Politics in February 2000

Bosnie Hercegovina February 2000 Politics

As I said the last time (January), the year 2000 will be crucial for the development (reconstruction) of Balkan civil and political society in many ways. It started with the long expected change of government in Republic of Croatia. Bosnia and Herzegovina will be facing a new chance for desirable (?!) changes - local elections are scheduled for April and Parliament elections for September. Similarities to Croatia are inevitable. For the last ten years we have shared political (and national) autocracy. Judging from things, even people have come to realize this. This is why the current Bosnian power is SCARED! Truly.

All "three" political "forces" in Bosnia have done it in the same way - nervous public appearances, with inside confrontations that are becoming more and more difficult to hide from the public, activities and actions that make their election defeat more probable than their victory. Still, we should be careful with optimism.

Let's take it one thing at the time.

Party of Democratic Action (SDA). Alija Izetbegovic, its President, is presiding the Bosnian Presidency again. In order to avoid President's (Izetbegovic's) monopoly, the OSCE decided that during a four year period, the Serb, Bosnian and Croat representative will replace each other in this position after 8 months. According to the 1998 September election results.. So, after Zivko Radisic and Ante Jelavic, it is Alija's turn.

SDA media, like Sarajevo Dnevni Avaz that for the past 16 months managed to avoid the fact that Radisic or Jelavic were presidents, welcomed Izetbegovic's arrival to the position. Now they are very eager to talk about IZETBEGOVIC, HEAD OF THE BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY. The goal is obvious - feed the hungry Bosnians with empty promises - and in return get the votes in the upcoming elections. In the end, media freaks like Dnevni Avaz are not worth mentioning or wasting space over. How will Izetbegovic's taking over the position change state politics is not questionable - it is clear that Bosnian politician's (Izetbegovic is in this also) activities are being controlled and often limited by the International Community and its Bosnian branch. There could be an increased number of official visits to "brother" countries… And that's that.

But, now that we are talking about the elections, it is impossible to avoid the fact that SDA is the first political party in Bosnia that started media campaign for the local elections in April. And how they did it. "We defended Bosnia… confirmed the identity of the Bosniak people that was not existing… opened a freedom era… crushed the totalitarianism... brought in the democracy…". Izetbegovic obviously follows the proverb "the history starts with us". All those who created the identity of this country for centuries are now turning over in their graves. Since Kulin ban, until today - as Alija's subjects like to say. During the third Stability Pact table, Izetbegovic expressed his expectations that the surrounding countries will follow Bosnian example, and reduce their military assets and take the path of democracy… So, neighbors, if you want a modern country, identity, freedom era, democracy… take the bright Bosnian example. "We are not responsible for the consequences"- as Izetbegovic would say, at the end of a fictive marketing message. In local media, we can frequently see conflicts between SDA and the rest of the world. SDA is nervous. The elections are coming. They are aware of their ten year's work and its consequences. Just like a growing number of Bosnians. This is exactly why SDA is afraid of losing the elections. And they have every reason to be. If neurotics is one of the states that describes a loser, than SDA is a double neurotic.

Coalition SLOGA (KS) - Republika Srpska Social Party (SP RS), Serb National Union (SNS), Republika Srpska Social democrats (SD RS) + SDS. The most important political event in February, in Republic of Srpska, was the split up within KS. The coalition partners had a public confrontation after the Prime Minister Dodik replaced Dragutin Ilic and Tihomir Gligoric, members of SP RS, from the government. The party led by Zivko Radisic made an ultimatum for the prime minister - either he returns the replaced ministers to their previous positions or…
The latter option became a reality. KS continues to work with two parties.. In their own words - the leaving of Radisic's men is not considered to be a serious obstacle for their future activities.

Judging from everything this is just the beginning of replacements and new authorities in RS government. Dodik has announced the replacement of all SP RS members that were KS candidates - even Z. Radisic himself, member of the Bosnian Presidency. This shows who the boss in Serb entity is.

