Un État, deux entités, trois peuples, et le problème de la majorité musulmane (Analyse)*

One country, two entities, three peoples and the problem of the Muslim majority (analysis) *

By Admir Mulaosmanovic *

Negotiations on changes to the electoral law in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been going on for a long time and can be considered a major political issue for the country. The whole process took on very concrete outlines in the period after the 2018 elections, when the functioning of the state was almost completely disrupted. There is a particular problem with the political climate in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the tensions between Bosnians and Croats.

The long-running frustration of HDZ-BiH leader Dragan Covic erupted after his defeat in the presidential election by Zeljko Komsic. Accusations that Komcic was “the second Bosnian member of the presidency”, and therefore a non-Croatian, led to a serious deterioration in relations not only with the main Bosnian political party (DAP) but also with the Muslim community in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The desire to introduce the principle of voting and ethnic representation into the electoral law became dominant within the Croatian Democratic Federation. In order to achieve the HDZ program, the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has not been formed according to the results of the 2018 elections, and this is still the case. At least three ministries remain without leaders due to their departure from other positions or deaths, even when Prime Minister Novalić has been on a technical tenure of nearly four years. All this is due to the blockade imposed by the President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marinko Kavara, a close collaborator of Dragan Kovic.

The series of talks sponsored by international mediators failed to bring the positions closer. Special envoys from the United States, officials from the European Union and ambassadors from Quint (the United States, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and France) tried to find a basis for an agreement, but all failed. Although national political representatives showed great interest, it seemed impossible to reconcile the two concepts that took hold over the years. The first aims at structural reform through constitutional changes that would lead Bosnia and Herzegovina into a civil society, and the second seeks to strengthen ethnic representation.

2 Concepts No Reconciliation

The first concept was vigorously defended by Bosnian political figures. It has therefore been mistakenly recognized as the Bosnians’ desire to establish their hegemony. In this way, Serbs and Croats established their relationship towards normalization and building a state based on European and universal values. Unfortunately, the aforementioned envoys, especially those representing the US government, agreed with this approach and called for changes that would satisfy ethnic demands, especially those from the Croatian side.

This was very clearly expressed by all representatives from Washington (Palmer, Cholet, Escobar) who had only one proposal for Bosnia and Herzegovina – one country, two entities, three peoples, changes to the electoral law and the constitution. After several meetings, two basic questions became: “How will the members of the presidency be elected?” And “What is the way for the People’s Assembly to work to avoid possible obstacles associated with the establishment of the entity government?” Interestingly, during the final negotiations in the city of Neum, it became clear that the second issue is of central importance for the Croatian Democratic Union, and not the election of a member to the presidency, as it seems so far.

This change came when the Democratic Action Party turned out to be ready for a member election to the presidency, which was proposed although it was virtually free of democratic criteria and a guaranteed risk-free entry. On the other hand, reducing the powers of the People’s Assembly has been the consistent position of the Democratic Action Party. The entity of the union is the engine of the state and the performance of the government should not be called into question again as it was between 2018 and 2022.

In the end, this whole episode revealed clear positions: the Croats implement a policy that defines their dominance over a certain area that they consider to be an exclusive national space. The Bosnians are trying to lead the process of reintegrating the country. Meanwhile, international representatives are trying to persuade some Bosnian politicians to accept this undemocratic approach that would give Croats wide powers.

Protests against possible changes to the electoral law

And while it seemed that the question was closed without result and that it would continue after the elections scheduled for next October, the information came like a thunder bombardment that German High Representative Christian Schmidt imposes technical and political solutions to the electoral law. Make constitutional changes. While the technical changes were indisputable even before, the political changes disrupted the foundations of political life, on the right track to satisfy the Croatian worker in the country.

This announcement certainly angered pro-Bosnian forces, which led to demonstrations in Sarajevo. The political changes that determine how the federal government is constituted will allow the Croatian Democratic Union to rule for at least 50 years.

The Croatian Democratic Union appears to have been incorporated into the constitution after this intervention, which is paradoxical. However, there was no shortage of US and UK support for the High Representative, and this was the direct message that arranging Bosnia and Herzegovina based on the principle of ethnicity was also on their agenda.

Western democracies are willing to impose a solution that would give the HDZ enormous powers, leading to great resentment among the Bosnians, making it an issue of disproportionate value to vote.

In the end, after dealing with the protests and possible destabilization of the state, Schmidt makes the decision Solomon. He imposed technical changes and asked political actors to agree to a series of policy amendments, which gave him a six-week deadline. Otherwise, he will impose what he has already decided with minor corrections. what does that mean ? Kovich and HDZ have to sit idly by for six weeks until it expires. Then they will get what they want. For Bosnia and Herzegovina, and especially for Bosnians, the message is devastating: “We support the rule of democracy, but there will always be more equality between equals” reverberating in our ears.

* The author is an expert in contemporary world history who teaches at the International University of Sarajevo (IUS) and the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Sarajevo.

*Translated by Cecil Bunny

* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.

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