Sabre-Rattling in Bosnia and Herzegovina

July 2022, Protesters gather outside the Office of the High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: David I. Klein)

For a couple of years now a political crisis looming in Bosnia and Herzegovina has escalated during the past two months towards a crisis worse than the one during the 1992-1995 war that saw 100,000 people killed, that saw genocide committed by Serb aggressor, that saw Bosnian Muslims import Islamic Mujahideen forces in the process of slaughtering Bosnian Croats as if their slaughter by the Serbs was not enough. The Croat population in Bosnia and Herzegovina has reduced drastically since 1995 and is now threatened to become an ethnic minority in cantons or areas across the country instead of remaining one of three Constitutional peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina nationally. The Electoral laws have permitted Muslims to elect Croat representatives and, contrary to Serb and Muslim population Croats have for years been denied the exclusive right to elect their own representatives into the parliament and other assemblies that carry on the governing within the country.

Christian Schmidt, the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina overseeing implementation of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement that ended the devastating war, said on several occasions in the past few months that leaders of the country’s Bosnian Serb-dominated entity (Republika Srpska/ Serbian Republic) have systematically challenged Dayton Agreement provisions and intensified their activities aimed at usurping powers granted to the federal government. While the Dayton Accords successfully ended the massacres, this arrangement currently exacerbates problems in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Namely, the creation of the ‘Republika Srpska’ and the tripartite presidency essentially rewarded Bosnian Serb leaders of the Bosnian War with unimpeachable influence over the new Bosnian state. The clear ethnic divisions inherent in Bosnia’s two entities as well as its ethnically segregated presidencies enables its leaders to pit their ethnic groups against each other for political gain and Croats being in lesser numbers in the Federation are systematically being oppressed and quashed by Bosniak/Muslim powers.

High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, German diplomat Christian Schmidt, Schmidt is the eighth international administrator in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the end of the 1992-1995 war. EPA-EFE/FEHIM DEMIR

The U.S.-brokered Dayton peace agreement (1995) established two separate entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina — one run by Bosnia’s Serbs (Republika Srpaska) and another – Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – dominated by the Bosniaks (Muslims) but also consisting of Croats where both Muslims and Croats were to have equal status and power. The two entities are bound together by joint central institutions, and all-important decisions must be backed by both. But when Muslims elect Croat representatives to the parliament and assemblies the issue has been that such representatives have not fully acted in the interests of Croats.

Schmidt said in his May 2022 report to the U.N. Security Council that the actions by the Bosnian Serb entity, known as Republika Srpska, “not only erode the fundamentals of the agreement, but directly threaten to undo more than 25 years of progress in building up Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state firmly on the path towards European Union integration.”

In July 2021, the UN Security Council rejected a resolution put forward by Russia, which has close ties to the Bosnian Serbs, and Moscow’s ally China that would have stripped the powers of the international High Representative immediately and eliminated the position entirely in one year.

The High Representative’s powers have come under criticism from Bosnian Serbs for not offering the possibility of appealing his decisions, which have immediate effect. The Office of the High Representative has dismissed dozens of officials, including judges, civil servants, and members of parliament, since its inception, and overturned other actions.

Schmidt said Republika Srpska’s government and National Assembly have sought to chip away at state institutions by creating parallel bodies in the Bosnian Serb entity. At the same time, he said, representatives from Republika Srpska elected or appointed to the National Assembly and state institutions either don’t participate in decision-making or block decisions not in the interests of Bosnian Serbs.

“This has the effect of impeding the state’s ability to function and exercise its constitutional responsibilities,” Schmidt said.

He pointed to “non-existent” legislative output, stalled reforms required to advance toward EU membership, international agreements on hold, and the failure to adopt a state-level budget for the second year in a row.

On April 16, 2022, Schmidt suspended a law adopted by Republika Srpska that would have enabled the Bosnian Serbs to take over state-owned property on their territory, calling it unconstitutional. Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said in an interview that action by Schmidt couldn’t stop the law from taking effect.

