Bosnia’s outgoing international monitor urges a new approach

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Associated Press)-According to the top international monitor of the 1995 peace agreement, Western powers should adopt a new approach to promote the reconciliation of politically fragmented Bosnia to prevent nativist leaders from reconciling The Balkan countries became a barren wasteland.

Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, who will step down as the United Nations High Representative in Bosnia next week, said that he believes that the non-interference attitude adopted by the international community more than a decade ago to promote local autonomy has failed to produce the expected unity, partly because The political leaders of Bosnia are “insincere”.

“When they talk about European values, it is sometimes just empty talk. For example, in the field of rule of law. No one among politicians takes this rule of law issue seriously…Most politicians don’t want to have the rule of law,” Inzko said in an interview with the Associated Press on Monday .

“The new method should be more prescriptive; it should be more powerful and there must be a sense of urgency,” he added.

The Office of the High Representative, which Inzko has been leading since 2009, is responsible for directing the implementation of the peace agreement that ended the devastating 1992-95 inter-ethnic war in Bosnia. The Dayton Agreement mediated by the United States established two separate administrative entities in Bosnia-one managed by Bosnian Serbs, and the other by Bosnians and Croats, who are mainly Muslims in the country.

The two entities are linked through a joint agency, and all actions taken at the national level must be agreed by the three nations. Soon after the war, the international community allowed Bosnia to continue its reforms, forcing its leaders to accept painful compromises in exchange for financial and other support.

Inzko’s predecessor used the broad powers granted to senior representatives by the peace agreement to enforce laws or fire officials who undermined the fragile racial balance after the war, including judges, civil servants, and members of parliament.

But by 2009, “the international community has decided to reduce the presence of high representative offices, and it should be’less Dayton, more Brussels’,” Inzko said, using a common phrase that aims to give Bosnian leaders more of the country’s future. More autonomy, and give it the task of implementing clearly defined reforms to ensure that the country will eventually become a member of the European Union.

The diplomat said that, on the contrary, the policy was a serious failure. Inzko said that throughout his stay in Bosnia, the country’s joint institutions were “constantly under attack”.

“We have tried this in the past 12 years to gain more ownership of the place… it’s not that glorious,” Inzko said, adding: “In fact, what happened was completely wrong. , So I started to defend state institutions, such as the state itself, such as the National Constitutional Court and other state institutions.”

Since 2015, the Bosnian Serbs have been challenging the authority of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia, but Inzko has repeatedly tried to expel three foreign judges elected by the European Court of Human Rights who serve as judges under the terms of the peace agreement.

The Bosnian Serbs, in particular, used international regression to question the country’s continued existence and caused ethnic tension by downplaying or denying the crimes committed by their ethnic relatives during the war. However, for the benefit of their party loyalists, political elites of all ethnic groups readily control all levers of the government.

“In the past 15 years, 500,000 people have left (Bosnia), many of whom are the smartest. We don’t want this country to be an empty country, with only politicians and pensioners and retirees living,” Inzko said. “We can’t do nothing.”

With his term coming to an end, Inzko used the full power of his office last week to outlaw denial of genocide and glorify war criminals in Bosnia. He amended the criminal law, requiring individuals convicted of these crimes to be sentenced to up to five years in prison. This is the first time he has used the so-called “Bonn power” of a high representative in 12 years.

In response, the Bosnian Serbs have pledged to block the decision-making of the country’s institutions. Inzko warned that the growing influence of China and Russia, which largely supports the divided Bosnian Serb leaders, and hopes to see the office of the High Representative be cancelled. Inzko said, “the rest Time is running out.”

“I really want to ask the EU to inject a sense of urgency on this issue, because people can’t wait forever. The (EU membership) point of view is too far away…the situation on the ground has not improved.”

Nevertheless, Inzko expressed trust in his successor, German diplomat Christian Schmidt and Bosnia, where he said ordinary people “live together, they cooperate… this is working. “

Schmidt was appointed as the next senior representative in May by the Ambassador of the Steering Committee of the Peace Implementation Council (the international body that guides the peace process in Bosnia) and plans to take over the position on August 1.

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