Bosnia and Herzegovina: The final phase of genocide?
The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. In view of politically motivated apprehensions that have been carried out in the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, IFIMES has analysed the background and possible consequences of current events. The most relevant parts from the analysis entitled “Bosnia and Herzegovina: The final phase of genocide?”are published below.
Bosnia and Herzegovina:
The final phase of genocide?
Recent events in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) have once again reminded how fragile peace and stability remain in this country. Although the European Union (EU) has announced it would pursue a more active policy on Bosnia and Herzegovina after the formation of new state government, other events may prevent the realisation of that promise. The Ukraine conflict, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, an alarming increase in the number of refugees from Africa and the fact that EU still has to devote much of its attention to Greece as one of its Member States – all these elements represent a real threat that the West Balkans will again be pushed down on the list of priorities of European politics.
The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has culminated after latest actions taken by the Ministry of the Interior of Republika Srpska(MUP RS) to apprehend the members of marginalised Bosniak ethnic minority living in the territory of Republika Srpska (RS), an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those are the citizens who had been expelled from their homes during the 1992-1995 war in BH. This operation has been long prepared and represents the continuity of activities of RS authorities led by President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik. Almost 2000 attacks have been carried out and recorded against non-Serb returnees and their property in the territory of RS since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, without the offenders having been sanctioned.
Apprehensions represent the continuity of ethnic cleansing policy
The apprehensions that followed the killing of a police officer at Zvornik on 26 April 2015 represent the continuity of an organised action by RS government and a special form of state terrorism that has been carried out by political elites in RS since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The father of the armed young man who shot the police officer was killed by Serbian (para)police-military structures in 1992 and the rest of the family was expelled from their home in 1992. After the war he experienced many difficulties before he could return home with his mother. On the other hand the name of the killed police officer is on the list of persons who are connected with and responsible for the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica.
Police officers involved in war crimes and genocide
A worrying fact is that a significant number of police officers employed at the Zvornik Police Station were involved in war crimes while some of them are even responsible for the genocide executed in Srebrenica in July 1995. This means that the security sector employs individuals who should actually be the object of activities carried out by that sector. It is paradoxical that persons burdened with the suspicion of war crimes work for the police institution and it is inconceivable that persons who should be the object of proceedings of that institution are actually employed by it. It is a special form of state terrorism that has been seldom recorded in the history of political systems, while the international community together with the Office of the High Representative (OHR) failed to protect the returnees and to ensure the implementation of Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
The Police of Republika Srpska, which the highest international courts have declared responsible among other for the genocide committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is now realising the final phase of genocide in BH under the veil of fighting terrorism. Through carefully planned apprehensions it aims to carry out ethnic cleansing of the territory of RS and to fulfil the condition of “ethnically clean territory” laid down in the declaration on independence referendum that was adopted at the congress of Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) on 25 April 2015.
This is confirmed by the fact that SNSD President Milorad Dodik publicly supported rocket attacks on Zagreb on 2 and 3 May 1995 (see our analysis of 6 February 2012 entitled “Why wouldn't the Republic of Croatia prosecute Milorad Dodik?”at: http://www.ifimes.org/en/8449-why-wouldnt-the-republic-of-croatia-prosecute-milorad-dodik). State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia (DORH) is still expected to react on this case, since the statutory limitations do not apply to war crimes. It is of vital importance to revise and extend the judicial proceedings against Milorad Dodik which were concluded in 2005 and which initially included 33 charges of crimes. New evidence has confirmed that certain documents related to the judicial proceedings were falsified and that pressure was exerted on witnesses, which has been proven by certain sources of information on which further evidence is still being gathered.
Anti-Semitic statements of SNSD
Several anti-Semitic statements by SNSD members have been recorded, among other by Nikola Špirić, Dubravko Suvara and Rajko Vasić (http://www.ifimes.org/en/8449-why-wouldnt-the-republic-of-croatia-prosecute-milorad-dodik). Milorad Dodik, whose basic criterion of evaluating human beings is by dividing them into „ours“ and „yours“, would not allow any anti-fascist symbols. For years he has been blocking the passing of the law prohibiting the use of fascist symbols and he constantly calls for national homogenisation.
