]</a> 2016 labour force survey</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref9">[9]</a> Bonfiglioli, Chiara. <em>Revolutionary Networks: Women’s Political and Social Activism in Cold War Italy and Yugoslavia (1945-1957)</em> (Doctoral dissertation). Utrecht University, 2012.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref10">[10]</a> Gillian Pascall and Nick Manning, “Gender and social policy: comparing welfare states in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union,” <em>Journal of European Social Policy</em> Vol 10 (3): 240–266</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref11">[11]</a> Gillian Pascall and Nick Manning, “Gender and social policy: comparing welfare states in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union,” <em>Journal of European Social Policy</em> Vol 10 (3): 240–266..</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref12">[12]</a> George W. Putnam , “Occupational Sex Segregation and Economic Inequality under Socialism: Earnings Attainment and Earnings Decomposition in Yugoslavia,” <em>The Sociological Quarterly</em>, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 59-75.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref13">[13]</a> Ray Darville and Joy Reeves, “SOCIAL INEQUALITY AMONG YUGOSLAV WOMEN IN DIRECTORAL POSITIONS,” <em>SOCIOLOGICAL SPECTRUM</em>, 12:279-292, 1992.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref14">[14]</a> Massey, Garth, Hahn, Karen, and Dusko &nbsp;Sekulic. “Women, Men, and the ‘Second Shift’ in Socialist Yugoslavia.’ <em>Gender and Society </em>9:3, June 1995, pp 359-379.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref15">[15]</a> Miller, Ruth A. “Rights, Reproduction, Sexuality, and Citizenship in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey.” <em>Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.</em> 32:2 (Winter 2007): pp. 347-373.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref16">[16]</a> Massey, Garth, Hahn, Karen, and Dusko &nbsp;Sekulic. “Women, Men, and the ‘Second Shift’ in Socialist Yugoslavia.’ <em>Gender and Society </em>9:3, June 1995, salma zahidpp 359-379.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref17">[17]</a> Some older women speak of ‘trans-generational deterioration’ in women’s rights and patriarchal norms. See Cockburn, Cynthia. "Against the Odds: Sustaining Feminist Momentum in Post-War Bosnia-Herzegovina."&nbsp;<em>Women's Studies International Forum</em>&nbsp;37.Complete (2013): 26-35.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref18">[18]</a> <em>The morning after: Sexual politics at the end of the Cold War,</em><em>&nbsp;</em>1993 , University of California Press , Enloe Cynthia</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref19">[19]</a> A gender-just peace? Exploring the post-Dayton peace process in Bosnia.&nbsp;<em>Peace and Change</em>, v.37&nbsp;(2)&nbsp;, p.286, 2012, Björkdahl Annika</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref20">[20]</a> Pupavac, Vanessa. "Empowering Women? an Assessment of International Gender Policies in Bosnia."&nbsp;<em>International Peacekeeping</em>&nbsp;12.3 (2005): 391-405</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref21">[21]</a> <a href="https://www.academia.edu/23807030/Intersecting_Inequalities_in_Social_Protection_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina_Results_of_an_Empirical_Study">https://www.academia.edu/23807030/Intersecting_Inequalities_in_Social_Protection_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina_Results_of_an_Empirical_Study</a> </p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref22">[22]</a> Ibid.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref23">[23]</a> <a href="https://www.academia.edu/23807030/Intersecting_Inequalities_in_Social_Protection_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina_Results_of_an_Empirical_Study">https://www.academia.edu/23807030/Intersecting_Inequalities_in_Social_Protection_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina_Results_of_an_Empirical_Study</a> ; also see OECD, Unpaid Care Work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labor outcomes, 2014; Fondazione G. Brodolini, “Background note: Gender equality in caring responsibilities over the lifecycle,” (paper presented at Equality Between Women and Men Conference, European Commission of Justice, Brussels, September 19-20, 2011).</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref24">[24]</a> https://www.academia.edu/23807030/Intersecting_Inequalities_in_Social_Protection_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina_Results_of_an_Empirical_Study</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref25">[25]</a> Matija Vodopivec, “Equal Pay for Equal Work?,” <em>Eastern European Economics</em>,Sep/Oct2014, Vol. 52 Issue 5, p87-110.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref26">[26]</a>H.&nbsp; Flakierski, “Economic Reform and Income Distribution in Yugoslavia,” <em>Comparative Economic Studies, </em>&nbsp;Spring1989, Vol. 31 Issue .</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref27">[27]</a> Iraj Hashi, ‘The Disintegration of Yugoslavia’, <em>Capital and Class</em>, no. 48, 1992,, p. 63.</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref28">[28]</a> Bonfiglioli, op cit. </p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20in%20BiH%20Second%20Draft.docx#_ftnref29">[29]</a> Barbara Jancar-Webster, <em>Women &amp; Revolution in Yugoslavia: 1941-1945</em> (Denver, CO: Arden Press Inc), 1990.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/peter-lippman/refugees-return-to-kozarac-in-bosnia-to-rebuild-community">Refugees return to Kozarac in Bosnia to rebuild community</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/anna-calori/celebrating-labour-day-in-red-city-tuzla-bosnia-and-herzegovina">Celebrating labour day in the red city – Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Tea Hadziristic Mon, 05 Dec 2016 10:28:47 +0000 Tea Hadziristic 107368 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Refugees return to Kozarac in Bosnia to rebuild community https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/peter-lippman/refugees-return-to-kozarac-in-bosnia-to-rebuild-community <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em>Re-making Kozarac</em> is about overcoming dislocation, chronicling the return and restoration of a community in Kozarac in northwestern Bosnia-Herzogovina. Book review.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bosnia1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bosnia1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em>Re-making Kozarac: Agency, Reconciliation and Contested Return in Post-War Bosnia</em>, by Sebina Sivac-Bryant, tells the story of return and recovery in ethnically-cleansed Kozarac, Bosnia. </p><p> Kozarac is a predominantly Muslim-populated town in Prijedor municipality in the Krajina region of northwestern Bosnia-Herzegovina. The widespread ethnic cleansing carried out by Serb nationalist forces during the 1992-1995 war expelled the Muslims, Croats, and others from that municipality. Prijedor also became notorious as the wartime location of several concentration camps where atrocious crimes were committed. By the end of the war, the entire non-Serb population was driven out; more than 3,000 were killed, and thousands endured torture and deprivation in the camps.</p><p>Kozarac was home to some 27,000 inhabitants before the war. Serb forces worked to ensure that its inhabitants would never return, by reducing the homes to rubble. They also took calculated measures to incapacitate what remained of the community – even as Serb forces were imprisoning and expelling them – by targeting its leaders for execution in an operation known as "elitocide." </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/00880105_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/00880105_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>War-torn Kozarac, author's own photographs. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Author Sebina Sivac-Bryant grew up a village near Kozarac. Her teenage years were interrupted by war, and she ended up in London. There, she had the opportunity to fulfill her scholarly ambitions, eventually finishing a doctoral degree in anthropology. <em>Re-making Kozarac</em> is derived from her doctoral field work about the return and restoration of a community in Kozarac.</p> <p>Sivac-Bryant describes the difficult tasks the returnees have faced in restoring their community; she identifies problems and conflicts, discusses some of the solutions devised by the returnees, and suggests ways that international actors can improve their approach to refugee return and recovery. These lessons can apply not only in Kozarac, but also to other present and future situations of dislocation. The author presents an insightful analysis – the results of more than a decade of anthropological ethnographic research – in language that is accessible to ordinary readers. </p> <p>Soon after the war's end, thousands of displaced citizens of Kozarac set to work to frustrate the separatist plans of the warlords. Sivac-Bryant describes the background to the leadership of this movement, discussing in detail the 17th Krajina Brigade, a component of the government army fighting to preserve Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Brigade was originally formed in exile. It was composed of displaced inhabitants of Prijedor, Kozarac, and the surrounding region, together with patriotic friends and relatives who had been working in western Europe. The author likens the 17th Krajina Brigade to a "liberation movement within the Bosnian army," a highly mobile force that developed the self-sufficiency and discipline needed to make an outsized contribution to the war effort. The Brigade's goal from the start was to return home to the Prijedor area and, for those fighters from Kozarac, to reclaim their homes in that town. </p> <p>The cohesion developed by the Krajina soldiers during the war carried into the postwar period, in spite of the fact that the Bosnian army was not able ultimately to retake Prijedor. Making the best of a bad situation, some veterans of the 17th Krajina Brigade stuck together as civilians and led the perilous and frustrating drive to return home. </p> <p>The demobilized soldiers were assisted in their efforts by volunteer women's organizations such as Srcem do Mira (Through Heart to Peace). Sivac-Bryant describes how women performed a crucial role, alongside the veterans, in organizing return in practical terms but also in dealing with psychosocial difficulties associated with refugee return. Among other projects, they supported refugees from Kozarac who returned from camps in Croatia and from other parts of Europe, gathering in Sanski Most and nearby Lušci Palanka after the war. The displaced people of Kozarac used that area as a staging point for return.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">By the early 2000s, Kozarac had become a hub for return to the greater region and, in a sense, a center of support for Muslim returnees to the surrounding area.</p> <p>In 1996 Srcem do Mira organized bus visits back to Kozarac, but they were met by threats and stones. As Sivac-Bryant describes, separatist authorities in the municipality worked to cement their hold on the ethnically cleansed town of Kozarac by changing its name, moving displaced Serbs from Croatia there, and threatening to resettle would-be returnees in the same locations that had earlier been concentration camps. All this, combined with apartheid-like discrimination against non-Serbs, was part of what the author terms an "effort by the architects of ethnic cleansing to inscribe a new political order into the landscape they cleansed." But the returnees pressed on. </p> <p>The international community, represented by UN troops and inter-governmental organizations, witnessed the persistence of the returnees, and by 1998, international relief agencies were beginning to rebuild destroyed homes in Kozarac. By mid-1999 return was well under way. </p> <p>As the returnees broke the logjam of obstruction, they were confronted with difficult tasks that have persisted to this day. The population of traumatized and uprooted people needed to rebuild a community and to re-integrate into local society. They also needed to address unanswered matters of justice, including learning the fate of their missing relatives, seeing the apprehension and prosecution of the war criminals, and overcoming the culture of denial that controlled official discourse. None of these problems was going to be easy to solve.</p> <p>Several returnees to Kozarac devised an internet network that facilitated the revival of the community. Collaborating with people in the Kozarac diaspora, they created an online community named kozarac.ba. This network helped to reconnect the returnees with a virtual community throughout the diaspora. Long-lost friends and far-flung relatives restored contact with each other, and the online community was able to create campaigns that supported the returnees materially. </p> <p>By the early 2000s, Kozarac had become a hub for return to the greater region and, in a sense, a center of support for Muslim returnees to the surrounding area. Sivac-Bryant describes how the returnees set about recreating a sense of belonging. An important part of this was to carry out public memorial ceremonies, including funerals of exhumed victims. For the return community, the establishment of cemeteries for these victims, and holding regularly scheduled memorial events, were ways of demonstrating publicly the wrong that had been committed against them.</p> <p>Meanwhile, as Sivac-Bryant discusses, there has been a tension between the drive to deal with the past, that is, to seek justice and the right to public memorialization, and to "move on," or to focus on activities that ensure security and a better living standard for the return community. On one hand, the author notes important work that local non-governmental organizations have done in creating institutions that support returnees. At the same time, she gives credit to ordinary returnees who are simply living their lives and interacting with their neighbors. These people are creating a coexistence that happens because the contact that they have with each other naturally promotes it. </p> <p>Sivac-Bryant observes that for the ordinary returnee, it is important to be able to participate in funerals and to commemorate important anniversaries. However, such events last a few hours –and afterwards, there are still myriad practical problems to be solved. Employment is scarce, returnees face discrimination at every turn, and young people have few prospects for success. <span class="mag-quote-center">Employment is scarce, returnees face discrimination at every turn, and young people have few prospects for success. </span></p> <p>The author puts the problems of postwar return and trauma in perspective by illustrating a practical approach to recovery. To a great extent the people of Kozarac have "rediscovered their own agency," as the author describes it, first, by organizing a disciplined and effective fighting force during the war, and second, by returning home against the odds. This self-empowerment helped the returnees to begin to heal from their traumatic past. But more is needed. Noting that traumatization and victimhood "need not be seen as permanent, unchanging states of being," Sivac-Bryant argues now, the returnees can advance their recovery from trauma by immersing themselves in the work of earning a living, building their families, and focusing on such practical matters as the education of their children and grandchildren.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bosnia3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bosnia3.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Economic development provides an important counterpoint to returnee activism and memorialization; work is as important to recovery as anything else. Of course, this presupposes gainful employment in a functioning economy. However, the fact that corrupt nationalists are controlling the government prevents an inclusive economy from flourishing. Healing through employment is forestalled by the bad politics of the Serb-controlled entity. Thus, as Sivac-Bryant explains, the return community of Kozarac has been forced to devise its own solution. </p> <p>Fortunately, a few enterprising returnees have provided a model for the self-sufficiency of the community in the form of forward-thinking companies that provide employment. These include the large Arifagić dairy and the manufacturing company Austronet. These companies are run by progressive individuals who are sharing the experience they gained while living in exile, where they worked in an efficient business environment. The leaders practice the business customs they learned in the west, for example, by refusing to pay bribes to local officials and by promoting transparency in business dealings. In this way they are demonstrating an alternative model that has the potential to transcend ethnic politics and to undermine systemic corruption. <span class="mag-quote-center">To a great extent the people of Kozarac have "rediscovered their own agency."</span></p> <p>In her conclusion, Sivac-Bryant advocates the principle of economic reconstruction – even if it must take place in the face of massive discrimination – as an important part of the moral and spiritual recovery of the community. The author points out that ideally, such reconstruction will take place as a joint effort between returnees and a supportive diaspora, as is the case in Kozarac. And above all, as she emphasizes throughout <em>Re-making Kozarac</em>, would-be helpers from the international community should take their lead from the returnees. They must respect the instincts and inner drive of those who would recover from war and trauma.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bosnia2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bosnia2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em>Ms. Sivac-Bryant's book can be <a href="//www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137588371">accessed here.</a></em></p><p><em>All photos in this article by the author.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bosnia%E2%80%99s-politics-of-paralysis/peter-lippman">Bosnia’s politics of paralysis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/peter-lippman/srebrenica-fifteen-years-on">Srebrenica, fifteen years on</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/peter-lippman/visegrad-memory-and-justice">Visegrad, memory and justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/peter-lippman/bosnian-voice-yugoslavian-memory">Bosnian voice, Yugoslavian memory </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/peter-lippman/bosnia-blood-honey-and-wars-legacy">Bosnia: blood, honey, and war&#039;s legacy </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Bosnia and Herzegovina Peter Lippman Fri, 14 Oct 2016 12:06:53 +0000 Peter Lippman 105960 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Yugoslavia, international tribunals and the politics of reconciliation https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/eric-gordy-srdja-pavlovic-armanda-hysa/yugoslavia-international-tribunals-and-pol <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A conversation about the politics of truth and reconciliation in light of the ICTY's&nbsp;acquittal of Vojislav Seselj.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-26155933.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-26155933.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Vojislav Seselj, centre, at a press conference in Belgrade. April 24, 2016. PAimages/Marko Drobnjakovic. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><strong>Dr. Armanda Hysa:</strong></p> <p>The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquittal of the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Šešelj, provoked angry reactions in Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Kosovo, and beyond. Memories of Šešelj’s appearances in the Serbian media and his hate-mongering against non-Serbs during the 1990s are still vivid in the minds of many people from the region. </p><p>The acquittal of Vojislav Seselj was last in a series of problematic court decisions regarding other important political leaders and military officers accused of various offenses during the bloody breakup of the SFR Yugoslavia. The consequences of such decisions have been the weakening of trust in ICTY as an institution, and the rise of various conspiracy theories on geopolitical interests of ICTY.</p> <p>With that in mind, I find it especially important to bring to readers the opinion and analyses of two scholars who are at the same time political experts on the former Yugoslavia, Dr. Eric Gordy, a sociologist from University College London whose expertise and research interests are focused in Serbia and issues related to transitional justice, and Dr. Srdja Pavlovic, a historian from the University of Alberta in Canada, who teaches modern European and Balkan history, and focuses on nationalism, conflict and identity construction in the former Yugoslavia.</p> <p>I would like to start this conversation by asking how was this verdict produced, what is the background of Šešelj’s trial and verdict in Serbia?</p> <p><strong>Dr. Eric Gordy:</strong></p> <p>For one thing, it is impossible to consider the verdict separately from the activity and character of the defendant. Vojislav Šešelj was charged in 2003 because he asked to be charged (most likely because he knew he was likely to face domestic charges before less indulgent courts for a variety of things, including the murder of Zoran Đinđić). At that time the prosecution was probably feeling confident that it would get a conviction against Slobodan Milošević (who was still alive and on trial), and that a conviction against the other members of his enterprise would follow – so they obliged Šešelj with an indictment.&nbsp; When the Milošević case collapsed, they were left with a freestanding case against Šešelj that was difficult to prove, principally because:</p> <ol> <li>it was not clear (and likely also not true) that he exercised military command over the paramilitaries that were nominally under his control, and</li> <li>on the charges of inciting violence, it is always difficult to show a direct causal connection between statements in a speech, however awful, and a concrete crime.</li> </ol> <p>All of this points, also, to the nature of Šešelj’s activity in the 1990s: he was a performer sponsored by the Milošević regime, permitted to indulge in outrageous behaviour on television broadcasts and in the parliament, and encouraged to express the ideological views that the regime put into practice but were ashamed to admit holding. He had no independent political power, and did not have the knowledge or skill to command troops. His only talent was as a provocateur, and it was the judges’ confusion at his exercise of this talent that made the mismanagement of his trial so scandalously complete: a domestic court would have taken disciplinary measures, but this group of refined practitioners of law thought they could control him by giving him everything he wanted. In all these senses, it might be possible to look at the whole trial as an artefact of Šešelj’s objective insignificance in the face of the publicity he constantly received, and the persistent inability of civilised people to cope with the behaviour of a malicious sociopath.</p> <p><strong>Dr. Srdja Pavlovic:</strong></p> <p>It is very possible that Vojislav Seselj had flown to The Hague some years back in order to escape the legal proceeding by national courts related to the murder of the former Prime Minster, Zoran Djindjic. I am, however, not convinced of such outcome considering the fact that the political conspirators behind this murder are yet to be uncovered and charged. His hasty departure from Belgrade might have been prompted by different reasons. Many people had argued at the time that Seselj’s leaving for The Hague was his attempt at escaping the wrath of the powerful local mafia bosses of the Zemun Clan, with whom he came into conflict.</p> <p>Regardless of the reasons behind this decision, the story of his departure had been “wrapped” in the Serbian national flag by both his party colleagues and the large segment of the population. Seselj himself, worked hard on promoting his own martyrdom and his iron resolve to conquer the international tribunal. This elevated his position within the ranks of the Serbian nationalist elite and presented the ICTY as nothing but a political tool created to intimidate and discredit the Serbs. </p><p>It also projected the image of him as an Eastern Orthodox white knight who embarked upon a dangerous journey into the belly of the beast in order to take it apart from within. The outcome of the trial is, therefore, taken by many, including his nationalist fellow-travelers such as the leader of the Republic of Srpska para-state, Milorad Dodik, as the victory of an innocent man against the Serb-hating international legal machine.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Dr. Armanda Hysa:</strong></p> <p>In order to understand the verdict, it would be helpful to know something more about the background of such a trial in The Hague.</p> <p><strong>Dr. Eric Gordy:</strong></p> <p>Just like the outcome cannot be separated from the character of the defendant, it also cannot be separated from the character of the presiding judge. Most of the judges of the Tribunal are law professors and specialists in international law; Jean-Claude Antonetti is not. He spent his career as an administrative official in the French Ministry of Justice, and a spell as the chief of staff of Jacques Chirac when he was president. He spent a short period as an appeals judge in local courts in France, but not enough to add up to what any professional would call meaningful judicial experience. </p><p>Chirac rewarded Antonetti’s political loyalty with a nomination to the Tribunal, a highly paid job with few demands. He became the presiding judge in the Šešelj case after a previous panel’s failed management had brought the trial to a standstill, and adopted the strategy of permitting the defendant to control the proceedings. He gained an ally on the panel when one experienced judge, Frederik Harhoff, got himself recused following a well-intended but strikingly unprofessional media stunt. </p><p>As the presiding judge was experienced in politics but not in law, he was amenable to the political campaign that Šešelj conducted from the defendant’s dock. Hence the bizarre verdict, which is full of ideological constructions and justifications and remarkably uninformed on basic points of law, even where these have been established by multiple precedent.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Finally, it is impossible to understand the verdict without reference to the shifting status of the Tribunal itself. One of the lines which the judges have appeared unwilling to cross is the recognition of the involvement of Serbia in cross-border conflicts (although interestingly it recognized Croatia’s role in the Blaškić and Kordić cases). </p><p>When Theodor Meron invented a new legal standard to acquit Momčilo Perišić of crimes in Bosnia, this standard was applied to the case of the Interior Ministry and State Security chiefs Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović – the net effect being that arms, money, training and logistics provided by Serbia to paramilitaries in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia did not amount to criminal activity. </p><p>Once Stanišić and Simatović were acquitted it was predictable that Šešelj would be acquitted: if the people who actually exercised command are not guilty, then the person who pretended to exercise command is not likely to be found guilty. In addition, although Tribunal officials would strenuously deny that “balance” is an issue in the production of convictions and acquittals, it is not hard to observe that between the Orić case, the Haradinaj case and this one, they have handed acquittals to paramilitarists from every side.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Dr. Srdja Pavlovic:</strong></p> <p>Professor Gordy’s expertise on the inner workings of the ICTY is significantly greater than mine, and I wish to limit my comments to a couple of general points in order to reinforce what has been already said. The issue of the balancing act performed by the ICTY is indeed significant both for the general framework of international law and also the effects court decisions have on the states involved in the legal proceedings, and on their respective populations. </p><p>Seselj’s case is but one of many examples of a curious sense of balance displaced by the ICTY over the past number of years. We should not forget that the ICTY had performed (was tasked with performing?) a political function as well as legal one. I think the issue of balance is inseparable from the political function of the court regardless of how we might feel about it. Fulfilling this political function is often, if not as a rule, at odds with the evidence presented in specific court cases and we have been witnessing the evidence interpreted and reinterpreted by appeal chambers in most astonishing and irrational ways, or simply ignored altogether. I would add the name of Ante Gotovina to the list of illustrations of this balance offered by my colleague Gordy. </p><p>Seselj’s verdict is also a reminder that we tend to idealize the concept of justice and expect outcomes that would satisfy our own understanding of guilt and innocence. We infuse the ICTY with meaning that is solely the product of our own hopes and expectations and was never a part of the structural makeup of such tribunals.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong>Dr. Armanda Hysa:</strong></p> <p>Earlier, Dr. Gordy said: “…it was not clear (and likely also not true) that he exercised military command over the paramilitaries that were nominally under his control”. It seems clear, however, that the case against him was mismanaged. What is your opinion about legal basis upon which Seselj could be retried and was there enough evidence for the court to find him guilty?</p> <p><strong>Dr. Eric Gordy:</strong></p> <p>There will definitely be an appeal filed in this case. The prosecution has already made known its intention to appeal, and the dissenting opinion by Judge Flavia Lattanzi gives a clear outline of the very large number of major legal and factual errors that provide the ground for an appeal.&nbsp; </p><p>It could be argued that an appeal is necessary in this case, because entirely aside from the question of Šešelj’s individual guilt or innocence, the majority opinion put forward a lot of theses that are simply in conflict with both law and history: that the action of Serb paramilitaries in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina was entirely defensive in character, that sustained incitements to hatred and threats amount to morale-boosting exercises, that connections between armed forces which were proved in other trials did not exist.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Seselj’s verdict is also a reminder that we tend to idealize the concept of justice and expect outcomes that would satisfy our own understanding of guilt and innocence.</p> <p>It is another question what will happen once appeals are filed. ICTY (as well as the institution that will manage the appeals, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, or MICT) is notoriously slow, and although his level of activity would suggest otherwise, Šešelj is very sick. </p><p>The appeal chamber can reject the appeal, rule to accept some or all of the appeal arguments, or order that a new trial be conducted. The last two outcomes are both more probable than the first, and probably the third is more probable than the second. Either outcome would bring about a new political conflict between the Tribunal and Serbia, particularly considering that delivering Šešelj to the Hague as a defendant or convict would lead to new problems since he is now a parliamentary deputy. </p> <p>A retrial is especially difficult to imagine if we keep in mind that Šešelj’s main defence strategies have been obstructing the proceedings and intimidating witnesses. This suggests that there could be another marathon trial marked by irresolution. It might not be too surprising if in the meantime a domestic court charges him with one of the many offences for which he could be convicted in Serbia, and tries him under conditions that are less accommodating to defendants than the ones provided by ICTY.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong>Dr. Srdja Pavlovic:</strong></p> <p>While he might not have exercised significant command control over various paramilitary units, Seselj was present at the front line (often bearing arms) and had to have an impact on the actions taken by them. I do not think that Seselj, or anyone for that matter, needed to possess a thorough knowledge of military tactics of irregular warfare to send paramilitaries into villages and towns to slaughter civilians, plunder their possessions and then claim victory for the “defenseless Serbian people.” </p> <p>While it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Seselj’s guilt in this respect, we should be reminded that he was charged with individual responsibility and not the command one. Moreover, the article 7 of the ICTY Statute specifies that inciting violence that leads to the committing of crimes listed in the articles 2-5 (ranging from crimes against humanity to crimes of genocide) would be adequately sanctioned. </p><p>With that in mind, it seems that judges had sufficient legal basis to convict Vojislav Seselj of warmongering, inciting ethnic and religious hatred, and for inciting violence against non-Serbs. Furthermore, the ICTR (<em>Tribunal for Rwanda</em>) lists the cases of three journalists who incited violence and were found guilty. Even though they neither killed anyone, commanded over any group of armed men nor led any paramilitary units, two of them received life sentences, while one was sent to prison for 35 years.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p><strong><br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Dr. Armanda Hysa:</strong></p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong><span>Finally, in your opinion, what is the verdict likely to mean?</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong>Dr. Eric Gordy:</strong></p> <p>Nobody is going to draw the legal conclusion that the verdict offers, which is that the command that was not exercised by Šešelj was in fact exercised by official state institutions like the military and the Interior ministry. Instead there is likely to be a wave of euphoria in some political quarters in Serbia, that either the symbolic ethnic group or Šešelj has received a victory. </p><p>Some observers are predicting that this may revive Šešelj’s political career, and they are probably right – he may well get his party back into the parliament, although there is not much chance that he or his party will ever be anything other than marginal. Aside from that, the verdict is more likely to produce anger than anything else, and here it is very likely that the main victims of this anger will be the remaining Serb population in Croatia.&nbsp;<span>These are people fighting an uphill struggle for recognition of political and cultural rights, and against the imposition of collective blame. It appears likely that the guilt that the Tribunal removed from Šešelj will be transferred onto them by demagogues in politics in media.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The prosecution has the right to appeal the verdict, and is absolutely certain to make use of that right, not least because the poor legal quality of the majority’s opinion makes it easy to overturn. It is not clear how much this will mean, however, and it will amount to little if the defendant does not survive until an appeal ruling. If that happens, then we will be left with a classically tragic outcome, in which a series of events and personalities led to an unavoidable outcome that cannot be undone.</p> <p><strong>Dr. Srdja Pavlovic:</strong></p> <p>I agree with my esteemed colleague that the acquittal of Vojislav Seselj would have minor and short-lasting political effects in Serbia. It is doubtful that his party would end up holding the balance of power after the next elections. Such projections reflect the state of temporary confusion and fear following the decision by the ICTY more than anything else. </p> <p>The long-lasting negative effects of the court’s decision have to do with the lack of legal sanctions for warmongering and inciting violence and, on a more general note, with the understanding of the character of the conflict. The court found that Seselj was just a motivational speaker whose hateful tirades were meant to “lift the spirit” of the innocent civilians under threat. Such assessment of his role is problematic on many levels and I will mention only two. </p> <p>First, it misrepresents the complex nature of the Yugoslav wars and effectively excludes official Serbia from having any impact on the bloody breakup. Its contribution to the Yugoslav wars is marginalized, and I would argue unjustly so. By portraying Seselj as one of a number of nationalist orators who had assisted the Croatian and the Bosnian Serbs with organizing self-defense, the burden of responsibility shifts from Belgrade to Pale and to the leaders of a number of SAOs, most of whom, including Radovan Karadzic, have been convicted to prison terms of various length.</p> <p>Second, and I think more important issue is the judges making an effort to disconnect words from actions that follow. While it would be a daunting task to argue that no crimes would have been committed if it weren’t for Seselj’s inflammatory rhetoric, the fact is that his “call for duty” was a major contributing factor. It is true that Seselj acted from a position of limited political power and performed a role of a “messenger.” His words, however, carried certain political weight and legitimacy because the audience he was addressing know that the structures of power in Serbia (both political and military) had approved of his message. The judges had failed to acknowledge this important and direct link.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/praveen-madhiraju-tanya-domi/in-serbia-anniversaries-to-lament">In Serbia, anniversaries to lament</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/srdja-pavlovic/crime-time-and-politics-of-icty-justice">The crime, the time, and the politics of ICTY justice</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Serbia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Croatia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Croatia Bosnia and Herzegovina Serbia Armanda Hysa Srdja Pavlovic Eric Gordy Sat, 16 Jul 2016 18:44:40 +0000 Eric Gordy, Srdja Pavlovic and Armanda Hysa 103996 at https://www.opendemocracy.net DiEM25 - between movement and manifesto https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ian-bancroft/diem25-between-movement-and-manifesto <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What can the DiEM25 movement learn from the Bosnian plenums of 2014?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bos.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bos.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>One of the Bosnia plenums, 2014. https://vimeo.com/89711771.</span></span></span></p><p>For democracy in Europe today, the absence of debate about the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ian-bancroft/diem25-and-search-for-european-demos"><strong>notion of European citizenship</strong></a> remains a key impediment. Building a genuine European demos requires reaching beyond the traditional domains and delineations of politics. </p><p>Movements such as DiEM25 are vital in this regard, helping to rearticulate citizenship and redefine the public sphere, thereby fostering new ways of doing politics and engaging those who’ve previously been marginalized from debates. </p><p>Yet there are a number of inherent challenges that need to be overcome if such movements are to engage those on Europe’s periphery, both within member states and beyond. