US Congresswoman Calls For Equality For Croats In Bosnia And Herzegovina

 

 

US. Representative Janice Hahn

US. Representative Janice Hahn

US Congresswoman Janice Hahn submitted July 31 to the House of Representatives a resolution demanding that President Barack Obama appoint a special representative for the Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) because 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.

Janice Hahn’s Resolution 705 Recommends “the designation of a Presidential Special Envoy to the Balkans to evaluate the successes and shortcomings of the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to provide policy recommendations, and to report back to Congress within one year”. (Resolution 705 PDF)

Whereas only the full protection of equal political, economic, legal and religious rights of all the constituent peoples (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) and others throughout the territory of BiH, including the inalienable right to return, will guarantee the future stability, functionality, and effectiveness of the country…”

In the Resolution Congresswoman Hahn has 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 recognises 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 dis-functionality only fuels the separatist tendency of Serbs within the Srbian Republic entity, which of course threatens, as she says, the very integrity of the country (BiH) as a whole.

“Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives –
1. reiterates its support for the sovereignty,territorial integrity, and legal continuity of BiH within its internationally recognized borders, as well as the equality of its three constituent peoples and others within an integrated multiethnic country;

10. reiterates that a fully functional Federation of BiH entity is essential for the future of BiH as a functional and stable state and therefore any envisaged reform should take into account protection of the constitutional rights of all, including Bosnian Croats—demographically smallest of the three Dayton Peace Accords recognized constituent peoples in BiH—and prevent further weakening of their position.”

Press Release dated 12 August and released through The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) Public Affairs Director Joe Foley in Washington states that NFCA highly commends US Representative Janice Hahn of California for her introduction in the US House of Representatives of legislation to appoint a Special Envoy for the Balkans, in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Indeed, I would think that there is no Croat nor a fair-minded person of any ethnicity anywhere in the world that would not support and agree with what Congresswoman Hahn has set her mind on achieving in BiH: equality for all ethnic groups in a country where constituency is constitutionally defined by specific ethnic groups, taking an initiative to bring to a stop the deplorable treatment of Croats in BiH while Bosniaks (Muslims) and Serbs compete vigorously for separatist superiority based on their own ethnicity.

Keeping BiH as a sovereign country but organised into three ethnic entities (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) each of which would have certain powers that ensure equality is not only a necessary “re-shuffle” of administration and political clouts that would catalyse greater stability and economic progress in BiH but such power-bases would, I believe, be conducive to ensuring that victims of all war crimes finally receive their deserved justice. One cannot avoid the unsettling reality in which war crimes committed by Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) during the 1990’s war, in comparison to those committed by Serbs and Croats, seem to have mysteriously fallen by the wayside of justice. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Report of interest:
“During the 1992-1995 war, a large number of Islamic fighters traveled to BIH to aid the Bosnian Muslim war effort. Several hundred of those fighters remained, a significant number of whom are active in Islamic fundamentalist congregations and organizations. These foreign elements have contributed to the gradual radicalization of certain segments of the Bosnian Muslim community. In October 2005, a small group of individuals with extremist affiliations was arrested on suspicion of planning terrorist acts. In April 2010, members of a radical Wahhabist movement detonated a bomb, killing one police officer and injuring six, at a police station in Bugojno, located 70 kilometers southwest of Sarajevo. The most recent terrorist attack took place in October 2011, when a gunman affiliated with a local Wahhabist movement shot over 100 high-velocity rounds at the U.S. Embassy, damaging the building and injuring one police officer, says in the US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, 2013 Report on Crime and Safety in BiH.

Related Post:

http://inavukic.com/2014/07/13/towards-a-croatian-entity-in-bosnia-and-herzegovina/

Towards A Croatian Entity In Bosnia And Herzegovina

19 Anniversary of Srebrenica Genocide Photo: Reuters

19 Anniversary of Srebrenica Genocide
Photo: Reuters

 

When US diplomat Richard Holbrooke and former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt gathered Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks), Serbs and Croats together in 1995 at an American air force base near Dayton, Ohio, harassing them into a deal that would end years of terror, genocide and ethnic cleansing that became the modus operandi of what initially appeared to be Serbian resistance to a breakup of communist Yugoslavia but emerged as an utterly brutal attempt to widen borders of Greater Serbia on the territory of former Yugoslavia, the world breathed a sigh of relief. Dayton peace agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was signed in November 1995. Consequently, Carl Bildt was installed as the first High Representative for BiH and remained in that role during the initial crucial 18 months of implementation of the Dayton agreement.

Holbrooke and Bildt essentially endorsed the partition of the country into Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, giving ample leverage to Serb republic forged on genocide to affirm itself as some legitimate entity that has a “God-given” right to independence. On the Federation side, the Bosniaks grabbed a card blanche made available through this Dayton deal to pursue oppressing the Croats. Lacking political and institutional incentives for inter-ethnic cooperation, lacking leadership via the internationally imposed Office of High Representative the system imposed in BiH rewarded, largely unchecked, ethnic-based nationalist platforms and intra-ethnic infighting, making cross-group cooperation almost impossible. (Milorad Dodik, the president of the Serbian Republic entity of has turned to nationalist rhetoric to gain and consolidate power since 2006 while in Bosniak controlled government of the Federation the Croats are increasingly suppressed into a tortured, striped-of-most-decision-making-rights ethnic minority even though they are a constitutional ethnic group just as Bosniaks are).