At the same time Dodik deprives the marginalised ethnic community of Bosniaks in RS of the right to call their language the Bosnian language and denies the genocide committed in Srebrenica although it was confirmed by the judgements of ICTY as well as BH courts and courts outside Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It is distasteful that Milorad Dodik, who regards the citizens of Bosniak nationality as outsiders stating that the Muslims can not be those who judge, has attended the celebration of victory over fascism in Moscow on 9 May, presenting himself as a declared (anti)fascist. When individuals pretend to be different from what they are we talk about the phenomenon of social mimicry. By pretending to be something that they are not they make an impression that they are not who they really are. Dodik is a clear example of social mimicry. Notably there is mimicry in his attitude towards the Jews and the State of Israel.
The international community silently supports attacks against returnees
How the international community's activities contribute to creating the atmosphere of insecurity and fear as well as division of BH can be best illustrated with two documents adopted in 2015: the first one on the establishment of the third entity of BH was adopted and by Croatian representatives in BH through Croatian National Assembly (HNS), and the second one was SNSD's referendum document. These documents represent a step back to 1990s when the then presidents of the Republic of Croatia Franjo Tuđman and the Republic of Serbia Slobodan Milošević tried to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina by creating the Croatian republic of Herzeg-Bosnia (HR-HB) and the Serbian republic of BH. Today, upon the adoption of the above documents, the representatives of international community have officially stated that BH is a stable and effected state. Instead of having exercised their powers as provided for in the Dayton Peace Agreement and sanctioning the above activities aimed at dividing Bosnia and Herzegovina, the highest representatives of international community are acting like once UNPROFOR acted in BH, which may have devastating consequences for security and existence of BH. The fight against terrorism should be carried out through a uniform security system, highly standardised professional activities and cooperation and never by misusing the system as is the case in Republika Srpska.
The incident at Zvornik – a signal to reform the security sector
The incident at Zvornik sent a clear message to the international community and OHR that the BH security system is disunited and that a reform of police sector is urgent in order to organise united police forces on the model of BH armed forces. Failure to reform the police sector and to set up uniform and efficient police forces would jeopardise security in the region and the EU.
Milorad Dodik's purges of Ministry of the Interior of Republika Srpska early this year were aimed not only at dealing with political opponents in order to preserve power but also to continue the process of formal acquisition of the territory where severe violations of international humanitarian law were committed during the 1991-1995 war. The attack on police officers at Zvornik ideally overlaps the continuation of the ethnic cleansing process to drive non-Serbian population from RS territory while strengthening the Ministry of the Interior and (para)military forces of RS. Dodik has also taken advantage of the Zvornik incident as an excuse to form his own intelligence service within RS in an attempt to split apart the two state institutions (Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA) and State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA)) and transmit their powers to the entity level with the aim to establish entity-based intelligence services. The international community is faced with the challenge to prevent the splitting of already disunited security system of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to stop Dodik's nationalistic activities in his entity and to ensure professionalism and legality of the BH security agencies by selecting the best qualified staff in order to implement the legislation.
It is of vital importance to abolish (para)military-police and intelligence structures that are blocking the functioning of legal institutions. Their existence even points to the possibility that the Zvornik incident was actually the product of Milorad Dodik's regime. Analysts have noted that there are secret locations of weapons and military equipment, notably in the broader region of Banja Luka and Romanija. A significant part of trafficking in human beings, drugs and weapons directed towards west Europe is carried out through Republika Srpska, enabling certain individuals to gain enormous profits by allowing transit and providing protection for such international crimes. A part of that profit goes for financing the (para)security forces. The leading western intelligence services should strengthen their presence in the territory of Republika Srpska where increased international criminal activities have been observed.
