Sunday, November 23, 2008

#503 INTL - Bosnian Politicians are Trying to “Score” a Green Light for Europe

National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina


No. 503

October 29, 2007


1. Bosnian Politicians are Trying to “Score” a Green Light for European Integration

2. This is not Police Reform, it is Destruction of Bosnian Statehood



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1. Bosnian Politicians are Trying to “Score” a Green Light for European Integration

This week Bosnian politicians have announced yet another agreement on police reform, which is a condition for continuing the EU integration process. Yet, this agreement is nothing more than a charade, and is mainly designed to score empty points with the disillusioned Bosnian people -- points that a newspaper headline of a conditional green light from Europe would provide. Namely, there is nothing new or different here than their proposals from the past. Indeed, they make great efforts not to specifically promise to give up their local and corrupt police forces, just to superficially present them as “multi-ethnic” and “functional” without giving any hint about how that would be accomplished – probably because they have no intention of accomplishing it.

This is reminiscent of lazy and incompetent college students, who take the same exam many times over without ever properly learning or understanding the subject, in the hope that the professor will eventually get tired of seeing them and pass them.

By the admission of the politicians who signed this agreement (Silajdzic, Dodik, Ivanic, Tihic, Covic, Ljubic), none of the “contentious” changes were agreed on, or even discussed. Those important changes are left for future talks on some new constitutional reform agreement. They seem to simply be taking a shot at the outside chance that the European Commission will bite and give that conditional approval which would enable them to buy some more time. Perhaps they are also hoping that someday Europe may get tired of Bosnia, or the European policy makers may be changed by some future election, so that the current state of police forces in Bosnia might finally become acceptable for EU integration.

The European Commission had rejected previous police reform proposals, which were not much different from this one, and we hope that it will similarly continue to insist on the three principles in this case. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina do not need to simply join the EU. Rather, they need the reforms that have so far been mandated as conditions for joining, including police reform that fully implements the three principles. Giving a green light without true progress on reform would send the wrong message.

The following is our earlier analysis of a rejected proposal for police reform. We are including it as a summary of the key points and past events on police reform.

Muhamed Borogovac Ph. D., Canton MA

National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-herzegovina


2. This is not Police Reform, it is Destruction of Bosnian Statehood

Analysis of the Dodik-Silajdzic Protocol Regarding Police Reform.

The Dodik-Silajdzic police reform agreement proclaims to respect EU's three principles for police reform. Let us consider whether that is really the case.

Section V: "The territorial jurisdiction of regional centers will coincide with the territorial jurisdictions of the current regional, and cantonal prosecutorial districts within the entities and the Brcko District." Well that is clearly a violation of the principle requiring functional police regions. This formulation respects the entity line, which is a very non-functional construct. For example, Sarajevo, and East Sarajevo would be parts of different police regions, even though the entity line even passes right through residential buildings in the Dobrinja neighborhood of the city.

Section XII defines the budget, which is to be appropriated by a decision of the Parliament, but then it is divided into lower levels that are supposed to actually decide how to use the money. That is a clear violation of the principle of budgeting on the state level, because that principle is intended to put the state in control of the money, which means control of how money is spent, and not simply control of where the money comes from.

This way, all the abuses by the entity police from before can continue because the state will still not be able to use the power of the purse to set specific plans for the local police forces to follow.

Section VII defines a "council of directors" at the state level. That council is only a body that manages cooperation between the entity police forces. As proposed, it is not a body that holds power over the entity police forces, but one that derives its powers only from the consent of the entities. In addition to giving it only coordination type role, Silajdzic and Dodik also propose that decisions within it are made based on entity and ethnic consensus. The RS and FBiH, and Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks can all put in a veto on any decision and completely paralyze this body. Therefore, all the ethnic and entity politics have to be considered in order to make any minor decision having to do with the simple coordination and cooperation of the two entity police forces. That has to be a violation of the principle of police that is independent of politics. And it is certain that such a police structure would not be functional at the state level.

