UN and Balkans: Crisis of Genre (II)

By IndepthAfrica
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Jul 29th, 2012
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Part I

Pyotr ISKENDEROV

The major objective of the European structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a lot more complicated than strengthening the self-proclaimed statehood in Kosovo. There is an attempt to make three peoples: the Muslims, the Serbs and the Croats – live in one state, something they perceive quite differently. The Islamist aggressive behavior, the Croatian nationalism fuelled by Zagreb, the bugaboo of Great Serbian threat invented by the West – all these factors aggravate the situation there…

In 1994-1995 the USA and its NATO allies took the initiative in their hands without looking back on anyone else and did what they wanted to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In October 1998 the British Foreign Office made a noteworthy statement that simultaneously supported the NATO intervention in Bosnia taking the side of local Muslims but refused to consider this experience as the one to be followed universally because the UN Security Council approval was envisaged as a condition to be observed in the given case. As the statement emphasized, the events in Bosnia and Herzegovina showed that at the time the need for UN Security Council’s authorization to use force in humanitarian operations was widely recognized, it could also be justified to resort to arms in the absence of UN Security Council’s resolution when it was unavoidable for humanitarian purposes. Andrew J. Bacevich, Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University, said, no matter official versions, the use of force by NATO in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then Kosovo, was not aimed at putting a stop to ethnical cleansing and had nothing to do with the call of conscience. The real purpose was to prevent the threat to the NATO unity and the US authority. It was imperative to assert the US hegemony in the united, integrated and free Europe.

Gerhard Schroeder, the former Chancellor of Germany, said by and large the same thing in his memoirs. As to him, the Kosovo events served as an important lesson. It became clear that Europe was not able to settle the conflict on the continent without the US help. Not occasionally the international experts traditionally say the USA controls the management process in Bosnia, which is seen as the first tangible step by the USA to strengthen its world supremacy. The second one was Kosovo.

Still, no matter how hard NATO, the European Union, the United Nations and other structures led by the High Representative of world community tried, Bosnia and Herzegovina never became a mature state governed by effective state agencies. Commenting on the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic, experts say the country faces the worst crisis since the Second World War. The head of US intelligence community James Clapper sees Bosnia and Herzegovina as the principal challenge to European stability because inter-ethnic issues prevail over the political process.

Umut Arik, head of the Ankara based Turkish International Cooperation Agency, warned in the middle of the 1990s that no security in the Balkans would be achievable till the decisions related to national states were taken and then reconsidered unilaterally. The fact that the disintegration processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo are intertwined is obvious. Thomas Pickering, former chief State Department advisor on European affairs including the Balkans, is right saying any decision concerning the Kosovo status may resonate even more severely in such deeply divided societies as the Bosnian one. It all makes the West refuse the policy focused on one country and taking decisions on a state to state basis in the Balkans. In particular, this concept served as a foundation for the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe worked out by the European Union and made effective since 1999.

Today the problem of Kosovo Serbs and Albanian nationalists intensifying their actions is in a deadlock. The trend of transition to the policy that is not focused on a state but rather on arbitrarily defined territories is taking shape defining the policy of Balkans management international curators. The region is not seen as a group of established states but rather as a number of territories with changeable boundaries. For instance, this kind of approach is offered, in particular, by the US National Intelligence Council that sees the Balkans as an important element of “the axis of instability” comprising the states “vulnerable to conflicts”.

The Europeans themselves realize there are serious hurdles on the way of creating the multinational Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Council of Europe stressed in one of its reports that once the Office of High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina actually performs the functions of legislative and executive power, the country is not a democracy.

According to available data, the USA, NATO and the European Union intend to revive the UN supported so called “Butmir process” that started three years ago but never finalized in the form desired by the initiators. In October 2009 two rounds of talks between the Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims were held at the NATO air base that makes part of the Saraevo airport Butmir. It was hinted quite evidently that a kind of Dayton – 2 agreement was achievable, only without Russia this time. In November 1995 at the first Dayton talks the international mediators demanded the parties of Bosnian conflict agree to share political responsibility between three peoples making one state. Now the Butmir process actually presupposes dismantling the Dayton system no matter the Bosnian Serbs open opposition and the Croats hidden discontent. The Bosnian Serb Republic was given an ultimatum demanding to refute the authority guaranteed by its government, in particular, the right to veto the state affecting decisions. The plan is presented as a constitutional reform. It envisages turning Bosnia and Herzegovina into a unitary state with Bosnian Muslims holding the power. A corresponding project was prepared by the European Union leadership and the US State Department, or to be exact: former US Deputy Secretary of State, Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Carl Bildt, former Minister for Foreign Affairs in Sweden, one of the authors of the Dayton accords.

The position of Western guarantors of Dayton management is first of all defined by the US interests. The first tenure of Barack Obama is drawing to an end, so the administration badly needs a success in the Balkans. The Americans think the Obama’s predecessor George Bush had achieved it lobbying through the Kosovo independence. A unitary Bosnia and Herzegovina could become an Obama’s “Kosovo”, where the Serb Republic would be a municipality deprived of rights. It’s well known US Vice-President George Biden has said the Bosnian Serbs stubbornness while being adamant on the Dayton accords was an obstacle on the way of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s development. The Democrats dominated House of Representatives has already adopted a special Bosnian resolution. It formally acknowledges the historic mission of the Dayton accords that included numerous compromises needed to act rapidly to save human lives. The resolution says today the compromises stand in the way of creating productive and effective political institutions.

Commenting on the Barack Obama’s Bosnian policy the British Financial Times made an indicative parallel with the so called “reset” of the Russia-US relations. It emphasized the USA presses the “reset knob” in the Balkans to counter the attempts to change the borders in the region by Serb nationalists.

This thinking perfectly corresponds to the scenario worked out by Zbigniew Brzezińsky. In his time he described the Balkans as “power vacuum and power suction”. The International Crisis Group, expressing the views of influential circles of US establishment, thinks the time is not propitious to expedite the transition in Bosnia and Herzegovina because tension remains high and stability is getting more questionable.

Besides the inter-ethnic discords in Bosnia and Herzegovina aggravate along with a new turn of inter-political stand off. In July the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s parliament decided to dismiss three Cabinet members from the Party of Democratic Action. The party became a leading Muslim force since the times of war, so the Cabinet reshuffle promises to exacerbate the situation.

The arsenal of Western “New World Order” architects acting under the guise of the UN banner, includes a mechanism of territorial compensations that envisages, for example, the accession of the Bosnian Serb Republic in exchange for Belgrade’s agreement to give up Kosovo. The Kosovo partition is an option, something the Ivica Dačić led new government of Serbia has been becoming inclined to recently. There is a reason to suggest that the Saraevo Muslim authorities may support the “territorial compensation” plan at some time in future in case it presupposes the accession of Novopazarski Sandžak territory dominated by Muslim population and situated at the Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro borders junction.

The strategic role of the territory was well understood a hundred years ago, especially by Austro-Hungary, that strived to annex it following the accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Gyula Andrássy, Chairman of the Constitution Party, had said before the First World War that Novy Pazar for Bosnia was the same thing as the Bosphorus for the Black Sea. The well known words are still acute. In case the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina worsens again it’s Sandžak that will become the epicenter of the next conflict in the Balkans.

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