The split up of the ruling coalition in RS is very intriguing considering the up coming elections. It is almost certain that SP RS will make a new coalition with (again) popular SDS (after Poplasen's Serb Radical Party was forbidden to candidate for the elections), that observes the outcome of the KS split up from the side. SDS, coincidentally, claims that SP RS is saving its own survival/existence with the moves it took.

The possibility of these two parties becoming a coalition makes the RS election results even more unpredictable. This also brings up the question of survival/functioning of RS in case that SDS (not favored by the International Community) wins the elections. And not only because of the International Community - it is questionable if Dodik would, in case of defeat, be ready to give his position to SDS, the position he has been in (un-constitutionally) since the last elections. And it is very possible - and it could cause a big confrontation within Serb entity in case it comes true.

Croat Democratic Party (HDZ). Croatian HDZ was definitely defeated in February. Stipe Mesic won the President elections. And HDZ is falling apart.

What about the Bosnian HDZ? Similar. "A horrible defeat of HDZ in Parliament elections and the surprising victory of Mesic in President elections, put the leaders of the greatest Bosnian Croat's party in a position that, for the first time after ten years, they go into the pre-election campaign without political, material and every other support from the neighboring country" (Slobodna Bosna).

During the ten year rule of HDZ in Croatia, 2 million marks were coming to Herzegovina every day while people in Croatia were starving to death. The new government has announced some changes - and a recognition - Herzegovina is a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and not Croatia. So the politics towards Herzegovina will be such. This was not well accepted by Herzegovian HDZ sympathizers.

"The fact that they will participate in the up coming elections relaying on themselves alone, is the greatest, but not the only handicap that HDZ in Bosnia has to start its struggle for voters with. The party leadership, and their colleagues in Zagreb, will soon be faced with unpleasant consequences of a long year rule that can be seen through arrest announcements and court trials against some of the most eminent representatives of the failed state structure in Croatia, that were closely connected to Herzeg-Bosnian political, state, military and police apparatus. Pressured by radical changes in behavior of ministers from the new Croatian government on one hand, and the intensive anti-campaign from the International Community on the other, the leaders of Bosnian HDZ are seriously burdened by damaged unity within their party." (Slobodna Bosna).

A HDZ fraction lead by more liberal and moderate Jadranko Prlic, is being criticized by extremists. If we are to believe the local media, Prlic is about to leave HDZ. But, in that case, if we are to believe the media, he could find himself in SDP that is getting stronger and stronger, which would fulfil the expectations of many that are predicting the fall of BH national parties/affirmation of civil parties.

Bosnia and Herzegovina Social-democratic party (SDP) is the fourth, more and more relevant party in current Bosnian political scene. They are mostly younger, smarter and popular among the people. And parties of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats are aware of that. That is why they are attacking them. Fear. According to many surveys, SDP is a serious opponent to SDA. Would SDA end up like HDZ in Croatia in case of SDP's victory? Sharpen your brains, pencils and ballots and wait.

SDP is not perfect, on the contrary, but between citizen left and extreme nationalism, the first option seems logical. At least as a transition.

Bosnie Hercegovina february 2000 : media

Judging from everything, another pre-election media cleaning has begun. Ten days ago, International Community institutions banned the work of Croat television Erotel. Once and for all. Erotel will no longer be able to continue to work. They will be remembered for their nationalistic/chauvinistic ideas. Rest in peace. HDZ protested but, no use. Some of the people from Erotel have one last option - to work in the future Federal television.

Although it is not in public yet, supervisors of BH media transformations (BHT television, to be exact) replaced entire editorial staff in that house, considering it to be a necessary process during its transformation to Federal television, and public BH information system. Maybe it could have happened before, if the BHT leadership stopped holding on to it and calling it Bosnian in the same way in which Alija Izetbegovic today talks about sovereign, independent and unified BiH. We'll talk about these new houses when they become alive.

