Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Escalation in Bosnia

With the Republika Srpska suing 9 people including US representative Raffi Gregorian for “conspiring against Republika Srpska” Bosnia seems to face a new crisis. Lajcak, Bosnia's top international envoy, immediately chose the old international strategy of parrying Serb actions with threats, saying "We don’t have to go back too far into the history to see how defying the international community usually ends up".

I think mr. Lajcak is missing the point here. This is not about ethnic conflicts - at least it should be. This is about the borders between a criminal investigation and a political abuse of judicial powers. The rude reaction of mr. Lajcak suggests that he may very well be on the wrong side of the fine line between those two positions:
- If anything, the Federation in Bosnia is considered more rather than less corrupt than the RS. This raises the question why we hear only about such investigations regarding the RS.
- Parliamentary democracies generally know legal immunity for top politicians. Now, in the rather unsettled situation of Bosnia Dodik is not officially on the top level but he is the leader of one of the main political currents in the country, so some judicial restraint is justified. Specially from foreigners.

That doesn't mean that corruption shouldn't be addressed. But it does imply that care should be taken not to confuse the fight against corruption with politics. There are many ways to achieve that.

Will this restraint harm the fight against corruption? I don't think so. On the contrary, it prevents the fight against corruption from becoming politicized. Such politization only increases corruption as the focus comes on a few high-profile cases and politicians start to see the fight as a political tool rather than as a good cause.

As for Dodik, the main goal should be to have him behave more honest, not on getting him behind bars or out of office. He is a politician for a part of Bosnia's Serbs. They should decide when he has to give up his position. The international community should instead focus on the monetary aspect. They have given money to Bosnia and if Dodik is wasting some of that they should insist that transactions are turned back or money is paid back.

1 comment:

Croatian Crescent said...

Looks like Croatian president Mesic is doing his best to get Dodik behind bars: http://croatiancrescent.blogspot.com/2008/12/croatia-at-helm.html.