Political happenings in April


American emissary for the former Yugoslavia, Robert Gelbard, within his visit to countries of Balkan, visited BiH, and on that occasion had several discussions about the functioning and work of BiH authorities, about the Dayton agreement. Gelbard met representatives of Federation BiH and Republika Srpska on three separate meetings, after which, in his own words, he left BiH tired and frustrated. The first ”frustrating” meeting Gelbard had with Kresimir Zubak. The Croatian representative. The meeting lasted only 30 minutes, after which it was ended by one of them, it is still unknown which one. But there is Zubak’s statement that it was the hardest conversation in his political career. The results of the meeting were not announced, but it is supposed that Gelbard insisted on abolishing Herzeg-Bosna, but Zubak probably could not accept that easily. The next person Gelbard had met with was Alija Izetbegovic, but even that meeting did not show any progress. The American emissary expressed his disappointment with the work of federal partners, accusing them of not conducting the Dayton agreement and mostly for making it difficult for the refugees to come back. Meetings continued in Banja Luka, where Gelbard met Milorad Dodik and Biljana Plavsic. These talks in Banja Luka were described as much more constructive and the reason for that must be in the new political orientation of Banja Luka authorities. They talked about the return of exiled people, donating of international help for economic reconstruction of Republika Srpska, future status of Brcko. After Sarajevo and Banja Luka Gelbard went to Belgrade and Zagreb, which ended his visit to countries of former Yugoslavia.
Several days after Robert Gelbard, the French president Jacques Chirac came to visit BiH and Sarajevo. ”Happy and moved to be in a city with such rich history and of great symbolic meaning for all of us”, the thrilled Frenchman said that unbearable Bosnian drama “deeply disturbed his countrymen and how Frenchmen were ready to pay the price of Bosnian peace with their own lives”. There were some other heartbreaking statements, but we will talk about that some other time. Chirac used his two-day visit to meet president Izetbegovic, and through their conversation he made comments about current political situation in BiH. Unlike his predecessor, Chirac was satisfied with the situation, expressing his hope that the progress will be more effective in reality, and that BiH will soon prove the world that it really is a part of Europe and it belongs there. Lets wait and see.


geen bommen maar voedsel * NATO forces performed military action called “Dynamic response”, in Kupres at the beginning of April. The purpose of this years muster was to check and prove the ability of NATO forces in BiH and former Yugoslavia and, at the same time, demonstrate their abilities in case of a new war confrontation in Balkans. Hundreds of airplanes, helicopters, transporters, tanks and who knows what else, paraded through Bosnian sky and ground, demonstrating their strength. The leading Bosnian politicians were there and it is presumed that this action was meant for them so they would know what to expect in case they want to play more war games. Action is over, but the fact remains that 17 million dollars were invested in its realization. That could mean a little to NATO, but the fact is that this money could have been used in more intelligent way. Food, not bombs.

* SARAJEVO WALL, part two

Barricades occurred for the second time on roads that lead to Sarajevo, and which are on the territory controlled by local Serbs. The purpose of these road blocks is to stop the traffic. People made them in order to express their protest against frequent arrests of Serbs accused of war crimes. The wall on Lukavica road was built this time also and, again, only on part of the road that leads to Sarajevo. This was symbolic, expressing any possibility of free movement (?!), while the other part of the road remains open. The protest lasted for several hours, dark fell and everyone, like the last time, went home. Barricades were removed from the roads, into the past, where nobody would be bothered with them.


Representatives of the International community in BiH have recently announced that the project of returning pre-war inhabitants in their homes in BiH federation, is more and more successful, and they gave an example of people going back to Drvar, Stolac and few other towns whose governors were not so ready to allow things like that in the past. And it has been said that people are happily coming home, rebuilding destroyed houses, UN mission arrests everyone who gets in their way and peace seems to be knocking on Bosnian door stronger than ever. All this would seem too good if violent scenes had not taken place two weeks ago in: Drvar, Derventa… People are attacking each other, their property is being destroyed. The question is how can anyone wish to come back to a place where it is not safe to live. Not many, probably. The next move is up to the UN.


Epilogue of story about returning of Serb refugees to Drvar, could be described in few words: two returnees were killed; about 200 of them were expelled or had escaped again; many houses were burned and robbed;t he mayor of Drvar, Mile Marceta, after operation, was put in hospital in Banja Luka.
And the story is long. The city, which had Serb majority, was taken by Croatian army in summer 1995. Domicile population was expelled. Since then, Marceta has been working on return of Serbs to Drvar, which is now inhabited with Croatian refugees. About 1300 expelled inhabitants of Drvar managed to persist and 9000 more announced their returns. But because of latest happenings in this town, maybe they will not be able to return. In this month two returnees were killed and their houses burned. Few more houses were burned. Instead of police action which would punish criminals who had comitted the crime, Croatian population demonstrated against returnees. Demonstrations turned into violence against Serbs and International Community. Many buildings were burned, even the one where pursued returnees had been hiding. Many of returnees were hurt. One more story about return got its sad end. People who are leaving again are countless. International Community just shrugs its shoulders and stays silent.