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Building such a movement beyond the boundaries of the nation state involves engaging those directly affected by today’s crisis in Europe, and cultivating commonalities in the absence of pre-existing bonds. Fostering a connection with the movement requires that it appeal to the day-to-day realities faced by people from different backgrounds and contexts. </p><p>In a Europe of pronounced linguistic and cultural differences, such an undertaking is both profoundly ambitious and necessary. Whilst there is a temptation, however, to mobilize individuals around a shared manifesto of demands, the compromises and concessions involved in formulating such a stance can come at the expense of an emancipatory agenda of rights and values which any trans-European movement must strive to advance.&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The plenums that sprang up in various towns and cities in Bosnia-Herzegovina following the February 2014 protests provide a timely illustration of the tensions between movements and manifestoes. Initially hailed as an example of the country’s underlying civic virtues, their momentum quickly evaporated, even before the country suffered its worst flooding for over a century. </p><p>The experience of the plenums exposed the difficulties of fostering a movement capable of articulating and pursuing the social, civic, political and economic rights of all the country’s citizens, especially in a context where politics has remained fundamentally divided on inter-ethnic lines. &nbsp;</p> <p>The plenums were – for Bosnia and Herzegovina at least – a unique experience in citizen-led activism. After the occasionally violent protests, which reminded some of the fear and uncertainty that accompanied war (the burning of buildings and the ineffectiveness of law enforcement agencies), the plenums offered a platform for broad and constructive engagement; unimpeded by the structures of patronage, clientalism and worse which have defined politics in the post-war period. </p><p>They were unique precisely because they offered an alternative to the elite-led politics which had predominated, offering for the first time in the post-war period the possibility of a different type of politics.&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Plenums in Bosnia constituted a reactionary response to the political gridlock that had stalled reforms for several years, much as movements across Europe have sprung up in response to various manifestations of crisis in their own systems (the Nuit debout movement being one of the latest manifestations). </p><p>The plenums were quick to formulate their own manifestoes containing a host of demands - some general, others more specific – that were selectively implemented by the respective governments. </p><p>The narrow, particularistic agenda articulated – of ‘White Bread’ (where politicians were entitled to a year’s salary after the end of their mandate) and resignations – diluted the prospect of a more progressive agenda (particularly as general elections were then only some six months away). In doing so, the plenums failed to secure sufficient autonomy from the political context in which the mobilizations initially occurred; autonomy which is vital for any sustained, progressive movement.</p> <p>The fulfilment of certain of these demands (especially government resignations) created a sense of purpose and conviction that facilitated a transition of the protests from the streets to the regulated surroundings of classrooms or cultural centres. Yet they also allowed the country’s political elites to subdue some of the energy created by acceding to a handful of these demands, protecting their core interests through a few essentially symbolic offerings. </p><p>The particularistic nature of the agenda had the effect of narrowing the appeal of the plenums to a potentially larger audience, epitomized by their failure to sufficiently transcend inter-ethnic divisions which continue to scar the country (the protests failed to spread to the country’s second entity, Republika Srpska). &nbsp; &nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Whilst the diversity of composition enhanced the legitimacy of the plenums in the eyes of many, the divergence of interests and lack of a unifying identity ultimately mitigated against the movement’s evolution. With student protests in neighbouring Croatia or the subsequent protests of factory workers in Tuzla, the shared identity and realities of the participants is pre-existing. </p><p>Plenums, on the other hand, were disparate groups comprised of, amongst others, academics, polemicists, the unemployed, poorly-paid, pensioners and civil society; individuals who struggled to associate with the plight of others facing very different problems. &nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Unifying these disparate elements required a rights-based discourse which ultimately failed to materialise. Though fundamentally their interests were shared – lack of jobs, low incomes, ineffective governing structures – their claims were not enveloped in a unifying and emancipatory language. </p><p>Whilst individuals had the opportunity to express their personal frustrations to an attentive audience, that very audience failed to expand beyond those actively participating. The plenums failed to consolidate and transform their initial momentum into a broader movement capable of breaking down barriers and fostering new ties between disparate actors across the country.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Whilst the plenums have offered a fundamental critique of government in Bosnia-Herzegovina, they’ve thus far failed to elaborate a more emancipatory agenda. The particularistic nature of their demands has left them vulnerable to being de facto co-opted by the prevailing political elites. Such specific demands also deterred other potential recruits of different political persuasions or ethnicities. </p><p>Whilst such manifestoes can create an initial sense of purpose and achievement, they are by definition divisive. Whilst one may agree with the values of the movement, one’s participation may be deterred by the specific ends which that very same movement endeavours to achieve. </p><p>Overcoming this tension between movement and manifesto - between values and specific claims - is essential if DiEM25 wants to unite Europe behind its goal of democratizing the continent, and fostering a genuine European demos.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis-mary-kaldor-zoe-gardner-james-schneider-paul-hilder/diem25-in-lo">DiEM25 in London</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis-alex-sakalis/one-very-simple-but-radical-idea-to-democratise-eur">&quot;One very simple, but radical, idea: to democratise Europe.&quot; An interview with Yanis Varoufakis</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Ian Bancroft DiEM25 Sat, 04 Jun 2016 17:20:44 +0000 Ian Bancroft 102711 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Celebrating labour day in the red city – Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/anna-calori/celebrating-labour-day-in-red-city-tuzla-bosnia-and-herzegovina <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"“I don’t think older people are nostalgic about the socialist past. I can see that the life was better in those days..."</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="DefaultStyle"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_3251.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_3251.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>May day banner reads, 'Death to capitalism, freedom to the people'. Author's pic.</span></span></span>On May 1, around a hundred workers gathered in the north-eastern city of Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, to celebrate labour day and protest the extremely precarious conditions they have been enduring in post-war Bosnia. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">Once a regional industrial hub and important centre for the country’s economic development, in recent years Tuzla has experienced a dramatic economic decay, which has translated into an average unemployment rate of 55%. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">Tuzla holds a record of strong civic activism and opposition to nationalist political forces throughout the most critical years of the 1990s. As many argue, this was, in part due to its strong and cohesive labour movement. Fast forward to today and the consequences of labour fragmentation on the country’s anti-nationalist ‘red city’ paint a stark picture.</p> <p class="DefaultStyle">“Tuzla is red, it was one of the most productive industrial cities in Yugoslavia, and now they want it to become green!” </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">This colour metaphor reflects the degree to which Tuzla workers feel under political and economic attack. Party politics wants to transform the town’s leftist political identity, and align it to the predominant nationalist orientation of the surrounding areas.</p> <h2 class="DefaultStyle"><strong>Losing faith</strong></h2> <p class="DefaultStyle">On Labour Day, <a href="http://www.radiosarajevo.ba/vijesti/bosna-i-hercegovina/prvomajski-protest-gradana-u-tuzli/224676">the hundred workers</a> have gathered in front of the burnt ruins of the former municipal building — set on fire during the protests which shook the country in February 2014 — for a demonstration called by the independent labour union, “Sindikat Solidarnosti”. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">When asked if they expected a bigger turnout on such a significant day, demonstrators lament the general degree of apathy and resignation amongst people, as well as the division amongst unions, some of which are supposedly close to the governing forces. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">“Those in the bigger unions” A. tells me<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> ,“are just exploiting their own workers, they use the membership funds for their own private business and they never oppose the politicians or corrupt directors”.</p> <p class="DefaultStyle">In addition, many raise the issue of fear and intimidation. According to some, their colleagues, friends and co-workers didn’t come to the demonstration because they fear being seen and recognised by their employers, thus risking losing their jobs. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">“Even those who have a job are paid way less than the minimum wage, and this of course causes huge damage to our struggle, since people are willing to accept any compromise… Here, people’s life is worth less than 100 marks<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a>, that’s the problem!” states E., former worker of a now bankrupt chemical industry.</p> <p class="DefaultStyle">This division is to a certain extent also perceived by the younger generation. As student of psychology S. tells me: “During the 2014 protests, the absence of the working class and their lack of unity started showing. Many young people started to be divided because of petty political interests, and this division has disenfranchised many people…that’s why many have lost faith in any sort of change, and they didn’t go to the celebrations.”</p> <p class="DefaultStyle">As J. reiterates, “young people often used to participate in those protests because they saw the situation in which their parents are, and they try to put efforts into building some sort of change…”</p> <p class="DefaultStyle">The situation of unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in Tuzla particularly, has been steadily worsening since the early 2000s. Some would claim even earlier than that, when a strong wave of privatisation through controversial buy-outs meant that predatory capitalism hit all the industries and firms still left standing after the war.</p> <h2 class="DefaultStyle"><strong>Life was better</strong></h2> <p class="DefaultStyle">The Tuzla canton has a rate of <a href="http://tip.ba/2015/04/20/alarmantno-stanje-u-tuzlanskom-kantonu-vise-nezaposlenih-nego-zaposlenih-osoba/">55% of unemployment</a>, and a high number of employees who have received <a href="http://tuzlanski.ba/carsija/radnik-mehmed-terzic-dok-oni-jedu-janje-sta-cemo-moja-djeca-i-ja/">neither salaries, nor contributions</a> for months. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">Under such conditions, how anyone can feel any sort of celebratory spirit on Labour day, is the question shared by many workers. They remember May 1 as it was once celebrated in socialist Yugoslavia. “We used to wait impatiently for this day, talking about what we would do, where we would go all together…now people don’t feel like celebrating… it’s a great fall for a city like Tuzla, which used to be the biggest industrial hub in Bosnia, even in the whole Yugoslavia!” says D., who lost her job a few years ago, at the same time as her husband did. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">This sentiment is common. Many remember the time of socialism as a moment where <a href="http://tuzlanski.ba/carsija/protesti-u-tuzli-gradani-i-radnici-se-pocastili-janjetinom-foto/">companies used to work at full capacity</a>, and industry was prosperous. Interestingly, as argued by E., a young student of medicine “I don’t think older people are nostalgic about the socialist past. I can see that the life was better in those days. Not only the war, but what they did afterwards to our economy and education has brought such a change that it’s impossible not to look back…”.</p> <h2 class="DefaultStyle"><strong>Unity in diversity</strong></h2> <p class="DefaultStyle"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/13115862_950320555081557_1633581267_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/13115862_950320555081557_1633581267_n.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstrator seated next to a portrait of Tito, enjoys meat roll provided by the union. Author's pic.</span></span></span>And something else has been lost thanks to the red city’s roller-coaster socio-economic decay.</p> <p class="DefaultStyle">Since the Austro-Hungarian period, Tuzla was a strong industrial hub, attracting migration from the whole region. The chemical, energy and mining industry quickly created a massive, ethnically diverse working class, strong in both number and unity. The mass miners’ strike of Husinska Buna in the 1920s exemplified this pride in its collective strength. Tuzla was the first big city to be liberated in Europe during World War 2, such achievements closely associated with the city's 'red' identity. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">At the first multi-party elections of 1990, right before the collapse of the Yugoslav Federation, Tuzla was the only city in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be led by a non-nationalist coalition, which ruled the city throughout the war, attempting to maintain some sort of inter-ethnic dialogue and unity while the city was under siege.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">Citizens of different generations and backgrounds refer proudly to the city’s uniqueness in this regard, a quality precisely rooted in the strength of its labour movement. Whether embellished by myth or not, labour solidarity has served as the glue for the city’s enduring cohesion, even when the rest of the country descended into the abyss of ethnic conflict. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">And Tuzla’s people hold onto this narrative in different ways and for different reasons. Moreover, they are still keen on defending Tuzla in what they perceive as a nationalist siege on all sides from political parties seeking to homogenise society through divisive economic policies.</p> <p class="DefaultStyle">But the haemorrhaging of Tuzla’s industrial potential has had an impact that goes beyond the tragedy of unemployment and large-scale collapse of production in the country. The fragmentation and politicization of unions, the steady stream of lay-offs due to mismanagement, inefficiencies and pure and simple corruption, undermine the values of its labour movement. </p> <p class="DefaultStyle">This is not just another story of predatory capitalism, or of failed transition in the post-Yugoslav sphere. Alienation is a common side-show to aggressive economics everywhere, but for the people of Tuzla, it strikes right at the heart of the city, and its own uniquely resilient history of struggle. </p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> At the request of my interviewees, I use their initials to ensure privacy.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> Roughly 50 euros</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a>For more information on this topic, <a href="https://www.psa.ac.uk/sites/default/files/page-files/Calori_EP_No35.pdf">see here</a>. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil society Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics Anna Calori Tue, 03 May 2016 15:58:56 +0000 Anna Calori 101819 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The crime, the time, and the politics of ICTY justice https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/srdja-pavlovic/crime-time-and-politics-of-icty-justice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Radovan Karadzic is my relative, on my mother’s side.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">For years, I felt uneasy about that and m</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">y vehement public opposition to the war put me at odds with many of my relatives.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/SHADOW-BW2_0.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/SHADOW-BW2_0.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="440" height="287" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gordana Zivkovic, 1995. Courtesy of Marko Zivkovic</span></span></span><span>The former President of the Republic of Srpska para-state, Radovan Karadzic, was recently convicted of a joint criminal enterprise and crimes against humanity committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990s, including the siege of Sarajevo, the campaign of ethnic cleansing, mass killings and detention of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, and the kidnapping of UN peacekeepers in order to prevent the NATO bombing of the Serb positions. He was also found guilty of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.</span></p> <p>During 4 years of fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina, over 100,000 people lost their lives. Its capital, Sarajevo, endured 1,425 days of siege at the cost of 10,541 lives of its citizens, including lives of 1,601 children.</p> <p>The conviction rested on a mountain of evidence proving the existence of genocidal intent on the political level in the case of Srebrenica. Radovan Karadzic’s court file alone is almost 35,000 pages long and includes documents produced by the Parliament of the Republic of Srpska and its Ministry of Interior as well as a number of local police precincts.</p> <p>“Some of us should ‘thank’ Radovan Karadzic for sending us to Canada,” said my friend Tanja, as we discussed the effects of his sentencing hearing in The Hague. Together with her husband and their young son, she left Sarajevo for Edmonton in 1995.</p> <p>“Yes, many people had died and even more, including the three of us, had suffered terribly because of what he did and encouraged others to do. We were lucky though to be able to escape death and establish a home in Canada, and befriend people whom we otherwise would have never met. </p><p>It is painful for me to say this, but the war has changed us in so many ways, and not all of those have necessarily been negative. We have decided not to remain victims of Radovan Karadzic’s politics and actions but to build our lives anew, and enrich ourselves with new experiences and friendships. On the other hand, I hope that he would spend the rest of his days behind bars.”</p> <p>The devilish irony of her words made me pause and think about my life in the Canadian prairies. It made me think of exile and its discontents. Did I really “profit” from the carnage in Yugoslavia and what price did I pay (and keep paying?) for the “good life” I live now? Conversations I have with my fellow countrymen in Edmonton often end with all of us either reminiscing about the time before the war and bloodshed in Yugoslavia or comparing various Canadian situations and our experiences with what we remember from the old country. </p><p>We compare education systems, health care services, political views, driving habits, and culinary preferences. As a rule, all of us miss the proverbial good old days. Some of my friends wake up in Edmonton every morning listening to a tune broadcasted by Radio Sarajevo. When I sing in the shower, which is happening with the alarming regularity and to the chagrin of my wife, I am belting out <em>sevdah</em> – the Balkan version of blues – rather than Deep Purple and Rolling Stones tunes that marked the years of my youth. It seems that the Balkan boy in me has been awakened on the Canadian prairies. Indeed, Karadzic affected us all in different ways.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Did I really “profit” from the carnage in Yugoslavia and what price did I pay (and keep paying?) for the “good life” I live now?</p> <p>Tanja’s statement sparked in me much more than the feeling of nostalgia. It brought back from the shadows an unpleasant aspect of my family history. Radovan Karadzic is my relative, on my mother’s side. For years, I felt uneasy about that. I have never met him in person but Karadzic’s actions and his politics have been a topic of many heated discussions at family gatherings. My vehement public opposition to the war put me at odds with many of my relatives. </p><p>Particularly unpleasant were the discussions I had with those who volunteered to fight against “Ustashas” and “Turks,” and protect their version of “Serbhood.” For them, I remain a traitor to both the national cause and the sacred code that binds a family together. This has cast a shadow over every visit to the country of my birth I have had over the last two decades. </p><p>When I travel to Montenegro these days, I learn that many of them are too busy to have a proper visit with me. I struggle with the fact that some of my cousins see Karadzic as a hero, and as a modern-day version of a <em>hayduk</em> - a medieval Balkan outlaw. For them, family loyalty takes precedent over everything else, and they defend Karadzic, no matter what. I am not sure that the verdict passed by the ICTY will change that.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>My friend’s comments also reminded me of the angst I experienced every time I met people from my former country. Conversations I had over the last two decades in my adopted homelands of Great Britain and Canada with people from Bosnia and Croatia made me feel guilty about having such a relative, albeit a distant one. </p><p>Because of that, I seldom spoke of it and did so only in private conversations. Truth be told, I had been afraid of the reaction of others. Today, like my friend Tanja, I also hope that my relative – a convicted war criminal - would remain in prison for life.</p> <p>For many of those who had survived the Bosnian slaughterhouse orchestrated by Radovan Karadzic and his nationalist clones, his 40-year conviction does not sound just. Following his sentencing a number of organizations and victim advocacy groups had expressed their frustration pointing out that Karadzic had not received a life sentence.</p> <p><span class="print-no mag-quote-center">It brought back from the shadows an unpleasant aspect of my family history. Radovan Karadzic is my relative, on my mother’s side.</span></p> <p>While I understand the emotions behind such frustration, it should be said that such a lengthy sentence does amount to life in prison. Taking into account time already served and considering the practice of the court to release convicts after they serve 2/3 of their sentence, Karadzic still has to serve 19 years. Being in his mid-70s it is unlikely that he will live long enough to walk again as a free man, the proverbial longevity of the male members of his extended family notwithstanding.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>We should also accept the fact that there is no such a thing as absolute justice. Our understanding of justice as well as expectations we might have from a court ruling would seldom, if ever, be met by any legal decision passed by any group of international judges. No court in any legal system, national or international, can bring back that what had been taken away forever.</p> <p>For their part, the Serbian nationalists see Karadzic’s verdict as yet another proof of the international conspiracy against the Serbs and of the political nature of this tribunal. History shows us that international tribunals emerge from a particular political and social post-conflict discourse and cannot be divorced from it. This inherent connection does not mean such tribunals are less objective when it comes to gathering evidence and evaluating it according to the letter of the law.</p> <p>The reality is that in their work international tribunals always display a keen sense of balance and historical responsibility. The ICTY is not an exception to this rule, and we had witnessed the desire of the tribunal to once again strike a balance of some kind in the case against another nationalist leader from 1990s - the president of the Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj. His sentencing in absentia has further sharpened the disagreements over the nature of the ICTY and deepened the national, ethnic and religious fault lines in the region.</p> <p>A warmonger extraordinaire, Vojislav Seselj surrendered to the ICTY in 2003 and was acquitted of all charges in 2016. The story of his departure had been “wrapped” in the Serbian national flag by his supporters, while Seselj promoted his resolve to defeat the international tribunal. He portrayed himself as an Eastern Orthodox white knight who entered the belly of the beast so he could take it apart from within. The outcome of the trial is taken by many as a victory over the Serb-hating international legal machine.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/IMG_0587.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/IMG_0587.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="446" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The author, Srdja Pavlovic.</span></span></span><span>With one dissenting opinion, the judges found no connection between Seselj’s warmongering and crimes committed by paramilitary forces he had influence over. They concluded that he was a motivational speaker only attempting to lift the spirit of the Serbian people. But what remained sidelined in many of the post-sentencing analyses was the fact that Seselj was charged with individual responsibility, and not command.</span></p><p>The Article 7 of the ICTY Statute specifies that inciting violence that leads to the committing of crimes listed in articles 2-5 would be adequately sanctioned. It seems that judges had sufficient legal basis to convict Vojislav Seselj of inciting violence against non-Serbs. Moreover, the International Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) had tried three journalists who incited violence and had found them guilty. Two of them received life sentences, while one was sent to prison for 35 years.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The long-lasting negative effects of Seselj’s acquittal have to do with the lack of legal sanctions for warmongering and inciting violence despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary and despite the above-mentioned precedents established by the ICTR. The judges made a conscious effort to disconnect words from the actions that followed.</p> <p>It has been clear to those of us who have studied the Yugoslav wars that Seselj’s inflammatory rhetoric and his “call of duty” were a major contributing factor to the crimes being committed. It has also been clear that his words carried political weight and legitimacy because the audience knew that the structures of power in Serbia had approved of his message.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Karadzic was expendable even though he was the leader of the Bosnian Serbs. Or, was it precisely because of that?</p> <p>The judges, however, failed to acknowledge this important and direct link, thus fueling further the accusatory narrative about the ICTY as a political court. Truth be told, the acquittal of Vojislav Seselj has not been the first time the ICTY manifested questionable judgment and a desire to strike a curious balance between convictions and acquittals. The earlier verdicts reached in the proceedings against the Croatian general, Ante Gotovina, Kosovo’s Ramus Haradinaj, and the former commander of the defenses of Srebrenica, Naser Oric, had betrayed the same desire.</p> <p>On a more general note, Karadzic’s and Seselj’s verdicts, each in its own way, manifested an effort to misrepresent the character of the conflict in the SFR Yugoslavia, and absolve the official Serbia from having any responsibility for the bloody breakup. Karadzic was acquitted on Article 1 of the indictment - genocide in the municipalities of Prijedor, Bratunac, Foca, Zvornik, Sanski Most, Vlasenica, Kljuc. </p><p>Convicting him of this charge would have meant acknowledging assistance provided to Karadzic by external actors as well as their knowledge of the genocidal intent and, most importantly, their direct involvement. As rightly pointed out by Eric Gordy and others, one of the lines which the judges have appeared unwilling to cross is the recognition of the involvement of Serbia in cross-border conflicts. Karadzic was expendable even though he was the leader of the Bosnian Serbs. Or, was it precisely because of that?</p> <p>Seselj, being the politician from Serbia and one of the former vice-premiers in the Serbian government, was portrayed by the judges as nothing more than a nationalist orator who had motivated Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia to fight. The manner in which he had been acquitted shifted a burden of responsibility from Belgrade to the leaders of the Bosnian and Croatian Serbs, many of whom have been already convicted. With this in mind, it is indeed very difficult to overlook a curious balancing game the ICTY has been playing for years.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>It is worth noting, however, that the amassing an archive of several million pages of documents and testimonies might be the greatest achievement of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The existence of such inventory of suffering should be made available to those that come after us. Following a lengthy campaign led by victim groups the Canadian parliament unanimously adopted the Srebrenica genocide resolution in 2010 (M-416).</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/Radovan_Karadžić_1984_arrest.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/Radovan_Karadžić_1984_arrest.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="218" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Radovan Karadzic's arrest mugshot. Wikimedia. CC.</span></span></span><span>The recent conviction of Radovan Karadzic is an opportunity for the Canadian government to reaffirm its commitment to prevent such atrocities from happening again, and support the continuing functioning of the ICTY by protecting its immense archive from being parceled between former belligerents. Such parceling of files between Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina (as it had been suggested some years ago) could be detrimental to the integrity of the documents and might also result in a restricted access for researchers.</span></p><p>Instead, the Canadian government should work with its international partners on identifying the most appropriate location elsewhere that would house the entire collection and make it open both to the public and to researchers. The Canadian Museum of Human Rights comes to mind as one such location.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Even though very few people have been satisfied with its work, albeit for different reasons, this tribunal has delivered some measure of justice, at least. Its verdicts could not reverse time but may help us achieve some closure. As for my own dilemmas, I am heading to Montenegro this summer to try and mend fences with some of my relatives. I cannot predict how busy they might be once I arrive there but I plan to call on them nevertheless.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/marko-aksentijevi/belgrade-waterfront-dark-side-behind-urban-renewal">Belgrade Waterfront - the dark side of &#039;urban renewal&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ljubica-spaskovska/future-of-past-why-end-of-yugoslavia-is-still-important">The future of the past: why the end of Yugoslavia is still important</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Serbia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Montenegro </div> <div class="field-item even"> Canada </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Canada Montenegro Bosnia and Herzegovina Serbia Srdja Pavlovic Sat, 23 Apr 2016 12:25:14 +0000 Srdja Pavlovic 101575 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Democracy, 25 years after Yugoslavia https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/lana-pasic/democracy-25-years-after-yugoslavia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Just how democratic are the former Yugoslav countries today?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/piran.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/piran.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="260" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Piran, Slovenia. The country has had the most successful democratic transition of the former Yugoslav states. Wikimedia. CC.</span></span></span><span>The wave of democratisation in Eastern Europe during the late 1980s and 1990s also affected former Yugoslavia, where the political space opened up after Tito’s death in 1980. Yugoslavia consisted of six federal Republics: Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, and two autonomous regions: Kosovo and Vojvodina. First multi-party democratic elections were held in the Republics in 1990, followed by the referenda of independence and a slow disintegration of the state.</span></p><p>In June 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared formal independence and a referendum was held in March 1992 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Macedonia seceded peacefully in 1991, Montenegro in 2006, and Kosovo declared its independence in 2008. Although the initial period of independence saw the rise of elected, but semi-authoritarian regimes, including Milosevic in Serbia and Tudjman in Croatia, all states are now, at least theoretically, on the path of institutional and economic reforms and accession to the European Union. Slovenia joined the Union in 2004, and Croatia in 2013. </p> <p>Twenty five years after Yugoslav disintegration, all the states are formally democratic countries:&nbsp; there are regular multi-party elections, apparent separation of powers, established democratic institutions and democratic language. However, there is a need to distinguish between the institutions and formal <a href="http://www.epc.eu/documents/uploads/pub_1363_the_democratic_transformation_of_the_balkans.pdf">procedures of democracy and actual implementation</a>. </p><p>Accountable governments, checks and balances, rule of law and freedom of speech are largely absent from political practices in the region.&nbsp; Nepotism, administrative inefficiency, public spending and corruption have become the norm, and are blocking the democratic processes. Public resources are controlled by the political party elites, which hold leverage over media, judiciary and police forces.</p> <p>Political parties in successor states are themselves <a href="http://www.esiweb.org/pdf/esi_document_id_64.pdf">undemocratic.</a> Although the communist rule ended, the cult of <a href="http://www.vijesti.me/forum/partije-u-ex-jugoslaviji-kao-prepreka-reformama-i-modernizaciji-877290">one political leader with unlimited powers</a> remains present, as is the case with Milo Djukanovic in Montenegro, Aleksandar Vucic in Serbia, Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj in Kosovo, Nikola Gruevski in Macedonia, and Bakir Izetbegovic and Milorad Dodik in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This absence of internal party democracy is then transferred to the wider political arena. </p> <p>There are low levels of public participation in political decision-making processes, including elections, as well as low interest in participating, due to limited trust in government and democracy. Regionally, the election-turnout is low, and there is no trust in elected political representatives’ abilities or willingness to act in public interest. There is an overall dependence on foreign capital and loans, financial waste and mismanagement, widespread corruption in privatisation deals, and these states are now failing to respond to economic and social crises. </p> <p>Besides for Slovenia, which had a relatively peaceful secession after the Ten Day War, and joined the EU in 2004, other countries have largely failed to consolidate democratic processes and practices. Slovenia was the most ethnically homogeneous of the republics, and it accounted for only 10% of the total Yugoslav population. On the other hand, it was economically the strongest, contributing one-fifth of the GDP, and one-third of Yugoslav exports, which certainly facilitated its successful transition.</p> <p>Bosnia and Herzegovina’s multi-party elections in 1990 brought to power nationalist parties, and the quest for independence resulted in a four-year conflict. After the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995, democratic institutions, separation of powers and guarantees for rights and freedoms were enshrined in the constitution. Yet, due to a range of internal and external factors, the process of democratic development has been stalled and democracy in the country is weak and fragile. </p> <p>The international community, as a guarantor of the Peace Agreement has in its own way affected the development of democratic processes. The Office of the High Representative (OHR) has played a crucial role in the country, using the Bonn Powers to enforce a number of laws, regulations and reforms. Over the last two decades, no major political decision has been made without the involvement of OHR or foreign ambassadors to Bosnia. The over-reliance on international actors has affected the accountability of political leaders. Besides international influencesand omnipresent corruption at all levels, the state’s socio-economic failures and political deadlock are some of the main reasons why B&amp;H is now largely considered to be a failed state. </p> <p>Croatia, an EU member since 2013, had undergone a period of semi-authoritarian rule in the 1990s under Franjo Tudjman and the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union). Good improvements have been made since the early 2000s in the area of <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit-2011/overview-essay">civil society and corruption</a>, and the fight against corruption even saw the former Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, sentenced over two high profile corruption cases. Overall, great strides have been made in terms of judicial reforms, transparency and civil rights, although <a href="http://www.sgi-network.org/2014/Croatia/Quality_of_Democracy">administrative regulations are inconsistent and minority rights</a> are not always respected.&nbsp; </p> <p>After the 1997-1999 war with Serbia, which ended with NATO intervention, Kosovo declared independence in 2008. Following the EU brokered deals in 2013 and 2015, relations with Serbia seem to be normalising, but independence did not necessarily bring about democratic and accountable governance to the newest Balkan country.&nbsp; </p><p>In <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit-2011/overview-essay">2011</a> and <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/2015/kosovo">2015</a>, Freedom House reported a decline in the area of media independence, national democratic governance and electoral processes. The country has seen numerous <a href="https://euobserver.com/foreign/126369">corruption scandals</a>, includingjudicial bribes to the EU rule of law mission (EULEX) and corruption in the public procurement procedures. <a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/.%20http:/blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsee/2014/09/26/is-kosovos-young-democracy-growing-well/">Leaders of the main political parties</a> in Kosovo are widely seen as key figures in organised crime, and they have been involved in a number of scandals with the media, with most recent threats made by the Prime Minister, which led to massive <a href="http://balkans.aljazeera.net/vijesti/kosovski-novinari-traze-izvinjenje-premijera">journalists’ protests</a> in Pristina this year.