Another contentious issue has been the lack of agreement between Bosniaks and Croats in the federation on electoral reforms, which Schmidt said has prompted Croat parties to cast doubt on the holding of the 2022 general elections (due 2nd October, that decide the makeup of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, national, entity and cantonal governments), including by withholding financing for the elections.

Bosnian Croats have for years now claimed debilitating discrimination and demanded that the voting system be changed to make sure that Bosnian Croats alone choose Croat representatives. Bosniak officials have denied the claims and talks on the election reform have been stuck and shape the critical stage of the political crisis currently stifling the country.

Schmidt insists the 2022 general elections will be held in October under the same rules as in 2018, even though at that time calls for electoral laws changes were loud with many believing that the election results were illegal because the electoral laws were not changed to exclusively enable the Croats to vote for their own representatives.

UN Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet, recently called for Bosnian politicians to “turn the page on rhetoric and policies of division,” and instead, “focus on promoting the rights of everyone across the country, and to build an inclusive and democratic future, based on equality of all citizens.” For this to happen, the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina need to stop being politically rewarded for stirring ethnic strife OR permit equal rights and equal representation in governments of all three Constitutional peoples as designed by the Dayton Agreement. The desire for power (especially Bosniak and Serb) has led Bosnian leaders to lean towards divisive, sectarian politics that allow them to deflect from their own failures. Creating a more inclusive political system that addresses and respects ethnic differences without being solely defined by them would perhaps be an answer.

Christian Schmidt is adamant to impose measures for the re-functioning of Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, which include Electoral law changes and changes to the Federation Constitution. The changes to the Constitution, for example, mean that Bosnia’s constituent nations under Dayton Agreement – Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs – if their numbers in any Federation entity canton are less than 3 per cent, will no longer have representatives in the House of Peoples of the Federation parliament. This possibility has created uproars on all sides as it seriously weakens the strength of a constitutional people on national level. The political atmosphere of intolerance and sabre-rattling in Bosnia and Herzegovina is seriously escalating, while Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Milanovic are also at loggerheads regarding the best approach that would see Bosnian Croats receive their due powers and rights and avoid a terrible destiny of being reduced to an ethnic minority in the country or obsolete as far as governing of the country is concerned. 

In his Press Release of 28 July 2022, Christian Schmidt said that irresponsible rhetoric in Bosnia and Herzegovina must stop: “Warmongering and inflammatory statements, such as this one by Mr. (Bekir) Izetbegovic, are dangerous and hark back to the tragic conflict in the 1990s. They spread fear amongst all citizens, add to tensions, and in no way contribute to the promotion of cooperation, stability, and reconciliation in the country. Mr. Izetbegovic, together with all political leaders, should work on finding ways to keep the youngest and the brightest in the country instead of advocating for robots to replace them,” said the High Representative.

Considering the legislative and constitutional changes Schmidt looks to impose in Bosnia and Herzegovina Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said this week:  “We hope that the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, will take steps that will ensure at least minimal equality for Croats after the elections on 2 October.”  From where I am standing it is deeply concerning that Plenkovic talks of “minimal equality”, thus planting the idea that he would be happy with crumbs for Bosnian Croats rather than an equal slice of the power bread loaf. Quite scandalous and cowardly really. Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic has been quite clear and stronger in expressing his views. “Across (the border) they are threatening war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They threaten war. Sefik Dzaferovic (Muslim member of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency), who was a Mujahideen hostess in 1993, the man was in the committee for welcoming Mujahideen in the security unit in Zenica, now he and his boss are threatening war, drones. That’s a bigger topic for me than anything else. They are trying to beat up the Croatian people there… What is going on in Bosnia and Herzegovina is raging and threatening and politically endangering a nation of people. The issue of national security is not Ukraine, but Bosnia and Herzegovina. The language of hatred and intolerance is rampant in the streets of Sarajevo. The High Representative is being threatened, he can blame himself for that, because he is amending the Election Law and the Federation Constitution, which does not give Croats anything, but even that is considered a bit too much. He panics under the pressure of the Mahallas and Kasabs, the pub, the street or the Berlin police …,” Milanovic told the media during this week.

