ELECTIONS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: THE VICIOUS CIRCLE OF POLITICS, MAFIA AND CRIME
|The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has prepared an analysis of current events in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the light of the launch of official election campaign for general election scheduled for 3 October 2010. The most relevant and interesting sections from the comprehensive analysis entitled “THE VICIOUS CIRCLE OF POLITICS, MAFIA AND CRIME” are given below.
ELECTIONS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA:
THE VICIOUS CIRCLE OF POLITICS, MAFIA AND CRIME
On 3 October 2010 the 7th general election will be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the introduction of the multiparty system in this country in 1990. At the state level the citizens will have the opportunity to elect three members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and 42 delegates to the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) the voters will elect 98 delegates to the House of Representatives at the BiH Federation level as well as the delegates to all the 10 Cantonal Assemblies. In the Republic of Srpska (RS) the voters will elect President and two Vice-Presidents of the Republic of Srpska as well as 83 delegates to the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska. There are in total 3,126,599 registered voters in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Altogether 8,730 candidates will run in the election, of which 11 are independent. They will appear in 778 candidate lists and represent 39 political parties and 11 coalitions. The election campaign has started before its official launch.
A RADICAL CHANGE OF POWER IS NECESSARY
Analysts have pointed to a difficult situation in all segments of life in Bosnia and Herzegovina regardless of the entity and/or nationality of its citizens. Since the beginning of democratic changes in this country, the power has been in the hands of national/nationalist parties, with the exception of the period 2000-2002 when it was run by the Alliance for Changes led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The fact is that even those political parties which were not nationalistic-oriented at the time of their establishment, gradually became extremely nationalistic, such as Milorad Dodik's Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) and the Party for BiH (SBiH) led by Haris Silajdžić. Since the last general election in 2006 the extremist activities and increasingly expressed nationalism by these two parties have brought Bosnia and Herzegovina into an extremely difficult position which is reflected in constant regression of this country during the past four years.
No notable new political parties have emerged recently, with the exception of Our Party (NS) which appeared on the political scene during the last local election (2008) and the Union for a Better Future of BiH (SBBBiH) which is running at the forthcoming general election, promising its voters a new approach to politics and answers to the current problems the country is facing.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is still governed by the principle of national exclusivity and the so called ethnic democracy. This means that there are several political parties within each nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina competing for the favour of their voters. There are very few political parties such as SDP and NS which are multiethnic in their content and activities, although even SDP has been gradually loosing its multiethnic character recently.
DAYTON AGREEMENT BETWEEN MYTH AND REALITY
Why is the Dayton Agreement inefficient? The Dayton Agreement should not be viewed and understood outside the context of diplomatic efforts carried out in the region during its formation. The “Z4” Plan was marked by the cooperation of four ambassadors – the ambassadors of the US, Russia, Britain and the EU – and envisaged the division of Croatia into several enclaves whereby about one fourth of the territory would belong to the so called Serbian enclaves. However, the plan failed since the Croatian authorities feared the consequences of its implementation and therefore prevented its realisation by carrying out the military operations called “Flash” and “Storm”. That was possible since Croatia was in a much better position than Bosnia and Herzegovina at that point in time. If the Dayton Agreement was implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina in line with the implementation of the “Z4” Plan in Croatia, this would have represented a single Balkan agreement. However, as the “Z4” Plan failed, the Dayton Agreement was also doomed to fail, since its merit lies in its joint implementation with the “Z4” Plan in Croatia. The Dayton Agreement thus ended the war, but it has not contributed to the modernisation and progression of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In this context the entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska and the Federation of BiH) should be regarded as temporary structures or administrative arrangements. The fact is that the Dayton Agreement was newer applied to its full capacity and therefore can not be used as a permanent structure.
