The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, constantly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. It is presently dealing with the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, collective resignation of the presidency of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and unsuccessful replacement of the government of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most important and interesting sections of the comprehensive analysis are given below.
The collective resignation of the presidency of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), unsuccessful attempts by the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) to replace the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the signing of the agreement called »the Platform for Program Co-operation« by the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Party of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), the Socialist Party (SP) and the New Croatian Initiative (NHI) in November 2003 represent the new political reality in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
»The Platform for Program Co-operation« is the first agreement achieved by the political groupations at the level of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina without the initiative and intervention of the international community. It represents a new quality which paves the way for the stability of political relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and promotes political structures which are able to achieve that goal. For the first time they actually discuss the interest of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the selection of the best solutions which can strengthen, protect and bring Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to the world. The Platform contains chapters dealing with the society, jobs, justice, foreign policy and Euro-Atlantic integrations, parliamentary co-operation and early elections.
In contrast to the agreement between SDA, SDS and HDZ, which was signed as back as in 1990 and never terminated, the Platform offers something utterly new in the political life of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The result of the 1990 agreement between SDA, SDS and HDZ was among other the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a vast number of victims which led to the physical disappearance of the nation, hundreds of thousands of killed, 2,5 million displaced and deported and the damage of about $50 billion.
The ethnic parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina are still trying to be reformistic with the strong support of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Paddy Ashdown. Regrettably, most of the reforms which have been undertaken are in fact the reforms of the High Representative Ashdown in which the ethnic parties take only a passive part. Hence, it would be justified to wonder whether Bosnia and Herzegovina can exist as a state if the reforms are led by the High Representative Paddy Ashdown or the OHR and not by the domestic political forces.
The only participant in those reforms is Ashdown since he is their initiator. The three-national coalition supported by the Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) and the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH) has accepted this game since in this way it can remain in power hoping secretly that the reforms would fail if a geopolitical change happened in the region - a new structure of the states in the region of the former Yugoslavia (Kosovo, Macedonia, the state union of Serbia and Monte Negro).
The ethnic parties have basically not changed their political philosophy, they have only changed their operational tactics which does not offer any other solutions. The Serbs and the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina want two separate communities and the SDA is strengthening the clericalistic politics through a reform: the notion of the first, the second and the third nation by size and hence by power which is contrary to the essential principle of equal nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The agreement on program co-operation of the calm and democratic parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SDP, SNSD, SP and NHI) is based on the presumption that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a modern, civil, democratic and prosperous state established on the principles of the rule of law in which sovereignty is asserted by the citizens and in which the nations are equal, autochton and constitutive, participating collectively in the structure of power on the basis of proportionality, parity and consensus. The signatories to the agreement are striving to replace the present inferior relation with the international community with the partnership relation which had already been established in the past.
In the present political processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the role of the High Representative Paddy Ashdown and the OHR is inevitable and is reflected by the following:
At certain point, the interventionism of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina was productive aiming at moving the political processes from the stiff positions, but today it has the opposite effect since it has developed a bad habit in some domestic political structures (parties) which leave it to the High Representative to take care of everything and to conceive new projects in which the ethnic parties participate only passively. The High Representative represents a curtain behind which the national parties are hiding and which enables the politicians from those parties to remain in the political scene and to develop a thesis that everything would be the same even if the democratic and non-national parties were in power. A good example is the current SDS president in resignation and president of the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska, Dragan Kalinić, who had carried out the ministerial functions as the minister in the war and post-war government of the Republic of Srpska and now lives in fear that the Hague Tribunal may call him to account (for his earlier connection as the minister of health, labour and social protection with the events at the Foča/Srbinje prison (1992/93) when several tens of prisoners registered at the International Red Cross disappeared from the prison). The fear of potential responsibility has transformed him into one of the most willing politicians in the Republic of Srpska to co-operate with the international community, often to a direct detriment of the Serbian nation and the voters who elected him;
With his activities the High Representative enables the survival and political strengthening of natiocratic structures which, whenever they were dominant in Bosnia and Herzegovina, led to the weakening of the state and to conflicts aimed at the disappearance of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
The presence of High Representative affects the legislative sphere through the adoption of numerous laws and the deletion of purely administrative laws of the executive power in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
A special mistake was the role of High Representative in the running of foreign affairs such as his authoritarian visit to Moscow and Washington without the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a state with its own Presidency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
None of the High Representatives so far have made efforts or knew how to provide economic support to Bosnia and Herzegovina. They failed to attract capital and foreign investments into the state. The High Representative refuses to accept any responsibility although he is the creator of the entire politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina. If the High Representative is ready to assume such an important role in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he should also assume the responsibility which he has always refused to accept (Ashdown is the best example). Therefore it may soon be expected that the workers and the citizens address their dissatisfaction (with wages, pensions, jobs and other rights they are deprived of) first to the OHR and High Representative and only then to the domestic authorities (the High Representative has been given the role of Tzar or Maharaja).