</p> <p>Macedonia’s peaceful secession from Yugoslavia was followed by the 2001 armed conflict between Macedonians and Albanians, which ended the following year with the Ohrid Agreement and a NATO-led disarmament. In 2006, VMRO-DMPNE led by Nikola Gruevski came to power with the promise of economic revival and reforms, but similar to other ex-Yugoslav leaders, Gruevski is <a href="http://www.vijesti.me/forum/partije-u-ex-jugoslaviji-kao-prepreka-reformama-i-modernizaciji-877290">implicated</a> in the shady privatisation deals involving the sale of the Macedonian bank, and financial mismanagement and secret deals around massive construction projects in the country. <a href="http://neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1612-macedonia-s-empty-democracy">Democratic processes and principles have also been undermined</a> by citizen wire-tapping, pressure on media and critical journalists, using judiciary and state bodies against political enemies and party- controlled public procurements.&nbsp; </p> <p>Montenegro made a quick progress towards the European integration, after its peaceful secession in 2006. It soon became the third country, right after Slovenia and Croatia, to begin accession talks, signing the SAA in 2007, and marking its entry into force in 2010. However, in spite of what seemed as a small nation success story, political elitism and corruption in Montenegro are the reason for often used label mafia-state. </p><p>Although elements and institutions of democracy, including elections, judiciary and parliament are present, the reality is that Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and his party DPS are <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ko%C4%8D-pavlovi%C4%87/montenegro-fistful-of-democracy">in charge of the country</a>. Djukanovic has been in power since 1989 either as a Prime Minister or a President. </p><p>He has been <a href="https://www.reportingproject.net/underground/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=6&amp;Itemid=19">at the centre of corruption</a> charges over the privatisation of Niksicka Banka, now First Bank, which is owned by him and his siblings and its bailing out by the state during the financial crisis. Djukanovic was also investigated by the Italian anti-mafia unit over cigarette-smuggling operations, although charges were dropped in 2009 due to his diplomatic immunity. </p> <p>Serbia’s road to democracy has been more difficult than that of other Yugoslav countries, due to Milosevic’s long rule. The 1990s conflict in B&amp;H, Croatia and Kosovo damaged the country, and after years of civil society action against his rule, he was finally ousted on 5October 2000. In the following years, pro-Western and right-wing parties’ disagreements over the direction of the country exposed the numerous challenges Serbia was facing. </p><p>The assassination of pro-reform Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003 exposed the deep links between politics and mafia. Although the democratic institutions and processes have been introduced since, the elected parties, those considered democratic, left wing and right wing alike have all been implicated in corruption during the privatisation deals. The current pro-European government has also made a number of <a href="http://www.vijesti.me/forum/partije-u-ex-jugoslaviji-kao-prepreka-reformama-i-modernizaciji-877290">secret privatisation deals</a>, including the sales of auto industry, steel factories and Yugoslav Air Company.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Twenty five years after the break-up of Yugoslavia, with the exception of Slovenia, former Yugoslav Republics still have a long way to go before consolidating democratic rule. Although the prospects of EU membership serve as an incentive, and reforms are monitored by the EU, true democratic processes need to be developed from the inside, and are not enforceable. </p><p>The degree of successful democratisation process varies in each country, but corruption, nepotism, disrespect for media freedoms and financial mismanagement are present in all former Yugoslav Republics, and there is an urgent need to break the links between politics and organised crime. </p><p>Although substantial economic reforms have taken place in all countries, the failure of the social contract between the states and citizens is apparent. In spite of the presence of the democratic institutions, practices and regulations, the true understanding of democracy has not been adopted by either the political representatives or the electorate.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/milos-davidovic/what-happened-to-rebellious-youth-of-yugoslavia">What happened to the rebellious youth of Yugoslavia?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/alex-sakalis-david-stefanoski/macedonia%27s-long-year-scandal-protest-and-revolutio">Macedonia&#039;s long year: scandal, protest and revolution in the Balkans</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/srdja-pavlovic-goran-simi%C4%87/behind-closed-windows-discussion-on-recent-protests-in">Behind closed windows: a discussion on the recent protests in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mitja-stefancic/does-democratic-slovenia-secure-right-to-objective-and-pluralist-">Media freedom in Slovenia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/marko-boko/blood-cell-counting-croatian-refugee-crisis">&quot;Blood cell counting&quot;: the Croatian refugee crisis</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Slovenia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Croatia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> Montenegro </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Macedonia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Kosovo </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Serbia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Serbia Kosovo Macedonia Montenegro Bosnia and Herzegovina Croatia Slovenia Lana Pasic Sun, 03 Apr 2016 21:16:54 +0000 Lana Pasic 101085 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ethnic cleansing, war crimes and the destruction of cultural heritage: not Syria, but Bosnia twenty years ago https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/helen-walasek/ethnic-cleansing-war-crimes-and-destruction-of-cultural-heritage-no <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We seem in danger of forgetting the lessons of the intentional destruction of cultural and religious property in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1992-95 war.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/1. Banja Luka.Ferhadija Mosque.destroyed.May 1993.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/1. Banja Luka.Ferhadija Mosque.destroyed.May 1993.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Residents of Banja Luka stare at the remains of the 16th century Ferhadija Mosque deliberately dynamited by the Bosnian Serb authorities in May 1993, more than a year after the Bosnian War began. There had been no fighting in Banja Luka. © Estate of Aleksander Aco Ravlić</span></p><p>Ethnic cleansing, cultural genocide, the intentional destruction of religious structures and historic monuments, obliterating the built symbols of a group and their heritage, attacks on diversity and pluralism. How familiar this sounds. But this is not the latest news from Syria or Iraq. These describe the now seemingly forgotten destruction that took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995.</p> <p>As not only famed archaeological sites like Palmyra and Nineveh but mosques, Sufi shrines, Shia hussainiyas, Yazidi temples, Christian churches and ancient monasteries – symbols both of a community’s identity and a now almost vanished ethnoreligious diversity and coexistence in the region – are being intentionally attacked and destroyed across Syria, Iraq and beyond, we should not forget the horrifying similarities and lessons that should have been learned from the same type of destruction that took place in Europe just over twenty years ago. </p> <h2><strong>The destruction of Bosnia’s cultural heritage forgotten</strong></h2> <p>The twentieth anniversary of the end of the Bosnian War and the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement has recently passed. The commemorations have been in full flow, but one would have to search hard for any that marked what was one of the defining features of the conflict, provoking worldwide condemnation at the time: the massive intentional destruction of Bosnia’s cultural and religious heritage – particularly its Ottoman and Islamic inheritance. </p> <p>Yet, as in Syria and Iraq, this destruction of cultural and religious heritage was rarely collateral, an unfortunate side effect of military action. The overwhelming majority of attacks were pre-meditated, systematic, and almost always took place far from the frontlines – a fundamental part of the ethnic cleansing that characterised the war. Those vicious well-planned campaigns directed at civilians aimed squarely at eradicating any trace of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s historic diversity and traditions of coexistence among different ethnoreligious groups. </p> <p>The removal of structures from the landscape – particularly minarets – that marked the long historic presence of those groups targeted for elimination (most often Bosnia’s Muslims) went hand in hand with forced expulsion, imprisonment in concentration camps, torture, mass rape, the sexual enslavement of women and mass murder. These were the first steps towards creating a mono-ethnic realm with a fictitious past, where the mayor of Bosnian Serb-held Zvornik could confidently tell journalists in 1993 of the once Muslim-majority town: ‘There were never any mosques in Zvornik.’</p> <p>From early in the conflict to victims, human rights observers – and the perpetrators themselves – the purpose of this systematic and deliberate destruction of Bosnia’s cultural and religious heritage was clear: to eradicate any signs of the expelled population’s historic existence, and by removing these markers of community identity, discourage those who survived from ever returning. </p> <p>By autumn 1992, aided by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and paramilitaries from Milošević’s Serbia and Montenegro, breakaway nationalist Bosnian Serbs held 70% of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s territory. By the war’s end in autumn 1995 (with one notable exception) not a single minaret stood intact on that territory.<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Walasek_Bosnia%20and%20the%20Destruction%20of%20Cultural%20Heritage%20%20Twenty%20Years%20On.CUT.2016.02.11.doc#_ftn1">[1]</a></p> <p>In cities like Sarajevo and Mostar, sites of a cosmopolitan life, other structures and institutions were targeted – those that symbolized or held proofs of Bosnia’s historic pluralist identity: libraries, archives, museums and places such as Sarajevo’s Oriental Institute, where Ottoman cadastral registers gave evidence of coexistence over centuries. This was the deliberate destruction of identity and memory and observers began to write of cultural genocide and urbicide. </p> <h2><strong>Ethnic cleansing is genocide</strong></h2> <p>Yet as early as December 1992 a United Nations General Assembly Resolution (<a href="http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/47/a47r121.htm">A/RES/47/121</a>) had unequivocally called the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina genocide. Furthermore, the reports of the UN Security Council’s <a href="http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G93/106/07/PDF/G9310607.pdf?OpenElement">Human Rights Special Rapporteur</a>, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, and its <a href="http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/25274">Commission of Experts</a> routinely identified the deliberate and methodical targeting of historic, cultural and religious structures as a fundamental aspect of that ethnic cleansing. </p> <p>Thus more than twenty years ago intentional attacks on and destruction of cultural and religious property were unmistakably classified by international bodies as war crimes and crimes against humanity. </p> <p>The vast evidence of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian law collected by the Commission of Experts, including <a href="http://www.icty.org/x/file/About/OTP/un_commission_of_experts_report1994_en.pdf">destruction of cultural and religious property</a>, led to the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) by the United Nations in 1993.</p> <h2><strong>Lan</strong><strong>dmark judgements of the ICTY</strong></h2><p><strong></strong><span>In the search for justice for the victims of the events of the 1992–1995 Bosnian War, from its base in The Hague, the ICTY became an important testing ground of international humanitarian and human rights law relating to the protection and preservation of cultural and religious property, the right to a people’s enjoyment of their cultural heritage and the development of concepts of cultural heritage and identity.</span></p> <p>Its landmark judgements set precedents with regard to the destruction of cultural property not only as a crime in itself, but as a manifestation of persecution and led to a more definitive recognition in international humanitarian law that destruction of a people’s cultural heritage was an aspect of genocide. </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.icty.org/x/cases/krstic/tjug/en/krs-tj010802e.pdf">ICTY’s 2001 judgement</a> on Radislav Krstić, former Deputy Commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, finding him guilty of genocide, persecutions and murder in connection with the fall of Srebrenica, observed that though physical destruction of a group was the most obvious method of carrying out genocide:</p> <p>“…one may also conceive of destroying a group through purposeful eradication of its culture and identity resulting in the eventual extinction of the group...”</p> <p>Recalling the UN’s classification of ethnic cleansing as genocide in 1992, the judgement noted:</p> <p>“…where there is physical or biological destruction there are often simultaneous attacks on the cultural and religious property and symbols of the targeted group as well, attacks which may legitimately be considered as evidence of an intent to physically destroy the group.”</p> <h2><strong>More than a thousand mosques</strong></h2> <p>As with Palmyra and Nineveh, two structures became iconic in international perceptions of the destruction of cultural heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina: the<em> </em>National Library (Sarajevo’s Austro-Hungarian era town hall, or <em>Vijećnica</em>) and the graceful sixteenth-century Old Bridge (<em>Stari Most</em>) at Mostar. </p> <p>The National Library was bombarded with incendiary shells over the night of 25-26 August 1992 by Bosnian Serb Army artillery entrenched on the steep hills surrounding Sarajevo, engulfing it in unquenchable flames. More than a year later, the final obliteration of the Old Bridge on 9 November 1993 was the culmination of months of premeditated assaults on Mostar’s historic Ottoman monuments and Muslim and Orthodox religious structures, archives and museums by breakaway nationalist Bosnian Croat (HVO) forces. </p> <p>HVO commander Slobodan Praljak famously remarked that he was prepared to destroy hundreds of old bridges for the sake of one of his soldier’s little fingers. But Praljak was <a href="http://www.icty.org/x/cases/prlic/cis/en/cis_prlic_al_en.pdf">found guilty</a> at the ICTY, along with other HVO leaders, for war crimes (including destruction of the Old Bridge) aimed at ethnically cleansing Bosnian Muslims and other non-Croats in their plans to create an ethnically ‘pure’ Croat statelet.</p> <p>Yet across the Islamic world it was the more than a thousand devastated and demolished mosques which became potent symbols of the attempt to obliterate Bosnia’s Muslims. For all the focus on iconic structures like the National Library and the Old Bridge, the most extensive destruction took place far from the gaze of the international media. As huge swathes of countryside were ethnically cleansed, hundreds of mosques (and not a few churches) were relentlessly destroyed in villages and small towns like Foča.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/3. Foca.Aladza Mosque.after the war 1996.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/3. Foca.Aladza Mosque.after the war 1996.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Site of the Aladža Mosque in 1996. Photograph used as prosecution evidence of war crimes at the ICTY. © Lucas Kello/ ICTY.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong><a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/1998/07/01/closed-dark-place/past-and-present-human-rights-abuses-foca">‘A closed, dark place’</a></strong></h2> <p>Deep in Bosnian Serb-held territory, the ethnic cleansing of Foča’s majority Muslim population, against whom some of the worst atrocities of the war were committed, has been the subject of numerous <a href="http://www.icty.org/en/outreach/bridging-the-gap-with-local-communities/foca">ICTY war crimes prosecutions</a>. Entire Muslim neighbourhoods were methodically devastated, as were all eleven of Foča’s mosques – the majority razed to the ground. </p> <p>By the beginning of August 1992 only the beautiful Aladža Mosque (1550/1) remained intact. Satellite photographs from October 1991 used as ICTY prosecution evidence clearly show the minaret and dome of the Aladža. In a chilling similarity with recent images of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-35360415">St Elijah’s Monastery</a> in Iraq, when the satellite moved over Foča on 10 August 1992 an empty rubble-strewn space marked where the mosque had stood months earlier.</p> <p>In January 1994, the devastation complete, the Bosnian Serb parliament officially changed Foča’s name to Srbinje (“Serb-town”).</p> <h2><strong>The ineffectiveness of the international community</strong></h2><p><strong></strong><span>As the war went on and the destruction continued, the ineffectiveness of international legal instruments for protecting cultural heritage in times of conflict was laid bare, particularly the </span><a href="https://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/INTRO/400">1954 <em>Hague Convention</em></a><span>. Despite desperate pleas from the Bosnian government, the inability of international bodies like UNESCO (responsible for implementing </span><em>The Hague Convention</em><span>), or even the UN peacekeeping troops based across the country, to stop the attacks on cultural and religious property was plain to see.</span></p> <p>Far from being a deterrent and protection for historic monuments the best international humanitarian law appeared to offer was grounds for indictment in some future war crimes prosecution. Not much appears to have changed.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/4. Foca.Aladza Mosque.Satellite pics.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/4. Foca.Aladza Mosque.Satellite pics.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="241" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Satellite images of the Aladža Mosque, Foča, taken in October 1991 and August 1992. Pictures used as prosecution evidence in war crimes trials at the ICTY. © United States Reconnaissance Systems/ICTY.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>Cultural property after Dayton</strong></h2> <p>After the signing of the Dayton Agreement that ended the war, the intentional destruction of cultural property in Bosnia-Herzegovina, often before the eyes of representatives of international organisations – and their failure to prevent it happening or even be much concerned about it – prompted a period of soul-searching in bodies from NATO to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). </p> <p>Under <a href="https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/misc/additional-protocols-1977.htm">Protocols I and II</a> of the Geneva Conventions the ICRC had unmistakable responsibilities towards the protection of cultural and religious property, yet it is difficult to discover any action it took in this respect during the Bosnian War. And it was a rare UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) official who became involved in efforts to prevent such destruction, despite, like the ICRC, being present across Bosnia-Herzegovina.</p> <p>At an <a href="https://www.icrc.org/en/document/protection-cultural-property-event-armed-conflict-report#.VBrXblOa4wo">ICRC conference</a> on protection of cultural property during armed conflict in 2000, Yves Sandoz, an ICRC Legal Advisor, called for cultural property to be placed on the humanitarian law agenda, arguing that deliberate attacks on cultural property were often the precursors of worse outrages. Defending the cultural property of a threatened population, argued Sandoz, should be an integral part of humanitarian operations.</p> <p>This period of reflection did not last long, though there was a lingering desire to be more active in preventing such cases in the future. Then came the destruction of the Bamiyan Bhuddas in Afghanistan in 2001 and the 2003 war on Iraq and its impact on archetypal sites like Babylon and the looting of Baghdad’s National Museum. What had happened in Bosnia was pushed to the back of the cupboard. It was not a place anyone knew much about, even at the time. </p> <h2><strong>UNESCO’s short memory</strong></h2> <p>But the global impact of the enormous systematic destruction of cultural and religious heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the worldwide condemnation and passionate public polemic it provoked from world leaders and the heads of the United Nations and UNESCO to the person on the street in London, New York, Istanbul, Cairo and Kuala Lumpur and its relevance to the destruction being enacted in Syria and Iraq today should not be forgotten. </p> <p>Unfortunately, this appears to be the case – even in the international bodies loudest then in their denunciation. So much so that in 2015 UNESCO expert Édouard Planche could <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/un-unable-stop-relic-smuggling-iraq-and-syria-2015625246">say of the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq</a>, inextricably linked as it is (just as in Bosnia) with the expulsion of particular ethnoreligious groups, torture, mass rape and the sexual enslavement of women and mass murder:</p> <p>“The looting and destruction of heritage is part of the history of humanity; it is something we will never halt….This is an emergency situation which is new for UNESCO, which is not a humanitarian agency and is not designed to respond to emergency crisis situations...”</p> <p>UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova continues to claim that the destruction of cultural heritage aimed at erasing the existence of targeted groups and eliminating cultural diversity is ‘unprecedented’ and issues <a href="http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/state_secretary_kerry_and_director_general_bokova_call_for_end_to_cultural_destruction_in_iraq_and_syria/#.VqNfS1Je0kO">stirring calls</a> for such destruction to be recognised as war crimes and crimes against humanity. </p> <p>Yet such ‘cultural cleansing’ was recognised by the United Nations as a war crime and a crime against humanity as far back as 1992 and successful convictions for destruction of cultural and religious property have been made during numerous ICTY prosecutions. Even considering attacks on iconic UNESCO World Heritage sites like Palmyra, in 2004–2005 the ICTY found JNA commanders <a href="http://www.icty.org/x/cases/miodrag_jokic/cis/en/cis_jokic_en.pdf">Miodrag Jokić</a> and <a href="http://www.icty.org/x/cases/miodrag_jokic/cis/en/cis_jokic_en.pdf">Pavle Strugar</a> guilty of war crimes in relation to the 1991 shelling of Dubrovnik’s Old Town – citing its status as a World Heritage site. </p> <p>Either UNESCO has a remarkably short institutional memory or hopes to forget (and that no-one remembers) its ineffectiveness and inability to act in the face of another such ‘unprecedented’ ‘emergency situation’ just twenty years ago in post-WW2 Europe. </p> <h2><strong>Annex 8 of the Dayton Agreement</strong></h2> <p>Yet those negotiating the final settlement at Dayton <em>did</em> have that destruction in mind when it came to forging the peace in Bosnia. <a href="http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/or/dayton/52593.htm">Annex 8</a> of the <a href="http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/or/dayton/">Dayton Agreement</a> uniquely attempted to deal with the issue of the cultural property which had been so systematically attacked during the conflict by establishing a <a href="http://kons.gov.ba/index.php?lang=4">Commission to Preserve National Monuments</a>. The international organisation appointed to oversee the Commission for its first five years was UNESCO. </p> <p>For those communities which had been ethnically cleansed and hoped to return to their homes, Annex 8 soon became intimately tied up with other the annexes of the Dayton Agreement on <a href="http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/or/dayton/52589.htm">human rights</a> and <a href="http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/or/dayton/52592.htm">return of refugees</a> and became a critical factor in asserting their right to return and rebuild their religious structures and other cultural property. </p> <p>Returning communities eventually reconstructed scores of religious and other buildings across Bosnia-Herzegovina, usually without external aid and often after a protracted struggle with local authorities, many dominated by indicted war criminals. Nevertheless, more than twenty years after the end of the war a considerable number of intentionally destroyed monuments have yet to be rebuilt – among them the Aladža Mosque in Foča. </p> <h2><strong>The problems of return</strong></h2> <p>This is in part testimony to the problems of return. Thousands have never returned to the places from where they were expelled and never will. Social relations are more difficult to restore than buildings. And there is another dimension to the ethnic cleansing. Testifying at the ICTY, Colin Kaiser, a long-time observer of the destruction in Bosnia-Herzegovina for both the Council of Europe and UNESCO, <a href="http://www.icty.org/x/cases/blaskic/trans/en/980716IT.html">warned against</a> seeing the destruction of a group’s cultural heritage simply as physically removing the ‘other’ and all traces of their existence. It was, he warned, more complicated than that – ethnic cleansing also meant changing those who remained, creating a new people who did not have the memory and the experience of having lived with communities different from themselves.</p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Walasek_Bosnia%20and%20the%20Destruction%20of%20Cultural%20Heritage%20%20Twenty%20Years%20On.CUT.2016.02.11.doc#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Minarets of functioning mosques; a small number survived which were either freestanding or attached to an already ruinous structure. The exception was the village of <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/video/episode-70-baljvine-village-where-there-was-never-been-a-war-11-05-2015-1">Baljvine</a> near Mirkonjić Grad where Bosnian Serb villagers actively protected their Muslim neighbours and the mosque.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mirela-zarichinova/bosnia-and-herzegovina-twenty-years-on-from-dayton">Bosnia and Herzegovina: twenty years on from Dayton</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hikmet-karcic/justice-undone-twenty-years-since-bosnian-genocide">Justice undone: twenty years since the Bosnian genocide</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Helen Walasek Mon, 22 Feb 2016 18:20:12 +0000 Helen Walasek 99978 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fear and loaning in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Republika Srpska’s controversial referendum https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/mirela-zarichinova/fear-and-loaning-in-bosnia-and-herzegovina-republika-srpska-s- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While Europe's focus is on the Middle East and the threat of terrorism, Bosnia and Herzegovina may hold a referendum that puts the country's fragile peace at risk.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/A triptych titled Philately. The skulls wear hats traditional for the three main ethnic groups in BiH. Author - Emir Hodzic.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/A triptych titled Philately. The skulls wear hats traditional for the three main ethnic groups in BiH. Author - Emir Hodzic.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="218" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A triptych entitled "Philately"- three skulls wearing hats traditional for the main ethnic groups in BiH show just how useless the ethnonationalist fights in Bosnia are. Emir Hodzic/All rights reserved. </span></span></span></strong>“The referendum is like throwing sand into the eyes of the voters”, says Boris Mrkela while stirring his Turkish coffee in Rahatlook, one of the cosiest cafes in Baščaršija, Sarajevo. “This is Dodik’s way to make them forget about the low pensions, the lack of salaries in the public administration, the loans”, he continues. </p> <p>Mrkela is telling me how he sees the upcoming plebiscite in his native Republika Srpska (RS). While Europe’s eyes are focused on the Middle East and the threat of terrorism, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is on the brink of facing new major challenges that could possibly lead to disintegration or new conflicts. Soon, part of its citizenry will go to a referendum and be asked whether two of the state institutions should have authority over them. The actual question sounds quite long and complicated: </p> <p>"<em>Do you support the unconstitutional and illegal imposition of laws by the High Representative of the international community and in particular the imposed law on the Court and the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the implementation of their decisions in the territory of Republika Srpska</em>?"</p> <p>According to the president of RS, Milorad Dodik, the Court and Prosecutor’s Office are biased against Serbs (while others point back at the referendum question itself as raising many concerns related to impartiality). The plebiscite date is not clear yet. It was to be held in RS on 15 November 2015 but was postponed after the Bosniak delegates in the Parliament of the Serb-majority entity raised the issue before RS’ Constitutional Court. </p><p>Bosnia consists of two ethnically defined entities, RS and the Federation, with three “constituent peoples” - Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats and one autonomous district - Brčko District. The majority of Serbs live in RS, while the majority of Bosniaks and Croats are in the Federation. (For more information about the complicated constitutional set-up of the state, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/mirela-zarichinova/bosnia-and-herzegovina-twenty-years-on-from-dayton">see here</a>.)</p> <p>The judicial bodies in question are two of the few Bosnian institutions that function on a state-level, meaning that their decisions affect citizens over the whole territory of the state - RS, the Federation of BiH and Brčko District. Established in 2003, their jurisdiction includes war crimes, organised crime, corruption cases and economic crimes. As for the Office of the High Representative (OHR), it is an ad hoc international institution responsible for overseeing implementation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement. </p><p>While the referendum concerns the judicial system, analysts and foreign diplomats perceive it as a threat to the Dayton Agreement, the integrity of the country and even as a de facto referendum on declaring independence. A painful detail is that it was prepared in 2015, the year when Bosnia was expected to celebrate 20 years of peaceful coexistence. Concerns are further enforced by the fact that Dodik recently made another announcement – a plan to hold an independence referendum in 2018.</p> <p>“BiH Court and Prosecutor’s Office violate political, civil and human rights because they apply criminal laws retrospectively, extend jurisdiction on criminal matters illegally, don’t make public their decisions and discriminate in war crimes prosecution”, this is how Mario Djuragic, the head of the Regional Representation of Republika Srpska in Brussels, sees the reasons for the referendum. Asked why the referendum comes now, Djuragic corrects me and says that the right thing to ask would be why they waited for so long. </p> <h2><strong>Is Serbia at the end of Republika Srpska’s ethno-nationalist tunnel?</strong></h2> <p>A logical question is how far can this referendum go? What would be the final aim of the citizens of a Serb-majority entity inside a state in whose authority they do not believe, while bordering with the state they identify with? Isn’t it simple – RS wants to join Serbia? However, answers in BiH are never as simple as one might expect. </p> <p>“Citizens in RS are confused – there is this general belief among Serbs in Bosnia that RS will become independent eventually. The logic of their thinking is that they did not suffer so much to stay in this country”, Mrkela tells me. However, according to him, Bosniaks would never allow a scenario where BiH splits and part of it joins Serbia – for him this could mean another war. </p> <p>Filip Balunovic, a political scientist from Belgrade, has another opinion. Quite paradoxically at first look, he states that those who would not allow RS to eventually join Serbia are RS’ politicians themselves. Such a scenario would not be desirable for them as it would only mean a loss of benefits. “The continuation of ethno-nationalist struggles is the best possible outcome for Bosnian politicians, such as Dodik, because it guarantees them political power and economic influence. Status quo is the main source of their political power”, says Balunovic. </p> <p>Moreover, such a scenario does not seem to fit in Serbia’s current plans either. In the beginning of November, just a few days before the initial date chosen for the referendum, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić visited Sarajevo and met Denis Zvizdić, head of the Council of Ministers which is a state-level institution. Zvizdić himself is a Bosniak. The meeting apparently upset Milorad Dodik who commented that Serbia has chosen a wrong partner in BiH. He went even further saying that BiH does not have a state government but only entities do. </p> <p>A few days later Vučić returned to BiH and paid a visit to Srebrenica, a little town in RS where 8,000 Bosniaks were massacred in July 1995, a crime later proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as constituting genocide. Vučić’s visit came just a few months after he was attacked with stones and forced to flee from the Srebrenica 20th anniversary commemorations. During November’s visit he promised to donate €5 million in development aid to the town. </p> <p>Amid the referendum debate, Vučić seems determined to show his will to cooperate with the Bosniaks in BiH and not restrict himself only to contacts with RS officials. He was even quoted as <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34720815">saying</a> that Serbia wishes to become Bosnia's largest trading partner. However, during the war Vučić was famous for another quote: "For every killed Serb, we will kill 100 Bosniaks", one of the reasons why many in Bosnia still find it hard to believe in his sincerity.</p> <h2><strong>Deleted memories - the non-Serbs of Republika Srpska</strong></h2> <p>A second logical question, quite relevant for this referendum, is what stays behind the expression – “Serb-majority entity” or how many non-Serbs live in RS? However, this one is not answerable either: it is not clear who lives in RS and what is the ethnic composition of the entity. The last official census in BiH was carried out in October 2013. Two years later, its results are still not public due to disputes between the Federation and RS related to the methodology. The only official information is from a census conducted in 1991 and thus before the war, before ethnic cleansing and before the internal displacements of millions.</p> <p>Certainly, there are non-Serbs living in RS today. But war and the taboos surrounding it are still a factor in their every-day lives. "There is a culture of denial coming top-down, from politicians and not from ordinary citizens", Emir Hodžić, a Prijedor-born activist and artist, tells me. </p> <p>“There is a huge silence about what happened to non-Serbs during the war. As you walk around Prijedor you will find many memorials for Serbian soldiers. But there is no official recognition for the crimes that were committed against non-Serbs, no memorial for the civilian non-Serb victims, for the 102 children who were murdered, denial that women were raped, people were tortured, denial of the concentration camps, denial that 56,000 citizens were expelled from their homes”, says Hodžić. </p> <p>He is one of the people who organize the White Ribbon Day, a campaign that aims to give a voice to victims of mass atrocities, particularly in Prijedor. “People who join us don’t hate Prijedor Serbs, I certainly don’t - but I do have a problem with Prijedor authorities”, Hodžić states. </p> <h2><strong>The West and the East react</strong></h2> <p>EU representatives, diplomats from US, Britain, France, Italy and Germany, Valentin Inzko, the High Representative, criticized Dodik’s move claiming that the referendum would undermine the road to European integration of BiH, that it is an immediate challenge to the Dayton Peace Agreement. Meanwhile, Petr Ivantsov, Russian Ambassador to Bosnia officially supported the plebiscite and argued that the international community is trying to interfere in RS’ internal matters. </p> <p>“We firmly regret that US and other countries oppose the referendum”, Mario Djuragic told me. In his opinion the referendum comes “in order to uphold the centralised structure created by unlawful actions of the High Representative”. He further claimed that the plebiscite is the only meaningful mechanism for citizens to express their views on the OHR. </p> <h2><strong>Economic decline and mysterious loans</strong></h2> <p>Many of those interviewed in Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Prijedor directly pointed at the economic situation as the real reasons for the referendum. “We are increasingly indebted, corruption and bribery is not an exception – it’s the rule, and we are effectively in the hands of an army of party-line employed people: the ruling party’s most loyal and eager voters”, this is how Dražana Lepir sees the situation in RS outside any ethnic sentiments. Lepir is the president of Ostra Nula (meaning “Sharp Zero” in Bosnian), a citizens’ association based in Banja Luka. </p> <p>Boris Mrkela goes further mentioning the loans taken by Milorad Dodik from private funds. In October 2015 RS agreed on a <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/15/bosnia-budget-loan-idUSL8N12F49S20151015#cBpvkrdaJDBCfHKO.97">$300 million loan</a> with Global Bancorp Commodities and Investments Inc. (GBCI). GBCI is a US based investment fund formed in Florida with its corporate headquarters in California. At least this is information one can find on financial portals - the company itself has neither a website nor a LinkedIn profile. No surprise that the most common definition given to it is “mysterious”. The name of the president is Alexander Vasilev, a Slavic name, most probably Bulgarian, which leads to speculations in the Balkan media that the money might be related to Russian capital.</p> <p>The loan is supposed to cover RS’ budget deficit in 2015 and 2016 and ensure the payments of salaries, pensions and other bills. Dodik was criticised heavily by the opposition because it was not approved by the Parliament in RS. In Mrkela’s view, the loan is one of the reasons behind the referendum – the public’s attention must be distracted and ethno-nationalist sentiments are what politicians can always rely on, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. </p> <p>Meanwhile, on 18 November, RS’ opposition accused Dodik of having acquired €750,000 from a private bank. The accusations coincided with a raid by Bosnian security forces on the premises of the bank in question. They entered the bank under <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/sipa-raids-banks-in-bijeljina-connected-to-rs-president-milorad-dodik-11-18-2015">a mandate</a> given by the Prosecution of BiH, the same institution that would be the object of the controversial referendum.