Bosnia and Herzegovina: German-British initiative overshadowed by party political games

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has analysed the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in view of the delayed process of setting up the government following the general election that took place on 12 October 2014. The most interesting sections from the analysis entitled “Bosnia and Herzegovina: German-British initiative overshadowed by party political gamesare published below.


Bosnia and Herzegovina:


German-British initiative overshadowed by party political games





A delay in setting up the government in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the general election that took place on 12 October 2014 is mostly the result of obstructions caused by Milorad Dodik's Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) from Republika Srpska (RS) and Fahrudin Radončić's Union for a Better Future (SBB) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH). While SNSD is aguishly trying to enter the government at the state level,  SBB – being excluded from the post-election coalition forming – is concocting plans to get hold of power, even using its Avaz daily newspaper to create a negative political atmosphere in Bosnia and Herzegovina, inciting riot among the citizens and preparing last year's February protests scenario. Clearly SNSD and SBB are making a joint action - their delegates carried out a joint attempt to overthrow the President of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina Šefik Džaferović (SDA). Moreover, analysts have related the activities of the outgoing Vice President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mirsad Kebe with attempted obstructions aimed at slowing down or preventing the formation of government by SDA-HDZ-DF-Alliance for Changes, thus promoting the formation of another parliamentary coalition composed of SNSD, SBB and even SDP.




Analysts have noted that FBiH Vice President Mirsad Kebe has been involved in intelligence activities with the aim to obstruct the formation of BiH government and to discredit SDA once again by relating its member Šefik Džaferović – who had served as an example of an “honest politician” – with war crimes and terrorism and to present SDA as a political party with “dangerous intentions” in order to trigger reactions from the international community and notably from the United States. This scenario is already known from the apprehension of FBiH President Živko Budimir (SPP), which served as an overture to the criminalisation and prosecution of Bakir Izetbegović and Šefik Džaferović for the alleged crimes committed by mujahideen and military actions that were carried out by the “Ševa” unit of the BiH Ministry of Interior. The present global situation, especially after the terror attacks in Paris, goes in favour of such informants who appear in public “as needed and as ordered”.


Analysts have estimated that Mirsad Kebo uses highly sophisticated intelligence activities, although he publicly denied any connection with intelligence services when he appeared as a guest in the “Face TV” television show. In 1992 he was in charge of publishing interviews and deploying experienced intelligence officers within the civil and military security-intelligence services of the former Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thus for example on 20 August 1992 he deployed a Yugoslav civil intelligence officer to the military security service, who later became the head of the analytical unit at the BiH Army General Staff and who was directly connected with monitoring the activities of persons from African-Asian (AA) countries and the “El Mudžahid” military unit. Analysts have pointed to the fact that Mirsad Kebo was obviously informed about and in charge of the activities regarding the persons from AA countries. There is also a series of evidence on Kebo's activities in the Patriotic League – a paramilitary unit formed in 1991 – which were confirmed by several witnesses in front of international courts. Moreover, Mirsad Kebo's activities can be related to several analyses published by the IFIMES Institute (“Serbians behead elites of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, “Serbia and Republika Srpska with joined forces against Bosnia and Herzegovina” and “General Divjak detained instead of General Mladič” at the following links: ● ● ● )


Another reason for the delayed process of setting up the government in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the struggle between various political parties for the key positions at the state level and also – for those coming from FBiH – at the federal level. Although there are no indications that the SDA-DF-HDZ-Alliance for Changes coalition may disintegrate, it should be noted that Dragan Čović (HDZ) would very much like to see as partners Milorad Dodik (SNSD) and Fahrudin Radončić (SBB). Although most political analysts believe that relations between the three politicians are related to the new structure of BiH in the future, those bonds are of private nature and as such serve as the basis for their continued collaboration. Another important fact to be taken into account is constant direct interference of the neighbouring countries in the inner politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Special attention should be given to Serbia's pledges to remain faithful to Republika Srpska and the statements of the newly elected President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarović (HDZ) who (like once Slobodan Milošević)hypocritically supports “any agreement between the peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina” while at the same time encouraging and supporting HDZ BiH's efforts for the creation of the third entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The fourth factor of political instability in the country is the international community with Germany and Great Britain appointed as the promoters of future changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country needs changes that would enable it to reach economic recovery and prosperity, but this requires a clear devotion of political elites to make those changes and their willingness to let professionals and top experts take up the key positions.




