Von Bernd Papenkort *)
“We were always governed by a
First came the Turks, followed by the Austrians,
then fascists from Italy and Germany rushed in.
Tito’s time brought a pause.
Now we have the HR Inzko
and the International Community
They all come and go.
And we remain as we are.“
Fuko from Sarajevo
Fuko from Sarajevo
Don’t Forget “Srebrenica“
The rotten halls of the former UN Command Post of the Dutch Battalion in Potocari and on the other side of the road the Potocari Cemetery on which more than 8000 victims of Serb war crimes did find their final rest, remind us of the tragedy which happened in BiH in the years 1991 -1995. As a visitor in the Srebrenica Memorial Center in those halls of the Dutch Battalion, you become silent and shocked. Srebrenica with these two memorial places should be a “must“ to visit for all people in BiH and foreigners as well. It shows what can happen when ideology trumps humanity.
Potocari stands as a final for a time in FY, in which political ideologies motivated people to dismiss principles of respect for each other, of tolerance and dignity and pressed humanity on the side-lines. It is a symbol for the catastrophic failure of the UN in one of its most important missions. Blame must be given to the top echelons in its New York UNHQ and down on the chain of command to many peacekeepers in BiH (“BiH”: Bosnien-Herzegowina / d. Red.). The video of the Dutch soldiers, having some days later a party after having had handed the people from Srebrenica over to the killing Serbs, is the most disgusting and disturbing video, which I have ever seen.
That after many years and finally the West – under US lead – used NATO to end this disaster and tried to tailor a political settlement at Dayton for this country was a work in order to help the people in BiH to enter into a new and better period of life. In this historical context Srebrenica should never be forgotten. It was the culminating point of the UN disaster in BiH and the starting point for NATO countries to say “enough is enough“ (President Jacques Chirac on the evening of 11th July 1995) and to get involved in state building in BiH.
Is the “End“ always a “New Beginning“?
On 14th December 1995 the Dayton Peace Treaty was signed by all parties in Paris. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, people could gain new hope after suffering for 4 years of terrible conflict. In the months to follow, great numbers of military (NATO) and civilian international organisations poured into BiH in order to implement the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA). Many people living in the country hoped that the DPA would pave the way for a “new beginning“.
But, even 25 years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, Bosnia and Herzegovina has not developed into a normal functioning state, based on the rule of law, equal human rights for all its citizens and economic prosperity for all people. BiH in 2020 has slipped into a country, misused by ethnic orientated parties for own partisan purposes. This is happening under the eyes of the High Representative and the EU, as the ones with main responsibility for the international orchestrated “state building“. Both institutions are flanked by many other international organisations (NATO, OSCE, UN, WB, IMF, etc.) and many Embassies in support of hundreds of NGOs. Many of those NGO’s would not survive a proper accounting and feasibility check for effectiveness and sustainability of their doings. As such, the 25 years of Dayton have catapulted the country in many aspects into one example of a “failed state building“.
The end of the war brought not the new “beginning“ which many citizens in BiH had hoped for. Therefore, this paper is a wakeup call, for the people in BiH, but foremost for the International Community.
This paper is based on my personal experiences, which I gained in work with senior level representatives of the local and international community in BiH. The events described are only a selection of many meetings and conversations, which I had in those years. I refrain to name my interlocutors, but I know, who was sitting opposite to me. In Section 1 – “What went wrong?“ a look back on 25 years of state building in BiH and some points for reflections will be offered. In Section 2 “BiH – Sailing into the Future“ some ideas are furthered that BiH is still not a lost case and that hopes for a “new beginning“ are still available. Section 3 “A new Road Map for BiH“ offers some proposals for a turnaround in order to make BiH a viable and functioning state. The people of BiH deserve it.
