Politics in January 2000


January has in many things predicted changes that are taking over the local political scene. Starting with election victory of the Croat opposition and death of Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan. BH rulers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are getting more and more nervous –approving the election results, but at the same time they are aware of the possibility that such thing could happen in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This caused even more nationalist’s barking at Bosnian SDP, the only serious opposition party at the moment. Because, as someone pointed out – changes in Croatia and FR Yugoslavia will not help Bosnia unless she helps herself.


*Parliament/President Elections in Croatia – BH Territory
Voting took place in 15 cities in Bosnian territory in 29 polling places. According to the Croat embassy information, respond of voters during both election days was bigger than expected. It was so big that waiting for hours at polling stations was quite normal. Chief of the OSCE Monitor Mission, Halle Degn, said in Zagreb press conference that the election procedure in Bosnia and Herzegovina was not well organised. BiH was on the 11th election list – list for diaspora which contains around 350 000 registered voters, out of which 320 000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the Sarajevo Croat embassy data, out of total number of registered voters in BiH, 25 – 30% of Bosnian Croats voted for the House of Representatives. Arrivals to the polling stations were organised, often by HDZ (and sometimes by the catholic church). This is not surprising if we keep in mind the long year connection between, now former, Croat top and Bosnian Croats. And, also, keeping in mind the nature of that connection.
Judging from the results presented, HDZ got around 100 000 votes ( 90%), while the winners got only around 4000 votes (3,70%). HSP got similar result while other results are not worth mentioning.

  The voting in Bosnia and Herzegovina was totally expected. HDZ is the only political party from Croatia that is constantly (and more) present in BH territory. It is questionable how the election defeat will effect their activity in Bosnia and Herzegovina and how the change of Croat government will effect further policy toward Bosnia.

Crying HDZ spokesman, Zoran Tomic, said that the defeat of HDZ was unexpected. But he added that HDZ BiH is extremely satisfied with a fact that HDZ got around 90 percent of votes in BiH. Other political parties in BiH also reacted.
Same old SDA. “Alija Izetbegovic’s vision of weak Serbia and democratic Croatia as elements that will help the implementation of the Dayton agreement in BiH is coming true”, said Mirza Hajric, Izetbegovic’s adviser. He did not say if the vision contains SDA and similar parties in the future, parties that have most of the time obstructed the implementation of the Dayton agreement.
President of SDP BiH, Zlatko Lagumdzija expressed his expectations that after the changes that happened in Croatia there will be many changes in Bosnia in the up-coming elections, with a silent hope that the scenario from Croatia will repeat itself in Bosnian case.

Biljana Plavsic, the president of Serbian national union, is also satisfied. She claims that the Croatian results “give hope” that the politics as we know it will disappear from that country, the politics she finds extreme and with many “ustasha components”. Hoping that one of the priorities for the new Croat government will be to solve Serb matter in Croatia and also the return of refugees and expelled Serbs to the country.

Obviously, most of the Bosnian officials consider the HDZ defeat/opposition victory positive. But are these officials ready for changes in Bosnian society? Because, statements about extremity of Croatian policy are unacceptable while the critics (equally extreme) are still in power in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Voting for Croat presidential elections in BiH took place in the Croat Embassy and other 13 locations. This time only 15% of 320 000 of voters responded. Same as in the parliament elections, majority of votes were in favour of Mate Granic, presidential candidate with HDZ background – unlike Croatia itself, where majority of votes was in favour of Mesic or Budisa. It is interesting that the diaspora list was the only election unit where Granic won the majority. Weak response of Croat voters in BiH is justified with bad weather conditions by some and by others with a fact that there is no one to vote for any more. In that sense, it is questionable if Bosnian Croats will respond to the second round of Croat presidential elections – they have only “communists” to vote for. Regardless of the fact that HDZ has suggested to their voters to vote for Budisa. Mood of Croats in this territory can be seen through a message that appeared at the entrance to so-called Herzeg-Bosnia and it was documented by Split Feral Tribune.
Revolted and imaginative people in Herzegovina added “Comrades” and two five-pointed stars to the parole which states welcome to Herzeg-Bosnia. This is a clear allusion to anger because of “communist” victory in Croatia. It is questionable if the Croat voters in BiH will follow party orders in this case too?

This could be the last time that Croat elections took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina (in this way). The High representative of the OHR mission in BiH, Wolfgang Petritsch, said that by year 2003. Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina must solve a double citizenship problem. If not, the citizens will be forced to choose only one of the two citizenship. It is certain that the point of this is to reduce impact that the Croat government had in Bosnian politics so far. Statement made by Jacques Klein, chief of the UN mission in BiH, in Slobodna Dalmacija, proves that the rest of the International Community also thinks in this way. The statement says that “Croat government should clearly say to the Croats in Bosnia: ‘You are Bosnian citizens, we support you, you are a constitutive nation, we will support you to perform your rights and will help you in returning the refugees’”. And their relations should stop there. According to Klein, Croats in BiH were often mislead by promises and national leaders that were using them. Now things should change.

Times of collective exams are coming.
Judging from everything.


Law on Border Service in BiH Imposed
on the boat across the Sava at the border between Croatia and Bosnia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has got the Law on border service. Here is a short chronology of its’ making:,br> Two months back, accepting the New York declaration, Bosnian leaders have undertaken to form joint border service. They did not do it, of course. During the Parliament session that took place on Tuesday, the Law did not pass. On Wednesday, during the Security Council session that took place in New York, Richard Hoolbrooke, the author of all agreements since Dayton till now, accused the three leaders of incompetence. That same day he sent Jacques Klein to OHR to use the authorities and make a decree on joint border service. A statement comes on Thursday, from the OHR – with fanfares – the High representative Wolfgang Petritsch imposed/ independently accepted the Law on border service. Again.
When the Bosnian representatives are not able to do it themselves. The Law enables more efficient fight against crime and illegal immigrations that have become quite frequent on Bosnian border lines. Through functioning of this law, the entities will be able to fill their budgets with custom’s income. The joint border service supervises 10 km of border line. The Law will enable Bosnia and Herzegovina to integrate into Europe. Naturally, those who based their financial rise on not paying the customs, black market and similar things, will stay without certain profit. And a lot of those people are in Bosnian governing bodies. That is where the resistance was coming from.

Is it questionable when the Law will begin to function? There has been a great resistance toward this law in Republika Srpska, ever since the New York declaration was signed. The border service will be made in co-ordination with the population register from the year of 1991. and not 1997. as RS requested. It is clear that this law sees Bosnia as one, unified country, and not as a group of two separate entities. On the other hand, the federal partner got a chance for the first time since 1992., to be present in the entire Bosnian frontier territory. It is certain they will not object. Regardless of any material losses.

When it comes to Petritsch’s team, the OHR has announced that the second group of the future Bosnian border guards has gone at the end of January to Austrian Gratz for training. We will see who will last longer.