Politics in March 1999

* Brcko - chronology of events

In the beginning of March, almost three years after the Dayton agreement, Brcko has finally got its new destiny.
A district.
Robert Owens, chief of the arbitrage process, decided to form Brcko-district in BiH. The city as such will have a multi-ethnic, autonomous government, executive boards, police, courts...
That should erase authorities of both entities in Brcko area. The decision about Brcko was made after numerous postponements during the last few years.
Last March, it was made clear to the Republika Srpska authorities what they were to do if they wanted Brcko "for themselves". Should we mention that not many things were done in this prospect? The same day the Brcko decision was made, Westendorp decided to replace the RS president Nikola Poplasen. Did Westendorp do this so the implementation of the decision would be easier or did he do it just because he (Poplasen)is "misusing his position" and all others in connection with electing a new RS prime-minister ? Westendorp did not speak and nobody is asking Poplasen anything anymore anyway.
Not long after that, Milorad Dodik, the prime-minister of RS, resigned. He said it was a protest against the Arbitrage commission's unfair decision. It is obvious that this is Dodik's way of clearing his conscience and putting away his responsibility in reaching the decision for Brcko. Many believe that this will make Bosnian crisis even deeper. All the Serbs against the International Community...
One of many resignations came from Zivko Radisic, the current president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who has put a moratorium on his function. The Republika Srpska parliament should decide on his future participation in Bosnian presidency. The same parliament has accepted a resolution on not accepting the decisions made by the Arbitrage Tribunal for Brcko. That was the only thing that delegates agreed on. The rest of the session was spent in mutual accusations.
for the loss of Brcko. Dodik's team is guilty because they sold Brcko to strangers. Poplasen's team is guilty because they convinced the same strangers not to give Brcko to RS because of his radical concept of government.
Anyway, the "Feds" are celebrating. Defeating the enemy is always and in any case a victory for themselves no matter how poor a victory it may be.
Actually, the only important thing is that Republika Srpska did not get Brcko.
During the last few months, Alija Izetbegovic and Haris Silajdzic talked about quitting their jobs in case of an "unfavourable decision" for Brcko. (Just as a reminder: an unfavourable solution was any solution that would not give Brcko to Federation.) The city became a district but there were no resignations. Izetbegovic is even acting as if he were always in favour of such a decision. He did not comment on his earlier statements about resigning, but we were able to hear from him that this was the best solution possible. And, as Izetbegovic claims, Brcko will be the most prosperous town in BiH thanks to its new status !
This was said by the same Izetbegovic who once claimed there would be no war because it takes two to create one.
Haris Silajdzic is wiser, he is not giving any statements.
Bosnian Croats are not very excited about Brcko. At the moment, they are more interested in fighting for the third entity under a slogan "no identity without entity". It is interesting to mention that HVIDRA (Croat war veteran organisation) was one of the first to give public support to Nikola Poplasen in his struggle with Carlos Westendorp.
Either way, it is certain that it will take a while until everyone is ready to accept and implement this decision properly. Also the first reactions of people from the Serb entity say they will not accept loosing "Serb" Brcko easily. Serb radicals have called their "brothers" to a new mutiny against C. Westendorp. Until the final victory.
Or defeat?
* Sarajevo Assassination
Unknown persons performed an attack on Jozo Leutar, deputy minister in the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP). In the beginning of this month, Leutar was on his way to his new obligations like many times before. Only this time, a bomb stopped him. It was waiting for him in his car on that Tuesday morning. The criminals did not hesitate. The explosion echoed in one of the most crowded streets of Sarajevo. I am not sure about their intentions, but the deputy minister survived. He is alive but with consequences which will disable him for the rest of his life. Things that followed the incident had very little to do with his tragedy. He became a perfect argument for "pros" and "cons" in different Bosnian parties. Leutar happens to be a Croat. And a HDZ member. The storm began - direction depending on the party. "Leutar case" occurred at a moment where Bosnian HDZ spreads an idea about the third entity. Main reason for that is based on the fact that Croats say that in the Federation they have less rights and less liberties. And when such aspirations gain their climax the police deputy minister, a Croat, gets attacked. In the middle of Sarajevo.
HDZ needed no better proof for their theories. They moved to action. It was perfectly logical to expect HDZ to accuse their federal rivals for the crime. Or their mujahedin brothers.
That could be correct, but maybe not. However, it is obvious that this act has a strong political background. HDZ demands resignations of high-ranking Bosniak politicians. I doubt they will please them.
The first concrete move of HDZ can be seen in a Declaration on the Croat situation in BiH. The document was sent to domestic and international public, and it could be a platform for turning the plan of the third entity into reality. The document has been real for a while. This was great timing for its public release.
The foundations of the document are: Croat human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina today, the Dayton agreement, the proposal of a new Federal capital, their attitude toward the Hague Tribunal...
Their other moves have been seen in the leaving of Croats from the Federal institutions.
One interesting incident happened in Siroki Brijeg when HVIDRA expelled Bosnian workers from the customs office. Because of the assassination. Or maybe because of the tax evading that was talked about a lot.
Still, it is obvious that Leutar's life has the least to do with this story. He is the least cared about. More important is the opportunity it provides. Bosnian politicians, of course, blame it on the Croats. According to them, the Croat extremists set the explosives so they could have a reason for demanding the third entity. It is just a political game.
Alija Izetbegovic is not so suspicious, so he thinks that Croat extremists or, I quote, "our fools", were responsible for the attack. Very eloquent and intellectual indeed. On that occasion, he also proved his optimism by saying that the assassins will probably never be found, and that is not strange because the Kennedy assassins have never been found too and the World is still spinning.
Way to go, Alija!
In the meantime, everyone got involved in the investigation - from the local cops to the FBI. Who knows? Maybe this will be a precedent in history of assassinations and the guilty ones will be discovered.
Jozo Leuter died three days ago in a hospital in Sarajevo.