DEFEAT OF HARIS SILAJDŽIĆ'S POLITICS
After Haris Silajdžić won 2006 election it was expected that the general situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina would improve along with the position of the Bosniaks who are officially represented by Silajdžić in BiH Presidency. His slogan during the last pre-election campaign was “100% BiH”. However, the politics he led during the past four years have experienced a complete defeat as almost none of his “100% BiH” slogan has been realised. During Silajdžić's government the position of Bosniaks has aggravated seriously and according to the analysts' estimations it is at the most difficult point since the introduction of a multiparty system and democratic changes in 1990, with the exception of the war period. His re-election to the BiH Presidency would represent an additional uncertainty for Bosnia and Herzegovina and for Bosniaks who have had no political leader for quite some time.
The politics led by the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) during the past four years have not been distinguishable in any way, except for the solistic activities of its President Sulejman Tihić, whose traditional rivalry with Silajdžić often endangered the destiny of the state and the people they both represent. SDA has shown the tendency of gradual ideological transformation into the social democratic party's surrogate, which is mainly thanks to its president Tihić.
A new political party has emerged in the Bosniak national body – Union for a Better Future of BiH (SBBBiH) led by Fahrudin Radončić. SBBBiH is trying to present itself as a new political option which is ready to offer a new approach and solutions to the current issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Analysts believe that SBBBiH and Fahrudin Radončić represent the middle way between SBiH and SDA, i.e. between Haris Silajdžić and Sulejman Tihić, and point to the fact that regardless of his involvement in numerous affairs and his misuse of political power, Haris Silajdžić has never been processed before the judicial bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina for his connections with “sophisticated crime”.
DODIK INVOLVES “OTHERS” IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES
Milorad Dodik is regarded to be in direct connection with organised crime and misuse of political power. However, due to the weaknesses of the judicial system in Bosnia and Herzegovina he has not been processed for the criminal acts since he came to power again.
It is characteristic of Dodik that he is trying to involve international officials and representatives of other states in those criminal activities. The most illustrative example was the involvement of Miroslav Lajčák and some other EU high officials and recently also Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor in his criminal activities. Dodik's award of the contract to a Slovenian company from Maribor through the intervention of Slovenian Prime Minister Pahor without having carried out an (international) invitation to tender puts under question the transparency of contract award for the construction of Banja Luka – Doboj motorway. Serious financial institutions would reject to finance non-transparent contracts which are not awarded through a tender procedure. Slovenian Prime Minister Pahor went to Banja Luka for a private visit to arrange a job for a private company from Maribor although he is not the company's official representative, which puts other companies which are not closely connected with Prime Ministers Dodik and Pahor in an unequal position.
Analysts have noted that Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor paid a private visit to Dodik in Banja Luka at the moment when the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton already announced the possibility of banning Dodik from entering the EU, and the candidate countries would also be obliged to respect this decision. Such activities carried out by Prime Minister Pahor are neither in line with EU foreign policy nor with the guidelines for Slovenian foreign policy strategy for the West Balkans adopted by the Slovenian Parliament in July this year. It is not clear why Slovenian Prime Minister decided to visit this entity (Republic of Srpska) after Dodik negated the statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina, organised the reception of war crimes convict Biljana Plavšić, negated genocide in Srebrenica, stated that he can not be judged by Muslim judges, made public statements against homosexuals etc. The politics led by Pahor may be regarded as hypocritical. How can he support the sovereignty and integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina while at the same time supporting Dodik and his politics (SNSD) that negate those principles? The meeting between Dodik and Pahor was held without any national symbols of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The question is whether following his previous practice Dodik has involved also Slovenian Prime Minister Pahor in his criminal activities.
Dodik's most noticeable recent decision was to strengthen and continue the coalition with Petar Đokić's Socialist Party (SP). The politics led by SP have partly annulled Dodik's mistakes and inappropriate activities, which can serve as a strong corrective to Dodik's political positions in the future. The Democratic People's Union (DNS) has also made a small contribution to this change.