While these incidents took place in Drvar, local population in Derventa, a small town on North of Republika Srpska/Bosnia and Herzegovina, tried and succeeded to keep cardinal Vinko Puljic and catholic believers from holding holy mass. Exiled catholics intended to hold a mass in half-destroyed church in Derventa, on St. George’s day, but local population managed to keep them from doing it. There was an open attack on believers and clergy who had to leave the town with few broken heads. You can judge whether there is some accidental or intentional relation between events in Drvar and Derventa. We hope things like this will not happen again, so there will not be reason for foolish estimates in the future.


Local and world media have been competing in publishing news about present and future of former president of Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadzic. A month ago there were some rumors that Karadzic had moved to Bjelorus, then SFOR soldiers tried to find him on his old address, then he was not there, then he was still in Republika Srpska and he decided to surrender but only when he finds a lawyer and on condition that he is escorted directly to Den Haag. And rumors are endless. It is definite that Karadzic is not on Pale anymore, and just few know if he is in Republika Srpska at all. There are some stories how Karadzic is preparing his surrender and he forms a team of lawyers. After the ones who had committed war crimes got their places in Den Haag, it is time for those who encouraged them. Many claim that Karadzic’s surrender depends on S. Milosevic’s will, because Karadzic can prove Milosevic’s guilt, which would make him a quest of honor in the Hague jail. Time will show if Karadzic will really surrender.

In the mean time the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant reported that SFOR didn’t arrest Karadzic because of fear of a French general who might give valuable information to high Serb militaries. The fact this was in the newspaper shocked me on two ways. 1. The fact that SFOR can not trust it’s own people, and protect there own people in the same time above doing it’s task, replace the general and arrest the psychopath. Secondly; it was just an article in the newspaper, those who ware interested in the issue will read it and be frustrated, but for all the other people it is an issue that never existed or was forgotten only one day later.
How is it possible that mankind keeps on making mistakes of that format.
I will not get frustrated because I don’t WANT to become frustrated and after all that happened, mankind must do really extreme to bring me to that edge. FOEI.


Deadline for re-structure of television of Bosnia and Herzegovina which International community gave to represents from Bosnian and Croatian side, has passed and television is not re-structured. Radio-television of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose status stayed undefined after the war, has to be re-structured into radio-television which would work on federal level, while Serb radio-television can keep status as it has. The International community decided to reorganize two national networks into a system of two public radio-televisions, one on federal level, and another on level of Republika Srpska, which would be out of direct influence of government and governmental parties. These media changes have to be fulfilled by summer this year, so elections in september can be organized in democratic conditions.

New laws are coming up for the media. We hope we will be able to report about that. In case people who read this newsletter are very interested in this issue, please let us know, in case there is good response we might work a little harder on that particular subject.

stop the cover up!


Two month ago, after a commission for inquiry of unrestricted spending of funds donated to Bosnia and Herzegovina, had visited London, ”The Times” magazine wrote that federal government had embezzled 360 million pounds from funds donated for economical reconstruction of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Then federal government started accusing this commission, and that accusations can still be heard on local media’s. Government agrees in one thing; the mentioned article is false, but no one tried to give real and tangible evidences about falseness of that article. Federal Governmental session took place and the topic was this subject. The result of the session was the only result possible, and it could be expected; The Times published a false article, and all guilt was reproached to the Commission. And in the meantime, newspapers inform that former minister of customs affair embezzled few million DM. Who is the next to be blamed?


The second Bosnian revolutionary group (the first are refugees from Srebrenica), pensioners, are preparing for new protests. At the beginning of this month, government had promised to raise their pensions for march, and then it turned out to be a joke which was not very funny to pensioners, so the problem appeared. Raisings are not going to be paid out, and even payment for march is not sure. Pensioners are threatening with protest and seeking resignations of leading people in the government if they do not fulfill their promises, but according to government reactions, it is not probable they will.


Future of Gypsies, who settle central part of Sarajevo, called Crni Vrh, is very actual these days. Problems appeared when government of canton of Sarajevo decided to move out Gypsies from center of Sarajevo to the outskirts of town, and to build a residential settlement. Gypsies who had lived there many years, were not asked about anything. The government suggested to move out Gypsies to outskirts of Sarajevo where they would have ”better life conditions”, but we know it is not the same in theory as it is in practice. It is ironic that one whole settlement is going to be moved out when primary aim is to return all people to their pre-war residences. It is unknown if cantonal government is not treating Gypsies as people, but it is sure that if they succeed in their plan, this will be the model which will be used in other Bosnian cities as well.