</p> <h2><strong>Frankenstate</strong></h2> <p>“Dodik is a populist, he is threatening a secession, he is threatening referendums, he is trying to put himself in a position of absolute power”, Hodžić explains to me. Although, the artist believes that many in RS do realise that this is Dodik’s way to sidetrack the fact that he is losing power and trying to prevent talk over “real life stuff”, still he finds this kind of talk very dangerous – it polarises people and empowers extremists. </p><p>Hodžić tells me a story from a week ago when a young Bosniak woman was being buried in Prijedor. A group of young boys came shouting “Turks”, while one of them took his clothes off - clearly trying to disturb the burial. According to Hodžić, although the majority of Prijedor citizens do want to simply go on with their lives, these kind of attacks on returnees and non-Serbs are happening increasingly. Talk of the referendum gives wings to such ultranationalists.</p> <p>Originally from Banja Luka, the capital of RS, Mrkela is a striking exception of the general rule. He lives and works in Sarajevo as a translator and journalist. “Every time I tell someone in RS that I live in Sarajevo, the first question that pops up is “Which part of Sarajevo?”, people always presuppose that I would live in the Serbian part of the city… but I don’t”, he tells me. He speaks slowly and squints his eyes against the low autumn sun. I wonder if in fact it is the sun, or whether it is the subject matter of our talk that makes his eyes look sad. “Until everyone comes to terms with the fact that their groups did some pretty bad things during the war, there is little hope for that country”, Mrkela says while we are waiting for the bill. He then continues as if talking to himself: “It’s a Frankenstate, Bosnia is a Frankenstate. That’s it…”</p><p><em>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking <em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em> on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a> and following us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/adis-merdzanovic/bosnia-and-herzegovina-in-peril-once-again">Bosnia and Herzegovina in peril once again</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mirela-zarichinova/bosnia-and-herzegovina-twenty-years-on-from-dayton">Bosnia and Herzegovina: twenty years on from Dayton</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Mirela Zarichinova Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:31:19 +0000 Mirela Zarichinova 97921 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bosnia and Herzegovina: twenty years on from Dayton https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/mirela-zarichinova/bosnia-and-herzegovina-twenty-years-on-from-dayton <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Bosnia and Herzegovina is a paralysed state. Can a way out be found by leaving behind the Dayton Peace Accord?</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/IMG_20141109_154232.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/IMG_20141109_154232.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="261" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sarajevo. Mirela Zarichinova/ All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The conference centre, now named “Richard Holbrooke”, seems deserted. We walk along its empty hallways but see no sign of human existence. The only evidence that something of historical significance once happened here are five huge photos hung in the lobby. They depict men in suits gathered around a map, men in suits on red carpet, men in suits giving interviews to a bunch of reporters. Under these photos lies a pile of wedding brochures.</span></p> <p>We continue. As we walk deeper into the building, we hear voices in the middle of a dark corridor. A woman and a man, looking no more than 25, are folding napkins and seem confused to see visitors. “A peace agreement? I’ve heard something happened here but to be honest never paid too much attention”, explains the woman who is fast to clarify that she started working here 2 years ago and that the other employees are even more recent. </p> <p>Nevertheless, she knows where the meetings took place. We follow her back to the corridor where she opens one unusually thick door with a special lock. As I enter the small, messy room, which is full of chairs, three tables and some rubber tree plants, I imagine the faces of Slobodan Milošević, Alija Izetbegović and Franjo Tuđman who were here in the autumn of 1995. I imagine them angry, scared and suffocated by the lack of space, I am curious as to what they said to each other in these rooms, around these dark corridors.</p> <p>We are somewhere near Dayton, Ohio, in the conference centre inside Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. </p> <p>20 years ago the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement, was negotiated here. It put an end to the Bosnian War. The talks that took place in this small room shaped the future of a region and particularly that of one country. These talks stopped the most violent conflict in Europe after WWII but also institutionalised segregation to an unbelievable level. </p> <p>“If I were you, I’d go to Cincinnati, there is nothing interesting in Dayton”, says the waitress at the only visible restaurant in the downtown area of the city. We asked her for some tourist landmarks from the negotiations as an excuse to check if anyone here knows about the agreement. No, no mark from the crucial talks seemed to have remained in Dayton, neither for the tourists, nor in the minds of its citizens; the woman at the hotel near the conference centre,;the volunteer at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force; the guard in front of the city court.</p> <p>Funny how on the other part of the world, in the beautiful mountainous Balkan country of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), “Dayton” is one of the most frequently used words. It pops up whenever a local tries to explain what is not functioning well in their country. Unfortunately this applies to almost everything. 20 years after the whole world looked towards the little American town of Dayton, today’s Bosnia is more and more often considered a failed state.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/2_0.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/2_0.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="245" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Inside the conference centre at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Mirela Zarichinova/ All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><h2><span>Bosnia before the war</span></h2><p><span>Before the war, the three main ethnic groups in Bosnia – the Muslim Bosniaks, the Christian Orthodox Serbs and the Catholic Croats - were highly mixed within the Socialist Republic of BiH, one of the six federal units of Yugoslavia. The leader, Josip Broz Tito, managed to suppress conflicting ethnic identities and encourage a Yugoslav one which, at the time, played the key political role. After his death in 1980, however, with the deterioration of the political and economic situation in Yugoslavia, ethnic identities became a source of nationalist sentiments which turned into tensions, gradually resulting in the ethnically-rooted war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.</span></p> <p>The war was a political one, however “the existing religions played an important role in defining the national histories of the three groups in tragic terms. All the respective religions in the area perceived themselves as frontier religions and were inclined to act and react as such”, writes the Croatian sociologist Srđan Vrcan. </p> <p>By 1995 the conflict had lasted for almost 4 years. The capital, Sarajevo, was suffering the longest siege in modern history. Mass rapes, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide were all taking place. Approximately 100,000 people were killed and more than half of the population (2.2 million) was displaced, making this war the most devastating conflict in Europe since World War II.</p> <h2>A never ending conflict</h2> <p>It seemed to last forever and, even worse, no hope for successful resolution was seen on the horizon. The truly multicultural environment,t which had been a source of Bosnian pride during Yugoslavian times, was now &nbsp;reason for their agony. People were so mixed, they were practically fighting with their neighbors. There was no political will from within the country to end the conflict and all peace talks had failed. After enormous pressure from the international community the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia and then-Yugoslavia finally agreed to meet in a neutral zone. Thi would be Dayton. </p> <p>A vast, radiant land, sparsely populated and surrounded by rivers where no person could be seen outside of a car: this is how the area around the military base in Dayton looks in the late summer of 2015, I doubt that much has changed since 1995. This is definitely a location to keep the minds and bodies of the harsh men away from any distraction. What followed this very unusual decision-making process was the creation of perhaps the world's most complicated governing system.</p> <p>The conference was chaired by chief US peace negotiator Richard Holbrooke and co-chaired by Russian and EU representatives. Not only did the sole agreement for a cease-fire have to be reached here, but also all the specifics of how the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina would function had to be agreed. Furthermore, &nbsp;the lives of the warring ethnic groups who had been fighting for years and were now expected go back to normal had to be reorganised. There, in Dayton, the three leaders had talk to each other without using the media as a propaganda tool and, above all, without running away.</p> <h2>Bosnia after Dayton</h2> <p>The Constitution of BiH came as an Annex to the Peace Agreement. In an attempt to create inter-ethnic balance in Bosnia’s political affairs, the participants in the conference set up a very uncommon federal state structure and divided the country into two main entities. One is Republika Srpska with a Serb majority and the second is Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Federation) with a Bosniak and Croat majority. </p><p>Republika Srpska is highly centralised and unitary in character, while the Federation consists of ten cantons, each having their own cantonal government and parliament with broad constitutional powers and discrepancies in the areas of culture, healthcare and education. Even more complicated is the Brčko District: a neutral, self-governing administrative unit, established in 2000 after an arbitration process undertaken by the Office of the High Representative. The special status of Brčko came as a result of its geostrategic importance, now forming a corridor between the two sections of Republika Srpska.</p> <p>If we cite the former High Representative to Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, Dayton was “a superb agreement to end a war but a very bad agreement to make a state”. The agreement and the system of governing that it brought did indeed stop the bloodshed but the price was, still is, and will probably continue to be fierce institutional division between Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. </p> <h2>Two schools, one roof</h2> <p>One of the most painful paradoxes of post-Dayton Bosnia is the so-called "Two schools under one roof” system, which operates in a number of schools in the Federation, particularly in municipalities with mixed Bosniak/Croat population. There the pupils attend classes in the same building while being physically separated. They use different classrooms and sometimes enter the building through different entrances. Schools have two sets of administration. The teachers follow different national programmes and teach in the national language of one of the two groups – either Bosnian or Croatian - two languages so close to each other that it is almost impossible for a foreigner to make a distinction).</p> <h2><strong>The legal system</strong></h2> <p>There are four court systems in the country: one on state level, one each in the two entities and the separate court system of Brčko District. Each of the two entities has its own Constitutional and Supreme courts. The same complexity applies to the legal acts in the country which results in huge legal discrepancies and makes the system too confusing even for experts working inside of it.</p> <h2><strong>The “Others”</strong></h2> <p>The Dayton Constitution makes a distinction between two categories of citizens: the so-called “Constituent Peoples” (Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs) and the “Others”. Bosnia is ruled by a collective Presidency of three members, composed of a Bosniak and a Croat from the Federation and a Serb from Republika Srpska. The chairmanship rotates every eight months. The same goes for the House of Peoples, which consists of five Bosniaks and five Croats from the Federation and five Serbs from Republika Srpska. This means that Jews, Roma, other national minorities, people who come from mixed marriages or just refuse to declare affiliation with one of the three ethnic groups cannot run as candidates for the two highest state organs, as well as for many other public posts. </p> <p>In Bosnia, collective rights are much better protected than the individual ones. A person does not exist as an individual and cannot rely on the system if he or she is not a member of one of the three ethnic groups, says Dennis Gratz, the former chairman of Naša Stranka (a political party which is multi-ethnic and a striking exception of the general rule). A person is not provided social benefits or any assistance from the state outside their entity or even canton, adds Gratz. </p><p>Mirsada, a 27-year-old woman from Tuzla, illustrates the problem: “My health insurance is not valid in Sarajevo. So, after I came here to live, I had to choose between traveling to Tuzla every time I have a problem or to pay for insurance. I could not afford both and basically every time I get sick I try to take care of it myself”. </p> <h2><strong>Could Dayton be changed?</strong></h2> <p>Clearly, such discrimination is unacceptable for a modern state, especially one that has expressed plans to join the EU. “Changing of the Constitution is a very delicate matter, mainly because the authorities of Republika Srpska see it as the guarantee for the existence of the entity,” says Nataša Kovačev, a Serbian journalist based in Sarajevo. She does not see the possibility of it happening soon as feasible. There are arguments supporting her opinion. </p> <p>In the famous “Sejdić and Finci” case, two Bosnian citizens of Roma and of Jewish origin, challenged the Dayton Constitution at the hightest European level - the European Court of Human Rights. In 2009 the Court confirmed that the two were discriminated against and ascertained that BiH had to change its Constitution in a way that the “Others” could also run for high political posts. This was a crucial decision because its implementation would mean a complete change of the Constitutional order in the country. </p><p>Essentially, it is not so much about Romani and Jewish people but about destructing the vicious model of segregation in all aspects of Bosnian political life through including the “Others” and thus decreasing the importance of ethnic belonging. The decision was never implemented.</p> <p>Due to the incredible educational, legal and political complexities not only is the system hard to understand but it is slow, inefficient and, most of all, corrupt. “If something is flourishing in Bosnia today, this is corruption and clientelism”, says Lana, a student of political science in Sarajevo. For many the current system means property qualification and obstruction of their right to free movement. </p><p>Locals criticise the government for being more interested in their property gains than in any social problem. Most striking, however, is the social contrast - the salaries of Bosnian MPs are more than six times higher than the average one in the country, making them the best paid in Europe. This provokes strong social discontent. For example, one of the most viral pictures of Pope Francis’ visit to the Bosnian capital in June was the one comparing the modest car he was using to the super-luxurious ones of the government officials welcoming him. </p> <p>While Bosnia sleeps, in Dayton the weather is incredibly hot, the air is not moving, the wide sidewalks are empty and there is no one around. Dayton looks sad and lonely today, only cars and a few trolley buses pass us by. These trolleys are just as empty as the streets and look quite unusual for an American town. They make me remember the overcrowded trolleys passing from the remote Dobrinje neighbourhood to the centre of Sarajevo. Last winter sometimes city transport would stop in the capital of Bosnia because of unpaid bills and people would have to walk home.</p> <h2><strong>The Presidency is set alight</strong></h2> <p>The trolleys in Sarajevo also had to stop in early 2014 when people’s despair and anger exploded into fierce protests and thousands demanded immediate changes in the social politics of Bosnia and the country’s main cities again witnessed violent scenes. Demonstrators in Sarajevo, Tuzla and other big towns attacked buildings, threw eggs and stones, broke windows and even set fire to a section of the Presidency building. In Bosnia one in five people lives below the poverty line and youth unemployment is almost 60%. </p><p>Lana directly points out at the Dayton Agreement as the true roots of this social unrest, saying that “This system has made impossible any economic progress, our country is in fact a neocolonial state. It is here not to help the citizens but only to serve the interests of the Westerners and of our corrupted politicians”. Despite being an active participant in the protests, she does not believe they changed anything.</p> <p>According to <span>Federico Sicurella</span>, screenwriter of the documentary "Sarajevolution" and an academic researcher focused on the Balkans, the majority of the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina have implicitly ratified the status quo by keeping the political parties that have most profited from the system's numerous faults and loopholes in power. He points to the blogger Jessie Hronesova who convincingly argues that this electoral behaviour is in fact highly rational and pragmatic. Jobs and the entire civil service are attached to party allegiance, which means that voting for a non-established party could significantly undermine one's chance to get or maintain a job. </p><p>T<span>he way out of this vicious circle would be to create new economic opportunities, to make the people less dependent on the state structure and therefore more inclined to challenge the establishment. This, however, is not in the interest of the established political parties.</span></p> <p>“Twenty years on from the end of the war, Bosnia is yet to come to terms with its past. There is a strong argument that advancement towards the EU would provide firmer foundations for the process of reconciliation”, says a Western diplomat in the Balkans who asked that his identity not be disclosed due to the nature of his work. In his view, whilst the prospect of EU membership remains distant, the incentives for reform will also remain weak.</p> <h2>Parallel actors </h2> <p>Lana is not the only one in her opinion against foreign intrusion. On the streets of Sarajevo you hear a lot of EU skepticism and a general negative attitude towards any foreign interference – American and western European NGOs, charity organisations from the Gulf countries and so on. In the presence of an almost non-existing state, therefore, it is no surprise that parallel actors take over the empty space. </p><p>For example, Sarajevo previously lacked a convenient public library, one was was recently opened with the money provided by the state of Qatar. It combines all the necessary features of a good library – it is clean, spacious, silent, air-conditioned but comes with certain demands. For example, women are not allowed to wear pants and skirts above the knees or to show their shoulders. As long as this is the only option to study in a calm environment, then women follow these rules. </p> <p>Ever since the war there has been the concern that Islamist militant groups will use Bosnia to spread Islamist ideas and recruit fighters – a concern that is recently gaining traction with the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Kovačev gives the example of Zvornik where a man attacked a police station shouting “Allahu Akbar” in April this year, one policeman was killed and two more were wounded. In her opinion, however, media sensationalism plays a great role around this topic due to the current situation in the Middle East. </p><p>The journalist believes that the actual threat is the damage such sensational reporting could bring to smaller mixed communities. It risks raisng tensions between different ethnic and religious groups which have already suffered a lot and are only now slowly rebuilding trust and cooperation.<span>This threat of new interethnic tensions is what keeps the country inside its paradoxical state and paralyses any attempt for radical change and it is a card played by all actors involved.</span></p> <p>As for Dayton, it seems too hot, unfriendly and lifeless. The waitress is maybe right – there is nothing interesting here. So, we decide to spend the night somewhere else. As we try to find our way out of it, we see a huge sign on the road: “Dayton. Exit only.” </p> <p>It’s not just us trying to find a better place to stay. Bosnia’s way out of its dead end is clearly through leaving the Dayton system behind. Whether it is too soon or too late for the little Balkan country to start an independent life is something we don’t yet know.</p><p><em>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking <em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em> on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a> and following us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/adis-merdzanovic/bosnia-and-herzegovina-in-peril-once-again">Bosnia and Herzegovina in peril once again</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/carole-hodge/between-russia-and-west">Between Russia and the west</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Mirela Zarichinova Mon, 05 Oct 2015 08:55:52 +0000 Mirela Zarichinova 96556 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bosnia and Herzegovina in peril once again https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/adis-merdzanovic/bosnia-and-herzegovina-in-peril-once-again <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal;">The upcoming referendum in Republika Srpska has the potential to disrupt Bosnia and Herzegovina's entire state structure. Where to turn next?</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/Milorad_Dodik_mod.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/Milorad_Dodik_mod.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="394" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Milorad Dodik president of Republika Srpska. Wikimedia. Public domain.</span></span></span><span>Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) once again finds itself in a perilous situation, as a referendum in Republika Srpska (RS),&nbsp;the smaller of two&nbsp;administrative units&nbsp;in&nbsp;</span><a title="Bosnia and Herzegovina" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnia_and_Herzegovina">t</a><span>hat country,&nbsp;has the potential to disrupt its entire state structure.&nbsp;</span><span>Called by RS president Milorad Dodik, the referendum </span><a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnian-serbs-to-hold-referendum-over-state-judiciary">seeks</a><span> to negate the authority of the state court of BiH, the prosecutor’s office and the Office of the High Representative (OHR), currently led by Valentin Inzko, in Bosnia’s smaller entity.</span></p> <p>Established as part of the <a href="http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/icty/dayton/daytonsum.html">Dayton Peace Accords</a> that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, the OHR’s task was to implement the civilian aspects of the internationally brokered peace agreement. The head of this institution is elected by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), which oversees the general international strategy in Bosnia, while a Steering Board supervises the OHR’s actions and offers advice on a day-to-day basis. </p> <p>The institution’s main task was to help and coordinate the establishment of a new state structure, also agreed upon as part of Dayton. The latter created a rather weak central state and gave many administrative competencies to two sub-state units called entities:&nbsp;the RS, nowadays mostly inhabited by Bosnian Serbs, and the Federation of BiH, where today Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats form the majority. Both entities have their own governments, parliaments, and courts.&nbsp;</p> <p>Faced with serious resistance to the implementation of the Dayton agreement in 1997, the international community awarded the OHR special intervention prerogatives. Through the so-called Bonn powers, the institution could henceforth directly impose or nullify laws if deemed necessary as well as remove from office public officials if they violate the peace agreement.&nbsp;<span>This instrument has been used regularly in the past in order to strengthen the central state and make the complex political system work––and it has been regularly&nbsp;criticised, in recent years most vehemently by the Bosnian Serbs.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The referendum has to be seen as part of this discussion, even though it is by no means limited to it.&nbsp;While Milorad Dodik justified the referendum with the high costs and an alleged anti-Serb orientation of the state court and prosecutor, others have suggested different motives, for example&nbsp;<a href="http://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Regions-and-countries/Bosnia-Herzegovina/Bosnia-and-Herzegovina-The-Bobar-Banka-case-163488?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter">fear of prosecution</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnian-serbs-start-election-campaign-early-09-24-2015">early campaigning</a>&nbsp;or simple political theatre.&nbsp;According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://sarajevo.usembassy.gov/press_20150715.html">US Embassy</a>, the referendum ‘poses [a threat] to the security, stability, and prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina’ and constitutes ‘a violation of the Dayton Peace Accords’.</p> <p>While Dodik justified the referendum with the judicial institution’s high costs and an alleged anti-Serb orientation, others have suggested different motives, for example <a href="http://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Regions-and-countries/Bosnia-Herzegovina/Bosnia-and-Herzegovina-The-Bobar-Banka-case-163488?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter">fear of prosecution</a>, <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnian-serbs-start-election-campaign-early-09-24-2015">early campaigning</a> or simple political theatre.<span>According to the </span><a href="http://sarajevo.usembassy.gov/press_20150715.html">US Embassy</a><span>, the referendum ‘poses [a threat] to the security, stability, and prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina’ and constitutes ‘a violation of the Dayton Peace Accords’.</span></p> <p>RS authorities present the issue as a legitimate debate about the state judiciary that may even <a href="https://euobserver.com/opinion/129929">spur reforms</a> and thus see no legal problems in holding the referendum. On the other hand representatives of the international community––the <a href="http://www.ohr.int/pic/default.asp?content_id=49157">Steering Board</a> of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), a body composed of ambassadors representing the world’s powers, and the <a href="http://www.ohr.int/ohr-dept/presso/pressr/default.asp?content_id=49159">High Representative</a> (HR) himself––claim that neither entity has the right to vote on issues that lie outside of its competence.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the state court and prosecutor are central state institutions, their fate has to be decided on central state level.&nbsp;We are thus confronted with a legally dubious act not only violating the Dayton Peace Accord but also threatening the stability of the state.</p> <p>Given these circumstances, why does the international community not simply declare the referendum law void, using the OHR’s so-called Bonn powers? After all, the Bonn powers are precisely the tool to prevent, or correct, such violations of the peace agreement and secure the stability of the state by imposing decisions</p> <p>There are two separate, but complementary explanations for the internationals community’s decision not to intervene in this way. The first one is tactical, as the referendum is still not set in stone. Even after the decision of the RS constitutional court to <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosniak-veto-against-state-judiciary-referendum-rejected-09-09-2015">reject</a> a Bosniak veto, the state constitutional <a href="http://www.suedosteuropa.uni-graz.at/biepag/node/166">court</a> could still intervene and ultimately decide whether or not there will be an actual vote. As we have seen, there are legal reasons to declare the law invalid, which is what the internationals might hope for.</p> <p>Additionally, Dodik has signalled a readiness to <a href="http://www.nezavisne.com/novosti/bih/Ako-ne-stigne-kredibilan-prijedlog-bice-referendum/321429">negotiate within the so-called structural dialogue</a>, initiated by the EU in 2011. Back then, the RS president called off a referendum on the same issue after a visit of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. Even though, <a href="https://euobserver.com/opinion/129860">as has been rightly argued</a>, accommodating Dodik in whatever form is hardly a wise strategy, the international community probably hopes for the referendum to be called off once again, in full or in part. <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/serb-referendum-threat-again-looms-over-bosnia-09-10-2015">Reportedly</a>, intense behind-the-door negotiations are currently taking place to achieve precisely this goal.</p> <p>The second reason for not using the Bonn powers is far more important than the first: as a tool for resolving political issues, the Bonn powers have been dead for quite some time.</p> <p>From a practical point of view, given the high dissonance of opinions among the PIC Steering Board members, the HR simply cannot apply them. Roughly since Kosovo declared its independence, Russian opposition to the Bonn powers has increased, especially if directed against the Bosnian Serbs. </p> <p>Russia started introducing asterisks on Steering Board communiqués indicating that it cannot fully support the respective statements. The current one, criticising RS’s action, bears such an asterisk as well. Russia has even publically <a href="http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region.php?yyyy=2015&amp;mm=07&amp;dd=16&amp;nav_id=94786">supported</a> the referendum plans, deeming them a matter of internal Bosnian politics. Without international consensus, the Bonn powers cannot be used.</p> <p>Furthermore, even if applied, the Bonn power decision would probably fail to be implemented. The OHR has become increasingly aware of the fact that there simply is no mechanism to actually implement a Bonn power decision if domestic forces refuse to accept it. This was especially clear post-2007, when RS authorities vehemently opposed an imposition by then-High Representative Miroslav Lajčák leading to resignations and public protests. Despite its legal authority, the OHR lacks the respective political and economic resources.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>It thus seems unlikely that the HR will step in and eventually stop the referendum plans. Even if Valentin Inzko decides to use his intervention prerogative, it would probably be as the last resort and only after all other options have been exhausted. It may indeed come to this, however, if Dodik choses to ignore an eventual decision by the Constitutional Court. </p> <p>It is presently unclear what the repercussions of such a Bonn power imposition would be; at that moment, the dynamics might be too strong to stop, which makes this strategy rather risky. We may all end up in a game of chicken, where nobody can truly win.</p> <p>If the Bonn powers were an effective tool, the OHR could end the referendum right now, saving valuable time and directing political efforts towards more important issues, like the reform agenda. Instead, we find ourselves engaged in senseless discussions. </p> <p>It might be that precisely because the Bonn powers still––at least in theory––exist as a potential way out, no stronger action has been taken against the brinkmanship of Bosnia’s smaller entity, now effectively resulting in a referendum on whether a sub-state entity is ready to accept the authority of the state. Despite their non-usage, the Bonn powers thus still seem to affect international decision-making and the political process, which is highly problematic.&nbsp;</p> <p>The internationals, led by the European Union, are well advised to act as if the Bonn powers were not there. There needs to be a coherent and clear voice against the observed actions. Obviously, verbal condemnations are not enough and stronger means of sanctioning need to be employed. The unequivocal statement that the referendum constitutes a violation of Dayton needs to translate into EU’s actions against those initiating it.&nbsp;</p> <p>The EU has been slowly but surely losing its credibility in Bosnia. This is the best opportunity to restore at least part of its feeble reputation and put an end to this spiral of brinkmanship.</p><p><em>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking <em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em> on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a> and following us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hamza-kar%C4%8Di%C4%87-e%C5%A1ref-kenan-ra%C5%A1idagi%C4%87/balkans-is-not-on-brink">The Balkans is not on the brink</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hikmet-karcic/justice-undone-twenty-years-since-bosnian-genocide">Justice undone: twenty years since the Bosnian genocide</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/carole-hodge/between-russia-and-west">Between Russia and the west</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Adis Merdzanovic Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:55:17 +0000 Adis Merdzanovic 96460 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Between Russia and the west https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/carole-hodge/between-russia-and-west <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Dysfunctionality in Serbia and Bosnia reflects the larger economic conflict between Russia and the west.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/More victims of the Srebenica massacre are named in 2010. Michael Oibar:Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/More victims of the Srebenica massacre are named in 2010. Michael Oibar:Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>More victims of the Srebrenica massacre named in 2010. Michael Oibar/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>Bosnia and Herzegovina has become a new conflict zone between Russia and the west, </span><a href="http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2776810">according to</a><span> </span><em>Kommersant</em><span>, a leading Russian business daily. This assessment follows a series of developments&nbsp; which, separately taken, might have rung few alarm bells. Yet, in combination, and backed by an intensive propaganda campaign from Belgrade and Banja Luka, they risk shattering the fragile peace which has held Bosnia together for the last two decades.</span></p><p><span>The current tensions first arose when Russia, at Serbia's request, vetoed a UK draft Security Council resolution marking the Srebrenica genocide. Since genocide had already been established in two international courts, the veto in itself had little significance beyond causing extra friction between the Bosnian Federation and Serbia. But Security Council resolutions are rarely vetoed, and Russia’s stance in this case may intimate a wider agenda in the region.</span></p><p> The next event occurred at the twentieth anniversary commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide at Potocari, when the Serbian prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, was targeted with stones, shoes and bottles. There were no injuries of any note, and the incident involved only a handful of the 50,000 or so attending the commemoration, but Vucic grasped the opportunity to respond in what the Serbian media termed ‘statesmanlike’ fashion. ‘Victim of the hour‘, Vucic indicated that he was ready to draw a line under the episode and reach out a hand of reconciliation, while at the same time branding his assailants as fools and hooligans, and blaming the Bosnian authorities for poor security arrangements.</p><h2>Ties with Russia</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/Milorad Dodik 2012. servis DS:Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/Milorad Dodik 2012. servis DS:Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Milorad Dodik 2012. servis DS/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>Days after the Srebrenica commemoration, an article </span><a href="http://www.nezavisne.com/novosti/bih/CITAJTE-U-NEZAVISNIM-Srbija-dobija-priliku-da-postane-lider-u-regionu/316269">appeared in</a><span> </span><em>Nezavisne Novine</em><span>, a leading Republika Srpska daily, announcing that Serbia, no longer weak, was now poised to become leader in the region, and even a mediator on the international stage, at a time of increasing dissension between the western powers and Russia. Vucic, spearheading Serbia's 'new' foreign policy, describes it as working towards EU integration (essential for Serbia’s economic recovery), while maintaining traditional friendship ties with Russia.</span></p> <p>Meanwhile, a referendum in Republika Srpska, an initiative launched by RS President Milorad Dodik in July, is now <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnian-serbs-set-date-for-disputed-referendum-09-25-2015">set to take place</a> on 15 November. This would amount to a <em>de facto</em> exit from the Bosnian justice system, a move vigorously opposed by European and US leaders as a prelude to the possible disintegration of Bosnia, and regional destabilisation. The initiative was supported by Russia, however, presumably for the same reason, and to extend its influence in the region. Russia’s support prompted Dodik to approach heads of state and diplomats throughout the region and internationally in a lengthy letter, justifying his intention. It is not the first time Dodik has threatened a referendum, but what has changed is the new energy with which he is pursuing his goals. </p> <p>Dodik, of course, cannot get very far without Serbia’s backing and, in particular, that of its most powerful politician, Aleksandar Vucic. Vucic has consistently declared Serbia’s support for RS, while making serious overtures to European leaders in recent weeks, and, at the same time, crafting a new image of himself, bordering on a personality cult. On the surface, Vucic appears conciliatory towards Bosnia, even to the point of inviting the Bosnian presidents to Belgrade in a highly-publicised visit to demonstrate the superiority of Serbia's security arrangements. The fact that he skipped protocol by issuing the invitations himself, rather than through Tomislav Nikolic, the Serbian president, is telling, but not the first instance of Vucic attempting to outshine his president.&nbsp;</p><h2>Conversion or ploy?