Bosnian Croats appear almost as an endangered species in that political environment with inadequate voices and inadequate propping supports from outside, from official Croatia. Bosnian Croats want to ensure that only Croats can vote for the Croat presidency by creating their own electoral district, to ensure that Bosniaks/Muslims cannot use loopholes in the existing electoral law that allow them to vote for Croat representatives as they have been doing and thus endangering Croat interests and rights. On the other hand, if public claims threaded through the media that Christian Schmidt is aiming to Islamise Bosnia and Herzegovina surface with substance then it will be clear that Croats are to be more disadvantaged than ever regardless Schmidt’s new proposed legislative changes that aim to provide freedom of all Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens to return to their homes where they had lived before the 1990’s war without fear or impediment. As 2nd October draws near this sabre rattling that’s been happening in Bosnia and Herzegovina will either die down or increase in intensity to perhaps a new armed conflict with alarming consequences beyond the country’s borders. Ina Vukic 

Croatians Under Islamic Terrorism Attack

It was in July of 2014 when US Congresswoman Janice Hahn submitted to the House of Representatives a resolution demanding that President Barack Obama appoint a special representative for the Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) of the country’s delays in its Euro-Atlantic path and drew attention to the consistent reduction and erosion of rights of Croats in BiH because of which there’s blockades and a political deadlock. I wrote an article about that.

In the Resolution Congresswoman Hahn had noted that the number of Croats in Bosnia has halved from 820,000 to about 460,000. “It is unacceptable that this negative demographic trend is reflected in the reduction of constitutional rights of Croats in BiH, as that reduction directly causes political and administrative dysfunctionality of the country,” Hahn stated in the resolution.

Hahn recognised the poor functionality of the Federation of BiH entity in which Bosniaks (Muslims) are seen as oppressors of Croats and their constitutional rights and that this dysfunctionality only fuels the separatist tendency of Serbs within the Serbian Republic entity, which of course threatens, as she said, the very integrity of the country (BiH) as a whole.

Despite Hahn’s submission former Democrat US President Obama appears to have done the opposite by distancing the US further from issues affecting BiH, thus enabling in my view further fermentation of Islamic threat to Croats in BiH as well as Europe.

Helsinki Commission Chairman, US Senator Roger Wicker (Republican) on September 12, 2018 urged the United States for greater engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

In 2021 the situation with obstructing and oppressing Croats’ rights within the Federation of BiH by Muslims (Bosniaks) is by all accounts no better than in 2014 or 2018. In fact, it is becoming worse by the day as pressure to control and rule grows, thus further eroding one of BiH’s constitutional people – Croats. The earned rights through the 1990’s bloody war where defending life was paramount, the given equality rights to all three constitutional people through the 1995 Dayton Agreement have all just about collapsed for Croats under the smothering, evidently nastily power-hungry Muslim or Bosniak counterpart in the Federation.

While the so-called Croat – Muslim conflict that erupted in 1990’s in Bosnia and Herzegovina has (unfairly and devoid of the truth) largely been depicted in the international media (as well as the ICTY) as an attack on Bosnian Muslims one must sit back today and re-look the truth and reality in the eye. That is, it was in no way an attack against Muslims by Croats but it hid the Muslim agenda to take over the country, especially the part that is post-Dayton agreement in 1995, known as Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks and Croats). It is clear that is why the Muslims/Bosniaks sought to employ in the war, on their side, Mujaheddins from North Africa, Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan.   

