Bosnia i Herzegovina
In BiH, the dean of the faculty for political sciences Šaćir Filandra and philosophy professor from the University of Mostar Mile Lasić met to discuss the recent Radio Free Europe article how soon BiH can and will take the road to EU integration. Recently, special envoy to BiH Peter Sorenson commented that BiH ought to have an internal discussion regarding EU accession. Omer Karabeg, the journalist who questioned Filandra and Lasić, sought to know what Sorenson might have alluded to in his comment. Filandra explained that the social contract, which is needed at this moment in BiH, is very complex. On one hand is the fundamental question of political identity and necessity to implement a structure that is agreed upon by key political actors – and these constitute of all three nations. At the same time, differing societal structures are necessary. Here, Filandra has in mind religious communities, trade unions businessmen and media people, for instance. Lasić explained that BiH has a serious problem. In BiH, political elites continue their battle with policies that previously have been fought with weapons. Meanwhile, the state of BiH has been forgotten. Here in BiH, we live according to an old paradigm that involves the imposition of will and dismissal of identities, explained Lasić. Karaberg also wanted to know if the current elite is able to reach an agreement to which Lasić expressed skepticism stating that he was not even sure if they sought to find one. A lot of people are afraid of a Bosnian-Herzegovinian “Sanaderization” process (Sanader was at the head of Croatia’s government. He faces charges on the basis of corruption). As a result, the Euro-Atlantic integration process is very slow. These days, BiH seems closer to Kosovo and Albania. Filandra added that BiH started the process of defining her national and cultural identity very late in the 19th century explaining that political actors are still in the process of creating one. This fact, says Filandra, is often overlooked while at the same time; our politicians seem to think about nothing but the process of forming an identity. Europeans, said Lasić, work on creating a transnational society, we here in BiH seeks to create three different nation-states. In addition, explained Lasić, BiH political leaders are no longer afraid loosing elections. In other words, politicians are ‘sure’ of their reelection at which point one can no longer speak of a democratic society. Asked about what exactly he was implying when he said that Bosniaks must sit down and have discussion with these people that seek a ‘different BiH’, Filandra explained that Bosniaks ought not go to look on other places for allies and instead should accept the friends they already have. This must happen in spite of the fact that Bosniaks were the victims during the war. In Filandra’s view, Bosniaks must reach out to their neighbors so as to open and maintain channels of communication. Regarding BiH’s stability and her dependence thereof on Belgrade and Zagreb, Lasić answered that they are not only BiH’s enemies from the war as is often thought. Instead, they are her potential partners. Filandra shared Lasić’s notion adding that all that was bad, as well as all that was good in the past, came from Belgrade and Zagreb. Asked whether Bosniaks have ‘a’ Belgrade or Zagreb of their own and if this was perhaps Istanbul, Filandra answered that this was not true explaining that these are just rumors. He explained, however, that Bosniaks are in a peculiar situation. For the past 150 years, he explained, Bosniaks were heavily oriented toward Belgrade and Zagreb all the while being split between Istanbul and Vienna. Yet, there exists no evidence by which Istanbul could be regarded as BiH’s political center. Only a few domestic politicians of BiH use this metaphor while only nationalists that decry Bosniaks as Ottomans rely on this myth. Lasić added that such allegations sprouted also in part because Izetbegović recently stated that the Turkish president Erdogan was also BiH’s leader. This, however, is impossible as no person from another country can be regarded a leader, not even someone from Belgrade or Zagreb. Lasić explained that it was especially counterproductive when BiH’s minister of foreign affairs invites and meets with ‘some’ Turkish ministers while refusing to meet with the president from the neighboring country. It comes thus as no surprise that nationalists will interpret this the way they see fit, while, one does not even need be a nationalist to interpret such events the wrong way.
Bakir Izetbegović who currently presides over BiH’s rotating presidency stated that BiH is likely to gain EU membership in 8 – 10 years. This is the only realistic timeframe. Realistic only if BiH behaves accordingly and if no additional yearly pauses interrupted the process as has happened in the past. Referring to the NATO summit in Chicago, Izetbegović stated that BiH could only be considered a future member in its entirety and if processes for integration are organized on the BiH – or state level. Izetbegović also explained that it was important to secure equal rights for Bosniaks and Croatians in BiH’s institutions adding that Ottoman times have long gone by. Current Turkish – BiH relations are based on good relations and results and nothing else.