</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/Aleksander Vucic in March 2013. F&amp;C Office:Flickr. Some rights reserved..png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/Aleksander Vucic in March 2013. F&amp;C Office:Flickr. Some rights reserved..png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="330" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Aleksandar Vucic in March 2013. F&C Office/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>So has Vucic undergone a Damascene conversion? Or is it all just a cynical ploy to gain support and confidence within and beyond the frontiers of Serbia, whilst continuing to pursue the old ‘Greater Serbia’ policy tactically, through words rather than weapons? Whatever the case, it seems to be working in Serbia, where his personal rating has soared since the Srebrenica episode. This may, of course, not be entirely unconnected to the increasing control of the media by Vucic and his close associates – one of several concerns about the deteriorating situation in Serbia </span><a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/congressmen-warns-us-about-condition-in-serbia-09-15-2015">raised by US Congress members</a><span> in a letter to Vice-President Joseph Biden on the eve of Vucic's recent visit to Washington.</span></p> <p>Until quite recently, Vucic was little known outside Serbia, other than for his infamous remark <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv=UGqv9CJbd3U">recorded on video</a> just three weeks before the Srebrenica genocide, when he pledged before the Serbian Assembly that for every Serb killed, one hundred Muslims would die. During the Bosnian war, Vucic was spokesperson for Vojislav Seselj’s Radical Party (of which Nikolic was also a leading member), known for its brutal campaigns aimed at creating a 'Greater Serbia', involving the conquest of large chunks of Bosnia and Croatia through murder and the mass expulsion of civilians. </p> <p>Vucic hastens to stress that his position has now changed. He even admits that 'some' Serbs were responsible for the Srebrenica massacres. He is not prepared, however, to acknowledge his own role, or that of Serbia, in the Bosnian war. Nor does he concede that the Srebrenica massacres constituted genocide. This casual dismissal of international judgments in itself casts doubt on Vucic's credentials as a stabilising force in the region, let alone an international interlocutor. </p> <p>At times, Vucic appears to talk with a forked tongue. He likes to present himself as a modern democratic leader, yet opines that Serbia should return to the policies of Milos Obrenovic. Does he mean the autocratic nineteenth-century leader who ruled with a rod of steel, refusing to share power, and became one of the richest men in poverty-stricken Serbia? Vucic offers a hand of friendship to Bosnia (and to the Bosniak Presidency member, Bakir Izetbegovic, in particular) whilst at the same time peddling the myth through the government-controlled media that the attack at Potocari was an organised assassination attempt, and that the security group responsible for the failure to protect him is directly linked to Izetbegovic. Given the lax security, if the intent had been to kill, more effective weaponry than stones would surely have been used. More serious still is the depiction of Bosnia as a <a href="http://www.glassrpske.com/novosti/vijesti_dana/Dzihadisti-stigli-na-Balkan-Bosno-i-Hercegovino-eto-mudzahedina/188467.html">hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism</a>, and a base for ISIS, an allegation likely to gain traction in European capitals already traumatised by the spread of ISIS in Europe, even though Bosnia is no more a centre of extremist Islamic activity than other European states.</p> <p>Vucic also did not see fit to withdraw the two international arrest warrants issued by Serbia for Naser Oric and Ramush Haradinaj, which led to their arrests in Switzerland and Slovenia, respectively (mirroring the failed extradition warrants against Ejup Ganic and Jovan Divjak in 2010 and 2011). Both Oric and Haradinaj had been acquitted of all charges at the International Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, and Oric’s arrest did little to improve Belgrade’s relations with Sarajevo, whilst Haradinaj's detention led to tensions between Slovenia and Kosovo. Serbia's ongoing vigorous opposition to Kosovo joining UNESCO has merely exacerbated tensions between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians, belying Vucic’s allegedly flexible approach to Kosovo independence. In short, beyond the rhetoric, there appears little of substance to Vucic’s claim to support stabilisation in the region.&nbsp;</p><h2>Improving relations</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/Aleksandar Vucic listens. Ash Carter:Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/Aleksandar Vucic listens. Ash Carter:Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="283" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Aleksandar Vucic listens. Ash Carter/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>If, despite appearances, Vucic is serious about wanting to improve relations with Sarajevo, he would be advised to start by publicly recognising that genocide took place in Srebrenica, and by declaring Sarajevo as Belgrade’s interlocutor, and not Banja Luka as at present. He would also need to acknowledge Serbia’s responsibility in the Bosnian war, not least as a step towards assisting his own people to come to terms with established historical facts in relation to the 1990s wars orchestrated from Belgrade, at which point they may see the irony in their media giving precedence to a skirmish over the genocide of 8,000 men and boys.</span></p><p> All this would, of course, amount to a sea change, which is unlikely in the foreseeable future.&nbsp;</p><h2>Bosnian dysfunctionality</h2><p>Meanwhile, Russia has been gradually moving towards closer alignment in the Balkans, to diminish the influence of the European Union. Natural gas supplies, infrastructure projects and various investments over recent years have reinforced Russia’s traditional links with Serbia, Montenegro and RS. Serbia is an important Russian ally and will be even more so if it secures EU membership. Bosnia, on the other hand, will serve Russia’s purpose better if unstable, an aspiration shared by Dodik whose power would be severely curtailed in a Bosnia integrated into the EU. Dodik, consequently, has been nurturing close ties with the Russian leadership, supporting Crimea’s referendum on joining Russia, while Russia will use its relationship with RS to foment instability in Bosnia, and thereby be better placed to compete with European powers for influence in the wider arena.</p> <p>A certain degree of complacency over the Balkans has developed in the west in recent years. There are no easy options. Serbia, under the premiership of the increasingly powerful Aleksandar Vucic, is still deeply engulfed in revisionism and denial over the 1990s wars, as recent events demonstrate, and, if admitted into the EU in its current political configuration, would be likely to play a divisive role in Bosnia and beyond.</p> <p>In the lead up to the twentieth anniversary of the Dayton Agreement in which Milosevic played a major role, and which laid the foundations for long-term ethnic division in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is an opportunity to revisit the Agreement, with a view to abolishing the two-entity system which is the main (albeit not the only) source of Bosnia’s dysfunctionality. It is not written in stone and, as it has played out in practice, contravenes international human rights law. This move would pave the way to an ethnically-integrated and more economically and politically stable Bosnia, which citizens in both entities would welcome if accompanied by sufficient international commitment and the financial resources to carry it through. In other words, what most Bosnians, whatever their ethnic origin, need most is political stability and the prospect of a more secure economic future.</p> <p>Russia would be unlikely to intervene to obstruct the process, as it has already indicated that any initiative needs to come from RS or Serbia. The main opposition to a revision of Dayton would come from Banja Luka and Belgrade and, in the absence of firm international backing, would probably not get very far. </p> <p>It is not an easy option, but the alternatives could be a lot worse.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/andjela-pepic/reclaiming-factory-story-from-bosnia">Reclaiming the factory: a story from Bosnia</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil society Democracy and government International politics Carole Hodge Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:21:07 +0000 Carole Hodge 95657 at https://www.opendemocracy.net I know the fear and hope of those seeking refuge in Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/emina-%C4%87erimovi%C4%87/i-know-fear-and-hope-of-those-seeking-refuge-in-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If I could send a message to European leaders it would be this. Understand why people risk everything to reach Europe. Show them the same humanity being shown by ordinary citizens.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1530971.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1530971.jpg" alt="War graveyard from 1992-5 Bosnian war." title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>War graveyard from 1992-5 Bosnian war. Demoted/Sulejman Omerbasic.All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The news of 35 people, including 14 babies and children, drowning in the Aegean&nbsp;Sea last week wrenched&nbsp;my heart. What does it take, I wondered, to make a mother lift her child onto a rickety, overcrowded boat? How does she swallow her fear? And what does she whisper to her child as they climb aboard, knowing full well they may not make the crossing alive?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>I know the fear that drives a mother to make such a journey, but I also know the hope. My mother made a similar decision in the autumn of 1994, as war ravaged my country, Bosnia and Herzegovina. When she put her and her children’s lives into the hands of smugglers it was the only choice she had – just like thousands of others today.</p><p>I was eight when war broke out in my country in 1992. I learned the fear of being woken in the middle of the night to the horrific sound of artillery fire. I learned the heartache of losing my first love - my dad - then my grandpa, then my best friend, Ilma. Then I stopped counting. I learned what it meant to be internally displaced, hungry, malnourished, cold, scared, wishing for the nightmare to end.</p><p>In mid-October 1994, just before the third winter of shooting and hunger was to hit Bosnia and just after my sister recovered from jaundice, my aunt – who had left for Sweden at the beginning of the war – told us she had found someone to help us escape the country. She said we could join her in Sweden. To me, Sweden sounded strange, unknown and exciting.</p><p>I asked Mum. She explained there was no war in Sweden, no shooting, no grenades, that we would have electricity and water, all kinds of food we desired -- chocolate included, she reassured me -- and that we could go to school. No shooting, chocolate and going back to school sounded just like heaven to me.</p><p>But getting to Sweden was far from heaven.&nbsp; With nothing but what we could carry in our arms, the three of us headed south to the border with Croatia, where we spent weeks in a makeshift refugee camp. One evening in late November two men came to get us. The smugglers didn’t say much, just put us in the back seat of their car and drove us first to a bar, where they drank beer and joked about the war while my mother, sister and I clung to one another. “Just don’t separate us,” I prayed.</p><p>A couple of hours later they put us back in the car and drove us in the dead of night through forest on gravel roads into Croatia. Once in Croatia we were held for weeks in a house until my aunt could gather enough money to pay smugglers to provide us with false Croatian passports– absurdly, we could freely cross European borders as Croats, but would have been turned back as Bosnian-Herzegovinians. Travelling by bus, we crossed five European borders in 36 hours, reminding ourselves of our false identities, reminding myself not to call my sister by her real Bosniak name, for fear of being identified and sent back, separated or hurt. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Once we arrived in Sweden, our ordeal wasn’t over. The police questioned us, and finally let us go to an asylum centre. We had to be cautious because we didn’t want to cause trouble for my aunt, and it was weeks before we finally were reunited with her.</p><p>We were lucky enough to survive our journey all those years ago. But, two decades later, hundreds of families like ours are not. They are drowning in boats which overturn, washing up on Europe’s beaches, and suffocating inside overcrowded lorries.</p><p>If I could send a message to European leaders it would be this. Understand why people risk everything to reach Europe. Show them the same humanity being shown by ordinary citizens. And find ways to help Syrians and others reach safety legally, without having to rely on unscrupulous smugglers.</p><p>As for my family and me, Sweden provided us with a temporary but welcome sanctuary. Four years later, we were able to return to Bosnia, where I attended university and later trained as a lawyer. I now spend my time documenting the plight of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.</p><p>When I speak to those trying to reach safety in Europe, I remember&nbsp;my joy and relief when our family eventually reached Sweden. I could finally forget my fear that as well as taking my father and my friends, the war would steal my mother and my sister from me too.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> Sweden </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Sweden Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil society Conflict International politics Borderland crisis Emina Ćerimović Thu, 24 Sep 2015 20:11:39 +0000 Emina Ćerimović 96304 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Srebrenica, remembered https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/brandon-tensley/srebrenica-remembered <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="text-align: justify; line-height: 1.5;">What does it mean to have commemoration steeped in contention? </span>Memories of the war-traumatised town of Srebrenica are preventing Bosnia from moving forward.</p> <!--EndFragment--> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG ></o> <o:PixelsPerInch>96</o:PixelsPerInch> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves ></w> <w:TrackFormatting ></w> <w:PunctuationKerning ></w> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas ></w> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF ></w> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-GB</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>JA</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables ></w> <w:SnapToGridInCell ></w> <w:WrapTextWithPunct ></w> <w:UseAsianBreakRules ></w> <w:DontGrowAutofit ></w> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark ></w> <w:EnableOpenTypeKerning ></w> <w:DontFlipMirrorIndents ></w> <w:OverrideTableStyleHps ></w> </w:Compatibility> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math" ></m> <m:brkBin m:val="before" ></m> <m:brkBinSub m:val="&#45;-" ></m> <m:smallFrac m:val="off" ></m> <m:dispDef ></m> <m:lMargin m:val="0" ></m> <m:rMargin m:val="0" ></m> <m:defJc m:val="centerGroup" ></m> <m:wrapIndent m:val="1440" ></m> <m:intLim m:val="subSup" ></m> <m:naryLim m:val="undOvr" ></m> </m:mathPr></w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="276"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="59" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Placeholder Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Revision" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" ></w> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--><!--EndFragment--> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/Srebrenica_massacre_memorial_gravestones_2009_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/Srebrenica_massacre_memorial_gravestones_2009_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="273" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gravestones at the Srebrenica Genocide memorial.Wikipedia/public domain.</span></span></span><span>In Bosnia, avoiding everyday reminders of war isn’t easy: Buildings punctured by bullet holes pepper the landscape. It is estimated that there are dozens of undiscovered mass graves scattered across parts of the country. It was in Bosnia two decades ago that an ethno-national land grab between Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs claimed more than 100,000 lives.</span></p> <p>Yet dig deeper and twenty years belies the knotty legacy of war in Bosnia, especially for the village-turned-massacre site of Srebrenica. In July 1995, the small salt mining town was shelled and then occupied by the (Bosnian-Serb) Army of Republika Srpska – even though it had been declared a “safe zone” by the United Nations. The occupiers killed some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys. Many consider the Srebrenica massacre, which in 2004 was ruled genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to be Europe’s worst civilian slaughter since the Second World War. But as has happened every year since 1995, this year’s ceremony for the massacre is conjuring up bitter <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/serbia-bosnia-russia-srebrenica-genocide-un-commemoration/27105458.html">controversy</a> in and beyond Bosnia.</p> <p>So, how did Srebrenica become a perennial flashpoint, and what does it mean to have commemoration steeped not in contrition but in contention? Though the answer doesn’t lend itself to easy explanation, it’s best to start with a look at the postwar blueprint for Bosnia.</p> <p>The Dayton Agreement, drawn up by international actors in 1995, ended the three-year conflict, but it also gave rise to a stalemate hinged on ethnic lines. A key feature of the peace settlement was what some have called apartheid geography or Bosnia’s division into two ethnic territories: the (Bosnian-Serb) Republika Srpska on the one hand, and the (Bosniak-Croat) Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the other. The three-member presidency, shared among the three ethnic groups, has also structurally incentivised ruling elites to engineer ethno-national rivalries. Far from being a sort of seasonal illness, ethnic tensions have metastasized to most areas of public life in Bosnia, from <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnian-baby-beats-ethnically-divided-system">citizenship</a> to <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2013/10/bosnia">political office</a>, and Srebrenica isn’t immune.</p> <p>Observers continue to investigate Bosnia’s ethnic fault lines. Still, little attention is paid to how these ethnic enmities have primed Srebrenica to defy popular narratives of memory politics.</p> <p>As a point of general contrast, in Germany, another country that was involved in an ethnically motivated European conflict where occupying powers enforced the peace for years, guilt for the Holocaust is stitched into national culture. Germany has never had the ethnic diversity that Bosnia still has, and it has faced its own challenges on the road to reconciliation. But years of hard soul-searching have made Germany the darling of successful postwar political transitions in Europe. Sarajevo-born Balkans analyst Jasmin Mujanovic put it to me another way, saying in an interview that when it comes to reconciliation “Bosnia is everything Germany wasn’t.”</p> <p>In short, past and present aren’t so neatly sewn together in Srebrenica.</p> <p>Milorad Dodik, currently the leader of the Bosnian-Serb dominated territory of Republika Srpska, where Srebrenica is located, paid a historic visit to the village’s memorial in April of this year. But he quickly attracted <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/serbia-s-president-slammed-over-not-attending-srebrenica-commemoration">criticism</a> when he told local media that the crime has been “politicised.” Indeed, during the three-way war, both Bosnian-Croats and Bosnian-Serbs launched brutal ethnic cleansing campaigns against Bosniaks, who in turn carried out violence against Croats and Serbs, though to a lesser extent. Yet many courts, such as those of the Hague Tribunal, define only Srebrenica as genocide, which Dodik rejects. He’s become infamous for snubbing the massacre’s recognition as genocide, arguing that genocide had actually been committed against Serbs.</p> <p>Seemingly a problem of semantics, the polemics surrounding Srebrenica, often snagged on claims of half-truths by all sides, shine a light on broad incompatibilities in Bosnian discourse. This has made agreeing on what took place in Srebrenica more than a local problem.</p> <p>“I believe this is a basic civilised responsibility of all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the world to support [a] resolution which condemns genocide and the killings of innocent people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and this is the minimum we can do to create preconditions for reconciliation in this country,” <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/srebrenica-resolution-expected-to-fail">said</a> Mirsad Mesic, a Minister of Parliament who helped to introduce such a resolution this year. The resolution will most likely be sidelined, however, further demonstrating differences between national groups’ fractured perspectives.</p> <p>But while Srebrenica still divides Bosnia, it seems to work like a tenacious glue for the larger international community. Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and also a young freelancer in Bosnia when Srebrenica fell, <a href="http://www.voanews.com/content/diplomat-expects-adoption-srebrenica-anniversary-resolution/2845860.html">quipped</a> in a Voice of America interview that there’s a broad global consensus on what happened in Srebrenica two decades ago – and that those who deny these facts “only embarrass and humiliate themselves”.</p> <p>Of course, at a time when foreign actors seem particularly hungry for justice, it’s critical to take stock of how memory plays out in post-conflict areas. Even something as deceptively apolitical as supporting the construction of a <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21647259.2013.813175?journalCode=rpcb20&amp;#.VZeggfmqqko">memorial</a> can undercut attempts to keep Bosnia together, because the same historical event often has wildly different meanings for different groups. “Commemoration”, Mujanovic explained, “can mold a victimisation culture, so it’s crucial to be mindful of how words animate antagonisms”. Looking forward, the international community must not only establish relationships with political players who won’t manipulate wartime memories to shore up their own power but who will also help to build the capacity of local communities. Perhaps it must also admit that there’s more than one narrative being told on the ground.</p> <p>And these different narratives told in Srebrenica and throughout Bosnia keep the chapter of controversy open year after year. Srebrenica is the result of national grievances over memory, and it’s become an indelible part of Bosnia’s local and international identity. In a region where barbed images of state dismemberment are still fresh, this year’s ceremony for the Srebrenica massacre illuminates how the past shouldn’t be forgotten, –but it also speaks to a salient, sobering lesson that a country is, sometimes, only as divided as its memory of this past.</p><p><em><span>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span> on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a><span> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ed-vulliamy/srebrenica-world-fails-but-never-one%E2%80%99s-own-government">Srebrenica: the world fails, but never one’s own government</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Brandon Tensley Fri, 10 Jul 2015 14:44:20 +0000 Brandon Tensley 94225 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Addressing the needs of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide must be the priority https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/nils-mui%C5%BEnieks/addressing-needs-of-victims-of-srebrenica-genocide-must-be-priorit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Both Serbia and&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Bosnia and Herzegovina&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">must improve responses to the victims' needs and overcome the politicisation of the genocide to move forwards.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/7759657000_17b1b0005b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/7759657000_17b1b0005b.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women of Srebrenica protest. Flickr/ The Advocacy Project. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The Srebrenica genocide is one of the vilest episodes of Europe’s contemporary history. In just a few days in July 1995, around 8,300 boys and men were executed while 30,000 women, children and elderly persons were forcibly displaced. Twenty years on, the victims of that genocide are still haunted by the political failures which have left them without redress.&nbsp; </p> <p>Some progress has been achieved in establishing accountability and bringing war criminals to trial. The work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has been instrumental in this sense, in spite of initial strong resistance. This process must continue because justice represents a crucial element in coming to terms with the past, but as we commemorate the victims of the Srebrenica genocide, we must not forget about their other needs.</p> <p>When I first went to Srebrenica two years ago for a commemoration of the victims of the genocide, I was able to observe just how badly the survivors and the victims’ relatives were lacking full access to social and economic rights as well as the necessary recognition required to begin rebuilding their lives. That situation rendered them more vulnerable and cultivated feelings of insecurity and despair. Regrettably, little has improved since then, and a stalemate has prolonged and deepened the suffering of the victims. Worse still, in Serbia and in the Republika Srpska, political discourse which demeans or blatantly denies the Srebrenica genocide twists the knife and hinders the process of much needed reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the Balkans in general.</p> <p>This unacceptable situation breeds contempt for the victims’ human rights and dignity and must be addressed. Political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia should embrace the victims’ cause once and for all and move forward with more resolve. There are three areas in particular in which Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia must improve their response to the victims’ needs.</p> <p>First of all, justice must be pursued. We all know that it takes time to identify, try and punish war criminals. However, this cannot be used as a pretext to shirk the obligation to establish accountability and confront the past. Good examples exist and must be used as a catalyst for further progress. Last March, for example, Serbia’s police arrested eight men suspected of involvement in the killing of more than 1,000 Muslims on the outskirts of Srebrenica. This came as the result of co-operation between Bosnian and Serbian prosecutors, whose work represents one of the few glimmers of hope for the victims, and as such must be sustained and shielded from political interference.</p> <p>Secondly, victims must be supported. Bosnia and Herzegovina must finally provide civilian victims of the Srebrenica genocide with adequate social protection, eliminating unequal treatment between civilian and military victims of war. Improved legal assistance should also be provided so as to ensure that victims are able to assert their rights and obtain reparations.</p> <p>To alleviate the prolonged suffering of the victims’ families it is of paramount importance to speed up the identification of all genocide victims and the clarification of the fate of those who remain missing. Many mass graves containing the corpses of people executed in Srebrenica have not yet been exhumed, partly because they lie in areas which are still peppered with landmines. There must be a stronger commitment to resolving these issues. Serbia in particular should open its military and police archives to disclose the information necessary to identify the mass graves, and it should play a more positive role in facilitating the demining efforts and in sustaining the activities to find and identify the physical remains of those executed in and around Srebrenica.</p> <p>Thirdly, education must be more inclusive. Mono-ethnic schools and the “two-schools-under-one-roof” system, which characterise Bosnian education, constitute an anachronistic approach, serving only to perpetuate the ethnic divisions lying at the root of current and past tensions, thus heavily undermining reconciliation and peace. The education system must promote a genuine knowledge of history in order to facilitate understanding, tolerance and trust between individuals, especially the younger generations. To this end, school books in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina must include an objective testimony of the Srebrenica genocide, portraying it without political or ethnic connotations. Such an impartial teaching of history serves as a powerful antidote to future tensions and represents a fundamental element of any cohesive society.</p> <p>The Srebrenica genocide has become a symbol of the serious human rights violations that occurred during the wars that dissolved the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. Unfortunately, progress in confronting the genocide’s legacy has been too slow, hijacked by political tensions. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia must overcome this politicisation of the genocide, take a step back and refocus their energies on the victims’ needs for justice, decent living conditions, and recognition.&nbsp;</p><p><em><span>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span> on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a><span> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/lara-j-nettelfield/srebrenica-genocide%E2%80%99s-lasting-legacy-war-criminals-in-our-mids">The Srebrenica genocide’s lasting legacy: war criminals in our midst</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Nils Muižnieks Fri, 10 Jul 2015 14:42:03 +0000 Nils Muižnieks 94231 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Justice undone: twenty years since the Bosnian genocide https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/hikmet-karcic/justice-undone-twenty-years-since-bosnian-genocide <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves ></w> <w:TrackFormatting ></w> <w:PunctuationKerning ></w> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas ></w> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF ></w> <w:LidThemeOther>BS-LATN-BA</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>JA</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables ></w> <w:SnapToGridInCell ></w> <w:WrapTextWithPunct ></w> <w:UseAsianBreakRules ></w> <w:DontGrowAutofit ></w> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark ></w> <w:EnableOpenTypeKerning ></w> <w:DontFlipMirrorIndents ></w> <w:OverrideTableStyleHps ></w> </w:Compatibility> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math" ></m> <m:brkBin m:val="before" ></m> <m:brkBinSub m:val="&#45;-" ></m> <m:smallFrac m:val="off" ></m> <m:dispDef ></m> <m:lMargin m:val="0" ></m> <m:rMargin m:val="0" ></m> <m:defJc m:val="centerGroup" ></m> <m:wrapIndent m:val="1440" ></m> <m:intLim m:val="subSup" ></m> <m:naryLim m:val="undOvr" ></m> </m:mathPr></w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="276"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="59" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Placeholder Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Revision" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" ></w> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Calibri; color:black; mso-fareast-language:EN-GB;} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--> <!--EndFragment--></p><p>Twenty years on from the Srebernica genocide, survivors and families of the victims are left asking: where is justice? A long term approach is needed to help survivors make peace with their past.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/14627268271_5689d9ef59_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/14627268271_5689d9ef59_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Survivors and mourners at the 19th year anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. Flickr/Taylor Mc. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>July 11, 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. Twenty years since “never again” came simply to mean “again”, when 8,372 Bosnian Muslims were rounded up in the hot valleys of eastern Bosnia and executed by the Bosnian Serb Army, led by General Ratko Mladić, while the “international community” bolted. </p> <p>What is often forgotten outside of Bosnia is that Srebrenica was the culminating act of the genocide. The systematic killings began in 1992. Approximately 677 concentration camps were set up across the country for the rape of Bosnian Muslim women, torture and mass executions. Grave crimes of unimaginable destruction were committed in these camps. The Bosnian Serbs themselves coined the term “Etničko čišćenje” (ethnic cleansing) to define their strategy, which was publicly announced on 12 May 1992. </p> <p>The campaign was based on the “<a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/six-strategic-goals-of-bosnian-serbs"><em>Six Strategic Goals of the Serbs</em></a><em> in Bosnia and Herzegovina</em>” and was announced by then Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and these strategies were unanimously adopted by the majority of Bosnian Serbs at the Assembly. The document is a proof of <em>mens rea</em>, the political intent to commit genocide. It depicts Bosnia’s “Wannsee moment.”</p> <p>The ICTY judgments have, therefore, irrevocably established the facts. Some aspects of the legal proceedings have left justice undone, however. For a number of survivors, some decisions are illogical and have been politically influenced. For example, ICTY’s bureaucratic rules allow convicted war criminals to be released after serving only two-thirds of their sentence. At times some convicted war criminals have been<a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/balkans-seselj-hague-release-creates-problems/26702184.html"> released</a> for no clear reason. The survivors and families of the victims are left asking: where is justice?</p> <p>To further complicate the process of seeking justice, in 2003 the international community imposed a new Bosnian Criminal Code through the High Representative to Bosnia. The original Yugoslav Criminal Code was not deemed sufficient to process war crimes in the country. In 2013, after an <a href="http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-122716#%7B/%22itemid/%22:[/%22001-122716/%22]%7D">appeal by two convicted war criminals</a>, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that they had to be tried by the law which was in use at the <a href="http://www.ejiltalk.org/the-impact-of-the-ecthrs-judgment-in-maktouf-damjanovic-on-accountability-and-punishment-for-war-crimes-crimes-in-bosnia-herzegovina/">time of committing the crime</a>: that is to say by the previous Yugoslav Code, which had now been deemed insufficient, rather than the new law from 2003. </p><p>Subsequently, many convicted war criminals had their sentences reduced and some were freed, only to be arrested again after pressure from the public. The complex legal system, political manipulation and indecisive international influence, understandably, has sparked anger and distrust amongst families of the victims of genocide. <br /> <br /> The denial of genocide and war crimes by a majority of Bosnian Serbs further exasperates the process of reckoning with the past. Milorad Dodik, Bosnian-Serb Prime-Minister of Republika Srpska as well as Bosnia’s richest man and a long-time vociferous nationalist and genocide denier, ensured that &nbsp;in the years 2008-2014 <a href="http://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/vlada-rs-za-negiranje-genocida-dala-1-898-900-km/140513114">1,898,900 BAM (€966,562) of Bosnia’s budget financed the Srebrenica Historical Project</a>, a project run by genocide denier Stefan Karganović who consistently claims that less than 1,000 people “died”.</p> <p>It is understandable then that the majority of genocide survivors are sceptical of political gestures when it comes to the Srebrenica genocide. The recent visit to the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Centre by Dodik has opened old wounds. A number of commentators have exemplified this event as “a step forward,” only to question their own reasoning a couple of days later after SDS, Dodik’s Party, announced that it will hold a referendum in 2018 on independence for the country's autonomous Serb Republic. </p> <p>It is evident that a long-lasting approach is needed to combat genocide denial to pave a way for survivors to reckon with their past. If political leaders are interested, and if Dodik’s visit to the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Centre is to be taken seriously, than the quest for justice must be in the forefront. All other political gestures will be deemed, as they have been thus far, as political manipulation. &nbsp;</p><p><em><span>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span> on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a><span> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hikmet-karcic/blueprint-for-genocide-destruction-of-muslims-in-eastern-bosnia">Blueprint for genocide: the destruction of Muslims in Eastern Bosnia</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Hikmet Karcic Fri, 10 Jul 2015 14:31:06 +0000 Hikmet Karcic 94232 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Twenty years after Srebrenica, incomplete justice https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/benjamin-ward-parampreet-singh/twenty-years-after-srebrenica-incomplete-justice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The road to international justice is long and often winding, as</span>&nbsp;Bosnia and Herzegovina shows us.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/DaytonAgreement.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/DaytonAgreement.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Milošević signing the Dayton Accords on behalf of the Bosnian Serb leadership. Wikipedia/public domain.</span></span></span>"[T]housands of men executed and buried in mass graves, hundreds of men buried alive, men and women mutilated and slaughtered, children killed before their mothers’ eyes, a grandfather forced to eat the liver of his own grandson. These are truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history."