“WHAT WENT WRONG?“
Wrong perception of the West
Tudjman, Milosevic and Izetbegovic
“No Agents for Change“
The negotiations at Dayton, which finally led to the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA), had to deal with two conflicting interests. The western side (Clinton, Chirac, Kohl, Major) wanted to end the UN nightmare in Bosnia and Herzegovina and assumed that the warring factions and their leaders would be war tired and looked for a better future in peace and economic prosperity. The West had pressing other political hot spots waiting at home, too. Therefore, the US/ Clinton pressure for a “one year engagement effort“ and the hope that a phase of peace and reconciliation would begin in SEE like between France and Germany under Francois Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl. It mirrored the political hope in many quarters that the time had come to end century old conflicts in the Balkans.
But, the warring factions (Tudjman, Izetbegovic, Milosevic) came with a different perception to Dayton. They had started their struggle for a “proper“ dissolution of the Republic of Yugoslavia many years ago. From 1991 until 1995 we had seen brutal fighting, manifold bargaining and deals between the local actors across all lines, accompanied by cease fire agreements sponsored by the UN and broken on the next day. To mention here only a few, the famous “Restaurant Table Map“ in which Tudjman proposed to Milosevic the separation of the “whole cake“ of BiH, later Vukovar attacks by Serbs, fighting in Bosnia between Croats and Bosniaks, the forming of the Croat-Bosniak Federation of BiH under the US pressure, the Knin operations by Croats and the disastrous war in BiH. All three looked on Dayton negotiations with different eyes than their western interlocutors. Their interest was “to get a good piece of the cake and to secure their own power base for future developments.“
In retrospect reconciliation and cooperation was not a priority in their “political tool box“. Each of the three leaders was responsible for war crimes committed under their political responsibility: Milosevic/Karadzic for the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks by Serbs forces at Srebrenica and other places in BiH, Tudjman for killing of Serbs during the operation “Storm“ by Croatian forces in Knin/Croatia and atrocities against Muslims in Ahmici/BiH and Izetbegovic for kiling Serbs in Central Bosnia and Croats in the Bugojno area by Bosnian/Muslim forces. That was one part of the “history“ of those called in by the US for the Dayton talks.
With those divergent views between the West and the Balkan warlords, the US and Western negotiators tailored in relatively short time a masterpiece of diplomacy – the Dayton Peace Accords. However, the basic difference in assumptions, interests and aims between the western side and the 3 local players were not solved and the DPA could be only a starting point to end the conflict. Hoping that the local players would see the new political approach offered and would change their minds and strive for cooperation in order to build a better future for their people.
A lot has now been said about the DPA, its strengths and weaknesses. In the last 25 years claims were manifold to request a “Dayton 2“. Therefore, I would like to offer here a remark made by a former Speaker of the RS National Assembly: “The DPA is not bad. There is no need for another. If you want to obstruct, you can obstruct each constitution. And, we have unfortunately too many obstructionists“.
Supremacy of “Ethnicity“
Seeds for Separation
When Dayton ended, all “Three“ had ensured to get a proper piece of the cake. Additionally, they managed to enshrine in all related documents and annexes “ethnicity“ as a guiding principle for the design of the follow on architecture in political institutions in BiH. Unfortunately, ethnicity orientation has become the seeds for many negative consequences with regard to cooperation, reconciliation and reconstruction in BiH.
Ethnicity in BiH is deeply anchored in history, cultural beliefs and by religions, and too often used by politicians in BiH for own narrow-minded purposes. It is an area, which only outsiders with good knowledge of the country see before their arrival in BiH. The majority of the IC stumbles in this minefield and creates with the acceptance of “respect for ethnicity“ only deeper ethnic entrenchment in the country.
Therefore, it had been a wise decision under the Tito regime not to place ethnicity on the forefront of public affairs and political institutions. This time in FY had enabled people in BiH to engage in cross marriages and to live in harmony together. In sports, culture, festivals the question “Who are you?“ did not play any role. Music bands like “Bijelo Dugme“, actors, writers and many families provide numerous examples of cross – ethnicity linkages. And, it was a hallmark of Sarajevo as a multicultural and multifaceted city, which attracted many people from other countries as well.
