Showing posts tagged as "Bosnia"

Showing posts tagged Bosnia

10 Jul
Bosnia’s Future
Sarajevo/Brussels  |   10 Jul 2014
While the physical scars of the 1992-1995 Bosnia war have healed, political agony and ethnic tension persist. Real peace requires a new constitution and bottom-up political change.
Protests in February that led to the fall of four canton governments revealed deep popular disaffection and an urgent need for reform. But the Bosnian political elite’s lack of vision goes along with ineffective institutions and a constitution that impedes political change. A suffocating system of ethnic quotas contributes to bad governance and no longer meets any of the three communities’ interests. In its latest report, Bosnia’s Future, the International Crisis Group examines factors pushing the country toward disintegration and outlines alternative scenarios based on democratic reform from within.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Bosnia’s constitution (Annex 4 to the Dayton Peace Agreement) defines two state entities for three constituent peoples: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. It is based on a mix of ethnic and civic identity that is open to abuse and has led to paralysis in political and administrative institutions. The state’s political communities – self-defined groups of like-minded citizens that overlap but are not identical with the ethnically-based constituent peoples – are left without effective representation.
Bosnia needs to break from its system based on constituent peoples and implement a constitution based on a territorially defined federation, without a special role for constituent peoples but responsive to the interests of its three communities and the rights of all citizens.
The head of state should reflect Bosnia’s diversity, something a collective does better than an individual, and should be directly elected. Ethnic quotas should be abolished. Instead, representation should reflect self-defined regions and all their voters.
The ten cantons in the larger state entity, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, are an under-performing, superfluous layer. They should be removed, together with a number of inefficient state-level agencies and institutions. The cantons should be replaced by a new form of autonomy for Croat regions, while the state will need new capacities as it prepares for European integration.
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.
“Bosnia is torn between an outmoded ethnic model and an easily-abused civic model. It needs to find a new approach incorporating parts of both and based on federalism” says Marko Prelec, Executive Director of the Balkans Policy Research Group and former Crisis Group Balkans Project Director. “To survive as one state, Bosnia must conceive new foundations. Agreement may take years and much experimentation, but the search should begin”.
“Dayton acts as a mirror of the past, not a roadmap for the future. It keeps the country trapped in ill thought-out, internationally-imposed tasks”, says Hugh Pope, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director. “It is time to treat Bosnia normally, without extraneous tests or High Representatives”.
FULL REPORT

Bosnia’s Future

Sarajevo/Brussels  |   10 Jul 2014

While the physical scars of the 1992-1995 Bosnia war have healed, political agony and ethnic tension persist. Real peace requires a new constitution and bottom-up political change.

Protests in February that led to the fall of four canton governments revealed deep popular disaffection and an urgent need for reform. But the Bosnian political elite’s lack of vision goes along with ineffective institutions and a constitution that impedes political change. A suffocating system of ethnic quotas contributes to bad governance and no longer meets any of the three communities’ interests. In its latest report, Bosnia’s Future, the International Crisis Group examines factors pushing the country toward disintegration and outlines alternative scenarios based on democratic reform from within.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Bosnia’s constitution (Annex 4 to the Dayton Peace Agreement) defines two state entities for three constituent peoples: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. It is based on a mix of ethnic and civic identity that is open to abuse and has led to paralysis in political and administrative institutions. The state’s political communities – self-defined groups of like-minded citizens that overlap but are not identical with the ethnically-based constituent peoples – are left without effective representation.
  • Bosnia needs to break from its system based on constituent peoples and implement a constitution based on a territorially defined federation, without a special role for constituent peoples but responsive to the interests of its three communities and the rights of all citizens.
  • The head of state should reflect Bosnia’s diversity, something a collective does better than an individual, and should be directly elected. Ethnic quotas should be abolished. Instead, representation should reflect self-defined regions and all their voters.
  • The ten cantons in the larger state entity, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, are an under-performing, superfluous layer. They should be removed, together with a number of inefficient state-level agencies and institutions. The cantons should be replaced by a new form of autonomy for Croat regions, while the state will need new capacities as it prepares for European integration.
  • 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.

“Bosnia is torn between an outmoded ethnic model and an easily-abused civic model. It needs to find a new approach incorporating parts of both and based on federalism” says Marko Prelec, Executive Director of the Balkans Policy Research Group and former Crisis Group Balkans Project Director. “To survive as one state, Bosnia must conceive new foundations. Agreement may take years and much experimentation, but the search should begin”.

“Dayton acts as a mirror of the past, not a roadmap for the future. It keeps the country trapped in ill thought-out, internationally-imposed tasks”, says Hugh Pope, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director. “It is time to treat Bosnia normally, without extraneous tests or High Representatives”.