In BiH, politicians’ assets may be in the hundred thousands while others, according to Vjesti, measured in in millions. Analysts have criticized that relevant institutions do nothing to investigate these assets and the origin of those properties to reduce corruption and are generally thought to be part of the corrupt system. For instance, ten years ago, Semsudin Mehmetović’s, assets were worth an estimated €116,000 while today, Mehmetović’s asset value rose to €226,000. Mehmetović is a deputy of BiH’s parliament He allegedly owns two apartments, land and drives luxurious cars. Politicians in the region meanwhile have a salary of roughly €2,500. Mehmetović assures that he did not enrich himself during his political career. Milorad Dodik’s assets are thought to reach €1,426,000 while his son too is an independent millionaire. And while BiH’s politicians get richer, BiH’s population gets poorer. A third of BiH’s population lives on the brink of poverty while 63 percent of BiH’s population is considered to be socially excluded. BiH’s political structure is partially responsible for that as in BiH only five to six people hold real power. These individuals stand above the courts, the entities, the state and the law.
A report on how the young of BiH feel bout their situation on Saturday, March 31, 12. The research was conducted under the auspices of Nansen Dialogue Center (NDC) and the Non Governmental organization Safeworld UK. Young people filled out the questionnaire, so Radio Free Europe, all across BiH. Young people of BiH are dissatisfied with their economic and political situation and with the sheer impossibility of getting jobs in the country. According to the study conducted by NDC, these are all reasons as to why young people would be ready to move away should they be given the chance to do so. Selena Grizić from Travnik, for instance, asked her interlocutors what they thought about their political situation and was surprised how well the young are informed. She explained that she was very surprised to learn how well informed young people are about BiH and foreign politics. Their dissatisfaction is thus not due to misinformation but based on their disappointment with the countries condition. Gordana Raković found that young people seek to partake in the political process but wish to work in a healthy environment without corruption and nepotism were they can reach the top on the basis of their ideas and attitudes. Regarding to question were they see BiH in ten years from today, young people answered they see BiH as a unified state and a member of the EU. BiH, according to their views, will be a state were all citizens will have equal opportunities regardless of nationality, religion, sex and sexual orientation.
“Mladi nezadovoljni stanjem u BiH, ali veruju u bolju budućnost”. Radio Slobodna Evropa. accessed March 31, 12. http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/content/mladi_nezadovoljni_stanjem_u_bih_ali_vjeruju_u_bolju_buducnost/24531562.html
“Novčanici bh. političara sve deblji”. Vijesti.ba. Accessed March 26, 2012. http://www.vijesti.ba/licnosti-dana-los/79172-Novcanici-politicara-sve-deblji.html
“BiH u EU za 8 – 10 godina, realno”. B92. Accessed March 27, 2012. http://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2012&mm=03&dd=27&nav_category=167&nav_id=594770
“BiH: Pogubne iluzije o Beogradu, Zagrebu I Istanbulu”. Nezavisne Novine. Accesed March 18, 2012. http://www.nezavisne.com/novosti/bih/BiH-Pogubne-iluzije-o-Beogradu-Zagrebu-i-Istanbulu-132958.html
In southwestern Serbia, the Democratic Party (DS) is the only certain coalition while all other parties have not yet reached a conclusion with whom to enter a coalition for the local elections on May 6th. The reason for this, so news outlet RTV, is that parties might wait for directions from Belgrade. The current local government of Novi Pazar is made up of Serbia’s Socialist Party (SPS), Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), New Serbia (NS) and the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) that are together on the “United Serbian List” together with the coalition “For a European Sandžak” which in turn forms the backbone of Rasim Ljajić’s Sandžak Democratic Party (SDP). Suljemna Ugljanin’s Sandžak Democratic Party (SDA) forms the opposition. Peca Pavlović who chairs the municipal committee of SPS in Novi Pazar stated that there are possibilities by which parties with a pro-Serbia orientation will join forces. Muamer Zukorlić meanwhile is thought to get ready to join the Bosniak Democratic Communty (BDZ) though he dements such allegations. Regarding the upcoming elections on a national level, Mujo Muković’s who heads the Bosniak People’s Party (BNS) teamed up with Serbia’s Progressive Party (SNS) because this coalition would provide his party with a safe seat in the Serbian Parliament, said Muković. Sandžak’s People Party (SNP) jointed the United Regions of Serbia List. SNP’s head and former mayor of Novi Pazar Mirsad Đerlek explained that he is not interested in gaining a seat in the parliament but rather in improving people’s lives in the region.
“Srpske stranke u Raškoj još pregovaraju”. Radio Televizija Vojvodine. Accessed March 26, 2012. http://www.rtv.rs/sr_lat/politika/srpske-stranke-u-raskoj-jos-pregovaraju_308919.html