Who Dares to Open Bosnia’s Pandora’s Box Apr 5, 2009 3:43:10 GMT -5
Post by Bozur on Apr 5, 2009 3:43:10 GMT -5
Who Dares to Open Bosnia’s Pandora’s Box
BalkanInsight.com - Apr 2, 2009
More than 90 percent of its population is now Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Bosniaks are directors of 50 of the 54 schools in the Sarajevo canton. ...
Who Dares to Open Bosnia’s Pandora’s Box
Sarajevo | 02 April 2009 | Srecko Latal
Judging by the spate of events, meetings, conferences and visits over the past week, Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko is quickly settling into the hectic schedule of Bosnia’s new High Representative and EU Special Representative.
Three of Inzko’s predecessors have come to Bosnia and Herzegovina tasked with closing down the Office of the High Representative, OHR, and turning off the lights on the way out. Yet problems, troubles and fears in the country remained so strong that the international community was forced to keep the office open and lights on.
This makes Inzko the fourth latest High Representative, who is expected to split seas, turn water into wine and do whatever other miracles are required to finally get the international community “outta here.”
The reasons why all previous High Representatives failed in this epic task will probably be researched and analyzed for decades. (I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a popular theme for future sitcoms or Hollywood movies, featuring Paddy Ashdown or Miroslav Lajcak as characters akin to modern versions of Ben Hur or Don Quixote).
There are many reasons why local people and the international community jointly failed to normalize the situation in the country, yet there is one prevailing overarching factor behind the crisis. Both local people and the international community failed to face up to key problems, troubles and fears. Instead, they created illusions that were publicly more acceptable and more comfortable to live with.
Over the years some of those illusions have become main pillars of thinking by either the local or international community and no one dares to touch them.
Some of the biggest “untouchable” illusions are that the international community is infallible; that local leaders do everything in the interest of the country; and that there is nothing I, you or we can do about any of this.
Here are few concrete examples of some of those illusions;
- Sarajevo is still a multiethnic city. More than 90 percent of its population is now Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Bosniaks are directors of 50 of the 54 schools in the Sarajevo canton.
- The mandate of foreign judges and prosecutors in Bosnia’s state court and prosecutor’s office must be extended to ensure decisions are not biased and made along ethnic lines. Foreign judges and prosecutors so far failed to close a single high-level case of corruption or organized crime, thus raising the question of their continued existence here.
- All local politicians want Bosnia to join the EU; Right. They suddenly became altruistic, eager to be relieved of their benefits, houses, apartments, high salaries and all other perks and are crazy about working for change and in the higher interest of their peoples? This could be why EU’s “membership carrot” may never work.
- Police reform, as supported by the OHR and EU, was necessary and should be continued;
Maybe they will eventually give up this dead horse and find a good, healthy colt. The fact is that police reform was mishandled from the start by Paddy Ashdown who wanted to use it as leverage to further centralize the country. In fact, most Western police forces are highly decentralized.
- Bosniak war veterans have defended Bosnia and Herzegovina and therefore have every right to get most social benefits. Sad but true, their number multiplied AFTER the war. There are now more Bosniak war veterans and invalids than there were soldiers in the Bosnian army during the war (?!). Their benefits will eventually make the Federal budget collapse. Hence the war veterans and invalids are cutting the very branch they sit on, thinking they will be able to do so forever without seriously and honestly cleaning up their ranks. Ignore the fact that the money would be more usefully invested in the economy, as it would open up new jobs for these war veterans. But, hey, do they really have to work to get money? That’s already crossing into another illusion.
- Bosnian Croats have their rights guaranteed and do not need their own public broadcaster, let alone a separate entity; Just watch one day’s programmes of the current public broadcasters and ask yourself if they satisfy the needs of any viewers outside Sarajevo, or even those in Sarajevo. Plus, Bosniak politicians do everything to further marginalize Bosnian Croats in every institution and administrative level they can. Well, are you then surprised when some Croats demand better public services and political representation?
By now you may already have some very strong emotions in favour of one and maybe equally strong emotions against another of the issues mentioned here. Yet, even if you disagree with some of those thesis, you are hopefully aware that all of them have at least one major (I will not say ethnic) group which believes in them and then another big group that oppose them.
I have stopped listing examples because there are so many more so that I could go on without end. The fact is that the entire picture of post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina has been composed of such illusions, falsifications and half-truths. (Although I have stopped listing such examples I am very much interested in what you may think about those or any others, so feel free to chip in with your comments)
Unable or unwilling to face them, people in the local and international community have hidden them in Bosnia’s Pandora box, and continue living in the illusion that everything is fine.
Exhausted with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and weakened by its own political, economic and social issues, the international community is definitively on its way out of this country and wants to leave the Pandora Box for safekeeping to local leaders.
In Greek mythology, Zeus gives Pandora a large jar that contains all the evils that can be unleashed on mankind. When she opens the lid, they all escape, except for hope, which remains at the bottom. The only way for mankind – in this story, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the international community – to reach that hope is to finally open up the jar and face their own past illusions, mistakes and troubles.
This is why I hope that our new hero, Valentin Inzko, will be brave, wise and, well, crazy enough to see through them and then help everyone to start facing the illusions created by the OHR, EU and the Bosnians and Herzegovinians themselves. If not, sooner or later we will get another “last” High Representative, and then another, and another.