The DPA, however, surely not intended and foreseen by the West in such a way, gave the returning local actors the chance to configure and tailor their “ethnic boxes“ accordingly. And, they did it with great enthusiasm on all sides. In institutions you got a post, if the quota for the so called “constituent people”(Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats) and the respective party (!) was ok. Minorities (Jews, Roma and other minorities) had been forgotten in Dayton and are still “outside“. It became a must for the ethnic orientated parties to fight for proper representation at all levels instead of seeking common ground for the state. Competency in jobs did not count any longer and based on 1991 census results the allocation of jobs to ethnicity quotas became sometimes artificial due to lack of available expertise and manpower. Some politicians converted even to another ethnicity in order to jump on attractive posts in other boxes.
Now, after 25 years the people of this country are placed in political and administrative boxes which hamper reconciliation and cooperation in all aspects of public life and make family links across ethnic lines difficult. Citizens of BiH can vote only for parliamentary representation of “their people“. For jobs in government institutions from the top down to the gate keeper the “right ethnicity“ is required, for gaining access to education and many other areas of life it is essential to be a member of the appropriate box. One example to show the ridiculousness of such an approach: If you are a Serb living in the Bosniak-dominated Canton Sarajevo, you face in institutions slower or no processing of your requests due to your name. The same person has problems in Eastern Sarajevo institutions because for those politicised institutions they lives on the “wrong“ side. The same happens to Bosniaks, now living in the RS. The question is: Could this have been foreseen by the Dayton architects? Would have been other ways available to bypass this problem in the configuration of the DPA?
My short answer is: No. Even if the western negotiators were aware of the problems of ethnicity, the old wisdom of Bismarck applies: “Politics is the art of the possible“. The West wanted to make under time pressure an effort to “pacify the mess“, but with limited means and ends. And on the other side of the table all three had fought a war, reflecting ethnicity issues. Ethnicity was their power base for the future, whatever the current outcome of the war. And, they wanted to retain it. Neither Izetbegovic, nor Tudjman or Milosevic were ready to accept too much “multiculturalism“ in their respective areas. Therefore, the common ground for the DPA was very limited and it was the task of US diplomats to tailor the art of the possible.
The hope could only be that the international “supervisors“ (the HR, etc.) coming in with the DPA, would make sure that “ethnicity“ did not get on the forefront of all public affairs. This would have required strong leadership by the IC and the will of their staffs to check in detail the “talks“ offered by local “friends“ in implementing the DPA. On this, the IC failed.
“The missed chance for a new Beginning“
In those first months after Dayton the country was swamped with international organisations. NATO had about 60.000 boots on the ground. Carl Bildt, as first “High Representative“, tried to clear his role as the “UN international supervisor“, the UN with its big amount of suborganisations made efforts to find new roles in spite of its disasters in the last 5 years. And, the OSCE deployed to the country in order to organize elections and to pave the way “towards democracy“.
For many at the western side of the table the call to bring democracy to BiH inspired diplomats, consultants and numerous NGOs to pack their bags at home and to gain “field experience in state building“ by working in BiH. Well paid internationals helped the war-torn Sarajevo and its citizens to build a new economic basis, needing accommodation, offering jobs as interpreters, drivers and supply agents. Restaurants opened and competed with each other in dinner menus for the international community. A new system of personal advantages for those locals and politicians was created – the “green zone“ of Sarajevo started to live and was full of activities and jobs.
The OSCE in lead for the upcoming elections in September 1996 made an effort to establish parties in BiH, to publish lists of their candidates and to ensure a proper election outcome. This formidable task should not be questioned. Election observers were flown in in great numbers to guarantee the proper conduct of elections. After the event, the OSCE made statements that it was “satisfied with the outcome and believed that BiH is now placed on the trajectory towards democracy“. Here are now some remarks needed:
Nine months after the war and with the country still in the recovery phase, with destroyed infrastructure, with return of refugees from other countries into destroyed houses, with no quick start of economy available, people were asked to vote – for “What?“ and “Whom“?.