Dodik – an exponent of Russia and its interests
Global challenges related to terrorism have been exploited by RS authorities in order to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina. With Russia's assistance they want to bring the country back into the situation as it was in late 1990s which then resulted in regional war that was stopped when NATO carried out the bombing of Belgrade and the military intervention in Kosovo. At the time when Dodik adopted the referendum declaration it was actually Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić who – having recognised that Serbia may profit from Dodik's activities – called for Serbian-Bosniak dialogue which was a stab in the back of Dodik and his war-instigating actions. Dodik is trying to create the situation as it was in 1991, but desperate Serbia and Aleksandar Vučić are not ready to support imprudent policy led by Dodik and his political marionettes. Any direct support to Dodik would actually represent support to Russian interests in the West Balkans. It seems that due to inner weaknesses and divisions the Bosniak politicians are missing a historical opportunity for transnational dialogue offered by one of the strongest Serbian leaders in the recent history.
The Zvornik case is an ideal opportunity to reveal any further attempt of Republika Srpska to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina. Besides the international community responsibility also lies with political leaders who allegedly want to preserve BH and have declared their support to BH. However, their dedication to fighting terrorism should not be mixed with fighting for the statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina – these are two diametrically opposite interests. Participation in the global alliance for fighting terrorism may not be the reason for undermining the existence of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Political leaders should be aware that their activities in the alliance against international terrorism do not prevent them from taking clear action in order to protect the existence of their state.
In the past few years the IFIMES Institute has pointed to the destruction of the security system and inappropriate staffing, including the appointment of Fahrudin Radončić as BH Security Minister and numerous other positions in the hierarchical structure, as well as to the connection of certain individuals in the BH security system with Moscow. IFIMES has written about this topic in its analysis entitled: “BiH: The Moscow – Belgrade – Banja Luka – Sarajevo transversal” published on 28 August 2012 at: http://www.ifimes.org/en/researches/the-moscow-belgrade-banja-luka-sarajevo-transversal-2013-01-24/.
The final phase of genocide
Milorad Dodik has lanuched the final phase of genocide against the Bosniak population. Judgements passed by the Hague Tribunal as well as BH courts and courts outside Bosnia and Herzegovina have confirmed and condemned the committed war crimes and genocide. Reading the verdicts to Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić will be the grand finale. Dodik is worried about the fact that all achievements resulting from crime will have to be annulled, which means that the judgements on Karadžić and Mladić will represent an introduction to changes in the inner structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to demographic projections the Bosniaks would represent up to 30% of the population of Republika Srpska at the next census. Milorad Dodik's regime is therefore eager to stop the new wave of refugees from returning home and to intimidate and force returnees to flee their homes once again.
A threat to no-visa regime and foreign investments
The tense situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the war-instigating rhetoric is causing most damage to potential foreign investments, while it also represents a threat to no-visa regime for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina due to armed attacks in certain parts of the state. Nobody is willing to make investments in the tense and insecure atmosphere that may develop into lasting instability. However, Dodik benefits from constant conflicts which enable his political survival.
For the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina it is of vital importance to establish the truth and to ensure justice which will lead to reconciliation, lasting peace and long-term stability in the country. Certain individuals who participated in war crimes and genocide are deeply involved in security and defence structures of RS entity institutions and consequently also in the institutions at the level of BH state. A thorough review of staff employed in those structures should be carried out, making sure that those who committed war crimes are prosecuted. It is inconceivable that victims of genocide are daily faced with war crime suspects who are dressed in police uniforms and who ensure law and order despite the heavy burden of committed atrocities.
It is also of vital importance that BH Parliamentary Assembly accepts the European Parliament (EP) Resolution of 15 January 2009 which calls upon EU Member States and West Balkan states to mark 11 July as the day of commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. The Resolution, which was anonymously adopted by EP, stresses the need to commemorate and honour all the victims of atrocities during the Balkan wars. A similar resolution should also be adopted by UN General Assembly at its regular session in September 2015.
The European Union should thoroughly redefine its policy towards the West Balkans which is still a “powder keg” that may easily become a region of instability and a new security challenge for the EU.
Ljubljana, 15 May 2015