The Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB), an umbrella organization representing the interests of American and Canadian Bosniaks, welcomes the recent report submitted to the United Nations on November 15, 2011 by the High Representative, Mr. Valentin Inzko.
Mr. Inzko rightly points out that that smaller of two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska is “continuing to combine legal and political activities that bring into question the state institutions, competencies and laws, as well as the authority of the high representative and UNSC resolutions.” The biggest threat to long-term peace and stability is the worrying trend of current threats of secession by Republika Srpska’s (RS) politicians and their denial of war crimes committed by Serbian and Bosnian Serb forces during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To make matters worse, the Bosnian “Croatian Demoractic Union (HDZ)” leadership has also been undermining efforts within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to form a functioning government. There seems to be no fear of consequences for any actions by these politicians from the Office of the High Representative (OHR), whose authority has been severely undermined by the lack of international reaction to these obstructionist threats.
Unfortunately, as CNAB pointed out on several occasions, the ascertainment that the destiny of Bosnian framework is up to the local politicians, is only partially acceptable because the international community, with the Dayton agreement, provided them with tools which they now misappropriate for nationalist gain, by spreading propaganda of fear and hatred in order to promote a secessionist agenda. It is imperative to implement sound foreign policy to prevent the injustice that Bosnia has suffered and the tragedy that has happened to its centuries’ old tradition of tolerance, diversity, and coexistence. Bosnia and Herzegovina can and must exist as a multi-ethnic, democratic, and prosperous nation that is fully integrated in Europe and a future member of NATO.
The most glaring need and obstacle to Bosnia’s long term peace, progress, and stability are the constitutional reforms. Dayton Agreement stopped the war but has in the recent years become a hindrance to Bosnia’s path to Europe. Therefore, constitutional reforms must address all aspects of the Dayton agreement which do not help it meet the necessary conditions to join the EU. We believe that majority of Bosnia’s citizens wish to see a country that will have the adequate laws and institutions which will enable it to prosper economically and be fully integrated into the European Union. Constitutional reforms should guarantee equal rights for all of its citizens, but also eliminate the undemocratic process of ethnic voting that holds the central government hostage from implementing any reforms that would lead towards euro-Atlantic integration. One of the main obstacles to Bosnian democracy is the so called ethnic voting, which severely undermines the ability of Bosnia and Herzegovina to function as a state.
The Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina should serve as the basis for any reform. Even Bosnia’s educational system is fragmented along the ethnic lines and should be reformed to make sure the future generation of Bosnians will value equality, diversity and tolerance. There is also an often forgotten question of refugees who never returned to their homes. We believe that the new Bosnian government should pass laws to promote return of all refugees, including financing the cost of return.
From a security standpoint, the top priority needs to be the necessary reforms for eventual membership in NATO which would significantly weaken both internal and external threats to Bosnian sovereignty. It should also be noted that Bosnia has shown partnership and willingness to stand by the United States in its hours of need for cooperation and support of its strategic interests.
We urge the High Representative to use the Bonn powers to return Bosnian on the right track towards euro-Atlantic integration. We also request that the United States and the European Union provide full backing to the Office of the High Representative during these times in enforcing the reforms necessary to protect Bosnian sovereignty and ensure successful integration into the European Union and NATO.
On behalf of CNAB,