Some remarks to the “What“: The method in which “democratic party programs“ were developed can be illustrated by following real life story: The Chief of Cabinet of one then Presidency member downloaded the German CDU Party Program and transformed it via copy/paste into their Party Program for the upcoming elections. The same downloading process happened most probably in Banja Luka and Mostar and with copy and paste many former war lords and their entourage changed into “political masters for democracy in BiH“. A Deputy Chief of the OSCE Mission told that they had “cast a view in the election preparations of the “big 3“ (the SDA, HDZ, and SDS) and that all were very much moving forward towards establishing real democracy in BiH. The OSCE would be very satisfied and it would be a good decision to offer now the people a way forward with newly elected leaders“!?
Some remarks to the “Whom“: The electorate knew only “their people from the war“, many of whom now rushed to become “politicians“ and had joined a party in order to seize the opportunity. Former war lords, clan members and family networks became now “political masters“ and got their blessing by the IC under the lead of the HR and OSCE. Many became later members of the CoE and jumped in other international posts. From a political point of view and having in mind what was the long-term aim of this exercise, this early OSCE driven election was a farce and paved the way for many problems to come. We see later the same pattern from Afghanistan to Iraq.
The famous sentence “The end is always a new beginning“ became not true for BiH. It must read for BiH “The end (of the war) created with help of the IC another mess“. Or, with a German phrase: “The IC made the deers (e.g. former war lords) to the country’s gardeners for the future.“
Thoughts about Bosnian mentality
“They all come and go, and we stay here“
I outlined the basic difference in perceptions of the western interlocutors and the 3 warring factions at Dayton. Different historical experiences lead to divergent cultural and behavioural approaches. The old saying “never disregard history, culture and religion of a country“ could have offered some advice to the international architects of “state building“, coming to BiH. Many came with good intent to Bosnia, reflecting in their daily activities their background experience, gained at home. That is understandable but does not fit to the Balkans and especially to BiH. Arriving with the belief to transfer “Ohio or Paderborn“ to Kiseljak, Han Pijesak or Bihac, is very naive and will end up in frustration. In order to get a feeling for understanding Bosnian mentality foreigners may be advised to look at the film “Gori vatra “.
This film offers a deep insight into Bosnian (all “3“) mentalities: the capability for deep love, the ability to strive for easy life and to enjoy the day, the readiness to make friendships across ethnic lines, to disregard politics in friendships, to manoeuvre sometimes outside the law without any bad conscious, to enjoy humour and dancing, but to extort to brutality as well. All those factettes are very often grounded in different personalities. Foreigners are often overwhelmed by the local attitude to offer always great hospitality, underestimating the capability to hide one’s real thoughts, concerns and intents. With a “Bosnian“ (not only a Bosniak) you meet a fascinating, complex, sometimes wild character, full of emotional complexity and well anchored in “Bosnian mentality“. For straight forward US and Germans alike, many moments for surprise, misperceptions and miscalculations are waiting. The questions is “what are the roots and characteristics of this mentality?“
A look in into the country’s history may offer some understandings: During the middle ages and follow on centuries this land strip was always governed by foreigners. Starting with the Ottomans/Turks, who used amongst others local members of the “Janissary system“ to administer Bosnia. The Ottoman “beys“ and “kadis“ relied in their rule on help from a selected class of capable locals, who were committed to serve under the Ottoman regime. They could add a “beg“ to the Slavic suffix of “ovic“,which roughly means “descendant of“, indicating to be a member of the higher local land-owning nobility, working with the Ottomans. This group was often sandwiched between their foreign political masters on the top and their local people, among whom they lived. Many felt a certain responsibility for the wellbeing of their local people. The Ottoman system of taxation and contributions placed those “Begs“ in a position to keep their Turkish masters in the country and in Istanbul happy by delivering requested contributions and to circumvent a certain portion of the cake for their own and their peasants needs as well. In such a way a system of fraud, corruption and betrayal of the top and taking care for own “friends“ has been developed. It became a basic feature for surviving under foreign reign.