</p> <p>Those are the <a href="http://www.icty.org/sid/7221">words</a> of a judge in The Hague in November 1995, confirming the indictment for genocide in and around Srebrenica against the Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and the wartime commander Ratko Mladic before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. </p> <p>This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the slaughter of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys from the Srebrenica area by Bosnian Serb Forces in July 1995. It is a moment to reflect on the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War, and to examine whether Martin Luther King’s maxim that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice holds true. </p> <p>It is remarkable that Karadzic and Mladic were indicted when they were. The <a href="http://www.hrw.org/report/1995/10/15/fall-srebrenica-and-failure-un-peacekeeping/bosnia-and-herzegovina">atrocities</a> were only months old and peace negotiations were under way to bring to an end to the devastating conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The fighting had raged for more than three years, costing more than 100,000 lives and introducing the world to the chilling concept of “ethnic cleansing.” &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Pursing those most responsible for the worst crimes is often seen as inconvenient. The Srebrenica indictments were no exception. When they were first issued, many politicians and diplomats cried foul, claiming justice would get in the way of peace. Yet the war ended the following month with the conclusion of the Dayton peace accords, in part because Mladic and Karadzic were excluded from the negotiating table. </p> <p>Both men went deep underground, and for years many assumed they would elude justice. Despite their best efforts, Mladic and Karazdic are now both in custody in The Hague and on trial, in large part because of pressure by the European Union on Serbia to hand them over. </p> <p>The accomplishments of the tribunal in bringing justice for Srebrenica do not end there. The court has <a href="http://icty.org/srebrenica20/">convicted</a> 14 people for crimes committed at Srebrenica. In January, the court affirmed <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/03/dispatches-overdue-justice-srebrenica">convictions</a> for genocide for two senior members of the Bosnian Serb forces, Vujadin Popović, and Ljubiša Beara, plus three others for related crimes. In 2001, the court convicted Radislav Krstic, who commanded the forces responsible for the killings in July 1995, the first time it had convicted anyone on genocide charges for Srebrenica. </p> <p>But important as the efforts of the tribunal are, they are by necessity incomplete. The task of delivering justice for the crimes of Srebrenica, especially for those directly responsible and for mid-level commanders, falls to the courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially the State Court, which has primary responsibility for trying war crimes in the country and has concluded more than 250 cases in the past decade. </p> <p>The authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have, however, been slow in implementing a national war crimes strategy designed to focus efforts on the most serious cases, with efforts hampered by insufficient capacity and funding, particularly at the district and cantonal level. Some senior officials have impeded efforts toward justice and openly question the legitimacy of the State Court and the Prosecutor’s Office. If Bosnia and Herzegovina is serious about its bid to join the European Union, it needs to step up its efforts to address the case backlog and bring war criminals to justice.</p> <p>The road to international justice is long and often winding. Last month’s thwarted efforts to arrest President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan in South Africa, wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, among other charges, is only the latest example. But the experience of Mladic and Karadzic shows that concerted, consistent international pressure can produce results. Achieving accountability may be difficult, but its pursuit should be non-negotiable. </p> <p>“N.P” a sixty-five year old man who survived the Srebrenica genocide <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/1995/10/15/fall-srebrenica-and-failure-un-peacekeeping/bosnia-and-herzegovina">spoke</a> to Human Rights Watch in August 1995. </p> <p>There were twelve of us in the small truck [...] My cousin Haris called for me. When we jumped out we were directed to go left. I saw grass underneath the blindfold. Haris took my hand. He said, “They’re going to execute us.” As soon as he said that, I heard gunfire from the right side. Haris was hit and fell towards me, and I fell with him. I heard moaning from people who were just about to die, and suddenly Haris’s body went limp.</p> <p>To honor Haris and all those who died in the Srebrenica genocide, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s international partners, especially the US and European Union, should support accountability efforts in Bosnia, both at the State Court and in local courts. And they should give the International Criminal Court the backing it needs to succeed.&nbsp;</p><p><em><span>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span> on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a><span> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict-yugoslavia/srebrenica_2651.jsp">Srebrenica: genocide and memory</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Param-Preet Singh Benjamin Ward Fri, 10 Jul 2015 14:30:38 +0000 Benjamin Ward and Param-Preet Singh 94235 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Reclaiming the factory: a story from Bosnia https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/andjela-pepic/reclaiming-factory-story-from-bosnia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Privatisation processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina have gradually destroyed workers' rights and ownership. But there are stories of hope and resistance emerging from this battered country.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/tuzla.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/tuzla.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="314" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Workers on break in Tuzla, Bosnia. Flickr/Kingmoor Klickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>Privatisation processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the 1990s onwards have gradually transferred ownership and power from the socialist state to private entrepreneurs. As elsewhere in Europe and the rest of the world, this process, in most cases, was accompanied by a large number of lay-offs. Company assets floated in the market and were bought and sold at unusually low prices, dismantling large factories and industrial giants of former Yugoslavia.</span></p> <p>Financialisation/globalisation became embedded in Bosnia especially in the wake of the Dayton Accords. The workers, who were once deemed to be the owners of the enterprise, overnight became proletarians, deprived of fundamental rights and any form of possession over the production process. This was pretty much the case across the entire East-Central Europe, although the case of Yugoslav socialism was different, as the workers, through the self-management system, had had a much more direct control of the means and objects of their production units than anywhere else in the so-called countries of “really-existing socialism”. </p> <p>Yugoslavia’s dissolution and transition to free market capitalism was also different in that it set in motion a bizarre process of primitive ethno-accumulation, i.e. primitive accumulation on the basis of ethnocratic-conflictual lines. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a typical example. </p> <p>Among the many examples of the negative effects of privatisation processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one that was under the media spotlight in the past two years, is the case of “Dita” detergents factory from Tuzla, an industrial city in the central part of North-East Bosnia. The factory was privatised in two rounds (2001 and 2005) and become part of retail chain, “Lora”, from Sarajevo, who owned the majority of shares. The privatisation of “Dita” resulted in more than 20 million Euros in debt for the enterprise and over 20 wages being unpaid, affecting a four-year retirement plan, also due. </p> <p>In the end, this led to the official bankruptcy of the enterprise. A series of workers' strikes ensued in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The 2014 February protests started as joint protests of workers from several factories and enterprises in Tuzla (Dita, Konjuh, Aida) requesting the government of the Tuzla Canton to resolve the outstanding issues and waive the blame attributed to workers. The workers claimed that the cause of the crisis was and is the privatisation process and irresponsible management. These protests turned out to be the trigger for wider social protests in several cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. </p> <p>In early 2015, the Tuzla Canton government decided to revise the privatisation process of several enterprises, including “Dita”, starting an orderly bankruptcy procedure in view of enabling the creditors to get their money back while creating possibilities for re-launching and reviving production. The problem with the bankruptcy procedure (according to the existing legal framework) is that the workers are the last in the list of priorities: the “investors” and bureaucratic agencies will have to be paid first, and whatever is left over would go to the unpaid wages, pensions etc. &nbsp;</p> <p>A sparkle of hope for the workers themselves is actually their own efforts for restarting production and trying to save what is possible to be saved in order to keep their jobs and eventually have their salaries paid. In June 2015, the Union of Workers of “Dita”, and the bankruptcy manager, <a href="http://www.frontslobode.ba/vijesti/tuzla/53311/dita-masine-znanje-i-volju-za-radom-nismo-izgubili">reached an agreement</a> to restart some of the production lines (since much of the production lines are in need of repairs for which there is no money available). </p><p>The plan is to start with production of some famous (in former Yugoslavia) products and support for this initiative is enlisted by civil society actors and people across the country (mainly expressed through support on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dita-Industrija-deterd%C5%BEent-TUZLA/1837042036520866?fref=ts">Facebook and calls for support for purchasing “Dita” products</a>). Some of the <a href="http://tuzlanski.ba/postignut-dogovor-ditini-proizvodi-na-policama-binga/">supermarket chains</a> have already decided to support the efforts of “Dita” workers by buying their products and making them available on their stores' shelves. However, this all is just a trial version of activities to be tested and any form of continuity has to be decided by the shareholders’ assembly to be held on 30 June 2015. </p> <p>Will these efforts take root or quickly fade away? Does this mean that the spirit of the workers’ self-management is coming back in advanced and mature post-socialist colours, emblematically in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the most ethnically fragmented region of the former Yugoslavia in which primitive accumulation was criss-crossed with vicious ethnic war? </p> <p>After years of their voices being unheard, struggles to keep the factory under collective ownership seem to bear some fruits. These struggles exposed corrupt governments and managers and brought to the fore the class issue as opposed to the ethnic and religious division which, if anything, divert attention from the real social issues. </p> <p>Prior to 2014, there were numerous cases of workers’ rights violations that were only seen as a by-product of “transition“ and “post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina”, which were mostly related to ethnic, religious and political divisions. This is no longer the case after the protests of February 2014. </p><p>The narrative begins to change and the story of workers is becoming more and more important. Class cleavages supersede religious and ethnic ones and the ethno-capitalism of primitive accumulation and privatisation, of political clientelism and corruption have shown their limits. No one can explain the spirit of this mini-revolution better than the words of a <a href="http://www.frontslobode.ba/vijesti/tuzla/53311/dita-masine-znanje-i-volju-za-radom-nismo-izgubili">“Dita” worker</a>: “Industry is alive as long as there are workers ready to fight for their basic right – the right to work”.&nbsp;</p><p><em><span>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span> on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a><span> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/brandon-tensley/bosnia-moving-on-from-dayton-agreement">Bosnia: moving on from the Dayton Agreement?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Andjela Pepic Mon, 15 Jun 2015 17:43:15 +0000 Andjela Pepic 93560 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Balkans is not on the brink https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/hamza-kar%C4%8Di%C4%87-e%C5%A1ref-kenan-ra%C5%A1idagi%C4%87/balkans-is-not-on-brink <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A critical response to Edward P. Joseph's article "<a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/southeastern-europe/2015-05-10/balkans-interrupted">The Balkans, Interrupted</a>"<em>&nbsp;</em>published in <em>Foreign Affairs</em>, which has caused much anxiety and bewilderment in the region.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/4083692.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/4083692.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo. Demotix/Emir Dzanan. All rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>The streets are swarming with tourists speaking in English, German, French, Turkish, and Arabic. New hotels and apartment buildings are springing up. Two major global media outlets opened their offices in the country. A major economic forum held this month brought together leading politicians and businessmen from the region. Another day in UK or Belgium? No, this is happening in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital that endured a three-and-a-half year siege two decades ago.</span></p><p>Edward P. Joseph's article “<a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/southeastern-europe/2015-05-10/balkans-interrupted">The Balkans, Interrupted</a>” in&nbsp;<em>Foreign Affairs&nbsp;</em>stirred anxiety in Bosnia and the region with its bleak analysis and alarmist tone. This dovetails with the notion of the Balkans as chronically unstable part of Europe which is how the region was conceived of in academic and popular imagination for a long time. While Joseph is right to point to the importance of the region and Washington's and Brussels' relative neglect due to other pressing crises, the author's argument is found wanting for both factual and interpretational reasons. To begin with, the article is built around a string of rather superfluous assumptions based on spurious conclusions and tenuous linking of rather unrelated events and actors. We will limit our response to the case of Bosnia.</p><p>The attack on the police station in the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik is still being investigated. The reports that the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar” were countered by later reports that he cursed. The investigation should determine what exactly transpired. Whatever the case, statement whereby “Allahu Akbar” is, as Joseph puts it, a “jihadist war cry” could be considered both inaccurate and disturbing, if not outright offensive. For the vast majority of Muslims in the world, affirming the greatness of God is an article of faith as in other Abrahamic religions. The&nbsp;<em>muezzin</em>s in different parts of the world are not uttering a “jihadist war cry” but rather calling the faithful for prayers five times a day. However, this is not to deny that the pronouncement is being used by radical extremists. But conflating the misuse of a religious pronouncement with the nature of the pronouncement itself would be a case of linguistic imprecision at best. Furthermore, the Islamic Community of Bosnia unequivocally condemned the attack leaving no doubt as to its firm stance against extremism.</p><p>Joseph is right to point to the perils of separatism in Bosnia. However, careful observers of the local politics would surely remember that calls for referendum on separation of Republika Srpska have been a staple of ruling nationalist elites in this Bosnian Entity for a long time, to no particular effect. Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik has issued similar bold proclamations no fewer than thirty times, as one recent article in a leading regional news portal has pointed out. Actually, many critical observers are of opinion that such calls are issued in rather opportunistic fashion, whenever perilous state of economy threatens Dodik's party domination of the Entity politics.</p><p>In addition, it is important to note that concrete date of 2018 for the referendum was not set by the “Republika Srpska parliament”, as the author states, but was called for in a declaration of Dodik's Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (better know by its acronym SNSD). Party's hitherto complete domination of the Entity politics was seriously weakened in the 2014 elections, and the party is no longer in power at the state-level. Other parties from Republika Srpska have not come forward in support of this particular declaration. Even if that was the case, the rhetoric of separatism is nothing new where even more hardline proclamations during the past two decades failed to seriously undermine the stability of the Bosnia’s constitutional and political framework.</p><p>A careful scrutiny of the argument that ‘this summer will test Bosnia's cohesion’ will reveal serious faults in the author’s line of reasoning. The article argues that the results of the 2013 census could somehow “fuel anger” among the three ethnic groups in the country. This view is not supported by any other scholar of the region, nor is it corroborated by the evidence from the field. On contrary, analysis of media discourse and political rhetoric inside and outside of public institutions reveals that the issue of census has been relegated into virtual insignificance. It has yet to be seen whether the results of the census will provoke any serious debate in the country, let alone lead to civil disturbances, as the author alleges.</p><p>On a side note, it is important to note that Bosnian politicians were for a long time criticized by international officials precisely for their failure to conduct a census (the country missed the 2001 and 2011 scheduled dates, finally holding the census in 2013). Now that it was held, its results are deemed potentially cohesion-threatening. This damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't approach leads one to sympathize with Bosnian politicians.</p><p>The second dimension of this cohesion argument is the upcoming 20th anniversary of, in Joseph's words, „massacre at Srebrenica“. Verdicts of the ICTY and resolutions adopted by the U.S. Congress, the European Parliament and other international and domestic bodies unequivocally affirmed that Srebrenica “massacre” constitutes genocide. Commemorations on anniversaries of Srebrenica genocide have been held regularly to coincide with the 11 July date of fall of Srebrenica enclave to Serb forces. Such commemorations were regularly attended by a host of world leaders, including President Bill Clinton. Several times in the past, even Republika Srpska representatives and President Boris Tadić of Serbia participated in commemorations. It is not therefore clear why such commemoration of a past atrocity would this time be perilous for cohesion. We could also point out that a similar argument about the pitfalls of commemorating past atrocities and tragedies has yet to be made for other societies.</p><p>Finally, Joseph correctly notes that efforts to reform the Bosnian constitution have stalled. A number of factors account for this. But the reality is that U.S. foreign policy focus shifted to Asia and the Middle East. The Balkans of the 1990s has been replaced by crises in other parts of the world. The author, to his credit, attempts to end on a positive note by stating that "the Balkans are by no means hopeless." Yet, the question of how the current predicament translates into hope is left ambiguous. Pinning the blame on the "outdated constitution" hammered out at Dayton for Bosnia's predicament is no epiphany.</p><p>If there was one strong case that the author builds in this article, it is his critique of the United States and the European Union for allowing “the fledgling countries in the region to backslide”. Joseph properly identifies the problem where, after intervening forcefully to end local conflicts and establishing foundations for rebuilding societies “Washington prematurely handed over lead responsibility for the Balkans to the EU, which prematurely handed over lead responsibility to the region’s leaders.” We could only concur with this argument and would actually emphasize this as our chief concern for the mid- and short-term stability of the region.</p><p>Our concerns with most of other arguments notwithstanding, it is not difficult to agree that much progress has to be made in the Balkans. Rampant unemployment has to be tackled, public sector reforms await and a climate for more foreign investment has to be improved. Yet many challenges facing the Balkans are also challenges to be tackled in other regions. The rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe are worrisome and need to be confronted. Radicalism of all sorts, including religious and right-wing, is not simply a regional phenomenon. In fact, British intellectual Ziauddin Sardar argues that we live in post-normal times and other authors pointed out that “crisis is the new normal”. If these are indeed post-normal times, suboptimal outcomes are expected. Yet this realization is no justification to neglect progress however minimal. The Balkans is no exception.</p><p><em><span>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span> on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a><span> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/christophe-solioz/eu-wider-and-deeper-with-balkans">The EU: wider and deeper with the Balkans</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Ešref Kenan Rašidagić Hamza Karčić Thu, 04 Jun 2015 18:59:28 +0000 Hamza Karčić and Ešref Kenan Rašidagić 93313 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Blueprint for genocide: the destruction of Muslims in Eastern Bosnia https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/hikmet-karcic/blueprint-for-genocide-destruction-of-muslims-in-eastern-bosnia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Six Strategic Objectives could be considered as the Bosnian Genocide’s Wannsee Conference. The only difference is that the participants of this Assembly are still active as politicians in modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/6SC.slika_.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/6SC.slika_.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="370" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A copy of the Six Strategic Objectives of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina</span></span></span><span>The atmosphere in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the start of 1992 was quite tense. The Serb Democratic Party headed by Radovan Karadžić was already being armed and plans for creating an ethnically pure Serb state were well under way.</span></p><p>The Bosnian Serbs had already created their own assembly made up of Serb politicians, established the Autonomous Region of Krajina – a semi-state consisting of municipalities in the Krajina region of Bosnia – as well as the Serb Autonomous Regions of Romanije, Birač and Herzegovina, collectively known as “Republika Srpska”. As soon as Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence on 1 March 1992, barricades popped up all over the country. </p><p>The Serbs demanded the separation of municipalities, the creation of parallel institutions and that these Autonomous Regions remain in Yugoslavia. In April, Serb Special Forces, named “The Tigers” and &nbsp;“The White Eagles” attacked, along with the regular Yugoslav People’s Army, the border towns of Zvornik, Bijelina and Višegrad. The war had officially started. </p> <p>The intellectuals and elites were targeted first. Hundreds were executed, and thousands expelled from their homes, left to seek refuge in Bosnian Government-controlled areas. The Bosnian Serbs were shocked by the amount of unexpected resistance especially after the Bosnian Serb Army’s failure to take control of the Presidency building in Sarajevo on 2 May 1992. </p><p>As the war already seemed to be lasting longer than had previously been assumed, on 12 May, the 16th session of the assembly of the-then ‘Serbian Republic of B&amp;H’ was held in Banja Luka, the largest city in the RS. There was a long discussion on how and what should be done to bring about a Serb victory. </p><p>The President of the Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadžić then announced the strategic goals of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These goals were adopted by the Serb Assembly and became the official policy of Republika Srpska throughout the war: </p> <p><em>“The Six Strategic Goals of the Serbian Nation</em></p> <p><em>1. State delineation from the other two national communities.</em></p> <p><em>2. The establishment of a corridor between Semberia and Krajina.</em></p> <p><em>3. The establishment of a corridor in the valley of the Drina River, meaning the elimination of the Drina as a border between the two Serb states. </em></p> <p><em>4. The Establishment of a border on the rivers of the Una and Neretva. </em></p> <p><em>5. The Division of the city of Sarajevo into Serb and Muslim parts, and the establishment of a state authority in each part. </em></p> <p><em>6. Creation of an outlet for Republika Srpska to the sea.”</em><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Strategic%20objectives%20for%20genocide.hk.ff.doc#_ftn1">[1]</a> &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The first strategic goal was the separation of the Serb community from the Muslim and Croats communities, leading to the creation of an ethnically ‘clean’ Serb state on Bosnian territory. The second strategic goal would create to a territorial connection between the Republika Srpska Krajina (the Serb republic in Croatia which was militarily defeated in 1995) and Yugoslavia (which by then, comprised only of Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro) </p> <p>The third strategic goal, was well defined by Radovan Karadžić during his speech in assembly: </p> <p>"<em>We are on both sides of the Drina and our strategic interest and&nbsp;our living space are there. We now see a possibility for some Muslim municipalities to be set up along the Drina as enclaves, in order for them to achieve their rights, but that belt along the Drina must basically belong to Serbian Bosnia and Herzegovina. As much as it is strategically useful for us in a positive way, it helps us by damaging the interests of our enemy in establishing a corridor which would connect them to the ‘Muslim International’ [Official Serb propaganda portrayed Bosniaks as fundamentalist who wish to establish a Muslim state and connect with the other Muslims in the Balkans so-called “Green Transversal”] and render this area permanently unstable</em>."<a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Strategic%20objectives%20for%20genocide.hk.ff.doc#_ftn2">[2]</a></p> <p>In the Trial Chamber judgement of Zdravko Tolimir in which he was found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica and Žepa, it was found that the policy of forcibly removing the Bosniaks of Eastern Bosnia was laid out within the Six Strategic Objectives on 12th May 1992. Tolimir, an Assistant Commander of Intelligence and Security for the Bosnian Serb Army, was convicted in 2012, on six counts: genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecution on ethnic grounds and forced transfer. The Chamber sentenced him to life imprisonment. </p> <p>The Six Strategic Objectives were the starting points which shaped the rest of the war. The most horrible crimes were committed after these objectives were adopted by the Serb Assembly. They were later further elaborated upon and ‘upgraded’ by Directive 4 and finally Directive 7, issued by Republika Srpska President Radovan Karažić to the Bosnian Serb Army several weeks before both Srebrenica and Žepa fell. Directive 7 of 8 March 1995 issued the following commands to the Drina Corps of the Republika Srpska Army: </p> <p><em>“As many enemy forces as possible should be tied down by diversionary and active combat operations on the N/W part of the front, using operational and tactical camouflage measures, while in the direction of the Srebrenica and Žepa enclaves complete physical separation of Srebrenica from Žepa should be carried out as soon as possible, preventing even communication between individuals in the two enclaves. <em>By planned and well-thought out combat operations, create an unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica and Žepa.”</em></em> <a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Strategic%20objectives%20for%20genocide.hk.ff.doc#_ftn3">[3]</a></p> <p>This year we mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide against the Bosniaks of Srebrenica and Eastern Bosnia. The crimes in and around Srebrenica are mostly narrowed down to a couple of days in July 1995, though in reality they began much earlier in 1992, soon after Karadzic announced his goals. We tend to forget that in order to commit such a widespread and horrible crime such as this, it is necessary to have political and military intent to destroy a group - in whole or in part. </p><p>The Six Strategic Objectives demonstrate amongst other things, the intent to eliminate those Bosniaks of Eastern Bosnia living along the Drina valley. The 16th session of the Assembly of the Serbian Republic of B&amp;H could be considered as the Bosnian Genocide’s Wannsee Conference. The only difference is that the participants of this Assembly are still active as politicians in modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. &nbsp;</p><p><span>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span> on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a><span> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Strategic%20objectives%20for%20genocide.hk.ff.doc#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Lara J. Nettelfield, Courting Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambridge University Press, p. 68</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Strategic%20objectives%20for%20genocide.hk.ff.doc#_ftnref2">[2]</a> Krajisnik Trial Transcript, ICTY,&nbsp; 13 June 2006,&nbsp; http://www.ictytranscripts.org/trials/krajisnik/060613IT.htm</p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/Strategic%20objectives%20for%20genocide.hk.ff.doc#_ftnref3">[3]</a> Popovic Trial Transcript, ICTY, 17 November 2008, http://www.icty.org/x/cases/popovic/trans/en/081117IT.htm</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/brandon-tensley/bosnia-moving-on-from-dayton-agreement">Bosnia: moving on from the Dayton Agreement?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Hikmet Karcic Mon, 11 May 2015 13:43:45 +0000 Hikmet Karcic 92697 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bosnia: moving on from the Dayton Agreement? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/brandon-tensley/bosnia-moving-on-from-dayton-agreement <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Though the Dayton Agreement vanquished military fighting, it’s since come under heavy criticism. Is it time to move on?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/460563[1].jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/460563[1].jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Election posters in Bosnia. Demotix/Mahir Vranac. All rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>“Stable but stagnant.”</span></p> <p>That’s <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2013/10/bosnia">one way</a> to describe Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosnia) almost 20 years after international actors stopped a brutal civil war in the region. The break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s strained relationships among Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs, Bosnia’s three primary “constituent peoples.” Some 100,000 people were killed in the ensuing three-year land grab.</p> <p>Though the Dayton Agreement vanquished military fighting, it’s since come under heavy fire: Ethnic self-identification hasn’t changed at all, and the peace deal set up what can only be described as an enormously dizzying government system, shrouded in international bureaucracy, that’s contributed to Bosnia’s being <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17211415">one of Europe’s most corrupt states</a>.</p> <p>So, has the Dayton Agreement failed?</p> <p>The problem is in the question. The Agreement has done a lot to broker peace and stability in the formerly war-torn region, including creating <a href="http://www.usip.org/publications/balkan-returns-overview-refugee-returns-and-minority-repatriation">postwar property laws</a> to support ethnic minorities who were expelled from their prewar homes. This isn’t to say that the peace deal doesn’t deserve any criticism for cementing Bosnia along its already tendentious ethno-religious lines or for divvying up power in such a way that it’s now all too easy for high-handed political elites to get away with bad governance from their mono-ethnic perches. But one peace settlement wasn’t ever going to be the silver bullet that ends decades’ worth of deeper national tensions.</p> <p>What we ought to be asking ourselves is this: How might we deal with the Agreement’s legacy? The answer may lie, at least in part, in the European Union (EU). The carrot of EU membership could drive leaders to pursue reforms so that their country can access the privileges of the club. The peace deal has been the crux of many of Bosnia’s current problems. Yet without a total constitutional overhaul, something that’s extremely unlikely given the <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/02/11/bosnia-burning/">political environment</a>, finding an elite-driven remedy that incentivizes the political leadership to do anything that could make the central government less dysfunctional would be a historic step forward.</p> <p>Take care: This lofty enterprise of “EU conditionality” isn’t a perfect tool, and it’s admittedly attained a somewhat overblown <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/europeanization-and-regionalization-in-the-eu&#039;s-enlargement-to-central-and-eastern-europe-gwendolyn-sasse/?K=9781403939876">mythical</a> status. But how might it work for Bosnia?</p> <p>Joining the EU doesn’t happen overnight. Countries that want to become members must meet the <a href="http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/glossary/accession_criteria_copenhague_en.htm">Copenhagen criteria’s conditions</a> and pass the thousands of pages of legislation that make up the <em><a href="http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/glossary/community_acquis_en.htm">acquis communautaire</a></em>, the EU’s body of law. But <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2004/04/joining_the_club.html">rarely</a> do these costly processes deter states. Bosnia’s been a potential membership candidate since 2010. Its quest to join the EU has been held up largely by the <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-seeks-breakthrough-on-bosnias-accession-by-february-1418660077">Sejdić-Finci question</a>, which goes back to a 2009 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that declared part of Bosnia’s power-sharing unlawful because it discriminates against people who don’t identify as one of the three main national groups. Bosnian leaders haven’t yet fixed the problem, but EU foreign ministers, fueled by Anglo-German resolve, have recently agreed to <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-foreign-ministers-unblock-bosnias-path-to-eventual-membership-1426517868">unblock</a> the country’s path to the EU on the critical condition that leaders pledge to implement a range of economic and political reforms.</p> <p>There are some caveats, of course. First, the prospect of EU membership shouldn’t give wily politicians the impression that the Sejdić-Finci question isn’t important. It rightly tasks leaders with making a needed change to the constitution. And second, economic reform doesn’t always lead to political reform, especially when the status quo enables elites to line their pockets. Bringing about non-cosmetic change in Bosnia will require extinguishing client politics.</p> <p>Still, joining the EU could put Bosnia on the right track. This sort of soft power has always been key to the EU’s diplomatic power of persuasion, whether formally or informally. Take the 1980s and 2004 enlargements. They <a href="http://www.voxeu.org/article/how-poorer-nations-benefit-eu-membership">show</a> how preparing for EU membership can help poorer nations, such as by increasing per capita GDP, and <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcms.12081/abstract">leverage</a> systemic change. Bosnia is a bit different, due largely to its legally entrenched diversity, so if this tool is to have any hope of being a catalyst for change in Bosnia, then the EU will have to <a href="http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/?fa=57492">tailor the process</a> to the needs of a state that’s still facing obstacles in the form of old cleavages and old ethno-nationalist spoilers.</p> <p>In short, postwar transitions rarely, if ever, play out in the same way, but the political payoffs of gaining EU membership are often <a href="http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/?fa=52041">similar</a>: “Joining the EU is about binding one’s country to a strong and proven system of values that can underpin a fragile democracy.”</p> <p>Or, to put it more <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140966/milada-vachudova/the-thieves-of-bosnia">plainly</a>, EU membership could pressure elites to “steal less and govern better.” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini <a href="http://rt.com/uk/214887-eu-bosnia-membership-initiative/">said</a> last year that, “yes, there can be a new start for the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We [the EU member states] are ready to engage.” And so are Bosnians, according to last year’s fierce <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26086857">demonstrations</a>. EU membership alone won’t be a silver bullet, either. But two decades after an ugly civil war, it could inch Bosnia past Dayton.</p> <p><em><span>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span> on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a><span> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/bilsana-bibic/brain-drain-in-western-balkans">Brain drain in the Western Balkans</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Brandon Tensley Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:59:04 +0000 Brandon Tensley 91362 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Is there life after the (Bosnian) elections? Poverty as a weapon of mass destruction https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/anna-calori/is-there-life-after-bosnian-elections-poverty-as-weapon-of-mass-destr <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The political disenfranchisement and institutionalised corruption in Bosnia is causing a never-ending cycle of poverty and hopelessness.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/460563.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/460563.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Election posters in Bosnia. Demotix/Mahir Vranac. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em>"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change."</em></p><p><em></em>The well-known quote from “Il Gattopardo” by Sicilian author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa perfectly epitomises the current political deadlock of Bosnia-Herzegovina, right after the recent political elections of October 12.&nbsp;</p><p>In the novel, the phrase refers to the dramatic changes expected to occur in Italy’s society after its unification in 1886. It&nbsp;reveals the hidden goals of southern Italian aristocracy: to reform itself through embourgeoisement and the abandonment of futile privileges, in order to retain the same social status and political influences.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Interestingly, more than fifty years since its first edition,&nbsp;it provides a remarkable parallel with the electoral strategy adopted by the Bosnian political establishment. Moreover, it sheds light on the recent British-German proposal to support Bosnian institutional reforms by unlocking EU funds, and encouraging economic reforms through the (extra)ordinary&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/05/us-bosnia-eu-accession-idUSKBN0IP1V620141105">participation of World Bank and IMF.</a></p><p><a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/05/us-bosnia-eu-accession-idUSKBN0IP1V620141105"></a>Last February thousands of citizens&nbsp;<a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/page/bosnia-protests-2014">took the streets</a>&nbsp;to express frustration against political and economic corruption, unemployment, privatization, and the deluded expectations of economic recovery. It then appeared that a systemic change in the political leadership was needed. Since then, the uprising has quickly mellowed its radical character; now, only a very small number of plenums (direct democracy citizens’ assemblies) remains engaged with the legacy of such uprising. </p><p>Allegations of infiltrations by members of political parties within these&nbsp;assemblies, the catastrophic floods that struck the country last May, and a general lack of faith in the responsiveness of the political establishment have contributed to the partial muffling of such voices of dissent. Very quickly, the socio-economic issues raised during the protests have been hijacked by the parties and reformulated in empty election campaign rhetoric.