If the international community truly wants to make some radical changes it must adopt a clear and definite position, especially as regards the representatives on diplomatic missions and in the Peace Implementation Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (PIC). This time there should be no indulgence towards those who are blocking changes in BiH. In general such firm and clear “interference” by the international community wouldn't suit any of the political elites of the three sides in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Only the pressure from the international community can show who really wants to achieve progress and prosperity and who is blocking the positive changes in the country. The international community should be very subtle while providing absolute support to those who are forming the government, requiring them in return to respect and fulfil the assumed obligations. Economic development and security are the main items on the agenda for the next four-year period in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ideas and initiatives of Germany and Great Britain can only be implemented in practice by employing top experts in government bodies and intelligence and security agencies. A worrying fact is that the persons proposed for the leading positions in the Council of Ministers as well as in the governments of FBiH and Republika Srpska lack the capacity and experience to successfully lead the country to NATO and EU integration. Only economic progress and stable security situation in the country can ensure and speed up the so much needed EU and NATO accession process.




The formation and efficiency of the future government as well as the economic recovery of Bosnia and Herzegovina will largely depend on the relations between political parties in the upcoming period and their political games, rivalry and repositioning. 2015 will see four congresses/assemblies of Bosnian-Herzegovinian strongest political parties, where they will elect their presidents and management bodies. Two congresses will take place in April 2015: the election assembly of HDZ BiH and the congress of SNSD where both parties will elect their leaders. Dragan Čović is the absolute master of the situation in HDZ and will be re-elected, while Milorad Dodik will face fierce competition from his present colleagues and will have less chances to renew his position as President of SNSD. Bakir Izetbegović hopes to be elected SDA President at the congress that will  (probably) take place in May 2015, although there are rumours that certain high representatives of some of the strongest countries will interfere in the election. The congress of SDP is scheduled for the end of 2015 and if Nermin Nikšić wishes to restore SDP's power he will have to make considerable efforts to reaffirm and unify the idea of social democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the elections in SNSD and SDA remain in the centre of attention.




Staffing policy is the basis of any good and successful policy. Like elsewhere in the region, staffing policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina is based on mutual interests. It is based on the negative staffing selection, i.e. as an award to certain persons who are loyal to political parties regardless of their professional capacity or ability. A good example of such practice is the staff proposed by political parties for the leading positions in the governments of RS and FBiH and the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The proposed candidates obviously lack the capacity to successfully implement the German-British initiative for economic recovery and to achieve a high level of security in the country. Like all previous staffing policies the latest staffing proposals represent yet another lost chance for Bosnia and Herzegovina and all its citizens, as they are not oriented towards the prosperity of society, nation and state but merely pursue personal and party interests. Unfortunately most staffing solutions in the new government bodies are still planned with a view to ensure political and financial support at the upcoming election congresses of political parties.




Bosnia and Herzegovina now has the last chance to improve the long-standing economic regression and stabilise the security situation that has seriously deteriorated in the past few years. Wasting that chance would mean a defeat for all the citizens.  Obstruction or non-implementation of reforms will have boomerang repercussions for all political actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Serbian representatives in the government are burdened with connections with Vladimir Putin and Russia that have become the global disturbing factor. Bearing in mind that the “West” managed to shake Russia's economy within only a few weeks, it is quite clear what would  happen to any Serbian representative in the government of BiH or RS should they obstruct the current German-British initiative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The same applies to the Bosniak political representatives, although in a diametrically opposite way. There will be no tolerance towards any kind of obstruction of the country's economic recovery or towards corruption and/or criminal activities, while close attention will be paid to events in the Middle East and to security challenges connected with the situation in Syria and Iraq.


With the election of Dragan Čović and HDZ, political representatives of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina have gained a more favourable position than they had in the past eight years. Recent victory of Kolinda Grabar Kitarović in the Republic of Croatia may turn into “an albatross around the neck” of  HDZ BiH and especially Dragan Čović in case of certain political games in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The international community has sent a very clear message to Bosnian-Herzegovinian politicians: “If you deal with those changes efficiently you will have our support”. If the German-British initiative fails to be realised, Bosnia and Herzegovina will face a period of grave difficulties and insecurity in the economic as well as other fields.


Ljubljana, January 31, 2015