The foreign Islamic fighters invited by Bosnian Muslims to their battlegrounds as killers, firstly against Serbs then against Croats during the course of the 1992-1995 war, have clearly been reaping their payment for their efforts to help Bosnian Muslims in war all these years since the war ended with the Dayton Agreement. One would be within the realm of absolute truth if one says that such payment was agreed upon in advance, at the start of Mujaheddins’ engagement. Their payment evidently comes in the form of strengthening the Islamic position in Europe while at the same time helping Bosnian Muslims in their abominable building up of superiority over Croats. An example of this is that Muslims rather than Croats elect Croat representatives in the Bosnia and Herzegovina presidency, parliament and people’s assemblies and other places of power. Muslims do not permit Croats to elect their own representatives and only Muslims can elect Muslim or Bosniak representatives (as well as Croat!). All this is happening at the same time as everyone, including Muslims, is saying that all three constitutional peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, viz. Croats, Muslims and Serbs, are equal and have equal rights! Yet, Croats are denied the basic and constitutionally guaranteed right to elect their own representatives! The Serbs have made sure they have their own entity in BiH, Republika Srpska (Serbian Republic) and the path to that meant genocide and terrible widespread destruction of both Croats and Muslims in BiH. In asserting their rights in accordance with the Dayton Agreement they do not depend nor are they impeded by the Muslims there as far as “the eye” can see.

On March 10, 2021 the Croatian World Congress has released its letter to members of US Congress through which it raises awareness of Nino Raspudic’s (Independent Member of Croatian Parliament; born in Bosnia and Herzegovina) recent speech in the Croatian Parliament with a detailed description of the development of Islamic terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, its connections to the ruling Bosniak-Muslim establishment, and the threats it presents to Croatia and Croatian Christians in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Please access Mr Raspudic’s 12 February 2021 speech with link provided above.

Please distribute both the Croatian World Congress letter and Mr Raspudic’s speech as much as you can.

Please act, write you own or share the Croatian World Congress letter and Mr Nino Raspudic’s speech in Croatian Parliament, 12 February 2021 on the threat of Islamic terrorism against Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sharing of those can simply be done by sharing this article or downloading the letter and the speech and sharing them independently. It is hoped that many others around the world will write the same or a similar letter as the Croatian World Congress has to their members of Congress and Parliaments. It is our duty to protect the rights of all people and it is, in this case, to be active and make sure the world is aware of the dire position Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been placed in and continue to painful endure under the aggressive Muslim or Bosniak control in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ina Vukic

Happy Birthday Herceg Bosna

Today, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Serbs have their own entity, Serbian Republic (Republika srpska) and Bosniaks/Muslims dominate the Federation entity where Bosniaks and Croats were intended to hold equal rights, political and existential power. That was the intention and the spirit of the 1995 Dayton Accords, which were designed to keep BiH in one piece, at peace, led and lived by three Constitutional people: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs.

In the early 1990s when Serb and Yugoslav People’s Army pursued a terrible and bloody war of aggression in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina aggression in order to stop the imminent break-up of former communist Yugoslavia, in order to stop death of communism and birth of democracy, Bosnia and Herzegovina saw an increasing crush of Croat’s rights and identity. Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims (a.k.a. Bosniaks) ruled the day and wielded power (for their own interests) on the international scene, leaving Croats stranded in the waters of political and existential insignificance. In November 1991, as Croatia’s Vukovar fell under the bloody Serb onslaught, the Croats of BiH, rightfully fearing their self-preservation formed the Croatian Community of Herzeg Bosnia (Herceg Bosna), within the borders of BiH. The war of aggression raged and ravaged and on 28 August 1993, with Croatia’s support, the Republic of Herzeg Bosnia was proclaimed as an entity within BiH, that would see Croat majority fight for and defend their existence as rightful people of BiH.

Tuesday 28 August 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the proclamation of Herceg Bosna; an administratively, legally based unit of BiH that would serve as a platform for Croats to defend themselves from the Serbian and Yugoslav Army onslaught and aggression, and later from the Bosniak, Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, onslaught, which brought to its aid the murderous Mujahedeen from the Middle East.