FULL REPORT

11 Oct
"If it turns out that Bosniaks are a solid majority of the country, it could strengthen the feeling in the Bosniak community that they have primary responsibility for Bosnia, and strengthen the feeling among Serbs and Croats that they are shrinking and at risk"

—Marko Prelec, Balkans Program Director for Crisis Group, this week in Global Post

3 Oct
Ghosts of ethnic cleansing: Bosnia census revives rifts | Marie Dhumieres
Bosnia has launched its first post-war census amid fears its results will ignite tensions between the country’s three main ethnic groups by revealing profound demographic changes.
They would affect the fragile power-sharing system set up by the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which stipulates ethnic public-sector quotas based on population numbers. All three sides fear the census will result in a loss of power.
FULL ARTICLE (GlobalPost) 
Photo: mitopencourseware/Flickr

Ghosts of ethnic cleansing: Bosnia census revives rifts | Marie Dhumieres

Bosnia has launched its first post-war census amid fears its results will ignite tensions between the country’s three main ethnic groups by revealing profound demographic changes.

They would affect the fragile power-sharing system set up by the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which stipulates ethnic public-sector quotas based on population numbers. All three sides fear the census will result in a loss of power.

FULL ARTICLE (GlobalPost) 

Photo: mitopencourseware/Flickr

7 Jun

ID Politics: Sarajevo Protest Shows a Weakened State

from Crisis Group’s blog, “The Balkan Regatta

by Marko Prelec, Balkans Project Director

Sarajevo saw its biggest demonstration in years on the evening of Thursday, 6 June, and into the Friday morning  as thousands of citizens surrounded the Bosnian capital’s parliament building and refused to allow those trapped inside to leave. They were angered by the government’s failure to amend the laws needed to keep issuing ID numbers after the Constitutional Court struck down an ID law. In a legal limbo, newborns have been deprived of numbers, passports and other services. Police finally evacuated the building at 4 am today.

FULL POST

28 Feb
"The Islamic community and Bosnian state officials should cooperate to engage non-violent Salafis, especially those returning from the diaspora, in dialogue so as to encourage integration."

—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Bosnia’s Dangerous Tango: Islam and Nationalism

27 Feb
"The threat of fundamentalist Islam has been evoked repeatedly in Bosnia since several thousand mujahidin arrived in the early 1990s, though it is foreign to the great majority of the Muslim population."

—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Bosnia’s Dangerous Tango: Islam and Nationalism

"The Islamic community has taken a leading role in channelling popular anger, filling a vacuum left by Bosniak political parties, whose leadership seems adrift."

—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Bosnia’s Dangerous Tango: Islam and Nationalism

26 Feb
Bosnia’s Dangerous Tango: Islam and Nationalism
Sarajevo/Istanbul/Brussels  |   26 Feb 2013
Occasional violence notwithstanding, Islamism poses little danger in Bosnia, whose real risk stems from clashing national ideologies, especially as Islamic religious leaders increasingly reply with Bosniak nationalism to renewed Croat and Serb challenges to the state’s territorial integrity.
Bosnia’s Dangerous Tango: Islam and Nationalism, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines a growing fusion between Bosniak nationalism (which can be Islamic or secular) and Bosnian state identity. Political Islam is a novelty in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and its rise is seen as threatening to secular parties and non-Muslims. A dozen or so attacks attributed to Bosniaks in the past decade have raised fears of terrorism. However, the plethora of non-traditional Salafi and other Islamist groups that have appeared on the margins of society remain small and isolated.
“Virtually every act of violence inspired by Islamism has come from places where Islamic institutions – džemat (congregation), mosque, madrasa and family – are weak or absent, and many perpetrators have a troubled past”, says Marko Prelec, Crisis Group’s Balkans Project Director. “There is a lot of anger and frustration among Bosniaks, and leading figures in the Islamic establishment have sought to harness it to advance their political aims”.
The Islamic community (Islamska zajednica, IZ) in BiH has grown from a religious organisation into an important political actor that has helped shape Bosniak identity. Its influential and charismatic former leader, Mustafa ef. Cerić, painted a BiH which, though multi-ethnic, should be a Bosniak nation-state, since, he argued, Croats and Serbs already had countries of their own. That vision is appealing to many Bosniaks, including some who are thoroughly secular, but it repels most Croats and Serbs. If this becomes the dominant Bosniak view, it is hard to see how it could be reconciled with the viewpoints of Bosnia’s other communities; persistent conflict and instability would then be likely. Instead, the IZ should foster a view of the state as a shared enterprise in which all groups feel equally at home and focus on renewing its own institutions.
Bosnia’s Salafis are divided over loyalty to the state and the IZ. Most of those who accept these institutions are fiercely patriotic, and some fought as mujahidin in the war of the 1990s. Those who reject them as un-Islamic tend to withdraw to isolated settlements to practice their faith and are more interested in the global umma (Islamic community) than the fate of Bosnia. Neither group has shown a tendency to violence; most attacks have been the work of émigrés or persons with documented criminal or psychological records. The IZ and Bosnian state officials should cooperate to engage non-violent Salafis, especially those returning from the diaspora, in dialogue to encourage their integration.
“The Islamic community has been promoting a patriotic embrace of the state. Stability depends on whether it succeeds in framing a vision of Bosnia that can be shared by Croats and Serbs”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “Having stepped into the political arena, the Islamic community has a responsibility to re-commit to interfaith dialogue and advance compromise solutions that can avoid the country’s further fragmentation”.
FULL REPORT

Bosnia’s Dangerous Tango: Islam and Nationalism

Sarajevo/Istanbul/Brussels  |   26 Feb 2013

Occasional violence notwithstanding, Islamism poses little danger in Bosnia, whose real risk stems from clashing national ideologies, especially as Islamic religious leaders increasingly reply with Bosniak nationalism to renewed Croat and Serb challenges to the state’s territorial integrity.