CRIMINALISATION OF THE CROATIAN NATION DUE TO ČOVIĆ
The record in the number of criminal charges and court proceedings against the politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina is held by President of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) Dragan Čović. The involvement of Čović and his close collaborators in criminal activities has resulted in the criminalisation of the whole Croatian nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although that does not reflect the reality. The activities undertaken by HDZ BiH so far have proven that it has not been acting in favour of the Croatian nation. Namely, since the introduction of a multiparty system in Bosnia and Herzegovina the position of Croats as the smallest nation has aggravated significantly after every election, mostly due to the politics led by HDZ BiH with the support of HDZ in Croatia.
POLITICS, MAFIA AND CRIME
Most of the leading politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina are directly connected with or involved in crime and criminal activities. The whole state is caught in the vicious circle of politics, mafia and crime. The property records of politicians reported to the Central Election Commission (CIK) do not reflect the actual situation, since the data is adjusted and in many cases incorrect. The wealth of leading politicians such as Milorad Dodik, Haris Silajdžić and Dragan Čović is much higher than that stated in their property records, because their property is transferred to other persons, relatives, friends and bank accounts kept abroad.
The recruitment of new politicians is practically impossible in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because the political and social life is also trapped to the vicious circle of politics, mafia and crime. Thus, new politicians may only enter the sphere if approved by the current political elites.
Connections between crime and politics were created already during the period when Bosnia and Herzegovina was gaining independence, because the leading politicians at that time needed the services of criminal structures. Since then those connections became inseparable and can be defined as “criminalisation of politics and politisation of criminal”.
Analysts have pointed to the very difficult situation and at the same time believe that no mass protests and demonstrations will arise in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because the leading structures have gained control over trade unions, military veteran organisations, media, NGOs and other organisations.
CAN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA SURVIVE AS A STATE?
The question that is often raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as at the international level is whether this country can survive as a state. Especially Milorad Dodik and the politicians in his political circle have been persistently presenting theses implying that the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina can not survive.
However, analysts have pointed to the absurdity of Dodik's theses. If people from Bosnia and Herzegovina of different national origin can live in other countries together with other people and if they had lived together for centuries in Bosnia and Herzegovina, why should they not be able to live together in one state now. The modern world is based on multiethnic and multicultural principles which are also the most typical elements and values promoted by the EU and the USA. According to Dodik's criteria neither the EU nor the USA would be able to exist or survive as states.
RESPONSIBILITY OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
The international community's role and responsibility are inevitably related to events in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although it did not always assume a common position regarding some of the most important issues and it often (permanently) postponed finding the solutions to certain obvious problems.
One of its successful projects was the implementation of the reform of armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Why was the international community not able to or did not want to implement other reforms, such as police reform or constitutional amendments? The present complicated structure of this state prevents the efficient fighting of organised crime, terrorism and other problems. This functional incapacity of the state has created favourable ground for the activities of criminal structures.
The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR) could have among other contributed to the establishment of the ministry of agriculture at the national level in order to improve the situation in this sector, which will be of great importance in the negotiations for EU accession.
The international community could have taken action to sanction the politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina by introducing visas for highest officials or banning them from entering the EU and US states and blocking their bank accounts and property.
Analysts have noted that the representatives of the international community should have prevented the election of BiH Presidency pending the implementation of the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the Sejdić-Finci case, according to which the right to be elected should be assured to all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and not only to the representatives of the three constitutive nations (Bosniaks, Serbs, Croats).
Another problem, which has been present for many years, is restitution, i.e. the restoring of property to religious communities, which has been carried out selectively, depending on the dominant position of certain ethnic community in certain territory.
Regardless of the obvious failures and mistakes the international community has made in relation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, it should remain present in this country, especially due to the politicians and political structures which publicly advocate the abolition of international community (OHR) while pursuing retrograding politics that enable further presence of OHR which should continue functioning until the Dayton Peace Agreement is fully implemented.
Ljubljana, 12 September 2010
International Institute for Middle-East
and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) – Ljubljana