IBNA/Analysis: Tensions in BiH still high

IBNA/Analysis: Tensions in BiH still high


As the young generation in the entire BiH is united in the celebration of love and Valentine’s Day, politicians are still keeping tensions between nations in the state on the high level.

Review of the BiH lawsuit against Serbia for genocide continues to burden relations and threats to be a trigger of the deepest crisis in the post war period. But, why this issue is so important to citizens in BiH?

To begin with, ten years ago International Court of Justice in Hague announced first level verdict and determined that Serbia and Montenegro (now Serbia as legal ancestor of that state) is responsible for the genocide in Srebrenica, in the sence that the state did not prevent or sentenced soldiers and officers responsible for this tragedy. In the verdict it is clear that ICJ considers events in and around Srebrenica in July 1995 to be genocide, but on a limited scale. That is something what Bosniak victim organizations never accepted as the justice is demanding that the Court declares that Serbia is responsible for genocide over Bosniaks on the whole BiH territory.  They explain this request with mass graves near Prijedor (Tomasica) and on the mount Vlasic (Koricani), where several hundreds bodies was found and for certain number the quest is still ongoing. Howevert, their requests were not well accepted by politicians who are responsible to initiate a review of the verdict. Now, just about ten days before the deadline for the request, Bosniak member of BiH Presidency and leader of Party of Democratic Progress (SDA), Bakir Izetbegovic, announced that he will submit the initiative. The question is: why now?

There are many answers, as usual in BiH. One of them is that SDA political position after local elections is not so strong and that, if he fails to demand review of lawsuit, the party will lose several thousand more voters. This could prove to be crucial element on the general elections next year. If ICJ accept the initiative, and it is very questionable, he will be able to attract new voters as the man (and party) who is protecting the interests of its nation.

The second answer in this question is that Izetbegovic is trying to do everything in the last moment hoping that the deadline will pass and that he will say to voters that he did everything but other members of BiH Presidency prevented the process. This is very possible since he recently stated that the “process of the revision in this case would cause the biggest crisis in BiH since the signing of the Dayton peace agreement”. It means that he know very well what could be the consequences of this issue and how dangerous it could be for the peace in BiH.

On the other side, Serbs in BiH are against the revision of the lawsuit because the new verdict would possibly declare them as a “genocidal nation”. Similarly to Germans after the WWII, Serbs would be recognized as the worst nation in Europe since then. It also means that a lot of efforts on the attraction of foreign investors would be destroyed and that Serbs in BiH will become “second-class citizens”.

It would also mean that Republic of Srpska is established on genocide and Izetbegovic would have another reason to demand its nullification. In that case, BiH would become the centralised state with Bosniak majority since they recognize the results of census which defined that this nation makes 51 percent of all citizens. Serbs didn’t want to recognise these results claiming that it include over 200 000 Bosniak citizens who have recorded address in BiH, but don’t de facto live abroad. This, in some way, was confirmed by several Bosniak politicians who stated that Bosniaks as the nation with more than 50 percent in BiH are responsible for its destiny and protection of its statehood, including the provision of freedom for other nations.

At this moment, all sides in this issue are on their starting positions. Izetbegovic is determined to submit the initiative and Serb member of BiH Presidency and Chairman of this institution, Mladen Ivanic, is determined to prevent that. Ivanic stated on Tuesday that there is no chance for submission because there is no Presidency decision, but Izetbegovic claimed that it is not necessary to have it because the license for the BiH agent in this case, Safet Softic, is still valid. The legal dispute in this case is ongoing and nobody know how it will end.

The third side in this case are those citizens who consider that all events about this issue are just a distraction from more important issues, such as the hard financial situation and announcement of many protests of workers and farmers who are unsatisfied with their status. This strategy of distraction is not new in BiH and in earlier cases has often proved to be very successful./IBNA

Photo: ICJ Great Hall of Justice