Hence, divided into two entities, the Bosniak-Croat Federation and predominantly Serb, Serbian Republic, post-war BiH has been marred by political games – that retard democratic progress of ethnic equality – trickling through either actions or inaction of the Office of High Representative, systemic corruption and remains vastly underdeveloped. A mess of overlapping and competing administrations, ethnic rivalries that undoubtedly owe much of their their impetus to unresolved or under-resolved war crimes issues (Bosniak side seems to have magically evaded full responsibility for its part in the violence and bloodshed) had created out of BiH a mecca for ethnically based politicians at all levels to exploit many possibilities for corruption and personal enrichment. All the while unemployment grew to catastrophic proportions (hovering around 45%) due to utter inadequacy in economic development, corrupt and atrociously managed privatisations, and thieving, yielding a large sector of population that lives in distressing levels of poverty and hopelessness. Most of the while the European Union kept injecting subsidies, keeping this dying, suffocating Dayton agreement model afloat.

The 19th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide has just passed and was marked by the heartbreaking burial of 175 souls whose newly identified bones were scattered across a number of mass graves found on the territory known as the Serbian Republic. The Serbs still deny the genocide, the Serbs still seem to count on international politicking to bury the past and create a peace, in the creation of which they would not need to lift a finger, not even the one that represents remorse.

Having in mind the Dayton agreement imposed solution for BiH that did not require a full reconciliation of war crimes through pressure to achieve justice for all victims regardless of their ethnic background – that played and plays the dangerous game of equating the aggressor with the victim in an effort to achieve lasting reconciliation – in the eyes of those grieving at Potocari Memorial Centre (Serbian Republic) on 11 July I could sense the meaning of Antony’s words in Act 3, Scene 1 from William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” when he addresses Caesar’s departed spirit and says:

If your spirit is looking down upon us now, it must hurt you more than even your death to see your Antony making peace—shaking the bloody hands of your enemies—in front of your corpse. If I had as many eyes as you have wounds, and they wept as fast as your wounds stream blood—even that would be more becoming than joining your enemies in friendship…

On 10 July the International Crisis Group released its extensive Europe Report No. 232 in which, among other matters, in its recommendations regarding the failing Dayton agreement model of BiH it sates:

“…The European Union (EU) and the wider international community should support Bosnia without high-handed interventions. The UN should close the Office of the High Representative and dissolve the Peace Implementation Council. The EU should welcome a Bosnian membership application as a first step towards eventual accession…”

On the occasion of the 19th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre the Foreign Secretary William Hague and German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier made the following statement:

The commemorations remind us of the terrible consequences when poisonous rhetoric is followed by acts of killing and ethnic cleansing, and when these go unchallenged. We reject entirely the efforts of those who seek to alter history, to deny Bosnia and Herzegovina’s rich and diverse ethnic make-up, or that work to undermine the territorial integrity of this country. The redrawing of borders in the Balkans is over.
Germany and the UK stand firmly with those in Bosnia who want to a build a peaceful, united and prosperous future”.

The international community repeats what was said in 1995 for BiH and it contributed heavily in making it into what it is today: a country exhausted from foreign power play and a country ready to be divided into three entities in accordance with its three ethnic constitutional peoples (Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs). What the international power brokers either don’t understand or won’t acknowledge is that ethnic communities in BiH are not the same as ethnic communities in US, UK, Germany, France etc. Loyalty to the ethnic communities and their identities are intrinsically very strong and it is upon that strength that joint existence within the state should be built.

And given that BiH is on its knees, desperately avoiding its total break-up and disintegration, ethnic federalism makes most sense and promises a path to a happier and more productive life. Croats, with their own entity within BiH would gain the deserved sense of equality with the other two (Serbs and Bosniaks) and ethnically based recriminations, ethnic based competitions of all sorts that affect daily lives would be reduced under a model of equal federal representation in the decision making for BiH. Certainly, the international community, or the most influential members of its network who are to blame for the conflicts and problems that have evolved from the Dayton agreement model for BiH, have without explanations or reasons so far been against the creation of a third (Croat) entity. They have treated Croats in BiH as and unplanned child in a family that, for whatever sinister reasons, visualises itself without it. It is no wonder that BiH Croats want their own entity, and why shouldn’t they have it when in effect the other two ethnic groups have it. After all, after 19 years of failed Dayton recipe, this would provide a significant assurance that BiH would indeed exist as a “rich and diverse ethnic make-up” the UK foreign secretary and German foreign minister want because the “richness” here (and everywhere else in the world) is defined and underpinned by equality in the sense that matters to the people most. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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