</p><p>The imminence of political elections has further contributed to a partial shift of expectations on the fore bringers of socio-political change – from grassroots movements to institutionalized political parties. After all, the tones of the electoral campaign have been strongly framed around the need for change – though rarely followed by an all-encompassing, detailed programme for its achievement. It is almost as if the undertone of the campaign had a rather clear realpolitik message:&nbsp;“Change is needed for Bosnian oligarchs to stay as they are.”</p><p>The victory of the three main nationalist parties has come as somehow not surprising, both to citizens as well as experts of the intricate Bosnian political situation. The international media, other than those specialised in the field, have found in the elections’ outcome a rather familiar comfort zone: there’s no need to investigate further, since ethnic politicization is clearly persisting, despite all the efforts of the international community to encourage citizens to do otherwise.</p><p>Corruption and the persistence of ethnic voting have been regarded as the country’s two major problems by various international institutions and NGOs engaged in the country. The convenient obliviousness of international agencies is epitomized by the USAID campaign “Glasaj ili trpi!” (Vote or suffer); as to underline not only that the political stalemate is a responsibility of the non-voters, but implying that the most awaited change – 'if you don’t vote things will remain the same and you’ll have to live with that' – though needed, can be only achieved within the current political system. This USAID campaign thus reinforces the false promises sold during the electoral campaign: only “institutional politics will bring change”.</p><p>However, the electoral results have shown slight, and yet significant, changes – often overlooked by non-specialised media. The first is the challenge posed to SNSD – “Alliance for Independent Social-democrats” and to its leader Milorad Dodik in Republika Srpska (one of the two entities of which Bosnia-Herzegovina is composed). The party, initially born as an independent opposition to the right-wing nationalist SDS (“Serb Democratic Party”), has been steadily in power since the early 2000s. </p><p>The political trajectory of SNSD is well-known – from opposition to stirring nationalism; increasingly close ties with Serbia; and separatism. Its extremist calls for an independent Republika Srpska have brought the Socialist International to expel them in 2012. It is however hard to determine whether their recent narrow victory has to be attributed to the loss of support towards a very undemocratic party, to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region-article.php?yyyy=2012&amp;mm=11&amp;dd=15&amp;nav_id=83171">alleged corruption</a>&nbsp;of its leaders, or even to secessionists aims per se. </p><p>Although feeble, this is a sign that something is moving within the entity. The decreased electoral consensus towards SNSD will in fact weaken its position not only in relation to its own political allies (DNS and SP), but within the very political structure of the entity. SNSD has in fact lost its position as member of the presidency of Bosnia-Hercegovina, thus breaking its monolithic political control over the three major institutional positions in Republika Srpska (Bosnia-Herzegovina presidency member, Republika Srpska's president and prime minister).&nbsp;<span>A strengthened internal opposition within Republika Srpska's assembly could, in turn, potentially challenge SNSD's aims at depicting Republika Srpska as a strong entity ready for independence.</span></p><p>On the other hand, a variety of commentators have stressed that in the Federation (the other entity that composes Bosnia-Herzegovina, with an intermixed Muslim-Croat population) we have witnessed a great loss of the main cross-ethnic social-democratic party (SDP), rather than a nationalist victory. </p><p>In the past few years, SDP has been has been incessantly dealing with internal fragmentation, showing remarkable resemblance to European left-wing&nbsp;trends. One of its most successful and prominent leaders, Zelko Komsic, left the party in 2012 due to strong political disagreements, and since then has been leading a new social-democratic party (Demokratska Fronta), which, unsurprisingly, has been draining votes directly from SDP.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>This in turn has brought to SDP's chronic inability to properly reform and provide adequate responses to their electorate’s requests, first and foremost a more proactive policy of socio-economic development and equality. SDP has experienced a defeat because of its immobility and inability to tackle citizens’ most urgent problems. Going back to the February protests, it is no coincidence that the movement has been initiated in Tuzla, stronghold of SDP, and thus exposing its representatives to harsh criticisms from disillusioned citizens.</p><p>This political stalemate, it has been argued, is the (in)direct consequence of a constitutional and electoral system which inherently privileges small parties at the parliamentary levels, and implicitly encourages path-dependency voting mechanisms. It is in fact constitutionally foreseen (through the post-war Dayton agreement) that the three national presidents, which will alternate for 8 months throughout the 4 years legislature, will be elected among the three constituent groups – Bosnjaks, Croats and Serbs. </p><p>Although technically not binding, this has brought to a “national” voting tendency, in which each group votes for their own candidate for the presidency. The well-known ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case&nbsp;<a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1672883">“Sejdic-Finci vs Bosnia-Herzegovina”&nbsp;</a>has indeed found a violation of human rights in the very ineligibility of the applicants (a Jewish and Roma person) for the Presidency position - due to their non-membership in any of the three constituent nations. Although the process of reforming the constitution and electoral law has been widely discussed and supposedly set in motion, almost three years have passed without any foreseeable progress in this direction.</p><p>Nevertheless, if one takes a closer look, the elephant in the room is not too difficult to find: it's the silent voice of 46% electoral abstention.</p><p>Since the protests, the population’s economic conditions have, if possible, worsened: the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tradingeconomics.com/bosnia-and-herzegovina/unemployment-rate">unemployment rate is almost 44%</a>, and hits mostly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jica.go.jp/activities/issues/poverty/profile/ku57pq00001mop83-att/bos_02.pdf">young people and skilled to highly skilled employees</a>. Moreover, according to economic analyst&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSV45zu9fs8">Svetlana Cenic</a>, the situation is only destined to worsen, particularly due to the absence of strategic investments and structural reforms. At the same time, corruption and bureaucratic expenditure have increased steadily and enormously throughout the years, with the country’s political elite having the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnian-parliamentarians-keep-their-high-salaries">highest relative salaries</a>, in relation with the average wage. </p><p>In this situation, the parties’ flaunted promises of change and vague strategies for economic progress have been rarely taken seriously.According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/zarko-papic-za-klix-ba-na-ovim-izborima-su-porazeni-gradjani-bih/141013127">political analyst Zarko Papic</a>, these elections have “lost citizens, and have brought into power those who led us to poverty, apathy and depression”; for him, the analysis is simple: the million of people who actually voted in the elections are those who are somehow touched by the benefits of the otherwise exclusionary public sector. </p><p>Here, political clientelisms are created by default, and political change is feared of igniting a domino effect of sacking-and-rehiring. Very often, the same fear is perceived within the private sector, particularly for certain key-positions that still experience political influence.</p><p>Political inertia, endemic corruption and the seemingly never-ending path of Bosnia-Hercegovina towards EU accession have raised great concerns. Last Wednesday, British and German foreign ministers have put forward the proposal of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.euractiv.com/sections/global-europe/uk-germany-offer-plan-break-bosnias-eu-deadlock-309798">unlocking EU funds to speed-up institutional reforms in the country</a>&nbsp;and tackling the country's economic stagnation. In order to secure fast and effective implementation of such reforms, the IMF and World Bank will be possibly included in the encouragement of economic reforms. Internationally, it seems to be understood that no institutional reform will permanently function without a parallel economic push towards development.</p><p>Although it is right in pointing the finger at the deeply rooted corruption as enemy number one of stabilization and, ultimately, europeanisation, one has not to forget where such corruption and political apathy actually come from. The post-Dayton economic system, reformed in close consultancy with international neo-liberal agencies and institutions (IMF, World Bank, USAID, EBRD just to name a few) is not designed to sustain neither economic development, nor stabilization, and not even employment. </p><p>A “shock therapy” of privatization and market liberalizations has been imposed on the country shortly after the end of the war, with mass privatization through vouchers as the preferred method for a quick transfer of formerly socially owned property into private hands.&nbsp;<span>The subsequent widespread selling of vouchers on the black market, at an incredibly inferior value to their nominal one – understandable in a context of extreme impoverishment – allowed those in possession of enough capital to collect a consistent number of shares and become major shareholders.</span></p><p><span>The public selling of company’s shares, as a preferred method for undergoing privatization of big enterprises, has however put the country’s Privatisation Agencies in the condition of not being able to closely monitor such processes, since there is no actual mechanism of accountability for the new owners. This in turn has facilitated the dilapidation of industrial capital, slowed or prevented restructuring, and hampered possibilities of foreign investment; unemployment has increased, mass redundancies and late salaries are very frequent. Although in some cases tender privatization has brought positive results, and signs of reprisal have been timidly emerging amongst small and medium enterprises, the overall balance of the country’s socio-economic situation remains very negative.</span></p><p><span>Moreover, the global economic crisis of 2008 has further exacerbated the complexity of a very weak welfare state in combination to corruption and clientelism. It is precisely in a situation of chronic uncertainty, corroborated by a myriad of examples of irresponsible management of industrial capital, that favouritism and vote exchanges come to serve a condition of social insecurity and unavoidable hopelessness.&nbsp;In this context, the "new" initiative brought recently brought forward by Germany and the UK shows a very superficial understanding of the issues currently affecting the country. </span></p><p><span>Major economic entities such as the IMF and the World Bank have been involved in designing the country's transition for more than twenty years; the economic reforms had to be implemented quickly in order to improve citizens' standards of living. The strengthening of stable and transparent institutions, though necessary, was inevitably going to require a longer incubation period before providing any concrete results. As a consequence, the lack of balance between these two processes has so far exposed economic reforms and privatisation measures to a plethora of criticisms, entrenched corrupt elites and ultimately worsened the situation of ordinary Bosnians.</span></p><p><span>Hence, the gradual loss of faith, rooted in the understanding of a political and economic system often perceived as imposed and marginalizing leads to a voting pattern in which disillusionment prevails. Those who vote wish to maintain the same power hierarchies that will ensure no earthquakes or small revolutions in their workplace; those who don’t, simply don’t foresee change as an option.</span></p><p>It is evident that none of the major political players has the will, or the capacity, to effectively respond to citizens' urgent demands to tackle unemployment and economic chaos. Pushing the argument even further, the local political elite is unwilling to seriously tackle the economic emergency that has been dismantling the country's social texture. Endemic poverty, unemployment and widespread corruption provide a very effective weapon for citizens' discouragement, hopelessness and, ultimately, political apathy. </p><p>The loud dissent expressed in February has turned into silent non-voting precisely because of this chronic lack of hope, reinforced by a political establishment, which finds its stability in this very mass de-mobilisation.Whether life after the elections resembles Christine Lagarde or an abandoned industry next to a new shopping mall, the picture for Bosnian citizens hardly looks encouraging.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bedrudin-brljavac/bosnia-and-herzegovina-and-europeanization-between-ethnic-national-and-european-id">Bosnia and Herzegovina and Europeanization: between ethnic-national and European identities </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina Anna Calori Thu, 13 Nov 2014 22:53:22 +0000 Anna Calori 87749 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The EU: wider and deeper with the Balkans https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/christophe-solioz/eu-wider-and-deeper-with-balkans <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The post-1945 system is today overtaken by events and a new world order is about to emerge. This new—quite explosive—background doesn’t signal the end of the EU, but shouts out that its core features must be redesigned and receive broad popular support. The question is how.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/1623960.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/1623960.jpg" alt="German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle receives Balkan politicians in Berlin" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle receives Balkan politicians in Berlin. Theo Schneider/Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>After more then 50 years of European integration, the EU has to tackle a crisis in delivery and a crisis of identity. People worry more about the EU’s unfulfilled <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/summits/lis1_en.htm">economic and social promise</a>, less about the EU’s inability to play a bigger role on the world scene, and only marginally about “excessive expansion”. </p> <p>Nevertheless, we have to acknowledge that the enlarged EU is perceived as increasingly ineffective. Trust in its enlargement policy <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_arch_en.htm">significantly declined</a> in EU member states—including in traditionally pro-enlargement countries—and in candidate countries as well. More than frustration, this disenchantment expresses the rather rational opinion that a 28-member union is <a href="http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2003/11/27/du-bon-usage-d-une-europe-sans-ame-par-michel-rocard_343566_3232.html">hardly workable</a> in the actual loosely-connected network of transnational regimes.</p> <p>Nonetheless symptoms of the EU’s crisis should not be taken for its causes. It is not the enlargement <em>per se</em> which burdens any future deepening of the EU, but the way it was planned—the then 15-member union having been unable to achieve the necessary institutional reforms for further waves of enlargement. In other words, while the last round of enlargement was conducted without the institutional reform that would have strengthened both EU institutions and its cohesion, the EU cannot ignore them any longer.</p> <p>Against this background, the EU’s deepening—supranational centralisation—and its further enlargement—expansion of membership—may hardly be considered business as usual. While highlighting the increasing politicisation of the integration process of course matters, the misleading alternative - horizontality (widening) vs. verticality (deepening) - must be dismissed as such. As both these aspects are intertwined, it would be wrong to consider them separately. What is at stake is their interaction. </p> <p>In recent years many scholars and politicians have overemphasised the trade-off between widening and deepening, arguing that the first would obstruct the second. But the long and winding road of the EU demonstrates the contrary: deepening and widening go hand in hand. Enlargement has constantly affected the EU’s own functioning, producing a systematic deepening of supranational policy-making capacities. As Eva Eidbreder <a href="http://euce.org/eusa/2013/papers/11c_heidbreder.pdf">pinpoints</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>Enlargement extended the policy agenda beyond the traditional pool of EU policies to political realms in which the old member states had not seen the need to pool competences but felt pressured to introduce safeguards for the incoming members. Consequently, enlargement served as a powerful catalyst of policy-generated integration.&nbsp;</p></blockquote> <p>This is consistent with research conducted by Kelemen, Menon and Slapin. Based on a theoretical model and empirical evidence, <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13501763.2014.897745#.VDQPARZANC4">these authors suggest</a> that widening facilitates deepening: &nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p>It does so, first, by generating legislative gridlock that in turn increases the room for manoeuvre of supranational administrative and judicial actors who exploit their discretion to pursue their preferences for deeper integration. Secondly, because it encourages legislative bottlenecks, enlargement creates functional pressures for institutional reform that eventually facilitate deepening.</p></blockquote> <p>The same authors observed that successive enlargements have enhanced the centering of the EU system, notably strengthening EU’s judicial system and empowering meaningfully—albeit with poor legitimacy—the Commission’s coordination and brokerage role. </p> <p>Beyond the above-mentioned trade-off, the past six rounds of enlargement also illustrate “differentiated integration”—the eurozone and Schengen area exemplify this. Further, weaker candidates have benefited from their preferential treatment in recent rounds of enlargement—for example having more time to adopt the <em>acquis</em>. As <a href="http://www.eup.ethz.ch/people/schimmelfennig/publications/Enlargement_and_Differentiation_v4.pdf">highlighted</a> by Schimmelfennig: “the EU uses differentiated integration as an instrument to smooth the path of enlargement and to reduce its costs for both old and new member states”. </p> <p>What is at stake is thus not widening vs. deepening, but <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13501763.2014.897740#.VDQWpBZANC4">the alternative option</a>, homogeneity vs. heterogeneity—the latter favouring deeper cooperation inside the EU. To sum-up: recent research deconstructs the false alternative, widening vs. deepening and highlights the key role of heterogeneity, therefore flexibility. The remaining challenges are, first, to increase the legitimacy of the EU in the framework of a new treaty and, second, to review the enlargement process.</p> <h2><strong>Enlargement: who, when and how</strong>&nbsp;</h2> <p>Who? No other enlargement on the table is comparable with that of the Balkans. Albania became a candidate in 2014; Macedonia in 2005—but both countries are miles away from opening accession talks; Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded its negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) in 2008—but this agreement is still not in force; Serbia started the accession negotiations formally in January 2014; Kosovo started negotiating the SAA in late 2012. Turkey, negotiating since 2005, has not yet embarked on more than half of its negotiation. To sum up, all these countries are in the slow lane. </p> <p>Despite modest results and serious shortcomings, especially in Bosnia and Kosovo where the EU is part of the problem, substantial progress in modernisation and democratisation has been achieved since the 1990s. Compared to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Balkans stands as an example of successful post-conflict reconstruction, notwithstanding the fact that the EU was unable to solve Macedonia’s name dispute, Kosovo’s status and the Bosnian conundrum. Nevertheless: the perspective of accession as a major stabilising anchor for all countries, remains the most efficient incentive for the on-going post-communism transition and reform process. In the framework of the above-mentioned, already-existing trend towards a flexible and more heterogeneous EU, some five additional new incomers—Turkey here not included—will not affect the on-going process of (de)centralisation. Neither <a href="http://www.cairn.info/revue-outre-terre-2004-2-page-119.htm">will they overburden</a> the “absorption capacities” of the EU. </p> <p>If we acknowledge in recent years the proactive presence of Turkey, China and Russia, they however do not offer <a href="http://www.demosservices.home.pl/www/files/demos_paradigm.pdf">a credible alternative</a> for the Western Balkans. But if the EU integration perspective doesn’t gain in credibility, major setbacks of this kind cannot be discounted. A halt in these transition and democratisation processes could well introduce a vicious circle and lead to the consolidation of clientelist and semi-authoritarian regimes—most probably increasing China’s and Russia’s influence in the region. In this case the EU membership would become a “dead deal”.</p> <p>When? After the 2004 “big bang” enlargement, distinguished experts and politicians extended the “pause for reflexion” on the Treaty to the enlargement process. Soon the pause became “enlargement fatigue”. Ten years later and things are going from bad to worse: while presenting officially the political guidelines for the next commission on July 15, the new president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, <a href="https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/whitepaper/jean-claude-juncker-my-agenda-jobs-growth-fairness-and-democratic-change">clearly suggested</a> a “break”:</p> <p>The EU needs to take a break from enlargement so that we can consolidate what has been achieved among the 28. This is why, under my Presidency of the Commission, ongoing negotiations will continue, and notably the Western Balkans will need to keep a European perspective, but no further enlargement will take place over the next five years.</p> <p>But what does this mean? The most advanced candidate countries, Montenegro and Serbia are not likely to join before 2020, the remaining candidates 2030. This means some 20, respectively 30 years since the launch of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement in 1999. It is not clear if Juncker’s statement refers to this timetable or if he is adding five further years—willing to slow down enlargement even further. If so, we would face a never-ending negotiation scenario that <a href="http://www.suedosteuropa.uni-graz.at/en/news/2014/balkans-europe-policy-advisory-group-policy-paper-presentation-belgrade">might seriously affect the reform process</a> in the Balkans. </p> <p>The fact that the Directorate General for Enlargement has been renamed European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations tends to confirm this scenario. For sure the 2014–2019 Juncker Commission is not looking outwards, but in. While for some candidate countries the new EU priorities will come as a blow, they may be quite welcome to those in the region and in various European capitals who only paid lip service to the accession process, and who have—albeit different—interests to advance, whether this is their private economic interest and/or political power.</p> <p>Curiously, on the very same day that Juncker presented his political guidelines, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel—while meeting in Dubrovnik the Presidents of Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia—sent a quite different message stating that, provided the criteria and treaties are respected, the (not yet EU member state) countries from the Balkans have a “clear prospect” of joining the EU. Merkel <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/berlin-conference-reassures-region-eu-devotion-amid-ukraine-crisis">emphasised</a> that: “The countries of the region that have gathered here are on the way to becoming EU members and we can say that all of them have already completed a big part of the journey”. Once again, the EU doesn’t speak with one voice and the signals are confusing for people in Europe and for those willing to join the EU.</p> <p>The Dubrovnik gathering was followed by a conference organised in Berlin on August 28, 2014. Under the motto “Through trade, investment and regional cooperation to new dynamics”, heads of government, foreign ministers and economic ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia attended the conference. The follow-up conferences are <a href="http://www.shqiptarja.com/pdf/new/Konferenca%20e%20Berlinit%20-%20Deklarata%20permbyllese.Engl_001.pdf">supposed to be organised</a> each year until 2018 and to assess progress in the field of regional economic cooperation, resolving outstanding bilateral and internal issues. Not a word on how. Berlin was just another additional—mostly disappointing—conference. Nevertheless, Germany, the most important trade partner for the Balkan region, seems to be the stakeholder most willing to push the integration forward. But how?</p> <h2><strong>How not to do this</strong></h2> <p>The EU’s current enlargement strategy is based on the “regatta principle” that clearly prioritises the technical side of the accession process and underplays its political dimension: each country implements the <em>acquis</em> individually and its integration into the EU progresses in accordance with its reform milestones. In other words, each country joins the union at a different point in time. Many leaders in the region welcomed this approach; beyond the mostly empty rhetoric on regional cooperation, all are looking separately to Brussels, not taking care of their neighbours. This of course weakens the bargaining power of the region’s states. </p> <p>While some technical arguments favour this approach, it stands nevertheless in contradiction with the EU’s own regional policy, and the fact that regional cooperation is an extra conditionality that has been imposed on the Balkan candidate countries. Nor does it fit with <a href="https://www.coleurope.eu/node/2018">the historic heritage</a> bequeathed by a shared past, followed by wars, and now, mutual suspicion. It also neglects the fact that the previous successful rounds of enlargement were all “group driven” and successful. </p> <p>Notably the regional solidarity illustrated by the Višegrad four stands as a model of effective regional cooperation and integration processes that <a href="http://www.nomos-elibrary.de/index.php?dokid=113081">could inspire the Balkans</a>. Especially inasmuch as each Balkan country is facing serious bilateral problems that still hamper bilateral and multilateral cooperation and may seriously obstruct the accession process once in its final stages. Various EU member states including Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania and Slovenia are involved—countries that might receive support from the anti-enlargement lobby in the EU.</p> <p>While the accession process is supposed to be equal for all candidates, the Balkan countries have to fulfil a set of additional conditions—notably the “Copenhagen Plus” criteria—and experiment in a far more rigorous union in the way it monitors “enhanced conditionality”. More than was the case with past rounds, the ‘regatta approach’ favours single members who block or delay decisions on enlargement. All this considerably slows the process down at the same time giving the impression that the Balkans do not race by the same rules. </p> <p>Last but not least. Let’s assume in the teeth of all common sense, that the regatta race was in fact the right way to go. Where are the results after 15 years? Game over.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>So how to proceed? </strong></h2> <p>We have argued for serious reforms inside the EU that would include a constructive deepening–widening process. Only such a process could in our view reload and legitimise enlargement. It would also provide the EU with an opportunity to recommit to the region with some credibility. A new treaty could possibility envision integrating the candidate countries in some EU structures—observer status in the EU Council and Parliament, participant status in some such EU programme as Erasmus. The first impact in the Balkans would be restoring the incentive to reform and avoiding any unnecessary postponement of accession. To be more assertive doesn’t mean to implement a bulldozer approach. Timing matters: a clear and realistic timetable would be a considerable step forward. </p> <p>The second consequence of this approach would be developing a regional qualitative focus on the—not merely technical but essentially—political dimension of the integration process. Past candidate countries, not only Romania and Bulgaria, entered more rapidly than their reform progress report would have allowed simply because of the successful exertion of political influence. All past candidate countries benefited from certain “exemptive differentiation” and/or “transitional arrangements”—<a href="http://www.christophesolioz.ch/papers/2010/doc/2010_03_seer.pdf">these should also apply in specific ways</a> to these new incomers and ease their path to Brussels. </p> <p>Further, countries should meet the criteria fixed by the conditionality package prior to membership, not to talks. A conditionality set should be prioritised, focusing on national convergence strategies (targeting various issues, notably: public administration, fiscal consolidation, improvement in productivity, reform of education). A proactive handling of the exemptive differentiation and transitional arrangements—including extensive assistance measures—should be adopted for issues requesting more administrative competencies and capacity building. As for still open questions (border, status, constitution—what Veton Surroi calls the “unfinished states”): the EU must consider the alternative of solving them in the framework of the EU. Accordingly, an “integration follow-up” mechanism targeting these issues should be set up. </p> <p>Third, we clearly advocate a single round—a ‘caravan’ instead of the ‘regatta approach’. All countries would then negotiate simultaneously for membership. In this way the shortcomings of the regatta would be avoided. This would also rule out the split between candidates in one group (of 2 countries) moving steadily forward, while the prospects for the slower candidates became bleak—leading most probably towards the abandonment of accession. Such a caravan approach would also reinvigorate the accession process and create a truly new regional dynamic, increasing the bargaining power of the candidate countries. </p> <p>Cross-border regional projects should receive more attention and be supported by the European Investment Bank (EIB). Enhanced and effective regional collaboration could create a virtuous circle of transformation and integration. <a href="http://www.nomos-shop.de/_assets/downloads/9783832965976_lese01.pdf">Regional cooperation not limited to the Balkan states</a>, could involve Central Europe and, in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (NEP), the Baltic area.</p><p><em>This is an excerpt from a paper delivered today to a conference in Rome organised by the Italian EU Presidency.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Albania </div> <div class="field-item even"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Serbia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Kosovo </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Kosovo Serbia Bosnia and Herzegovina Albania Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Christophe Solioz Wed, 08 Oct 2014 07:35:01 +0000 Christophe Solioz 86609 at https://www.opendemocracy.net States heed the warning: Srebrenica’s survivors make international legal history https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/lara-j-nettelfield/states-heed-warning-srebrenica%E2%80%99s-survivors-make-international- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A court has found the Netherlands partially responsible for the deaths of residents of the UN “safe area” in Srebrenica, who had sought refuge on property occupied by Dutch peacekeeping forces (known as Dutchbat). &nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/sre.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/sre.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo supplied by author</span></span></span></p><p>On 11 July 2014, the world turned its focus to the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center and Cemetery, as it does for a brief moment every year, where 175 families, all survivors of the genocide, interred their loved ones identified over the past year.</p> <p>Far from the freshly dug graves still bearing temporary markers, Srebrenica’s survivors made international legal history in a Dutch courtroom last Wednesday, bringing a small measure of overdue justice.</p> <p>The court found the Netherlands partially responsible for the deaths of residents of the UN “safe area” who sought refuge on property occupied by Dutch peacekeeping forces (known as Dutchbat). &nbsp;</p> <p>This year marks the nineteenth anniversary since the Srebrenica enclave fell to Serbian and Bosnian Serb forces that killed more than 8,000 men and boys, the largest single crime of the three and a half year Bosnian war and genocide in the determination of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.</p> <p>The plaintiffs in the case represented more than 6000 victims. The court rejected liability for those not on the United Nations base, a disappointing determination for some who see little practical difference between those who made it inside the makeshift fence that formed a perimeter, and those who didn’t, during the chaos of the sweltering summer days following 11 July 1995.</p> <p>As the enclave fell, Srebrenica’s residents went to the UN compound, a former battery factory, attempting to survive the Serb advance. As the base got crowed, on July 13th, Dutch soldiers forced 300 off United Nations property, turning them directly into the arms of their assassins, after the mass killings had already begun. It is the deaths of these 300 men for which the court has found the government responsible.</p> <p>&nbsp;“[Dutch troops] should have taken into account the possibility that these men would be the victim of genocide,” it found.</p> <p>Later, aided by Dutch peacekeepers, the Bosnian Serb army bused over 25,000 women and children to nearby Tuzla. Men and boys formed a column of an estimated 15,000 who trekked through the hills where many were captured and executed trying to reach Bosnian government territory. Others were immediately round up. Survivors blame the Dutch troops for standing by as the enclave was invaded. The claimants “argue[d] that if an alarm about said war crimes of 12 or 13 July 1995 had been raised, the lives of many could have been saved as this could have prompted the UN, NATO or individual states to launch a direct military intervention.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/sre2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/sre2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo supplied by author</span></span></span></p> <p>This verdict started with a meeting of the members of the family association, Mothers of Enclaves of Srebrenica and Žepa, and a Mostar-based law firm, Kebo and Guzin. The women aided Semir Guzin and Mirsad Kebo, spending months collecting the necessary testimonies and documents. They eventually partnered with a Dutch law firm able to represent them in court in a case that initially asked both the United Nations and the Dutch government to accept responsibility for its roles in the genocide. United Nations immunity was eventually upheld.</p> <p>This decision follows on the heels of a similar one decided last September brought by Hasan Nuhanović and the family of Rizo Mustafić, an electrician who worked for Dutchbat who died in the genocide. Nuhanović was a Dutchbat translator who lost his entire family – including his parents and his brother – in the fall of the enclave. The fall decision of the Dutch Supreme Court found the government liable for three deaths – that of Mustafić, and Nuhanović’s father and brother, paving the way for compensation claims. This case established the precedent that UN peacekeepers could now be responsible for crimes. The court noted that the “body of facts in this case is more wide-ranging than in the Nuhanović and Mustafić cases…[and] relates to the actions of the government of The Netherlands.”</p> <p>Wednesday’s finding has been a long time in the making. In June 2004, I took a bus from Sarajevo to The Hague with the women, plaintiffs in this case, during which they handed over their initial paperwork to the government. They carefully planned protests in front of the Dutch parliament, Ministry of Defense, and the Anne Frank House, raising awareness of their suffering. They handed out small books containing Bosnian photographer Tarik Samarah’s pictures of Srebrenica’s crime scenes and its aftermath. In the middle of Amsterdam he captured a survivor standing in front of a poster of Anne Frank and her mother, all three united by the political violence of the 20th century. &nbsp;</p> <p>As I outline in <em>Courting Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina</em>, Srebrenica’s survivors have expanded the idea of who should be culpable for genocide in the modern era. They have been courageously asking this question for almost two decades. With the help of their lawyers, they may forever change international politics.</p> <p>They have done so amid continual denial of the genocide by Bosnian Serb and Serbian leaders. In the days before this year’s commemoration, RS President Milorad Dodik mocked their suffering: “Serb people will in the future have to in some way recognize and celebrate Ratko Mladić, Radovan Karadžić…to repay them in some decent way for their contribution…” lauding the work of the chief architects of the genocide.</p> <p>The significance of this case extends beyond Srebrenica. Lawyers are helping victims of political violence create a longer chain of accountability in other settings.</p> <p>To mention but one, now significant in the current crisis: In the state of Washington, lawyers brought a suit against Caterpillar Inc. for aiding and abetting war crimes on behalf of the family of Rachel Corrie, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement killed in 2003 while she stood defending the homes of Palestinians razed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. They asked the court to consider the culpability of the company for selling armored bulldozers to the Israeli government, including its massive D9 model, it knew would be used to destroy Palestinian homes. The case was dismissed but the question had been posed in a courtroom. Similar ones are sure to follow.</p> <p>This decision puts states and other institutions on notice: they may be called to account for their actions.