Western Balkans

The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina

, by Jasna Hadzialic

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The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina

While Europe continues to unite and to build its capacities by facing and overcoming some manageable problems, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is still lagging 20 years behind.

I believe that the future of this country depends on the capability of its people to understand that they have the power to change the situation and to start working for a better future, instead of waiting for the international community to impose solutions, which can never be completely suitable since their origin is not complementary with the complicated situation in this country.

BiH is an extraordinary example of an attempt to bring to life an experiment called Consociation Democracy that should be an efficient and prosperous model of democracy in a multi-ethnic society. Unfortunately, I think that the experiment failed. First let us take a look at the Constitution of BiH - it was designed as a temporary solution for ending a war, and was a consequence of power balance in the battle-field.

That Constitution, which is actually a part of the Dayton Agreement, declares Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a democratic country. However, it has never been confirmed by BiH citizens in any way (nor were they given an opportunity to influence its contents). It was signed by the presidents of three different countries (one of which was BiH), and was never translated into any of the official languages in BiH (Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian).

The country is divided into two Entities - The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska (RS), and a Brèko district, an administrative unit under the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina which remains under international supervision. The entities have quite a lot of power and even a limited international subjectivity. Furthermore, both Entities contain subdivisions, resulting in e.g. thirteen Ministries of Education and an army of bureaucrats, because every minister has two deputies, according to the ethnic structure that has to be taken into consideration.

I believe that the future of this country depends on the capability of its people to understand that they have the power to change the situation and to start working for a better future...

The Constitution also predicts a three-party Presidency with a system of rotation, so that every eight months we have a different president; citizens from one entity do not have the possibility to vote for the representatives in the other one (though they will suffer the consequences of their decisions); minority representatives are not included in decision making bodies on the state level, etc.

The possibility of becoming a member of the EU set in motion many positive changes and put new challenges before BiH. Even prior to signing the SAA, BiH had made significant progress - a united banking system and the State Ministry of Defence, but the implementation of all reforms was not successful, most certainly because of many ongoing ethnic tensions that occur in everyday life.

While the creation of the State Police Force is still an unsolvable problem, the education system is another field where the constituent nations in BiH cannot reach an agreement. Even some of the ’successfully’ implemented reforms are questionable. We can find proof of that in the incident where the RS soldiers of the new joint professional Army of BiH swore at the official oath to serve the RS instead of swearing to serve Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I also do not know of any other country where, in a case when a law proposed by the Government is not passed by the Parliament, nothing happens. Both Parliament and the Government stay intact until the expiration of their mandate. It seems as if all the politicians made an ’alliance against the people’ to watch each other’s backs, while the people they were elected by suffer. A fact is that a major consciousness shift is needed here - the politicians have to realise that they are working for the people, and the people have to start holding their representatives responsible. Only then can we expect true progress and prosperity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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