Intl community preparing for third phase of policy toward Bosnia, Inzko tells N1

NEWS 09.12.2020 22:15
Source: N1

International community's mistake in Bosnia was giving complete control over to local politicians too soon after the war, the country's international administrator told N1's Amir Zukic on Wednesday, announcing a possible 'third phase' in the community's policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“During the first 10 years after the war, the international community had a very robust presence in Bosina but then they handed the control to local politicians. That transition had to be done with a little more oversight,” Valentin Inzko who is international community's High Representative in charge of overseeing the implementation of the civilian aspect of the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.

“I hope the foreigners will take charge again. The gates are opening with the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House. He knows he region and we still remember his speech in the Senate when Bosnia wasn't allowed to defend itself. I feel a new mood and readiness is coming from countries like the Netherlands, France, and especially Germany to open a new chapter with the US. I call it the third phase, the first was the international force, the second was the domestic responsibility and this is the third phase,” the High Representative said.

He noted, however, that there is still a need for the use of the first phase.

“I support the use of the Bonn Powers, but not every day,” he added.

The Bonn Powers are a set of powers given to the Office of the High Representative by UN's Peace Implementation Council in 1997 so as to avoid the delay or obstruction of the implementation of the Dayton Agreement. They give the OHR the ability to impose laws and decisions when local politicians are unable or unwilling to do so and to dismiss public office holders and politicians for obstructing laws or the Dayton Accords.

In his opinion, the EU and US could make a joint plan for the new mission and reimpose their robust presence in the country. He found it unacceptable that Bosnian politicians were never given deadlines for certain reforms, like the formation of the EUROPOL office in Bosnia which was still not formed five years after Bosnia was tasked to do so.

Speaking about the Constitution, which is part of the Dayton Peace Agreement (Annex IV), Inzko pointed out that it has a giant flaw:
“It takes only five people to block the entire country. One person in the tripartite Presidency, Chairman od Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers (as Bosnia's government is officially called) and three people in the House of Peoples of the State parliament. According to the Dayton Agreement, they have the power to block the entire country whenever they want to,” Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko told N1.
He also touched upon the issue of non-implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) verdicts against Bosnia.

“I think the Constitution can be amended, but it first needs to be implemented. European Court of Human Rights’ decisions must also be implemented. [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel was born in East Germany, imagine a situation where she wouldn't be allowed to run for office. If you're born in the wrong half of the country, you can't run for office. That's 10 percent of Bosnia's population and that terrible. Term ‘citizens’ does not exist in this country – only ‘constituent peoples’ do,” Inzko stressed referring to a number of verdicts against Bosnia where the ECHR ruled in favour of the plaintiff.

According to the Constitution, the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency is elected only by votes from the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity, while the Croat and Bosniak members are elected only by the votes from the Federation (FBiH) entity. Serbs from the FBiH and Bosniaks and Croats from the RS can not run for the office of Presidency members.

The situation is the same with members of minorities because the Constitution stipulates that Presidency members must be representatives of each of the three ‘constituent peoples,’ thus banning Jews, Roma and other minorities from running for office. This also means that voters from one entity can not vote for candidates from the other entity.