</p><p><em>The details of the events of Srebrenica genocide can be found at Srebrenica Mapping Genocide project of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) at: http://www.srebrenica-mappinggenocide.com/en-m/a</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/lara-j-nettelfield/srebrenica-genocide%E2%80%99s-lasting-legacy-war-criminals-in-our-mids">The Srebrenica genocide’s lasting legacy: war criminals in our midst</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ed-vulliamy/srebrenica-world-fails-but-never-one%E2%80%99s-own-government">Srebrenica: the world fails, but never one’s own government</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> Netherlands </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Netherlands Bosnia and Herzegovina Lara J. Nettelfield Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:18:22 +0000 Lara J. Nettelfield 84626 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Sonja Karadzic can’t help her surname, but she can help her politics https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/heather-mcrobie/sonja-karadzic-can%E2%80%99t-help-her-surname-but-she-can-help-her-politics <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic’s emergence as a political figure highlights the crucial juncture Bosnia and Herzegovina finds itself in in 2014, as well as the complex, auxiliary role of female family members in post-Yugoslav ultranationalism</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/sreb_5079.JPG" alt="Memorial stone with hundreds of names engraved on it" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Srebrenica memorial ceremony, 2014. Photo: Zulfikar Filandra. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The news that Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic, daughter of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/dec/04/karadzic-bosnia-war-crimes-vulliamy">Radovan Karadzic</a>, has been chosen as a Republika Srpska parliamentary candidate in the 2014 election comes as Bosnia and Herzegovina is at a crossroads, in a year that has seen significant popular protests quickly followed by devastating regional floods. In some sense, her advent at this moment feels ominous – a figure with a loaded name and symbolic position in the political landscape suddenly emerging out of the flux of recent months. &nbsp;</p> <p>Karadzic-Jovicevic cannot, of course, help who her parents are or what her surname is. Particularly in a <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/activists-plot-end-to-bosnia-s-dysfunctional-politics">post-war political and social landscape</a> of consociational ‘compulsory ethnic identification’ – in which surnames can be ‘read’ as signifiers of ethno-religious belonging, and a new generation of children are raised partly in a <a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/05/17/bosnia-segregated-schools/P9Z30b1IZRTQz1C0d6jNTJ/story.html">segregated education system</a> in which lineage is destiny – the need to resist reducing individuals to their surnames and heritages is even stronger than usual.&nbsp; </p> <p>And Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic isn’t the only descendant of the 1990s wars to have entered politics in the post-war period, in which ethnically-based political parties trade in large part on the identity fault-lines of the war – the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakir_Izetbegovi%C4%87">son</a> of Alija Itzetbegovic, the wartime Bosniak/ Bosnian Muslim leader of Bosnia, and Karadzic’s political nemesis, has also risen to political prominence in the post-war period.</p> <p>This caveat acknowledged, however, the emergence of the daughter of Radovan Karadzic as a political figure is troubling for two main reasons – her own public statements on her father’s ‘innocence’ and ‘persecution’ by international justice, and the political geography of Bosnia and where, specifically, she has chosen to run as a candidate. A resident of Sarajevo recently said to me: “it’s better to treat it as a joke, laugh at how pathetic it is. Like history will repeat itself this time as farce.” But her decision to enter politics is significant both in terms of how the upcoming national elections in the country may play out, and how Bosnian society and politics in the larger sense may now be heading in the wake of the popular protests earlier this year.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/sreb_5048.JPG" alt="People carrying a coffin of remains to a new grave." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Srebrenica memorial ceremony, 2014. Photo: Zulfikar Filandra. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>During the war, Sonja Karadzic <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7851094.stm">ran her father’s press office</a> from the wartime Bosnian Serb capital of Pale, and is well remembered – rarely fondly – by journalists who covered the war. She has always maintained her father’s innocence and the ‘righteousness’ of his vision for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in reality entailed ethnic cleansing, genocide and the <a href="http://www.rferl.org/section/the_siege_of_sarajevo/2356.html">44 month siege of Sarajevo</a>. In an interview with the Russian government-sponsored television station <em>Russia Today</em> in 2009, she <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVQt07JvuHU">reiterated her belief in her father’s innocence</a> and criticised the ICTY, saying “the Hague tribunal is not a court of justice, but just some kind of disciplinary commission for NATO.” </p><p>When Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic apologises for Radovan Karadzic, she is denying facts that have been established at the ICTY and the<a href="http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&amp;p2=3&amp;case=91&amp;code=bhy&amp;p3=4"> ICJ</a>. In this context, there’s cause for alarm both in the recent statements of Karadzic-Jovicevic and her party on what she would stand for if elected, and the choice of Pale in particular as the place where she will stand as a candidate. She has been nominated by her father’s party, the Serb Democratic Party, on a campaign that aims to push for Serb solidarity, and according to news website <em>Balkan Insight</em>, <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/karadzic-s-daughter-enters-bosnian-politics">encourage her voters to “think Serb.”</a></p> <p>Moreover, she has chosen to stand as a candidate for the SDP in <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale,_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina">Pale</a>, the wartime seat of her father. Today Pale is a lacklustre town, markedly different from the cafes and cinemas of Sarajevo just a fifteen minute drive away – although in his <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/dec/04/karadzic-bosnia-war-crimes-vulliamy">recent book</a> Ed Vulliamy recalls how “during the war, the journey could take a whole day, from one world into another.” Karadzic-Jovicevic herself has said that it has been a special honour to be nominated in Pale as it is “where the foundations of Republika Srpska were laid.”&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/sreb_5122_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/sreb_5122_0.JPG" alt="A fresh gravestone in a graveyard" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Srebrenica memorial ceremony, 2014. Photo: Zulfikar Filandra. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the nineteen years since the Dayton peace accords divided Bosnia and Herzegovina into two entities (with the exception of the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/may/14/brcko-bosnia-europe-only-free-city">Brcko district</a>), Pale has been in Republika Srpska, one of the two ‘entities’, while its previously Bosnian Muslim-majority part is now in Federacija, the other federal entity. This severing of the country along the fault-lines of the war is mirrored in the post-war political system and its power-sharing Presidency, in which political parties campaign primarily on ethnic lines. </p><p>For Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic to stand for election in Pale this year is an unambiguous assertion of a vision of ultranationalism that was violently enacted on the region in the 1990s – in her own words, a continuation of her father’s work – and at the site from which her father enacted his ultranationalist vision.</p> <p>After all, Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic trades, in large part, on being ‘her father’s daughter’.&nbsp; As such, her (re-)emergence in Bosnian politics also points to the auxiliary, ambivalent role of women in post-Yugoslav ultranationalisms, which weaves into its ideologies rigidly demarcated gender roles, and emphatically draws upon these nationalist-prescribed roles through its ethno-nationalist symbol.&nbsp; The reverence in post-Tito Serbian nationalism for the male soldier and ‘warrior’ was accompanied by a fetishisation of ‘woman as mother’ who, focused on performing her primary function of reproducing, ‘gives birth’ to the new nation.&nbsp; Yet despite drawing heavily on conceptions of the mythical ‘lost Eden’ of ancient Serbia and the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, this patriarchal vision played out in a complex manner in post-Tito modernity.&nbsp; </p> <p>It has often been noted that post-Tito ultranationalisms featured a number of quote-unquote ‘strong’ women at the forefront of Serbian and Bosnian Serb politics, such as <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maja_Gojkovi%C4%87">Maja Gojkovic</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirjana_Markovi%C4%87">Mirjana Markovic</a> and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biljana_Plav%C5%A1i%C4%87">Biljana Plavsic</a>.&nbsp; However, as feminist theorists looking at women in right-wing movements have noted, each came either from anti-communist, nationalist families, or (in the case of Markovic) came from a famous communist family and self-identified as such even whilst propagating an ultranationalist agenda and worldview. </p> <p>Their rise to prominence came through <a href="http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ek77LBo_1PEC&amp;pg=PA270&amp;dq=women+in+serbian+ultranationalism&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=V_WkU7blC8bGkAW-2ICoCw&amp;ved=0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q=women%20in%20serbian%20ultranationalism&amp;f=false">‘normative heterofamilial lines’</a>, in which mothers and daughters of the political elite can nepotistically assume political positions in the absence of (preferable) sons while the structure of patriarchy and patrilineality remains unchallenged.&nbsp; Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic – her surname itself awkwardly marking her a hybrid of her father and husband – draws upon this tradition and perpetuates it, just as she seeks, in her political position, to ‘continue’ her father’s vision. </p> <p>Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic’s invisible twin is <a href="http://dobbs.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/12/14/visiting_the_grave_of_ana_mladic">Ana Mladic</a>, the daughter of the Bosnian Serb military leader now on trial for war crimes at the ICTY in The Hague.&nbsp; At the height of the war in 1994, Ana Mladic committed suicide aged 23 by shooting herself with her father’s gun. Although the daughter of an elite figure can only ever awkwardly stand as shorthand for the experience of women outside of the elite, her death nonetheless soon became symbolic.&nbsp; Like the stereotype of the teenage girl self-harming and starving herself, internalising the horrors of the external world, Mladic’s daughter’s suicide was seen as a response to her father’s crimes and, more broadly, the inability of women to function in an ultranationalist climate that rigidly polices gender identity on the one hand and rigidly demarcates ethnicity on the other. </p> <p>The life of Ana Mladic has been drawn upon by feminist theorists and <a href="http://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Bosnia-Erzegovina/La-figlia-138265">novelists</a> using it, in various ways, as a prism for the experience of women under ultranationalism and in war: feminist Croatian writer and journalist Slavenka Drakulic wrote a haunting re-imagining of Ana Mladic’s final hours before her suicide, and the private hell of her home life, stifled behind closed doors as her father publicly concentrated on the war. &nbsp;The figures of the two daughters mirror each other – if Ana was apparently so haunted by her father’s actions, why isn’t Sonja? </p> <p>Academic Nastasja Vojvodic has written on how <a href="///C:/Users/Heather/Desktop/While%20women%20were%20paradoxically%20liable%20for%20the%20life%20as%20well%20as%20the%20death%20of%20their%20respectivenations%20through%20reproduction,%20the%20women%20belonging%20to%20the%20groups%20of%20the%20ethnic%20Other%20weresubjugated%20in%20a%20corresponding%20respect.">ultranationalism and patriarchy aligned</a> in the control of female identity and the female body, as “while women were paradoxically liable for the&nbsp;life as well as the death of&nbsp;their respective nations through reproduction, the women belonging to the groups of the ethnic Other were subjugated in a corresponding respect.” In Zarana Papic’s analysis, a nationalist state instrumentalises its ‘own’ women into “birth machines” while its ethnic opponents become targets of destruction – destruction that plays out on gendered lines in the war from the mass killing of boys and men in Srebrenica to the mass rapes of Bosnian and Croatian women.&nbsp; </p> <p>The emergence of female political figures such as Karadzic-Jovicevic (and Gojkovic and Plavsic before her), is – when situated in this context – no feminist victory.&nbsp; Whilst acknowledging their political agency and the choices they have made within the constraints that come of being born into political ultranationalist families (the strain of which is seen most obviously in the life of Ana Mladic) they primarily signal a failure of political process.&nbsp; </p> <p>Their ascendance, both in the post-Tito war period and today, doesn’t tell a story of female empowerment, only a story of nepotism and kleptocracy in which wives and daughters of the elite can occasionally play at honorary men while ultranationalist ideology enforces strict gender binaries on politics and society as a whole.</p> <p>Yet Karadzic-Jovicevic’s ascendancy now is striking because it comes at a crucial moment for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its upcoming national elections.&nbsp; Last month, the eyes of the international media briefly <a href="http://m.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28062876">returned to Sarajevo</a> for the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but in 2014 Bosnia is in turmoil beyond the headlines.&nbsp; </p> <p>Earlier this year, the country nearly came to a standstill in February and March <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/28/bosnia-protest-citizens-change-corruption">after popular protests in cities and towns across the country</a> demanded an end to the corrupt, ethno-nationalist political framework established by the 1995 Dayton constitution.&nbsp; In the <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/blog/plenums-are-teaching-bosnians-real-democracy-at-last">direct-democracy ‘plenums’</a> that followed in <a href="http://shefgeographylives.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/mapping-the-plenums-in-bosnia-and-herzegovina/">many cities</a>, citizens of all ethnicities expressed a number of core concerns, such as a desire for an end to government corruption, an end to the ‘compulsory ethnic identification’ in public life of the consociational Dayton period, and a desire for politicians to address the social needs of citizens, who face high unemployment, steeply rising costs of living and inadequate public services as their political elite focus on their own profits and stirring ethno-nationalist tensions for electoral gain.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/22/balkan-floods-social-disaster-former-yugoslavia">floods that devastated the western Balkans</a> in May seem to have swept the nascent direct democracy of the plenums away with them, and the weekly meetings of direct democracy have petered out across the country.&nbsp; And although some activists involved in organising the protests believe the experience of the plenums has initiated a fundamental shift in political mindset among the population, others <a href="http://eurasia.ro/?p=54565">argue</a> that fractures were already emerging in the movement before the May floods, as the plenums attempted the difficult task of transitioning from what they were against to articulating what they were in favour of.</p> <p>Nonetheless, <a href="http://www.usip.org/events/general-election-2014-and-the-protests-in-bosnia-change-possible">their recent impact on Bosnian politics</a> finds the country in election year torn between an attempt to forge new political narratives and the ghosts of the ethno-nationalist past clinging to power in the present.&nbsp; </p> <p>If the plenums represent the possibility of a step forward in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or at least the possibility of life beyond the 19 year Dayton stalemate, the ascendancy of Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic as a political figure – and the past that she drags with her – represents an alarming step back.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/radovan-karadzic-the-politics-of-an-arrest">Radovan Karadzic: the politics of an arrest</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/reimagining_yugoslavia/radovan-karadzic-capture-a-moment-for-history">Radovan Karadzic’s capture: a moment for history</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heather-mcrobie-sadzida-tulic/ratko-mladi%C4%87s-arrest-start-but-let-it-not-obscure-how-much-more-is-nee">Ratko Mladić&#039;s arrest: a start, but let it not obscure how much more is needed for justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-slavenka-drakulic/slavenka-drakuli%C4%87-violence-memory-and-nation">Slavenka Drakulić: violence, memory, and the nation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/listen-to-bosnias-plenums">Listen to Bosnia&#039;s plenums</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jasmin-mujanovi%C4%87-heather-mcrobie/evolution-of-bosnia%E2%80%99s-protest-movement-interview-with-jasmin-m">The evolution of Bosnia’s protest movement: an interview with Jasmin Mujanović</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/what-should-we-do-about-radovan-karad%C5%BEi%C4%87%E2%80%99s-poetry">What should we do about Radovan Karadžić’s poetry?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sumeja-tulic/bosnia-and-universal-theme-of-police-brutality">Bosnia and the universal theme of police brutality</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/stef-jansen/bosnia-and-herzegovina-putting-social-justice-on-agenda">Bosnia and Herzegovina: putting social justice on the agenda</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnian Citizens Protest 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Editor's Pick women and power women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Heather McRobie Wed, 16 Jul 2014 08:03:27 +0000 Heather McRobie 84449 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Srebrenica genocide’s lasting legacy: war criminals in our midst https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/lara-j-nettelfield/srebrenica-genocide%E2%80%99s-lasting-legacy-war-criminals-in-our-mids <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A painful legacy of the Srebrenica slaughter can be felt in the United States, where soldiers of the perpetrator’s army - the Army of Republika Srpska - have sought refuge since the war ended.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/14627268271_5689d9ef59_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/14627268271_5689d9ef59_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Survivors and mourners at the 19th year anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. Flickr/Taylor Mc. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Last week at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center and Cemetery, 175 Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) will be laid to rest. This year marks the 19th anniversary since the UN “safe area” fell to Serbian and Bosnian Serb forces who killed more than 8,000 men and boys, the largest single crime of the three and a half year Bosnian war and genocide in the determination of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.</p><p>A painful legacy of the Srebenica slaughter can be felt in the United States, where soldiers of the perpetrator’s army - the Army of Republika Srpska - have sought refuge since the war ended.</p><p>As we discovered in our recent book,&nbsp;<em>Srebrenica in the Aftermath of Genocide</em>, by omitting their wartime military service from immigration forms, former combatants were resettled all over the country - in Illinois, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, often in the same communities as survivors of the genocide. Many traumatized refugees have been taunted by the presence of those who wished them dead back home.</p><p>The issue first came to the attention of a U.S. immigration official reading former&nbsp;<em>Boston Globe</em>&nbsp;reporter Elizabeth Neuffer’s book,&nbsp;<em>The Key to My Neighbor’s House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda</em>. The name Marko Boškić in the text sounded familiar. Boškić immigrated from Eastern Bosnia (via Germany) despite having participated in the massacres on the Branjevo Miliary Farm where some 1,200 captives perished. He had numerous run-ins with the law in his new home in Peabody, MA. As a result of the official’s inquiry, Boškić faced a criminal trial in the U.S. for immigration violations and was extradited to Bosnia to answer to war crimes charges.</p><p>Boškić kicked off a chain of events. The government asked the ICTY for a list of soldiers in the Eastern Bosnian military units responsible for the genocide, then matched the list to immigration rolls. They discovered more than 150 individuals who may have been directly responsible for the carnage in Srebrenica.&nbsp;</p><p>The Department of Homeland Security’s Human Rights Violator and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU) within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has conducted extensive research on the wartime activities of suspected perpetrators from the former Yugoslavia. It even hired a former top ICTY military expert. These investigations have lead to both federal criminal trials and civil immigration proceedings.</p><p>The unit faces an uphill battle. It sometimes struggles to find prosecutors willing to take on these cases which carry low sentences, bring little professional glory, and come with complicated jurisdictional issues. Witnesses are difficult to come by and often fear retribution back home. They must win the trust of survivor communities as well. The issue of immigration violations is also a weak substitute for a real war crimes trial. The unit’s work is not limited to Southeastern Europe, either: the office has cases involving more than 90 countries, some of which deal with places where U.S. foreign policy, and sometimes direct aid, was initially on the side of the perpetrators.</p><p>The presence of war criminals on our shores is, by no means, a new problem in the United States. The government has tried to ferret out perpetrators of war crimes at least since the creation of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the division in the Department of Justice that investigated the presence of former Nazis at the end of World War II.</p><p>The American public became aware of the looming issue in the 1960s when the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;reported that a former Nazi camp prison guard was living quietly as a housewife in Queens. More than 300 former Nazis were deported, stripped of citizenship or kept from entering the US between OSI’s formation in 1979 and 2006.</p><p>Since then human rights legislation has expanded in American law and the government has dedicated more resources both to DHS and the Department of Justice to making sure the country is not a haven for perpetrators.</p><p>This work deserves a closer look.&nbsp;&nbsp;Legal historian&nbsp;Judy Feigin’s sweeping 600-page history of the OSI’s effort,&nbsp;<em>Striving for Accountability in the Aftermath of the Holocaust</em>, poses some of the questions we should be considering: “What kind of behavior constitutes assistance in persecution? How do people become involved in genocidal activity? How should society handle them 30, 40, 50 years after the fact? And what is society’s goal in bringing these cases?” Feigin asked.</p><p>In addition, deportation, a common outcome of these proceedings, is sometimes literally a ticket to impunity: criminal trials do not always await genocidiares back home. Accountability is not achieved by returning perpetrators to countries with weak judicial systems and no resources.</p><p>This month, as hundreds of families travel from around the world to Eastern Bosnia to lay their loved ones to rest, and other members of the Bosnian diaspora mark this solemn occasion in the U.S., they, and the survivors of mass atrocities across the globe, deserve some answers.</p><p><em>This article was previously published at <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/srebrenica-s-forgotten-legacy-war-criminals-in-the-us">BIRN</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ed-vulliamy/srebrenica-world-fails-but-never-one%E2%80%99s-own-government">Srebrenica: the world fails, but never one’s own government</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/praveen-madhiraju/milosevic-serbia-and-eu">Milosevic, Serbia, and the EU</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? United States Bosnia and Herzegovina Lara J. Nettelfield Mon, 14 Jul 2014 18:01:48 +0000 Lara J. Nettelfield 84440 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Srebrenica: the world fails, but never one’s own government https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ed-vulliamy/srebrenica-world-fails-but-never-one%E2%80%99s-own-government <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There are cogent reasons – international, historical and domestic to Britain – why this year's Srebrenica massacre commemorations are different, and beg painful, difficult questions that demand answers.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/752373.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/752373.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Bosnian Muslim citizens weep and pray near coffins prepared for a mass burial at the Memorial Center in Potocari, near Srebenica.RFE/RL/Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></p><p><span>The earth around Srebrenica yesterday took in the remains of a further 175</span><em> </em><span>bodies – in some cases just a bone or two – alongside the thousands already interred there. Exhumed from mass graves, they had finally been identified by DNA matches with surviving relatives - 'this year's' addition, to what will one day be a cemetery for all the 8,000-plus unarmed men and boys summarily slaughtered in the worst single bloodbath in Europe since the Third Reich.</span></p> <p>This was the nineteenth anniversary of the massacre in 1995, ahead of next year's twentieth to which legions of politicians and dignitaries are sure to descend, shed tears and be seen to do so – whether crocodile or sincere. But there are cogent reasons – international, historical and domestic to Britain – why this year's commemorations are different, and beg painful, difficult questions that demand answers as yet unforthcoming but necessary to any reckoning with this and other atrocities. </p> <p>The first reason is that next Wednesay, the question of legal responsibility for the massacre raises its own stakes to the international level: a district court in The Hague will deliver its verdict in the case of 6,000 survivors who are suing the Dutch state for the failure of its soldiers - part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission&nbsp; - charged to protect the UN-declared 'Safe Area', but who ejected crowds seeking protection in its compound as the execution squads arrived in town, and watched on as the Bosnian Serb units separated men and boys, for massacre, from women and children. </p> <p>The verdict will be a landmark one affecting not only the wider issues of accountability for the massacre, but the role and obligations of troops taking part in future UN peacekeeping missions elsewhere in the world.</p> <p>The case has a legal precedent in a ruling by the Netherlands’supreme court last September, that the Dutch state was responsible for not preventing three Bosniak men from being killed after they were expelled from the base. Liesbeth Zegveld, who represented one of the Bosnians in the case, Hasan Nuhanovic, said the verdict was based on the fact that the Dutch battalion in Srebrenica made a decision to expel the Bosniaks from the compound instead of protecting them, as was their duty and as they were ordered. The same argument in law applies to the class action. </p> <p>A second reason was the visit recently by foreign secretary William Hague and his glamorous companion Angelina Jolie to Srebrenica, as part of their tour claiming to reveal and address rape as the age-old war crime it is. Violation of women occurred in Srebrenica, but nothing like on the scale of specially designated rape camps in Visegrad and Foca nearby, which the celebrity pair omitted to visit.</p> <p>Hague had said in Sarajevo, of mass rape during Bosnia's carnage: “Now we know”; and in Srebrenica that his tour with the actress (and her film about the subject) had, “opened the eyes of the world” to this abomination. This was preposterous: Hague was a junior minister in the government who knew perfectly well at the time what was happening and worse - but did nothing, and worse. </p> <p>During the Bosnian war, the British government – along with the United Nations and that of France - appeased (at best) and encouraged (at worst) the perpetrators at Srebrenica for the three long and bloody years to which the massacre was the inevitable conclusion. Three years during which British diplomats and politicians clasped the hand of Radovan Karadžić, now charged with ordering the massacre, beneath the chandeliers of Geneva, Paris and London and connived to keep him in business. They have names: Hurd, Carrington, Neville-Jones, Owen, Rifkind, Hannay and others. Three years during which our generals and others from France and the USA dined with and bestowed gifts upon Ratko Mladic, who also stands trial for sending in the death squads.</p> <p>It is, however, logical for Secretary Hague and Jolie to visit Srebrenica, although it was the site of a massacre not a rape camp: one goes to Srebrenica <em>de rigeur</em>, because it is an icon. It is a place in which politicians and statesmen can appear to care, even shed a seeming tear, and talk about the 'world failing', but never their own government. </p> <p>Srebrenica was not an isolated incident. It was the culmination of the genocidal pogrom appeased and facilitated by the west over time. Yet, rather than draw attention to all those other places where smaller but equally vicious massacres took place, Srebrenica detracts from them. It 'ticks the box’ of appearing to reckon with Bosnia, without doing so. Who ever hears these days about Vlasenica, Bjeljina, Doboj, Brcko, Prijedor, Foca, Visegrad, Caplinja, East Mostar… the list is endless, beyond those bereaved, shattered and scattered by the slaughter there?</p> <p>A third reason for the nineteenth anniversary's singularity is a sudden, unexpected initiative by the British government to take a lead in 'Remembering Srebrenica'. Last Tuesday, at Lancaster House in London, an array of politicians and dignitaries including ministers Eric Pickles and Steve Williams hosted and provided speeches, canapes and Srebrenica goody-bags at an event to this end, enacting a resolution by the European parliament in 2009 that member states commemorate the massacre. </p> <p>Organised with the estimable 'Remember Srebrenica UK' movement and charity, there had been a moving event in Luton the previous Sunday, at which young local people who had visited the mass graves reported on their experience and emotions, while survivors of the concentration camps at Omarska and Trnopolje (at the other end of Bosnia, and of the war - its beginning in 1992), who had arrived in Luton as refugees, recounted their ordeal and settlement in Britain. </p> <p>Four activists of the remarkable 'Mothers of Srebrenica' addressed that meeting in a community centre with unbearable power and dignity – as they did in the gilded hall at Lancaster House 48 hours later, where brochures were available containing commemorative messages from David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson, Ed Miliband, Pickles …&nbsp; et al. </p> <p>Why? Why do Britain's leaders suddenly want to be seen weeping for Srebrenica, nineteen years later, as William Hague does for victims and survivors of mass rape?&nbsp; This was the question that baffled the huddles of Bosnians in their best suits, invited to Lancaster House from among our diaspora, and it is a good one.&nbsp; </p> <p>A member of the Mothers' delegation dismissed it, however: “We don't care what the reason is. We are remembered here, we are recognised. After Iraq, Syria and all that has happened, we are forgotten, and at this occasion we are not. That is all we ask”.</p> <p>For July 11 to become Srebrenica Remembrance Day is&nbsp;fine, and overdue, but the price is re-writing Britain's role in&nbsp;Bosnia. This is about our domestic politics, but not our domestic&nbsp;reckoning.</p> <p>And the fourth reason to focus on this nineteenth anniversary is that the first book has just been published not on the horror of Srebrenica but its aftermath - by two leading scholars on Bosnia, Lara Nettelfield and Sarah Wagner. It is an exhaustive and landmark study: covering the progress of 'Srebrenica in court', at The Hague, the grotesque disinterrment of bodies from mass graves to 'secondary graves' and even tertiary ones to hide the evidence, the fortunes of Srebrenica's diaspora scattered worldwide and the vicious harassment of those survivors – mostly women, of course - who dare to return to their native soil.</p> <p>But the dark kernel of the book concerns the continued and insistent denial of the massacre by Bosnian Serb authorities and their president Milorad Dodik. As families arrived in Srebrenica this week to bury and remember their dead this week, Mr Dodik made a speech in which he invoked the imperative that, “Serb people will in the future have in some way to recognize and celebrate Ratko Mladić, Radovan Karadžić and myriad others, to repay them in some decent way for their contribution." </p> <p>There has always been this nagging question: are the deniers and revisionists mad, or are they pretending to be mad? They know perfectly well what happened at Srebrenica; many of them were involved to a greater or lesser degree. </p> <p>Nettelfield and Wagner suggest an answer, the book's most shocking proposition, by investigating beyond the usual explanation of the deniers' deranged nationalism. They find the strategy and politics of denial - fostering ethnic strife and searing pain for the survivors as they do - to be a means of political self-preservation; denial is the ultimate political 'spin': a hateful, cynical but effective way of maintaining pyramids of power. </p> <p>The Dayton agreement of 1995 gave the Bosnian Serbs all they wanted from their pogrom of 'ethnic cleansing', and enabled the machinery of war to remain intact, so that, say the authors: “the gains made during the war were at stake for elites and the institutions they represented. In Republika Srpska … the truth about Srebrenica could undercut its claims to legitimate authority and political control over that territory”.</p> <p>Denial is thus a means to protect “state and entity bureaucracies staffed by individuals with close connections to the genocide” for whom “a full accounting of the crimes would threaten their careers, after decades of material benefits derived from access to state resources and, in many instances, wartime plunder of the Bosnian state.” </p> <p>And so the subsequent question of accountability arises, not just in Bosnia, but beyond. Dr. Nettelfield says in interview: “This is another thing Srebrenica's survivors achieved: raising the level of discussion about accountability beyond the execution sites, to try and get international leaders, governments and the United Nations held liable, expand the scale of responsibility for what happened”. She adds of Britain's commemorations, at which she was a guest on Tuesday: “What's the point of commemoration, unless there is accountability?”</p> <p>So two contributions from Tuesday's occasion in London roared louder than all the hosts' rhetoric, despite being the most softly spoken. One came from Mejra Duguz, who lost her husband, sons, brothers and 40 members of her extended family, and said of her return to live in Srebrenica: “Every day I see the men who killed our children. Every day, they laugh in my face, as though to say: 'We killed everything you had. You never had children because we killed them and we kill them every day because we say they never were’. ” </p> <p>And a 'daughter of Srebrenica' of the new generation, Nirha Efendic, who lost her father and only brother, and pleaded that the British government, “pressure the Republika Srpska to make denial of the genocide a crime”, as Holocaust denial is in France. Now <em>there</em> is something to get on with, to do with these otherwise impotent tears. <em>There’s</em> a start, nineteen years late, better than never, towards what has to be the ultimate goal if peace is to mean anything: the erosion or abolition of Republika Sprska and unification of Bosnia. </p> <h2>Three recent events</h2> <p>The book was completed before three recent events in Bosnia that undercut this institutionalised trampling on the truth: street protests against mass lay-offs due to privatisation, floods, and the World Cup. From outside the narrative of death, came post-war themes which bonded communities regardless of wartime experience: the fight for jobs, necessity to abate the waters and the achievement of Edin Dzeko et. al. in qualifying for Brazil, where they were supported by Bosnian Muslims and Serbs alike, subverting the politics of ethnicity.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>But it remains to be seen which cuts deeper: the entrenched politics of racism and denial, or common interests. The future of the latter serves all ethnic parties, especially Dodik's. That of the latter clearly lies at the level of community, such as the remarkable 'plenums' established to encapture the principles of the protests. For its part though, the international community – including and especially Britain - which facilitated the massacre, continues to pander to those who rule by its denial, as impotent in the face of Dodik's hatemongery as it was to General Ratko Mladic's advance on the 'Safe Area'.&nbsp; </p> <p>We knew then and we know now, whatever Hague and Angelina say. And if there is an element of contrition in all this commemoration, it needs to be stated clearly, humbly and without mercy for a prior generation which appeased and encouraged the killers. </p> <p>Nettelfield and Wagner use a good term: 'the <em>work </em>of remembrance', to describe marchers for peace and justice who interrupt their lives annually to walk, as they did this week, in reverse the 'road of death' along which stragglers tried to escape the execution squads in 1995, usually without success. The 'work of remembrance' does not describe canapes, speeches and goody-bags at Lancaster House, unless they are urgently, cogently and decisively acted upon in Bosnia; for the sake of the massacre's legacy, and that as yet elusive reckoning without which commemoration is useless and peace just a word.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/law/humanitarian-law/srebrenica-aftermath-genocide">Srebrenica in the Aftermath of Genocide</a> <em>by Lara J. Nettelfield and Sarah E. Wagner is published by Cambridge University Press.&nbsp; Ed Vulliamy is author of </em>The War is Dead, Long Live The War - Bosnia: The Reckoning<em>, published by Vintage.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> Serbia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Serbia Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Ed Vulliamy Sat, 12 Jul 2014 15:42:18 +0000 Ed Vulliamy 84401 at https://www.opendemocracy.net