When the Austrians arrived at Sarajevo after the Congress at Berlin in 1878, Sarajevo citizens across all ethnicities started to riot and fight against Austrian troops. They wanted an independent Bosnia. The Austrian commander called in the local “Ottoman based nobility“ and asked them to name the “terrorists“, who had started to fight against his troops. They were told, if they would refuse to name these people, they would lose their positions. If they delivered the names of those fighters, they could hold positions under the new regime. On the following day they “delivered“ in order to save their own social positions. The Austrians caught all those engaged in the riots and did hang them on the trees in front of the current Ministry of Defence in Sarajevo. The “Bosnian nobility“ survived and served their new masters. This “pragmatic“ approach to manage own survival, enhance own influence, combined with the organisation of the society into family networks survived WWII occupation by Italy and Germany as well. It continued in factettes under the Tito regime.
This basic historical experience is deeply anchored in daily Bosnian life: “We have always a foreign emperor/High Representative above us who directs us and we ourselves need to make sure to get a certain piece of his cake as well. Institutions are available but not well functioning. Therefore party-/family-/friends networks are better and more reliable“. What others call corruption and bribing in order to facilitate own interests, is for many people in BiH a normal matter of life. It reflects behaviour of living under foreign rule and with non-functioning institutions.
Like today in BiH? International Community, do you hear the bell ringing? This century old Balkan attitude is in use today by many politicians in BiH. In view of incoming support (financial or others) by the EU and many other institutions their line is “to thank and make promises, to start planning of requested things, but to ensure to get a piece of the cake, as well. And, finally to decide whether it supports own power positions, or endangers them?“ In case it endangers the own power base then obstruction and delays are called in. This is happening on a daily basis in the “tango“ between the IC and the local players in BiH. The delays and blockings in the rule of law and obstruction in parliamentary work are numerous. The IC is the cow, being milked and having the strings in the nose. Welcome to BiH. One example may illustrate the problem:
Some years ago a HR made an effort to fight corrupted BiH politicians and ended up with a formidable list of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. The Head of the EU’s OLAF department (fighting corruption) was asked to come and he did spend some weeks in BiH. His summary was “the local politicians do not understand what corruption is and much more they do not want to know it. My findings are always like grabbing an “Italian spaghetti“ – on one end is an international and on the other end I have a local. The international has diplomatic immunity and is withdrawn, the local is protected by friends in government institutions, parties and the judiciary.“
After talking in the PIC context and asking for support the HR resumed: “The reality is: after interventions from some ambassadors always some Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs are deleted from my list and I am left with lower level figures. When we discuss apprehension, COMSFOR (NATO) tells that he is only responsible for Annex 1A and UNMIBH (amongst others responsible for Police) declares not to have such an action within its mandate. Should I use my own close protection team to execute the rule of law in BiH?“
The “Standing Operating Procedure (SOP)“
of the International Community
“Close your eyes and believe what you hear from the local parties“
The above described ethnicity supremacy in local political thinking and handling of issues, enriched with the mentality of long experience in dealing with foreigners, would have required strong international leadership by the Office of the High Representative and other bodies. In retrospect BiH had only two of those HR’s – Carlos Westendorp and Paddy Ashdown, and with lesser impact Wolfgang Petritsch. Not to forget at lower level John Nicholson, who created the Central Bank and organised the monetary side of BiH.