Furthermore, there are also entity level police councils (Section IX) that are "independent". They are chosen by entity parliaments, so they are really not independent of entity politics. They are instead independent of the state, and because the RS parliament is dominated by a single ethnic group, those councils are also not burdened by the consensus principle. Silajdzic and Dodik have created functional entity police forces, and dysfunctional state-level coordination between those police forces.

This agreement violates the spirit and the letter of the three principles mandated by the EU. If the EU approves this, it will pull into its borders all the current problems with a police force that has been judged as having committed genocide, and represents institutional corruption and abuse of human rights.

But for the Bosnian people, this agreement holds many more poison pills even beyond the violation of the three principles. For example, immediately after signing this agreement, Silajdzic made a speech in which he touted the fact that the agreement ensures representation by all ethnic groups at all local levels of the police, proportionate to the 1991 census - before the ethnic cleansing and genocide changed the ethnic map of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yet that provision is already in effect, so this does not present any progress. In fact, it is a poison pill, because the language of the provision in question, Section II.7, states that the most recent census is always to be used - not explicitly 1991 as before. In about three years, when a new census is carried out, the effects of the genocide on the ground will become official, and the police ranks will have to reflect that "reality". Many police officers will surely lose their jobs at that time.

Silajdzic has no shame. In a speech to his party immediately subsequent to signing this agreement, he blamed it on the international community. He framed it as not his own choice or fault, but as a dictate made to help the RS by some powerful international entity, that he commonly refers to as "the world" and leaves his audience always to guess at whether that means the US, the EU, or maybe High Representative Lajcak. However, the facts are that the EU has asked for the three principles, which are good for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In fact, that insistence by the EU is the only reason why we have police reform at all - because a common state level police force would be better suited to correct all the abuses by the entity police forces, which are controlled by ethnically clean entity parliaments.

So the EU is not pressuring him into an agreement that preserves the RS police. On the contrary, EU's pressure is on the RS to give up power, if they want to be accepted in EU, not on the BiH. Even Lajcak's recent proposal was much better than this. It is appropriate also to mention the US House draft resolution proposed by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ) that calls for the dismantlement of the RS police which was declared by the ICJ to have perpetrated genocide in Bosnia. In fact, it is likely that the timing of this deal by Dodik and Silajdzic is to head off this resolution.

Namely, why would the US congress bother with such a resolution, if Silajdzic is willing to consent to the RS police in the name of the state of BiH, and the Bosnian people? Yet the passing of such a resolution would expose completely his "world conspiracy" story which he has been using for years to frighten Bosnians into not questioning the existence of the RS.

The latest news: The leaders of other major parties in BiH, Tihic and Lagumdjija commented that they do not accept this deal because it is "even worse" than Lajcak's proposal. The leader of a major Croat party in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ljubic, also said that he will reject the deal for the same reason.

Sahin Pasic, Boston MA

National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-herzegovina



SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 28,2007) - The United States threatened action against the Serbians living in Bosnia who have threatened to quit Bosnia's state government in protest at moves to streamline decision-making.

"Continuing down this path of confrontation will bring a swift and strong reaction from the United States," the U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Charles English stated.

"It is their obligation to back away from an avoidable confrontation.

We will view a decision to walk out of the Bosnian state institutions as unnecessary provocation," the U.S. Ambassador added.

The new dispute in Bosnia has erupted over measures proposed by the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia, Miroslav Lajcak, to stop political representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia blocking new laws by making it easier to pass decisions.

The political representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia have threatened to resign en masse from the central assembly, blocking the Bosnian Government, unless the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak backs down from the reforms.

The U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Charles English supported the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak's measures and said that "a confrontation with the High Representative is a confrontation with the United States."

Under Lajcak's proposals to avoid obstruction through absenteeism, the Bosnian Government would be able to hold sessions in the presence of six ministers and operate with a simple majority.

The changes would allow the Bosnian authorities to submit motions to the Bosnian Parliament without any participation of the politicial representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia who are constantly blocking Bosnia's progress towards European integration by opposing the strengthening of the functionality of the Bosnian state.

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