Sunday, December 23, 2007

Discrimination in Bosnia II

Balkan Insight reports that a Roma has brought a case for the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg that Bosnia's constitution is discriminatory. The problem is that the constitution specifies for many positions whether the position should filled by a Bosniak, a Croatian or a Serb. This means that there is no place for other minorities like Jews and Roma.

If the court agrees with him Bosnia would have to change its constitution. I think this might be a good think, provided it is done in a wise way. One of the most urgent requirements would be the creation of a Croatian entity.

Once such an entity is created Bosnia could switch from a ethnic to a territorial system, where each entity has the right to a post that is now reserved to its majority.

This would also mean the end to the system whereby local government is determined by the ethnic composition is determined by the population of an area before the war. Such a policy is good for returns. But it is bad for local democracy when out-of-towners determine what is going to happen. I think that 12 years after the war we have slowly reached the point where the second consideration should be considered more important than the first.

But this is the optimistic scenario. It could also happen that the question is reframed in a partial way - leading to the next "police reform" crisis.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Discrimination in Bosnia?

I encountered a rather old (july 2006) message on the blog "Allah's Willing Executioners". According to this blog:
A law passed earlier this month allows people living in state-owned apartments that were nationalized under the former Yugoslavia’s socialist regime to purchase the dwellings. But the law – backed by lawmakers from the country’s Muslim majority – provides that any apartment previously owned by the Muslim community cannot be purchased if the community objects to the sale.
“Holders of tenant’s tenure for apartments whose formal owners are wakfs can not buy up those apartments without previous written approval of the apartment’s owner,” the law states, using the Arabic word for a Muslim community endowment.
The Jewish community, as well as the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, was not given the same veto power. [....]

This is clearly a blog with a message so I am curious to hear other visions on this law and its background.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Kosovo negotiations

Der Spiegel has a nice article about the negotiations on Kosovo's future by the trio Ischinger, Wisner and Bozan-Kharchenko. The long article gives a good description of the people involved and tells a bit about how the negotiations went.

In my opinion the biggest failure of the negotiations remains the onesidedness. When it comes to principles the principle that Belgrade won't rule Kosovo anymore is on top. But the principle that the way in which Kosovo is treating its Serbs is unacceptable and that they need just as hard guarantees keeps missing.

These two principles are to a certain extent contradictory. But I believe that as long we we don't recognize this contradiction the conflict is inresolvable. The claim that the Ahtisaari proposal is enough for Serb minority rights is in my opinion just ridiculous.

The article tries to put the blame for the failed negotiations on the Serb side. It gives as example the Serb reaction to the trio's 14 working points. Yet during the negotiations the Serb position has shifted while the Albanians didn't cede an inch.

As I see it the Serbs have now a proposal that the Albanians can live with once they have swallowed their pride and suspicions. Now it is the turn of Albanians to provide a proposal that the Serbs can live with. This will mean much greater autonomy and maybe border changes.

At the beginning of the negotiations the troika indicated that they were open to talks about partition. But Serbia doesn't want partition if it means giving up on the Serbs south of the Ibar and the Albanians want Presevo in return. And then - rather than tackle those problems - the troika simply dropped the ball.

The present EU proposal is in my opinion just a proposal for ethnic cleansing.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

NATO soldiers as ethnic cleansers

While Kosovo's Serbs are preparing to flee once Kosovo declares independence, the "peacekeepers" in Kosovo prepare to enforce Albanian rule in Kosovo's northern tip. Kosovo's international rulers are still devided but if they push through this will mean the de facto ethnic cleansing of Kosovo's north tip. It doesn't help that the soldiers involved are Germans and Americans - two nations with whom Serbs have some bad memories.

Kosovo's Albanians have had 8 years to prove that they can rule their Serb minority in decent way. They have convincingly proven that they can not. I believe that the UN should draw the conclusion from this and cede the rule of Kosovo's north tip to Serbia. A nice side effect would be that the potential for conflict if Kosovo declares independence would be much reduced.

Election fraud in Kosovo

Balkan Insight is reporting about election fraud during the recent elections in Kosovo. Someone filmed fraud occurring in a voing station in Viti/Vitina. There are reports from other incidents as well. We will probably never know the extent of the fraud. Western elections observers have the habit of labelling election fraud by "friendly" governments as "minor incidents". And these elections were organised by the OSCE.

The low voter turnout in Kosovo seems to confirm that many voters in Kosovo share my concern about these elections: they were only meant to keep Kosovo's present elite in power until long after the status has been settled.