Westendorp ignored all cries from different quarters and created the currency KM, the BiH flag, the national anthem (without text) and state level number plates in order to prevent that car drivers and passengers could be allocated to an ethnicity box. Paddy Ashdown created the Armed Forces at state level and sacked some politicians. Wolfgang Petritsch did his best, but lacked as Austrian the backing of major countries. All others came and left no legacy behind. The weakest one was the German Christian Schwartz- Schilling, who pardoned sacked politicians and lost any authority after declaring that he would not use the “Bonn powers“ any longer. This was the call for all local politicians to start “dancing on the floor“. What did the country and its people experience in those years?
The International Community, with many HRs and the EUSR’s, were good in “Talks“, but very weak in their “Walks“ to check execution on the ground. Visits, threats, goodwill hints, money and other offerings had been spent in thousands during those last 25 years. But, a proper check of the status of local implementation of all their plans/talks was for many representatives of those international institutions not the exercise of the day. Too many enjoyed their well buffered posts in Sarajevo. The “music sheet“ of the local politicians, based on the local mentality described above, could be practised in those laissez-faire times with great skills. In one meeting the then Chairman of the Council of Ministers of BiH told “I have to sign currently big bunches of papers for the EU, provided by the Directorate for European Integration. They report to the EU what we want to do and what we did. I do not believe in any one of our statements…..“
Consequently, and over time a most unbalanced relationship between the IC and local institutions developed. Mainly the EU pumped money into the country in the hope “to change minds“, achieving close to nothing, but keeping the higher echelons of the local political establishment happy. They could continue to fill money into their bank accounts at home and abroad. Until today the rule of law is not exercised for all citizens in an equal way, corruption and bribing are well known and are a feature in BiH daily politics. Here are a few examples for “closing the eyes“:
The OSCE deepened segregation of young pupils into ethnic boxes by accepting the concept of “two schools under one roof“, with different curricula for young boys and girls just because of their ethnic background. Making fundamentalists happy, but placing with such a concept the seeds for further difficulties in the future. What kind of “national identity“ could be created with such an idea? Some staffers of this organisation developed even remarkable skills in order to stay in well buffered posts: They came as “election experts“, many changed afterwards into “education experts“, finally transformed into “economic experts“. Nobody is willing to report that their work is done and that they are superfluous, could go home and waste not taxpayer money.
The “Civil Service Agency (CSA)“ is another good example. It could have been a milestone to create independent and efficient administrative institutions at state and local level, serving with its employees the country and its citizens. The post was given to a member not belonging to the “3 big ethnicities“ in order to prevent power grabbing by ethnic parties. But, the consequences of the later following appointment of 3 deputies – a Bosniak, a Croat and a Serb – made the “future“ of the CSA clear: The selected deputies made sure that in order to get a post in BiH institutions and public companies, applicants must have the right ethnicity and be a member of the right party. Welcome to the BiH’s wonderland!
International Aid. Pouring in money without a proper check of execution is waste of tax payer money. The following example stands for many IC activities of other organisations as well: GIZ (German Development Agency) had the idea to link students of the University of Sarajevo to internships with German owned companies in BiH in order to prepare them for the follow on life in business. A good amount of money was given to a faculty of the Sarajevo University in order to organize the further details. Companies in BiH offered places at no costs and prepared own staff. But nobody showed up – no professor and no student. In autumn, a GIZ representative visited the company and wanted to thank for the great work done. A thanks letter of the faculty was presented, applauding this project and proposing the same project (plus money) for next year as well. The GIZ member was totally perplexed to hear that nothing had happened on the company side of the “execution“. Did they go back, reporting what happened? To be blamed for not proper management of this project? This is only one project in which well-intended development ideas fail because of the laziness of relevant staffs to check the execution on the ground.
