Tuesday, March 03, 2009

US Concerned, Situation in Bosnia “Not Good”

A brief story from Balkan Insight on the treacherous situation in Bosnia. At least one can say the US is still involved in the country and the Obama Administration is paying some attention.

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Balkan Insight
04 March 2009

No New War in Bosnia and Herzegovina

By Srecko Latal

SARAJEVO -- Tbe Americans have done it again. Until only yesterday,
the Premier of the Serb-dominated Bosnian entity of Republika Srpska,
Milorad Dodik had been threatening Bosnia with his entity's separation.

It appeared to be almost a done deal, and the only remaining questions
were around technicalities - how and when that would be done.

Then Dodik met Stuart Jones, the deputy US Assistant Secretary in
charge of the Balkans, and out from the meeting stepped a seemingly
different man. The "new" Dodik stressed that the constitutional
order of Bosnia and Herzegovina can be changed only through regular
parliamentary procedures and that there are no "adventurers" in
Republika Srpska who would attempt anything irrationally.

Furthermore, Dodik appeared to be reconciled with the fact that
the Office of the High Representative will remain in the country
for some time and admitted that Republika Srpska has "no influence"
either on the future modalities of the international presence in
the country, nor on the selection of a new High Representative.

Only yesterday, Dodik was the one who was calling for the OHR's
immediate departure and insisted that a new High Representative
"must be acceptable" to all sides in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To
surprised journalists it seemed that when Dodik walked out of the
meeting with the US diplomat he was a different man from the one
who came to the meeting.

This shift in Dodik's attitude was so welcomed by the local public
so that even the most ardent subscribers to the Balkan conspiracy
theory rule book failed to notice similarities with some well known
movies such as "Clone Wars" or "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

Jokes aside, this shift in Dodik's attitude has offered a brief
respite to a Bosnian public that was already on the edge of its nerves
due tothe prolonged political deadlock and the fast-approaching
economic and social crisis.

The situation had recently escalated to the point where some
"warmongering" journalists and analysts (like me) dared to notice
that 13 years after the end of the war, the people of Bosnia and
Herzegovina are becoming afraid of even a glimmer of a distant
possibility of a new conflict.

While opening up of the "war option" topic had triggered mixed
reactions from locals, media, civil society and politicians, nobody
could provide an answer to "Bosnia's million dollar question":
Who or what can stand in the way of Milorad Dodik if he decides
to separate Republika Srpska from the rest of the country?

The "new attitude" displayed by Dodik after his meeting with Jones
gave us what could be a glimpse of an answer to that question.

In the situation where divisions within European countries and the
weakening of their military presence in the Balkans has effectively
deprived the OHR of its governing powers, Jones proved once again
that only the Americans have the political clout to halt what
until only yesterday appeared to be Bosnia's inevitable stumble
into the abyss.

Yet, knowing Bosnia's decayed political scene, politicians'
radical rhetoric will surely return unless both the US and
the EU follow up on whatever Jones said to Dodik and the other
political leaders he met with during his stay in Bosnia.