Bosnia-Herzegovina - Part 2

posted by julia on 2005/11/17 14:42

[ Bosnia-Herzegovina ]

Changing Dayton? Strangely enough (?), it is the international community who initiated a meeting to revise the Dayton agreement, while Bosnian politicians - who usually criticise Dayton the most - cling to the complicated Dayton state structure with two state-like entities (Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serb Republika Srpska), the district of Brčko and ten cantons.

In early October, Doris Pack, the chairwoman of the European Parliament's Southeastern Europe delegation, echoed the High Representative Paddy Ashdown's view on the non-functionality of the BH constitution and called for a redefinition:

Obviously, the existing patchwork of 200 ministers, 80 political parties, and 14 parliaments in a country of four million inhabitants is incompatible with EU standards. ... The Dayton-Agreement as an original peace settlement is not sufficient any more. Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs should therefore leave their purely ethnic corners and agree on a common framework for Bosnia-Herzegovina - including painful compromises - if they want to convince the European public that an association agreement with the European Union is useful. (quoted by on Nov., 14th)

Last week-end Bosnian officials representing the Bosniak, Serb, and Croat communities gathered in Brussels to discuss a US-initiated plan to change the BH constitution (= the Dayton agreement), secretely drafted by a team around Donald Hays, head of US Institute for Peace and former deputy High Representative, in consultation with the EU (cf. the Kakanien-Redaktion blog).

The main changes aim at strengthening the powerless state-level institutions and to overcome the "ethnic quotas" set by the Dayton agreements. The new draft proposes e.g. a single presidency instead of the current tripartite presidency with a Bosniak, a Croat, and a Serb president. This proposal was rejected, but the weaker alternative - a president with 2 vice-presidents who would rotate every 16 months - could be acceptable, according to some of the participants. The main issue for Bosnian Serbs is to retain the Republika Sprska, while the Bosnian Croats argue that if there is a Republika Srpska, a third Croat-dominated entity should be created.

Although Bosnian and international media titled "No consensus reached", the participants talked of an "important first step" and seemed optimistic a deal could be reached (cf. ISN Security Watch, Nov., 15th). The negociations are to continue next week in Washington and could last until March (or longer if we keep the example of the defense and police reforms in mind!).

Nevertheless, the US hopes that some kind of general agreement on constitutional reform can be agreed before the Dayton commemorations on Nov., 21st (cf. this blog, Nov., 7th). Of course, a constitutional reform would facilitate subsequent reforms needed for the EU integration of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And the SAA talks are to begin on 12 December already... Then, it would be important to get the laws on constitutional change through before the general elections in October 2006 - which will probably lead (again) to a certain paralysis of BH politics.

The EU's reaction is very cautious. EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn made a brief appearance to greet the participations of the (EU-co-sponsored) negociations on Saturday and to underline that the EU does not wish to interfere too much as the ownership of any reforms clearly lies on the Bosnian side:

This is a clear sign of an emerging consensus to review the Dayton Constitution. Leaders of the country have the ownership of the process, which the European Commission is ready to facilitate. ... It is up to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to decide on constitutional changes. We recommend a constitutional evolution, rather than a constitutional revolution. (quoted by the EU-Observer on Nov., 14th).

Map source:

1 Attachment(s)



This weblog is a forum for discussion on the political and social processes linked to EU integration in the Western Balkans. We would also like to use this space to create a virtual network of researchers on this topic. You are most welcome to contribute to this weblog with comments, postings, links, or photos. Please use the "add comment" function at the end of each posting!
All photos by the Photo Arts Collective of Kosovo. First photo by Burim Myftiu (Swimming olympiade in Klina). Second photo by Mimoza. Third photo by Dashmir Izairi.
> RSS Feed RSS 2.0 feed for Kakanien Revisited Blog SEE-EU