Analyst: Bosnia's crisis is partly the result of the West gradually withdrawing

NEWS 19.11.2021 10:43
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Source: N1

Political analyst Srecko Latal, whose article entitled ‘Bosnia Is On the Brink of Breaking Up’ was recently published by the New York Times, told N1 that all the events that brought on the political crisis in Bosnia are partly a product of the west gradually withdrawing led to an increase of Russian and Chinese influence in the region.

“When Balkan leaders saw that EU membership would not happen, at least in the next election period, they all started looking for alternative options and alternative scenarios, which, unfortunately, largely meant a return to nationalist and populist narratives,” Latal said.

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Latal argued that the US has left BiH at some point in 2006, when Bosnia’s politicians failed to agree on the so-called ‘April package’ – a set of constitutional amendments that would have, among other things, expanded state competencies, streamlined institutions and limited veto powers of the ethnic groups in the county.

Latal noted that the US was involved in putting the April Package together as their “exit strategy” but that, in the end, it was two votes short of being adopted in the BiH Parliament.

“Regardless of the fact that it did not pass, they decided to get out of that daily active engagement in BiH politics, primarily because they were preparing for the declaration of Kosovo's independence and some other things that were happening – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.” he said.

Democracy in the Balkans was then entrusted to the European Union, Latal noted, arguing that the plan was to strengthen democracy through the EU’s expansion process.

“Unfortunately this did not happen. Instead, we have seen the EU gradually change its attitudes more and more, asking for one thing – offering another – and giving a third,” he said, adding that one of the key moments in this was not approving the visa-free regime to Kosovo.

“We saw what happened to Northern Macedonia, which did something that few expected would happen. The name of the country was changed and it did not even get a date for the start of negotiations,” he said.

According to Latal, Bosnia missed a huge opportunity.

“Until 2010, when Croatia began to prepare for EU accession, BiH had better laws and systems and mechanisms in many spheres than the rest of the region, and in many respects we were ahead of others in the enlargement process,” he said.

Latal also argued that BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik is the “central figure” of the ongoing political crisis in Bosnia, but not the only one perpetuating it.

Dodik has been working towards rolling back post-war reforms which led to the establishment of numerous state institutions, including the army, indirect taxation authority and judicial institutions. He announced that Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity, where he is the leader of the ruling party, will unilaterally withdraw from those institutions and form its own, separate ones.

“He is definitely not the only problem. If he were the only problem in BiH, we would not have problems. No matter how strong or weak a politician he is, he could not achieve anything in essence if he were alone in the initiative to undermine BiH,” Latal said.

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