More than two decades ago, Balkan political leaders, under the supervision of US officials, agreed to stop the war in BiH and signed the draft of the Dayton Peace Agreement, with 11 Annexes to define all aspects for the future of the devastated country.
Symbolically, the Agreement was formally signed in Paris, on December 14, 1995. Ever since, instead of uniting political spirits towards joint efforts for the preservation of the state’s stability it has worked as a reason for internal disputes.
Today’s date, November 21, that marks the same one when the draft of the Agreement was signed is a holiday in the Republic of Srpska. In the Federation of BiH, however, it is yet another ordinary day. But since there is no state-level law certifying holidays, it is impossible to celebrate the day across the country.
In various periods since the end of the war, RS officials have agreed to transfer certain competences, given to the entities by the Agreement, to state level. Now, the RS president, Milorad Dodik, emphasises whenever possible that the Dayton Peace Agreement is changed, having brought this entity to a bad position. At the celebration in Banja Luka, Dodik stated that none of the competences were transferred to BiH level through entity institutions or free political will.
“Everything has been done through pressure on people, threats, punishments, prison, persecution, abuse and torture by the international community. These cannot be considered neutral or objective political conditions for any kind of decision-making”, said Dodik.
Talking about the restoration of transferred competences, Dodik pointed out that everything that is in compliance with the Constitution should be set up in a constitutional manner.
“Enormous pressure, punishments, abuse of institutions and individuals were employed to centralise the government in BiH and make it a unitary state. The BiH Constitution exists and should be respected. BiH is living its counter-constitutional life and if it wants to live on, it has to go back to the Constitution”, said Dodik.
International community High Representative to BiH, Valentin Inzko, in Op-ed, said that “not enough has been done with 22 years of peace”. He stressed that the limitations of the arrangements reached at Dayton are often cited, and sometimes with good reason.
“However, I wish to highlight two of the ways in which Dayton has made and continues to make an essential contribution. The first and most important thing to remember is that it has kept the peace. We should never forget this, also considering all the conflicts worldwide. The second thing to emphasise is that, during the first decade after its signing and implementation, progress was made in rebuilding the country and its institutions, and in reintegrating its peoples.
And if it happened before, it can happen again” stressed Inzko.
He added that, during that period, the Central Bank was established, along with a stable currency; Bosnia-Herzegovina introduced the most efficient indirect taxation system in Europe; the joint armed forces and other key agencies were established; the police and judiciary were reformed, common license plates were introduced along with a single passport.
“But, as we all know, just as these major changes were beginning to deliver positive results – Bosnia-Herzegovina was at one point the fastest growing economy in Southeast Europe – progress came to a standstill. This wasn’t because the international community stopped providing political or financial support. The European Union, for example, continues to offer tens of millions of Euros annually to assist projects across a wide spectrum, from infrastructure development to veterinary management. Even more importantly, the European Union is now offering BiH the chance to move formally and decisively closer to the Union, which will bring significant benefits in terms of economic prosperity and political stability. The truth is that progress has stopped because some political leaders have lost the will and the ambition to transform this country into a prosperous democracy”, said Inzko.
The unfortunate truth, he added is that, 22 years on after the Dayton Agreement, some politicians irresponsibly speak of possible secession of a part of the country’s territory. A few others mention a war, albeit hypothetically. Such rhetoric, said Inzko, should simply disappear into history, not return into the present.
Unbelievable as it may be, Inzko considers the fact that, instead of working together for the benefit of all the citizens and future generations of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a segment of the political establishment focuses on blocking the work of the institutions.
“Politicians should stop undermining and refrain from attempts to control the judicial institutions, and instead should reinforce these institutions and respect their decisions. The officials in these institutions should work independently and professionally, committed to the highest standards.
I admire the ordinary citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Looking at their talents and invincible spirit, I strongly believe that they deserve better: better salaries and pensions, better elementary and secondary schools and universities, better health and other services – in short, a better and realistic perspective”, stressed Inzko.
The High Representative said that 2018 is an election year in Bosnia-Herzegovina and some political parties have clearly begun taking decisions with the elections in mind, already. Other political parties, according to his opinion, are already avoiding taking any kind of political responsibility.
“One year before an election, such behaviour is inappropriate, to say the least. There is more than enough time to campaign, but time for much-needed reforms is running out. This is not the time to suspend or stop reforms, but the best time to accelerate them”, concluded Inzko…/IBNA