Bosnia’s institutions are not prepared to face the migrant crisis and veterans always try to influence decision makers ahead of an election, professor at Sarajevo’s Philosophical Faculty, Drazen Barbaric, told N1.
"There is not a country in the world that has been this cruel toward its veteran population," Barbaric said, adding that the Government has had a completely wrong approach toward the veterans who are protesting in one of the two country’s semi-autonomous entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH).
Veterans have set up camp in front of the FBiH Government building more than a year ago in an effort to pressure MPs to adopt a set of laws that would, among other things, increase their monthly benefits and end the government funding of hundreds of veterans’ associations which protesters said did nothing for them while siphoning funds from the budget that could have gone to the veterans directly.
The protesters demand a register of veterans to be published so it is available for everyone to see since they assume that many of those currently receiving government benefits never really fought during the 1992-1995 war.
They also want the FBiH Government to pay them a monthly allowance based on their military engagement in the war.
The FBiH House of Peoples had adopted a draft law meeting their demands but the text was different than the one in the draft law adopted by the House of Representatives. A commission tasked with harmonizing the two versions met last week and finalized its work. The two chambers are now expected to meet to approve the final version of the law.
Instead of the Government tending to the needs of the veterans throughout the years following the war and helping them integrate into society as contributing members, they were treated as a part of the society with special needs, Barbaric said, adding that this was a "discriminatory approach."
If their demands are not fulfilled, the veterans could turn to more radical methods, he warned.
The professor also commented on the migrant situation.
The number of migrants entering the country has drastically increased since the beginning of 2018. Although they intend only to pass through Bosnia on their way to western Europe, the surrounding countries have closed their borders, leaving thousands of them stranded in Bosnia.
Professor Barbaric said he is not sure how this situation even came about but he agrees with a recent statement from Security Minister Dragan Mektic who said the migrants are in essence a European problem.
"I think we are not prepared for the migrant crisis and that despite it being relatively small, our institutions cannot handle it. The crisis is being politicised and is becoming the subject of disputes between the two (semi-autonomous) entities in the country," Barbaric said.