The Bonn powers are still there, but the atmosphere concerning their use has changed, said Valentin Inzko, International community's top official in charge of overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the war and contains the country’s Constitution.
According to Inzko, the international community’s body called the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) which oversees the work of High Representatives in Bosnia, told him to break the habit of using the Bonn Powers and to let Bosnian officials solve issues for themselves.
“The PIC suggested that I should break the habit of previous high representatives, of using the Bonn Powers,” the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina said for N1.
The institution of the High Representative has a wide range of powers called the Bonn powers which give him the power to change and impose laws and fire officials.
Inzko commented on a recent initiative the country’s main Bosniak Party for Democratic Action (SDA) had announced, which heightened ethnic tensions.
The SDA said it would challenge the name Republika Srpska (RS), the Serb-majority semi-autonomous part of the country, before the Constitutional Court, arguing that it is discriminatory against the other to major ethnic groups, the Bosniaks and the Croats.
The Office of the High Representative commented on the press release, saying that the initiative to dispute the name of Bosnia's Republika Srpska (RS) is “irresponsible and counterproductive,” and pointed out that the Constitution recognises that Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska.
Inzko told N1 that the initiative was “controversial.”
“Of course, it is not anti-Dayton (Peace Agreement) to submit a request to the Constitutional Court,” he said, arguing that others also submitted requests to the Court asking it to assess whether other things are in line with the Constitution.
“However, Republika Srpska is a category included in the Dayton Agreement and Bosniak representatives in Dayton signed off on it to be named that way,” he said.
Speaking about the frequent denial of the Srebrenica genocide and glorification of war criminals, Inzko said he would gladly impose the law against the denial of the genocide and holocaust, and that the PIC might agree to this idea.
Even though the State Parliament discussed such proposals on several occasions, Bosnian Serb and Croat leaders frequently rejected the idea of punishing the glorification of convicted war criminals and refused to recognise the Srebrenica massacre where some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were systematically killed, as genocide, even though several international court verdicts confirmed that genocide took place in the once UN Safe Zone.
Asked whether politicians in Bosnia sometimes create a crisis, the High Representative said that he once saw a message on the cellphone of a Bosnian politician supposedly addressed to another politician which said: “attack me a little bit.”
It happened eight years ago, he said, but would not reveal who the involved politicians were.
“Some of the politicians, when they are attacked, become big defenders of their people,” Inzko said.
The High Representative pointed out that nearly 30,000 people had left the country.
“It would be very unfortunate if only the politicians and pensioners remained in this country because I'm sure that Bosnia hasn’t more than 3 million residents,” he concluded.