Compare these

Here is an excerpt from Monday’s statement by Serbia at the UN Security Council debate on Bosnia:

We consider that the announced referendum of the citizens of Republika Srpska on the Court and the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina has nothing to do with the territorial integrity of the country and is not in contravention of Dayton Peace Accords. Without any intention to interfere into the internal affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we consider that legislative initiative belongs only to competent assemblies formed by the legitimately elected representatives of citizens and that there are no powers on the basis of which it could be taken over by other governmental organs in Bosnia and Herzegovina or by the international presence.

Here is an excerpt from the statement by Croatia on the same occasion:

In this respect, we echo previous speakers who have expressed serious concern regarding the unilateral decision by Republika Srpska to hold a referendum on challenging the authority of state judicial institutions and rejecting the authority and past decisions of the High Representative. We believe this decision should be reversed, as it undermines the constitutional structure of the country and could undo the positive developments achieved since the entry into force of the Dayton Peace Agreement. If the referendum moves forward, it may foster new tensions in the country and the region. Croatia underscores that all Parties should respect the Dayton Peace Agreement and acts of the High Representative taken with the approval of the Security Council acting under the authority of Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

I was originally tempted to comment on this contrast, but I think I’ll leave it to readers to judge which one is sincere and which is disingenuous.

PS: A hint to non-Balkan watchers: the first statement would justify secession from the Union by South Carolina.

PPS:  For the record, the referendum question in the RS reads as follows:

Do you support the laws imposed by the High Representative of the International Community in BiH, especially those pertaining to the Court of BiH and BiH Prosecutor’s Office, as well as their unconstitutional verification in the BiH Parliamentary Assembly?

Take a guess as to which way those who wrote the question want you to vote!

8 Responses to Compare these

  1. Amer says:

    What is Serbia’s game here? As it is, they’re being warned by the EU that they may not meet its standards for acceptance as a candidate country by the end of the year, even without any public mention by EU visitors of Serbian support for Dodik. (What else would you call a joint session of their parliaments?) At the very least, casting covetous eyes on another country’s territory would seem to run counter to the good-neighbor policies the EU says it favors. Is Belgrade trying to demonstrate just how much trouble Serbia can cause if it’s not invited in on their schedule? Or is it only more payback to Russia for support on Kosovo? Or maybe they’re nervous about what the postponed census will show about population decline, and are looking for a way to improve the figures? (Kosovo can breathe a sigh of relief, btw – it’s actually not as over-populated as was assumed.)

  2. Bruce Hitchner says:

    The RS referendum is frivolous for two reasons:

    1) It has no force in law and, no matter what the outcome, it reflects the vote of less than one half of the country’s population.

    2) the referendum question is so tendentious in its scope and intent that it cannot be read as a valid indicator of popular opinion in the RS on the legal authority of the High Representative in Bosnia. Indeed, it challenges the voter’s intelligence and sense of objectivity by asking them to vote simply yes or no on matters of great complexity and gravity for the country’s future. It is political sophistry.

    As a consequence, no legitimate legislation regarding the legal authority of the High Representative could be advanced on the basis of the referendum’s outcome.

    In sum, the referendum is a fundamentally counterproductive and divisive approach to addressing the question of the role of the international community’s chief legal authority in Bosnia under the terms of the Dayton Agreement.

  3. Jerry Gallucci says:

    No matter how much you wish that nationalist politics would simply go away – and that the RS and Tadic would just behave – reality remains the same. In the Balkans – and by the way the Scottish nationalists just won control of their parliament – tribalism is very much alive. As it is reality, the best way forward may be to allow the various groups to live alongside each other in peace rather that in some artificially enforced mishmash.

    • Amer says:

      But how much of this is ancient, undying hatred for the Other, and how much is politicians’ ambitions to be the biggest frog in their own little pond? Remember Slovakia and the breakup of Czechoslovakia? Meciar, a Dodik lookalike, wanted his own country, where he could rule unimpeded by those goody-goodies in Havel’s government. Within six months Slovaks were muttering that the split had been a Czech plot to get rid of them and the constant drain on the national budget to bring Slovakia up to the Czech standard. The Slovaks had years to contemplate what might have been during Meciar’s thuggish reign.

  4. August Tenbrook says:

    I agree with Amer- and the answer is the latter. There are a disproportionate number of weasels in the political elite of BiH on all three sides. Yes, they were voted in, but there are many factors as to why that is the case- and in both the Federation and the RS, there often isn’t much of a real choice given the quality of the alternatives. Plus the amount of disinformation in the Federation, and the control of information in the RS, is still extremely high. The political elite don’t represent the citizens, and the majority have vested interest in things not getting better in the country. It’s how they got rich and how they have stayed rich. There are exceptions of course, but even if it was an even split, and I certainly don’t believe it is, there would be no ability among the reformists to overcome the corrupt elements. Rule players are always severely handicapped when competing against rule breakers. It’s time for a new strategy and renewed commitment by the intl community.

    Meanwhile, splitting the country is rewarding genocide and a slap in the face of survivors. As long as nationalists head the RS, a split would also endanger the rights and possibly the lives, later if not now, of returnees. It’s also an insult and a disservice to the Bosnian Serbs still living in the Federation, and dangerous to Bos Serb returnees as well. I also think it would guarantee a future war- and this statement is just as true for Bosnian Serb youth as it is for Bosniak youth – you don’t lose parents, relatives, and belongings, and get booted from your home and then denied return access (or given access, but with animosity and stubborness) without harboring a deep sense of injustice that you want desperately to correct. If we want to prevent a future war in Bosnia, for the sake of all the ethnicities there, the entity border needs to be erased, not made permanent, and BiH needs to be reintegrated into Europe. (This is a youth problem, btw, because the far greater part of the veterans and older survivors are not the least bit interested in renewed conflict- and not one amongst those vets that I’ve met carried a thorn against the opposing ethnicity in general.)

    If the politicians get in the way because it threatens their personal self-interests, they need to be purged from the political structure. There are already too many who should have been prosecuted some time ago.

  5. […] place, it would have given him popular-populist legitimacy to challenge any OHR decision (see the question: Do you support the laws imposed by the High Representative of the International Community in BiH, […]

  6. gerrymanderer says:

    does no one get it???
    The Serbs do not want to live in a muslim-dominated state and they can’t stand the Croats. The Croats absolutely loathe the Serbs (more than vice versa, i would suggest) and the muslims aren’t much lower on their hate-list – just look at the situation in Mostar. Finally, while i appreciate that the Muslims believe they have a right to their own sovereign state (and maybe they do), they have to also accept that that state will be for Muslims alone and that the Serbs and Croats will never be frogmarched into what would effectively amount to a Turkish colony.
    The conclusion therefore: no amount of peaceloving is going to force 3 peoples who mutually detest each other to live in joy and harmony. No matter what Daniel Serwer says.

  7. gerrymanderer says:

    incidentally, if Jerry Gallucci is the same Gallucci that worked in UNMIK and was mysteriously moved on after having the temerity to suggest that the March 2008 Kosovo riots maybe weren’t the sole and entire fault of the local Serbs, then I doff my cap to you. Virtually the only international official who had the guts to express some objectivity and independent thought in his views and not just fall into line with the diktat coming down from Ricker

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