Saturday, 15 August 2009

BBC World Service Analysis: Bosnia's Future

The BBC World Service has just aired a good analysis on the situation in Bosnia at the moment. It's fairly short, just 10 minutes, and well worth a listen if you get the chance.

World Service: Bosnia's Future

5 comments:

Metropolitan Mum said...

So what do you think? Is Bosnia ready to walk on its own feet?

PS: Word verification matizcpm. Is this Bosnian???

owen said...

Paul Moss's report didn't seem to have any historical perspective. I wonder what Allan Little and Martin Bell would have said about the 1992-1995 war being described as a civil war driven by people's fear that other ethnic groups and other religions were trying to take over so they had to fight back.

That's the John Major "ancient ethnic hatreds" argument that meant that we got onions out of our pockets, provided humanitarian aid and condoned a war of aggression and ethnic cleansing aimed at constructing Milosevic's strategic Greater Serbia.

Moss made a brief mention of the international community's failure to implement the basic conditions that were supposed to have been imposed by the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995.

The process of return, above all to Republika Srpska, which was supposed to reverse the bloody ethnic cleansing has had limited success. Allan Little's Newsnight report last year showed some of the problems of fear and economic disadvantage.

There has been very limited success in bringing the war criminals to justice thanks above all to the intransignece of Republika Srpska, encouraged by the inaction of the international community. Hasan Nuhanovic observed to Krishnan Gurumurthy on Channel 4 News after Karadzic's capture last year that although the big fish may have been captured (and Ratko Mladic is still protected and at liberty), the samll fish are still swimming free. Many of them are employed by and in positions of authority in Republika Srpska, hence the anxiety many expulsees feel about returning.

Paul Moss reported individuals talking about their Serb identity but he skirted very half-heartedly around the reference that his wirter interviewee made - "You never know what stupid idea someone might have".

"Someone" is presumably Dodik and "the stupid idea" is presumably Dodik repeating Karadzic's 1992 secession. Moss hardly touched on Dodik's determined efforts to build a closer relationship with Serbia than with the Federation and only hinted at the risk that the ending of the High Representative's presence will encourage Dodik to make an even more decisive move towards consolidating the gains of ethnic cleansing and securing a de facto Greater Serbia - precisely what Dayton was supposed to have prevented in 1995.

There's an awful lot of blood under the bridge that the international community doesn't seem too bothered about. The least that Moss could have done was identify the countries pressing for the closure of the Office of the High Representative.

I'm sorry for the rant! I hope you've got someone with a bit more "on the ground" knowledge to comment as well.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

MM - now you are asking. Honest truth is I have no idea. But, I do think the International community is stopping them from walking on their own two feet so they need to go. However, I'm more than a little concerned about what happens when they do. It is a painful process that must be gone through, but I do hope it isn't too painful when it happens.

Owen - I tend to try not to stick my head above the parapet on Bosnian politics too much, partly because I don't really know enough and partly because I've some of the venom thrown around on other political sites. But you have a very valid point. The ancient ethnic hatreds argument is, of course, absolute codswallop and signifies a lazy understanding of the region.

Return has been limited both ways. I can understand why people would not want to go back, particularly to the RS where the economic situation is so dire.

It does seem to me that it is the politicians creating all the mess, and the people on the ground are not really that interested in the hyberbole. But, should the politicians create such a stink, the general population would have to follow. People just don't seem to think that politicians should be held to account, to act upon their views. They seem swayed by the nationalistic arguments.

Coming from Tuzla though it is difficult to comment, as the Tuzla government is not nationalistic and seems to be fairly effective.

Anyhow, I have a question for you. What would you say the difference between Serb and Serbian is? Is there a similar distinction in Bosnian?

Thanks for commenting, it is always good to hear views from people who have an educated opinion on the area.

owen said...

Hello Fraught M. My apologies for blowing a gasket after listening to the clip. I think you're very wise keeping your head below the parapet given the drama that gets provoked elsewhere (though fortunately a lot less now than in the past).

I don't have much direct knowledge myself, but I do have friends who are well informed and who sadly are quite anxious about things. They're pretty concerned about the international community's withdrawal. As you say the big problem is the politicians, on both sides of the main divide, but they are the people who will make things happen and the disappearance of the OHR appears likely to give them more opportunity to make things happen.

From what I gather you are really fortunate to be living in Tuzla. The administration seems actually to be bothered about the people that live there rather than their own private fund-raising schemes, justice avoidance or statehoood aspirations. Sounds rather better than a lot of places in UK, in fact.

Re your question - My guiding principle unless contradicted by someone within arm's distance is to use Serbian to refer to someone who is a citizen of Serbia and not a citizen of another country and Serb to refer to someone living outside Serbia who considers themselves to be of Serb ethnicity. If someone is a citizen of Bosnia with a Serbian passport as well I'd let them tell me they're Serbian but carry on calling them Serb once I'm outside hearing range, discretion being the better part of valour sometimes. That's my rule of thumb for what it's worth.

Anyhow I'll try to avoid stirring up the water again. In fact the reason I've enjoyed popping by here is to enjoy a bit of the flavour of ordinary life in Bosnia as an antidote to the politics. Your version of "From Our Own Correspondent" is much appreciated!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Owen - I always welcome some opinions of people who know what they are talking about, but I'm quite keen that this blog remains primarily about day to day life living here. The problem with Bosnia is that you need to mention politics sometimes. So frustrating!

Anyway, please do feel free to comment, blow a gasket whatever.

I have a feeling that in the coming months there will be quite a few politically orientated posts, what with Karadzic trial not to mention the ongoing OHR issues.

I agree with you on the Serb/Serbian distinction. Do you happen to know if there is a similar distinction in BCS?