Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Saving Bosnia by making dissolution possible?

I am wondering whether the only way to save Bosnia is to make its dissolution possible.

My solution would be to give the Bosniaks what they want regarding provinces: split both the Federation and the RS is provinces. However, to keep the Serbs and the Croats happy two conditions should be satisfied: the borders of the RS should be maintained as provincial borders and one or more Croat provinces should be created. And after 5 years those provinces should have the right to secede (and join other countries).

Cutting up the Federation and the RS should diminsh the antagonism. The five years delay should give the Bosniak politicians time to decide whether they really want to live together with the Serbs and Croats. The right to secede would be a permanent stimulus against extremism. At the moment there is a strong current in the Bosniak community to make Bosnia into a Bosniak state with Croats and Serbs as second rate citizens. Bosnia needs some counterweight against that in order to prevent yet another case of "silent cleansing". As long as the Bosniaks refuse a census as that might reveal to which extent they have silently cleansed their part of Bosnia I think this is a risk. If there is insufficient enthousiasm after 5 years it would be over and the world would be relieved of its task to keep something together that doesn't want to be together.

I wouldn't mind to make the threshold for separation higher than 50%. I think separating a country is even more controversial than changing a constitution. So a similar procedure as for changing a constitution might be used. I have never understood why the West considers 50% enough for separatism. I can understand that if 55% is persistently in favor of separation you want to give it to them. But even then you could build in extra safeguards like demanding two referenda with a 4 year interval.

I talk deliberately about provinces instead of cantons as they would be quite different. First of all they would follow the ethnic borders - meaning for example a split of Mostar. They would also be much bigger so that they can take up more tasks - including control over the police. The total of Bosnia might be split in about 10 provinces.

Allthough the Federation and the RS would disappear as seperate administrative units with their own parliaments and ministers some remnants would remain in the form of cooperations of provinces. For example the energy operations of the RS might continue as a company "banja Luka power" owned by the Serb provinces. Pensions for war veterans is another subject that might probably better be handled separately by each group. It is still too much true that one side's heroes are another side's war criminals.

Here is an interesting piece about progress in Bosnia..


Stories from the other side said...

Unfortunately I do not see any other solution than dissoluting Bosnia but this would be a offend to all those who died during the war, especially the Bosniaks, and a rewarding of the ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity that were committed by Serbs against Bosniaks. Republika Srpska more or less is a result of ethnic cleansing and very unfortunately Serbs have already archived what they fought for during the war. No one being a slight realistic believes Bosnia will ever be a functioning state. Poor Bosniaks, Serbs will join Serbia, Croats Croatia and they will be left alone, desillutionated, not knowing what or who they are, trying to find some common points of reference and those being the religion of Islam and maybe enter a strategic partnership with Turkey an thus making possible a Turkish return to Balkans.

Wim Roffel said...

In the Middle Ages the church or mosque was the center of learning and education and as such it made sense to have states on the basis of religion. It was a time when only the elite was educated and the voice of the common man didn't count. In modern times the common man does count and he tends to vote with his wallet. Modern separatists are usually motivated by money: many are rich provinces (Quebec, Catalonia, the Basque countries, Lega Norte in Italy, etc) that don't want to pay any more for their poorer country men.

Croatia and Slovenia fit in this pattern. Many people were deluded by the propaganda of the RK church in Croatia, but in my opinion the crucial reason that separatism worked there was that the economic fundamentals were right. Religion was just a convenient excuse.

In contrast in Bosnia there was no economic argument for separatism. The only other modern argument - heavy discrimination - was not there either. That independence was pushed through anyway was in my opinion mainly caused by a power hungry elite, fired on by Western and Arab backers who still believed in the Medieval model. The common (Bosniak) man was sold on independence by painting a future mini-empire with Bosniaks as the ruling class.

I can understand that the Bosniaks are frustrated now that that vision doesn't come out. They have fought for something and now it turns out that what they really get is a mini-state where they are alone with their poverty. However, I think that in our modern time of self determination it was the only reasonable outcome. It was the decision to go for independence that was ill advised.

Anonymous said...

Stories is right. Talk about dissolution only AFTER Serbia ahem Republka Sprska retreats from the Bosnian land that it conquured during the 1990s.

There were many arguments for Bosnia's secession. For one, it never really chose to be joined into Yugoslavia. Like with Kosovo, which was attached against its will to Serbia early in the 20th century.

Wim Roffel said...

"Like with Kosovo, which was attached against its will to Serbia early in the 20th century."

Really? Bosnia counted 44% Serbs at the time it became part of Yugoslavia and quite a few Muslims and Catholics considered themselves Serb too at that time.