There was a court hearing of Perica Vucinic and Zeljko Cvijanovic in Banja Luka; the first one owns and the second one is a correspondent for Banja Luka magazine REPORTER. The first one because of insulting Slobodan Milosevic, and the second one for telling lies and insulting Slobo Milosevic. But it is not the people of Banja Luka suing them. This duo was heard on the request of Sremska Mitrovica prosecutor that happens to be from Yugoslavia. But that is OK if the cooperation of two judges is so expedite. Vucinic is on trial because he put a photograph of Milosevic on a magazine cover and in that photo Milosevic is smiling "with three ears and one eye blackened, and one lighted, with some red color sign put over his face, with a cap and chetnik symbols on his head" (quote from BH DANI). Behind this story about offending the president, is the fact that some of the Belgrade anti-government demonstrators made joke with Slobo's character and wore the photo in front of his head. The third "ear" belongs to the demonstrator. And Cvijanovic? "Slobodan Milosevic's regime forces arrested, took to the unknown and killed more than three hundred intellectuals, political leaders and other regime opponents in a synchronized action last night in Belgrade" (quote from BH DANI, again). So, sue…never mind that in the continuation of the text there is an explanation that such news could never be read in Serb language, because those who would do it would find themselves among the 300 arrested people mentioned above.
Like law like courts - like state like judges, you might say.

In the meantime, the Law on public informing has been withdrawn from the RS assembly. Because of the additions, of course, while it is really because of the fact that it resembles the Serbian (Yugoslav) one that uses drastic measures against those who are against the current regime of Yugoslav president.

Bosnie Hercegovina februarie 2000 : Cultuur

SUBJECT: Srdjan Vuletic - Hop, Skip & Jump

Srdjan Vuletic, director of Hop, Skip & Jump, won an award for the best short movie at this year's Berlin film festival. Vuletic belongs to generation of the young Sarajevo/film makers. He began his film creation as an author of the film"How I Burned Legs", based on his true war experiences. Hop, Skip & Jump, made with the help from Slovenian sponsors, with its success, gives a possibility to other SA/BiH authors to come through which is good. But it would be even better (and of more use to the authors) if the blind eyes of local Ministry of Culture (that cannot see beyond the three magic letters- SDA) would open to see what is truly valuable.

SUBJECT: Festival Sarajevo - Sarajevo Winter 2000

The festival is taking place in Sarajevo again (starting from 1984.). Once again, during a two-month program, there will be various examples and representatives of art today going through the city.
Complete information is available on the web page:
See it and enjoy.

SUBJECT: GETO/Banja Luka + KOLEKTIV/Sarajevo

GETO and KOLEKTIV are two organizations founded in the post-war Bosnia. Their goal is to take action in culture. And in "different sides" (BL and SA).They have been active for some time. They will have several joint (organizational) activities in the up coming period. And in this way they will try to:
a: offer something more than apathetic cultural establishment b: prove to themselves and especially to others that "savages that were killing each other until some years ago" can still live and work TOGETHER. Thanks to these organizations, there will be several groups visiting BiH during March and April: GUAPO (UK), HARRY DEN HARTOG, TOAD (NL), PEACH PIT, RUJAN (CRO), ZOAMBO ZOET WORKESTRAO (SLO)… And also, some films of new ex YU independent production will be shown.

Individually, GETO will work on organization of several other concerts, maybe exhibitions. More information on:

KOLEKTIV will organize exhibitions for graphic designer Ivica Baricevic (CRO), and exhibition of Sarajevo fanzine 1980-2000.,
KOLEKTIV will organize KARAVAN SARAJEVO at the end of April, the festival that will visit Zagreb (club Mocvara) and Ljubljana (Metelkova mesto), and participants will be ALBUM (magazine for literature), AMBROSIA (performing arts, music), CENTER FOR SELFRELIANCE (social theory and activism), NEW FARAD COLLISION (avantgarde music), and some more of them.
Information on:,
Finally kolekiv will completely take over the cultural program of POO as alogical step towards complete independentness of Kolektiv and de leaving of POO from Sarajevo somewhere in the future