Bosnia’s Dangerous Tango: Islam and Nationalism, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines a growing fusion between Bosniak nationalism (which can be Islamic or secular) and Bosnian state identity. Political Islam is a novelty in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and its rise is seen as threatening to secular parties and non-Muslims. A dozen or so attacks attributed to Bosniaks in the past decade have raised fears of terrorism. However, the plethora of non-traditional Salafi and other Islamist groups that have appeared on the margins of society remain small and isolated.

“Virtually every act of violence inspired by Islamism has come from places where Islamic institutions – džemat (congregation), mosque, madrasa and family – are weak or absent, and many perpetrators have a troubled past”, says Marko Prelec, Crisis Group’s Balkans Project Director. “There is a lot of anger and frustration among Bosniaks, and leading figures in the Islamic establishment have sought to harness it to advance their political aims”.

The Islamic community (Islamska zajednica, IZ) in BiH has grown from a religious organisation into an important political actor that has helped shape Bosniak identity. Its influential and charismatic former leader, Mustafa ef. Cerić, painted a BiH which, though multi-ethnic, should be a Bosniak nation-state, since, he argued, Croats and Serbs already had countries of their own. That vision is appealing to many Bosniaks, including some who are thoroughly secular, but it repels most Croats and Serbs. If this becomes the dominant Bosniak view, it is hard to see how it could be reconciled with the viewpoints of Bosnia’s other communities; persistent conflict and instability would then be likely. Instead, the IZ should foster a view of the state as a shared enterprise in which all groups feel equally at home and focus on renewing its own institutions.

Bosnia’s Salafis are divided over loyalty to the state and the IZ. Most of those who accept these institutions are fiercely patriotic, and some fought as mujahidin in the war of the 1990s. Those who reject them as un-Islamic tend to withdraw to isolated settlements to practice their faith and are more interested in the global umma (Islamic community) than the fate of Bosnia. Neither group has shown a tendency to violence; most attacks have been the work of émigrés or persons with documented criminal or psychological records. The IZ and Bosnian state officials should cooperate to engage non-violent Salafis, especially those returning from the diaspora, in dialogue to encourage their integration.

“The Islamic community has been promoting a patriotic embrace of the state. Stability depends on whether it succeeds in framing a vision of Bosnia that can be shared by Croats and Serbs”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “Having stepped into the political arena, the Islamic community has a responsibility to re-commit to interfaith dialogue and advance compromise solutions that can avoid the country’s further fragmentation”.

FULL REPORT

6 Oct
In Bosnia, What’s Next? | Transitions Online
By S. Adam Cardais
Back in June a prominent Balkan analyst told me he was hearing more and more grumbling out of Berlin about the fate of Bosnia, with its perpetual political gridlock, abysmal economy, and pitched nationalist rhetoric, but that no one had anything close to an answer. “Nobody,” he said, “has a workable alternative to Dayton.”
FULL ARTICLE (Transitions Online)
Photo: Bob S./Flickr

In Bosnia, What’s Next? | Transitions Online

By S. Adam Cardais

Back in June a prominent Balkan analyst told me he was hearing more and more grumbling out of Berlin about the fate of Bosnia, with its perpetual political gridlock, abysmal economy, and pitched nationalist rhetoric, but that no one had anything close to an answer. “Nobody,” he said, “has a workable alternative to Dayton.”

FULL ARTICLE (Transitions Online)

Photo: Bob S./Flickr

22 Sep
Mladic and the ‘March of Folly’ | Foreign Policy
By Michael Dobbs
The Oric raids helped create what Marko Prelec, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, called “a reservoir of rage” among the Serb population of the Drina valley, the “belief that they [the Muslims] will do it to us if we do not do it to them…there was a kind of desperation, a feeling that if we do the right thing with all these prisoners of war, they will join the tsunami of Bosnians breaking over our heads.”
FULL ARTICLE (Foreign Policy)
Photo: Wall of Names at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial
Credit: nicointokio/Flickr

Mladic and the ‘March of Folly’ | Foreign Policy

By Michael Dobbs

The Oric raids helped create what Marko Prelec, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, called “a reservoir of rage” among the Serb population of the Drina valley, the “belief that they [the Muslims] will do it to us if we do not do it to them…there was a kind of desperation, a feeling that if we do the right thing with all these prisoners of war, they will join the tsunami of Bosnians breaking over our heads.”

FULL ARTICLE (Foreign Policy)

Photo: Wall of Names at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial

Credit: nicointokio/Flickr