The inevitable question is: What kind of state is Bosnia and Herzegovina if it is planning to join the European Union in 2009 when 5 years prior to its accession to EU the international community in the form of High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina deals with the legislative, executive and judicial power of the state? The essential question is whether such state can become a member of the EU if the political leadership which is aware of the need to join the EU has failed to take the key decisions since all the decisions of vital importance were taken by the High Representative, i.e. the OHR.
The most topical demand in the agreement is the question of early elections due to the events in Croatia and Serbia. It is obvious that there are political parties in power which due to their numerous limitation such as their political and program concepts can not ensure faster changes which Bosnia and Herzegovina has to make in order to recover its economy, improve the difficult social position and enter the circle of European states which had carried out the fundamental transition processes long ago. That is why it is urgent to carry out new elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina which could, for the reasons of rationalising expenses which are anything but negligible as well as to enable timely qualitative preparations, be held at the same time as the local elections (simultaneous elections) in Autumn 2004.
If early elections are to be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina the activities of the present opposition parties are very important. They can not address the citizens with the demand to agree to elections because of the criticism of the government. The opposition has to have clearly presented qualitative solutions which will develop interest of the citizens for the alternative solutions and arouse the feeling that qualitative changes will be possible after the elections since at present the citizens share the opinion that all the political parties are the same, that is to say, equally unready to change anything and that nothing would happen after the elections because everybody in Bosnia and Herzegovina is simply used to the fact that the supreme authority is not a domestic institution but the OHR and the High Representative, which causes great distrust of all institutions.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is still burdened with numerous criminal structures which have created a chain of interdependent organisations such as import lobbies connected with domestic distributors of high-tariff goods which damage the budgets and therefore rob the citizens of the money they provide by laundering it. Another example is the road (truck) lobby which is blocking the passing of the railway act.
It is therefore justified to wonder why the governments (of the entities and at the level of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and especially the High Representative do not want to adopt a single law which would apply to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole and regulate the domestic market with oil derivatives thus helping and protecting the domestic production and the budgets. For example, the oil refinery Bosanski/Srpski Brod, which employs 1.200 workers, has not operated for several years bud if it operated it could provide the budget with about KM (Convertible Mark) 500 million. In this case, since the domestic authorities and their oil lobbies do not wish to regulate the oil market, it would be justified for this field to be regulated by the High Representative and by the law on single tax rate, duties and levies for high-tariff goods imported to or traded with in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The IFIMES International Institute believes that is would be contraproductive to replace domestic politicians either on substantiated or unsubstantiated grounds since the atmosphere of fear makes it difficult for the politicians to work properly and productively in the interest of all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. IFIMES proposes that the Peace Implementation Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina denies the High Representative this right and at the same time introduces the mechanisms of early replacement of the High Representative.
The hope for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies in the sincere agreement between the domestic political structures on the principles of open dialogue led by influential calm political parties and personalities.
The extended Agreement on co-operation should unite the parties of social-democratic character and of socialist character as well as other parties in the political centre. Through this Agreement the political scene in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be profiled into two blocks, the block of the left centre and the block of the right centre.
The politics of ethnic parties have been dedicated to leaders. However, their results are well known. On the other hand, the politics of calm parties of the social-democratic and socialist character during the same short period have been dedicated to achieving essential reforms in the state (talks on the conditions for accession to the Council of Europe, numerous reforms which have been implemented in the fields of jurisdiction, education, police, state border service, SIPA, customs policy, unified excise duties). At that time, the »Sloga« coalition was present in the political scene of the Republic of Srpska while the »Alliance for Change« was present in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and at the level of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The results of activities undertaken by the »Sloga« and the »Alliance for Change« are normal relations with the neighbouring states, intensive communication with Europe and the world, with the institutions, end of the legal and political isolation of the state and establishment of relationship with the IMF and the World Bank through the reform of the fiscal system.