The conclusion may be a tough one: It is not only the BiH side to blame. They could continue with “what they have learned in centuries under foreign rein“. A big question mark must be placed about the way in which the International Community conducted efforts of “state building“ in BiH, with sometimes very questionable and oversized staffs and the believe to change hearts and minds by pouring money in the country. This failed so far. We have now a country in which the rule of law is not applied equally to all citizens. Legislation and its proper execution is hampered by ethnic-orientated obstruction, members of Parliaments seek advantages for own purposes, political criminals are not handled by police and the judiciary in an appropriate way because many of those ranks are influenced by ethnic parties from which they were shifted in positions. BiH today is a good example for failed state building. It is currently closer to a mafia state then to a functioning democracy.
“The Power of Protest“
Unknown in BiH?
The headline hints to an abnormity in BiH. Is the Power of Protest unknown in BiH? Is the saying right “Each country has the politicians it deserves?“ Does BiH get “what it deserves“ ? Both statements are worth a closer reflection.
For outsiders, coming from western countries, protests of students and demonstrations of people for certain political issues and mobilizing of masses are quite normal. Currently the death of George Floyd led to mass protests all over the US, bringing in all colours, old and young, student and workers. In Belarus people are on the streets in opposition to fraud and corruption. The results of both protests need to be seen, but there will be some change. The same happens in EU countries on different matters. BiH, in contrast, seems to be a place where the “stillness of a cemetery“ seems to prevail.
Here in BiH, where the political class offers on a weekly basis facts of corruption, incompetence and misuse in offices and institutions, only some parts of the media and sometimes individuals react. The larger part of the “populace“ remains so far silent. Students prefer to sit more in cafes than being catalysts of change. The working part of the people knows what is ongoing, but remains “silent“, and the elder pensioners and unemployed try to find their way through the mess. Only in some cases of flagrant injustice a minority stands up, but is then “silenced“ by police and judiciary of the establishment.
The brain drain of younger professionals to the EU countries and the UK/the US is an answer, too. BiH is losing well educated people in considerable numbers. If that development continues, only the elder, the party associated employees and the top “elite“ will remain. The current situation reminds in all those aspects that something is deeply wrong with the political situation in BiH. Those in power show all signs of autocratic behaviour and obviously see no need to be alarmed because the remaining element is part of their “electorate“.
Unfortunately this brain drain is intensified by some EU embassies (e.g. Germany) to offer work in their countries in order to minimize their problems at home. In an assessment check one young BiH student became very clear, when he was told that his capability and personality would not match the conditions required. His answer was “If I get no job in Germany, my parents will make sure that I get a post in the civil administration in Sarajevo due to their party connections“.
It is not the case that many good people are not aware what is happening. But, they have to take care of their families and remain quiet. The motto is very often “Hopefully the next generation can make a change. Our situation is like the grass which finally penetrates the asphalt (of corruption). But, if you are too early, the lawn mower (political establishment) will cut you away“. All this happens on a daily basis under the eyes of all the international supervisors on state building. Is it not normal that with such a situation neither the HR, the EU and many other internationals are by many people not respected any longer?
Such an attitude is the consequence of developments which were explained in Section 1 “Mentality“ and in the assessment of the IC work. Together they are hampering any move forward and any change in the country. And, as long as enough money is poured into BiH by the EU and others, the top elected elite will make sure that all get a certain piece of the cake. Much remains in pockets on the top and the lower levels get enough to be silent. It is reported in the media that public tenders, sponsored by the EU, are a farce because they are tailored in such a way that one specific institution/person will get it. Other interested parties often refrain from making any effort because the result is known. The readers are reminded on the “spaghetti problem“, mentioned earlier.
In spite of this situation the saying “the power of protest is unknown in BiH“ does not match reality. Media and others show the way to go. Some recent protests of the “Walk for Progress“ movement offer a glimmer of hope, but it needs to be seen whether they fall back in the “BiH lethargy“. In order to mobilize the masses the conditions must be changed. Internally and with help from outside. The HR/EU need to get away from their comfortable laissez faire attitude towards “BiH ownership“, which is only an excuse for not taking their own work seriously. And, BiH people need to stand up and telling their political class “enough is enough“.