Honorable Secretary Clinton,
The Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB) agrees with the State Department’s assessment that the “efforts by Republika Srpska officials to undermine state-level institutions” are having a detrimental impact to the stability and integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The report specifically outlined how the undermining of the Bosnian state authority by the Republika Srpska representatives negatively affected the ability of the Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) to carry out counterterrorism operations.
CNAB has pointed out in several meetings and correspondence with the State Department representative that the Bosnian Serb authorities are intentionally undermining reforms and efforts for peace and reconciliation, weakening the state authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to project it as a ”failed state.” Security and counterterrorism are only one example of the negative effect of these efforts on security and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Republika Srpska representatives are intentionally misusing and misinterpreting the Dayton agreement in order to justify their actions. This is evident in Milorad Dodik’s disgraceful comments in which he dismisses the report findings, and accuses the State Department of bias against Serbs. Dodik utilizes the Dayton agreement as a tool for his separatist agenda. Unfortunately, these efforts have gone largely unchecked due to the declining position of the Office of High Representatives (OHR) due to insufficient support from the European Union.
CNAB believes that the best path to accomplish long term peace and stability for Bosnia and Herzegovina is through meaningful reforms, and full euro-Atlantic integration and NATO membership. In order to reach this goal, we believe that a stronger and more forceful U.S. role in Bosnia is necessary to ensure conditions are met to reach this goal. A stronger U.S. presence in Bosnia would give a much needed push in the right direction. An assignment of a special U.S. envoy to the region, as recommended by U.S. House resolution 171, would signal that the stability and functionality of Bosnia and Herzegovina is still of vital national interest to the United States.
CNAB believes that urgent reforms are needed that will strengthen the state by consolidating redundant institutions in order for Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue to provide and serve its citizens. The status quo is not an option, as Bosnia continues to fall behind in implementing economic, judicial, and constitutional reforms that are necessary to move closer to Europe. Business conditions in Bosnia are some of the worst in Europe, as the unnecessary and competing layers of government have created severe barriers to entry for direct foreign investment and made business operations in Bosnia a very risky proposition. Status quo would also mean that Bosnia, a country with a population of a large American city, would continue to operate with four different criminal justice systems (state, entities, and Brcko district) which apply different substantive and procedural laws. Constitutional reforms are necessary to bring Bosnia out of the nationalist stalemate of the Dayton agreement and into the 21st century as a democratic, multi-ethnic, and sovereign country that will be fully integrated in Europe and a strong NATO ally.
Haris Alibasic, MPA
President of the CNAB Board of Directors