The terrorist threats in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the allegedly prepared coups d'état represent another weakness of the present authorities. They will continue with their attempts to »push« into the terrorist network also some of the leaders of the calm parties from the Agreement block (e.g. the SDP leader Zlatko Lagumdžija). Due to their disastrous results in combating terrorism the present authorities are under severe pressure of the international community. When travelling abroad the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are subjected to increased control at borders because the domestic authorities have failed to take actions to fight terrorism.
A few years ago the national parties, especially the SDS, stubbornly refused any serious discussion on the reforms in the fields of defence, indirect taxation and security system while today the SDS is quite loud in the implementation of those reforms which were regrettably not initiated by the SDS but by the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such parties lack the consistent policy and constantly deceive the voting body by sudden turns so it is realistic to expect that the voting body will punish them for using false bases to win the votes.
Having analysed the results of the surveys which were carried out, the IFIMES International Institute believes that early elections are turning into a political reality and that the most acceptable and rational solution would be to organise them together with the local elections in Autumn 2004. They would represent the first step towards changes and towards the establishment of a new structure of the state as well as towards faster accession to the Euro-Atlantic integrations in which the signatories to the Platform (SDP, SNSD, SP and NHI) as well as other parties which will accede to the Platform should play the leading role.
The IFIMES International Institute is of the opinion that the collective resignation of the Presidency of SDS put forward on Wednesday, February 1, 2004, represents a political trick and at the same time an additional impetus to hold early elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. By putting forward the resignation, the SDS leadership recognised it had carried out the wrong policy, often at the detriment of the Serbian nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The replacement of the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has further added to the atmosphere in favour of early elections. The question is whether the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the last elections chose this kind of authorities and if the present authorities enjoy the trust of the citizens. Early elections would enable the citizens to express their will which is according to the surveys carried out not in favour of the present authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the fact which raises concern is a large number of citizens (voters) who have no opinion on many questions which confirms the citizens' indifference and distrust of the political structures and politicians in general.
The IFIMES International Institute suggests that, when looking for new constitutional and legal solutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it should be taken into account that it is not only the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats who live in Bosnia and Herzegovina but also numerous national minorities which are discriminated against and marginalised through the present constitutional, legal and political solutions. The national minorities should also have their representatives in the legislative power.
DATA ON THE SPECIMEN
• The specimen: random, three-stage
• Size of the specimen: 4230 respondents
• Methodology: telephone survey
• Period: February 2, 2004 to February 13, 2004
• Degree of trustworthiness: 95%
• Control: per 10% specimen
The IFIMES International Institute has carried out the opinion poll in order to examine the present opinion of the citizens on the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and their trust in the present authorities. The survey was carried out in the period from February 2, 2004 to February 13, 2004 at random tree-stage specimen of 4.230 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Srpska and the Brčko District) of full age and of both sexes. The control of the survey was carried out for 10% of the specimen with the 95% degree of trustworthiness and the +/- 3% degree of possibility of statistical mistake.
1. Are you in favour of maintaining the present structure of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
- YES, with the need for reforms which include the improvement of constitut. solutions ~ 73,80%
- NO, not in any case ~ 16,10%
- NO OPINION ~ 10,10%
2. Are you satisfied with the present authorities?
- At the level of the Republic of Srpska? YES ~ 22,10%; NO ~ 61,80%; NO OPINION ~ 16,10%
- At the level of the Federation of B&H? YES ~ 38,30%; NO ~ 38,70%; NO OPINION ~ 23,00%
- At the level of the state of B &H? YES ~ 31,40%; NO ~ 52,20%; NO OPINION ~ 16,40%
3. Are you in favour of early elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina at all levels of power?
- The Republic of Srpska - YES ~ 62,60%; NO ~ 21,20%; NO OPINION ~ 16,20%
- The Federation of B&H - YES ~ 37,70%; NO ~ 41,30%; NO OPINION ~ 21,00%
- The State of B &H - YES ~ 53,40%; NO ~ 27,60; NO OPINION ~ 19,00 %
4. Do you support the change of the authorities at the levels of the state and entity at the early
- YES ~ 68.10%
- NO ~ 14,90%
- YES, under the condition that the opposition offers quality programmes ~ 7,50%
- NO, under no condition whatsoever ~ 9,50%
5. Do you support the establishment of a block of opposition parties which would oppose the
nationalist parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
- YES ~ 72,20%
- NO ~ 14,90%
- NO OPINION ~ 12,90%