With the 1995 Dayton Accords and the consequent final abolishment of the Republic of Herceg Bosna in 1996 meant that Croats of BiH were once again left without a strong voice and the threat of their rights’ deterioration. Bosnia and Herzegovina was thus divided into two entities: Serbian Republic and the BiH Federation made up of Bosniaks and Croats.

The creation of Herzeg Bosnia’s own defence forces – Croatian Defence Council (HVO) meant that while the Republic of Herceg Bosna existed it was the only region of BiH where Croats of BiH were not systematically murdered, massacred, ethnically cleansed, persecuted – in which their homes were protected and in which they did not fear for their own lives. Herceg Bosna was the region in BiH where Bosniak’s and Serbs’ homes were not taken away, where Bosniak and Serb civilians were not systematically persecuted not ethnically cleansed.

Renowned historian Ivo Lucic, states:

Although these statements (paragraph above) may appear controversial (even unacceptable) in the Serbian and especially in the Bosniak media and public, there is much evidence supporting the truth of them. And that evidence is best seen today. It’s enough to just pass through the Croatian villages that were under the Serbian Army (Serbs) and under the Army of BiH (Bosniaks) control and one can clearly see what occurred during the war. Only in Bugojno (under Bosniak control) there were at least ten Croatian villages completely destroyed and devastated, ceased to exist – not a single person lives in them today. In some of them not a single home has been restored.

On the other hand, in Livno, Ljubuski, Tomislavgrad, Ukoplje, Prozor … (Croat control) not a single Bosniak village ceased to exist.

During the war, for example, Croatian civilians, fearing for their own lives, walked across Kupres to Herceg Bosna. Those that remained in Bugojno and fell into Bosniak hands know best the fate to which they succumbed.

Naturally, Herceg Bosna was also not some arcade along which milk and honey flowed, but the fact is that during 1990’s that was the most prosperous space within BiH, and to some extent it remains that to this day…

Herceg Bosna had its own sins – some war crimes did occur, prisoners of war camps did exist. Civilians did suffer. Many were banished but that was not done systematically. I.e., Bosniak civilians were banished from West Mostar, but not from Livno, Tomislavgrad, Ljubuski… In addition, people returned to Herceg Bosna unimpeded, which cannot be said either for Serbian Republic or the territory under Bosniak control then known as the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity.

Furthermore, the return to those territories has been systematically sabotaged. Those are the facts that are being covered up. Also, the majority of war crimes committed on the territory of Herceg Bosna have been processed, those who committed them and those who ordered them have been punished; the same cannot be said for the other sides’ war crimes. Especially when it comes to war crimes committed in the areas controlled by Bosniaks’ Army. Even to this day those war crimes are described as ‘incidents’, and attempts are still afoot to try and show that Croats forcefully deported themselves and similar third-class absurdities.

It’s evident today that shutting down of Herceg Bosna was a key mistake made by the Croatian political leadership because, since then, Croats have no political or other equality in BiH…Croats of BiH could soon become second-class citizens of BiH even if their ancestors had lived there for centuries.

While in reality both the Serbian Republic and the Federation of BiH are prisons – Croats have lost their rights in Serbian Republic a long time ago (if they ever had any at all) and in the Federation they are on the verge of losing their rights as Constitutional people – the idea of Herceg Bosna gains more focus on the collective conscience of the Croatian people and as the ideal concept of freedom that is today being lost…

A catastrophic step in Croats’ of BiH demise is indeed wrapped up in the prospect where Croats become second-class citizens in their own homeland of BiH and if they lose the right to decide for themselves, to elect their own representatives in the governing of BiH on all levels. The imminent general elections that are to occur in BiH in October, with Bosniaks pushing again to elect Croat representatives for Croats, if declared valid, even though the Electoral law had not been changed as directed by the Constitutional court, will indeed set an even stronger stage upon which the idea and absolute justification for a revived Hreceg Bosna is likely to gain more support.

Happy 25th birthday – Herceg Bosna! Ina Vukic

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