Monday, November 24, 2008


National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina


No. 513

December 2, 2007



1.1 Is it a coincidence that High Representative Lajcak decided to fight for such a change of the Parliamentary procedures right before a possible independence declaration by Kosovo?

1.2 Is there some technicality by which the RS can still claim victory?

1.3 Why was Lajcak so successful where so many others have failed?



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By Dr. Muhamed Borogovac

At last the new procedures of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Parliament have been passed in both Parliamentary houses. We will try to take a big picture view of this event, which means answering the following questions:

1.1 Is it a coincidence that High Representative Lajcak decided to fight for such a change of the Parliamentary procedures right before a possible independence declaration by Kosovo?

Up until now, the Parliamentary procedures were even much worse than what the Dayton constitution prescribes. The procedure was that for quorum there had to be present at least a third of elected delegates from each entity.

That meant that at any time the delegates from the Republic of the Serbs(RS)could “legally” dissolve Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) by boycotting, and therefore permanently blocking the function of the parliament.

Actually, they could not, but only because Dayton itself is not technically legal, because it was never ratified according to the last legal constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, either as an international agreement, or as a change of constitution. Sadly, this fact is never mentioned by either international or domestic politicians; some avoid stating it intentionally, others from ignorance. In any case, it is not clear whether such a boycott would have been considered reason enough to recognize RS as a separate state, even though this might have been the default conclusion that such parliamentary rules as a very liberal interpretation of the Dayton constitution might have lead to. Yet, the RS delegates could never be sure that the international community would not take the alternative interpretation that the Dayton constitution itself would be further invalidated by such a boycott, and thus the old constitution of the Republic BiH would be brought back into practice.

Yet, as a response to the eventual declaration of independence by Kosovo, the Serb politicians would have been tempted to try for RS independence, and a boycott that paralyzes Bosnia would have been an important step for them.

We suspect that they would try this, simply because they have been threatening it publicly. Namely, politicians from both Serbia and RS have stated repeatedly that Kosovo independence would be "precedent setting" and that it would affect the status of RS.

Luckily Europe (i.e. Mr. Lajcak) effectively prevented such a move using the "Bonn powers". He proclaimed that the Parliamentary procedures would have to be changed in order to be in line with the constitution, or he would use those powers to change them himself by December 1. His decision meant that in order to make quorum the Parliament would need the simple majority of delegates, or 22, and not at least a third from each entity. That means that the RS cannot legally block the functioning of the Parliament. In fact, they can still block decisions by actively coming and voting down all proposals, but such a parliament would still be "functioning", just not passing any new laws. What they can't do is shut it down completely by deciding to not show up. If they do not come, the Parliament can still convene, and make new laws. That is why they were so mad at Lajcak, and why they led that campaign against him.

Because Mr. Lajcak was prepared to impose his decision, which possibly included additional safeguards against obstruction (we have not been able to obtain a copy of the decision), the delegates passed the new procedures which amounted to a word for word restating of the relevant passages of the Dayton constitution (Article IV.3.d):

"All decisions in both chambers shall be by majority of those present and voting. The Delegates and Members shall make their best efforts to see that the majority includes at least one-third of the votes of Delegates or Members from the territory of each Entity. If a majority vote does not include one-third of the votes of Delegates or Members from the territory of each Entity, the Chair and Deputy Chairs shall meet as a commission and attempt to obtain approval within three days of the vote. If those efforts fail, decisions shall be taken by a majority of those present and voting, provided that the dissenting votes do not include two-thirds or more of the Delegates or Members elected from either Entity."

To answer question 1.1: while we don't know whether the timing was coincidental, Mr. Lajcak's action to remove this problem in the BiH Parliament will surely help prevent many problems for the country that would surely come as a RS response to Kosovo independence.

1.2 Is there some technicality by which the RS can still claim victory?

RS Premier Milorad Dodik and another powerful RS politician Mladen Ivanic have made statements that RS conceded nothing with this. Namely, it is their position that the passage above is vague enough to allow a future interpretation that is favorable to them, i.e. enabling the dissolution of BiH. Ivanic told a Banja Luka newspaper, "Nezavisne Novine" that the procedures would remain the same "in practice", and that it is not specified anywhere whether the decisions are made based on votes from a third of entity delegates who are present, or a third of total entity delegates. He means to count absent delegates as votes against. In this, Ivanic is wrong, as any objective observer must conclude. Namely, the first sentence "All decisions in both chambers shall be by majority of those present and voting" defines precisely which votes are suitable for counting, including for the purposes of checking the requirement of a third of votes from each entity.

To satisfy Ivanic and Dodik, there would have to be an additional specification somewhere that would undo that postulate from the first sentence, i.e. that would specify that in order to satisfy the entity constraint, a different accounting would be used that would count those that are not present as votes, and specifically as votes against.

Whether what is practiced changes is completely irrelevant. It is not so important whether the representatives continue to extend a "courtesy" of not holding sessions when at least a third from either entity is not present, because if they really needed to hold a session, they legally could.
Therefore, a boycott by RS politicians can no longer dissolve BiH, even in the Dayton framework.

1.3 Why was Lajcak so successful where so many others have failed?

We can safely say that Mr. Lajcak is the first foreigner who successfully stood up to both the criminal RS politicians, and the "Bosniak" party leaders who are puppets of Serbian intelligence, by recognizing all their deceptions and tricks. Why was he successful, while so many others failed?

A possible explanation is that he comes from a former Communist country. He knows the "culture" of the politicians in these parts of the world, and knows how the government ignores the people, etc. He knows that politicians here act as if they are above the law, as if they are feudal masters who freely make decisions that are contrary to their promises to the people.

In addition, as someone who comes from a country that was recently enslaved, Lajcak probably knows all about how spies and agents infiltrate the people.
That is the difference between a "westerner" and someone who comes from the former Eastern Bloc. For example, when you explain to an American that the "Bosniak" representative in Bosnia actually works for Serbia, he often concludes that you are a kooky conspiracy theorist. When you tell the same to a person from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, etc. they immediately know what you are talking about, because they remember examples of their own compatriots spying on their own people.

Perhaps that is why he managed to do what was best for the people of Bosnia, even while those who claim to represent the people sabotaged him.

Unfortunately, some politicians have implied that the RS delegates' cooperation was bought by means of a secret concession, perhaps in the softening of the three principles for police reform. If that is true, then Mr. Lajcak will have committed political suicide. Namely, he could not possibly aspire to be a European, democratic politician and diplomat, and allow himself the luxury of participating in the shenanigans of the politicians of the Balkans. Considering Mr. Lajcak's honorable performance thus far, we tend not to believe such rumors. But we will be watching closely the upcoming talks about the agreement to join the EU. If we spot a softening of the requirement that police reform according to the three principles must be carried out before Bosnia can proceed along EU integration, we will know what is up. In the present situation, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot afford to let their guard down.




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