Bosnian leaders offer completely different views of past, present, future

NEWS 15.03.2022 22:18
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Source: N1/Zoran Pehar

The three members of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Presidency and the president of the House of Peoples expressed in a debate at the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday completely different views on the current situation in BiH and how to come out of the crisis.

Zeljko Komsic, the Croat member of the Presidency elected by Bosniak votes, accused Croatia and Serbia of meddling in BiH’s internal affairs “under the guise of caring for their respective constituent peoples,” comparing their actions with Russia’s in Ukraine.

“That’s the concept of one state ruling another, the only difference being that here the neighboring countries are not trying to do it with weapons,” he said via video link from Sarajevo.

Komsic accused the Presidency’s Serb member Milorad Dodik and House of Peoples president Dragan Covic of being “Russian actors in BiH.”

He reiterated his argument that the concept of constituent peoples has been overcome and that it is necessary to set up a system based on individuals, regardless of their ethnicity, faith, race or any other affiliation.

Covic said that as “the legitimate representative of the Croat people in BiH,” he clearly condemned the Russian aggression on Ukraine.

BiH can only develop as a federal state with elements of consociational democracy, where certain social groups are guaranteed participation in government, he said, adding that equality and parity must be ensured as representatives of a larger people violate them more and more frequently.

Speaking to the press afterwards, Covic said “the two Bosniak members of the Presidency” presented at the meeting a unitarist concept and that they saw neighbours as enemies.

“One of the Presidency members who said he was a Croat can’t come to 75% of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territory, just as he couldn’t during his two previous terms.”

As for changes to the BiH election law and limited changes to its constitution, Bosniak representatives say elections can be held under the current election law, while Croat and Serb representatives say elections cannot be held without amending it.

“The political Sarajevo has declared all those coming to talks on changes to the election law Bosniak and pro-Bosnian policy traitors,” said Covic.

Dodik said BiH was in a perpetual crisis, that it is “an unstable and incomplete, some even say impossible state.” He accused “Muslims of trying to accomplish war goals with their policy, only peacefully this time.”

“Komsic is just a usurper of the Croat people’s rights… In BiH we now have two Muslim and one Serb representative in the Presidency, which is a total derogation of the system in the grossest way,” Dodik said, repeatedly referring to Bosniaks as Muslims and saying that they are constantly blaming him and Covic for everything that is wrong in BiH.

Dodik said that unlike the Bosniak member of the Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, he did not participate in the 1992-95 war in BiH, indirectly accusing him of possible war crimes.

He said the Serb entity of Republika Srpska respected BiH’s external sovereignty and that it had no plan to separate from BiH.

The problem is that the reforms of the past 27 years have gone beyond the constitutional framework, he said, adding that the Constitutional Court should not have foreign judges and that the international community’s High Representative was not appointed legally, so he does not recognize him.

“We want a constitutional BiH. Help us ensure that BiH functions in line with the constitution – two entities, three constituent peoples, parity and consensus – and BiH won’t have problems,” Dodik said.

Asked by MEPs if he condemned the Russian aggression on Ukraine, he said, “I support Ukraine’s territorial integrity, condemn every war and destruction, just as I condemned the air strikes against Serbia in 1999.”

Dodik said he was willing to respect BiH’s constitution, that he did not “work under Russian influence,” and that the civic model supported by the Bosniaks meant “the Muslim majority model.”

After the meeting, Committee on Foreign Affairs chair David McAllister said there was no single solution for BiH, that it was one state with three constituent peoples and two entities, and that this required willingness to compromise and look for a consensus from all political groups, the three constituent peoples and all others living in the country.

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