Politics in April 1999

*BH Politics Review

There was so little happening in the political scene of Sarajevo and Bosnia in the last couple of months and it's very irritating. Status quo, typical for these parts, is being disturbed with few bombs or a murder.
Or the news on enormous financial malversations connected to the leading men in Bosnian government. Like this could still excite anyone.
In this situation, there are only two things interesting to mention - death of Jozo Leutar, deputy minister of police, and the current situation in B&H influenced by the situation developing in Federal Republic of Yugoslavia., after the beginning of NATO strikes.
The event that could've seriously disturbed the country and probably could still- the attack on Jozo Leutar, had a tragic ending. Leutar passed away at the beginning of this month (April) in a Sarajevo clinic. The Federal Ministry of Police lost its deputy minister. Although in grief, HDZ is ready for his replacement.
Just as I expected, Leutar's death, and the attack itself had the least to do with him. Reactions and consequences caused by the assassination were just part of the struggle for mending of political positions. Of both federal partners. His death was an excellent excuse for both federal matters to continue with the internal war of misunderstanding and intolerance.
Even over the dead man's body.
But the man is dead and has nothing to say about it.
Of course, it would be an illusion to expect the Bosnian police, which wasn't very active since the day it was founded, to track those responsible for the assassination. So we shouldn't be surprised by its silence about the case. The assassins are unknown, investigation going on, not judging from the experience, it will go on forever. It has been over a month since the attack and there are still no leads to the assassins.
As I said once before, ask the opposite sides and you'll get completely different answers about the case. Depending on where you are, depends if the attack was performed by Croat extremes or Muslim fundamentalists.
The interesting thing in this matter was HDZ's attempt to catch Bosnia and the International Community "off guard" claiming that it is necessary to form the third entity. The main reason for this, according to them, was the Leutar assassination. Almost the entire Bosnian political leadership decided to give themselves the satisfaction of observing the situation in Yugoslavia. That makes some of them happier than getting a new entity or identity.
Of course, NATO strikes on Yugoslavia are more relevant at the moment. More relevant and more serious, because the consequences could be very serious and long lasting. For Bosnia and other countries in the Balkan region.
NATO aircraft are constantly flying over Bosnia, the number of refugees is rising, even some actions happened in Bosnian territory. There are many of those who are worried about the beginning of a new confrontation.
The first incident happened 10 days earlier, when several Yugoslav Army airplanes entered Bosnian air space, probably with the intention of attacking the US Army base, stationed around Tuzla. Two of the planes were shut down, while the rest of them returned leaving the business undone. This makes it clear that the Yugoslav Army would be ready to shoot Bosnian targets in the future.
If it's in their interest and it appears to be so. Depending on the targets depends if NATO will have such dynamic and quick response. Or on the fact if lives if the Western soldiers are in danger or "just" the lives of Bosnian civilians. Just a few days later, several Yugoslav helicopters were in Bosnian sky but didn't act. NATO aviation was fast. The helicopters were not shut down, but "moved" into Yugoslav borders. Apart from a few minor incidents, there's one more to mention.
SFOR units cut down the railroad Belgrade- Bar which goes through Bosnian territory, Serb entity. The goal was to unable Yugoslav Army in sending troops to Kosovo that way. One of the railroad guards was killed in the action. This one, and the whole NATO action, made people all over Srpska protesting.
The largest demonstrations took place in Banja Luka. For several days, thousands of people went out in the streets to speak against fascism of the Western forces. As a reminder, this is the same Banja Luka that became a synonym for ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian war. And there were only a few people at the time who spoke against fascism. Even after the war, when the ruins of the Ferhadija mosque were taken to a junk-yard. Or maybe that wasn't fascistic.
Or maybe I'm being unnecessarily cynical. After saying what they had to say, the demonstrators would usually start peaceful and dignified destruction of everything with the prefix "foreign"- embassies, organizations, ...
Republika Srpska authorities apologized for that a few days later, but didn't say if anyone will be held responsible for what has been done.
The Federation has a somewhat different problem.
Last spring, when the war wick was definitely on fire in Kosovo, a great number of Albanian refugees came to Bosnia. The situation is different this spring. The number of Albanians is not so big, because they are going to other countries, but the number of people from Sanjack is measured in thousands. There is no war in that part of Yugoslavia, but the refugees claim to be running away out of fear of forced mobilization and similar war events. The country government, or who-ever should be responsible for those people, has found no solution for them yet. At least, not for now. But the end is already known. Most of the refugees (including thousands of others who came from Sanjack over the last years) will get Bosnian citizenship. That's just what the authorities will do. In spite of the on growing protests of the domestic population. I don't think this has anything to do with xenophobia. Many reasons are in the fact that the Sanjack lobby has taken over the power in Sarajevo a long time ago.
Refugees from Sanjack will get a new citizenship, and the government (meaning SDA) will get a lot more new votes for the upcoming elections. As a sign of gratitude, because if there hasn't been for Alija and SDA...
Very clear and simple. Both sides happy while the third party (Bosnian citizens) is not being asked for anything. Urban will disappear in favor of rural., but people are not concerned about that.
They got used to it over the years.
This is all a part of the current facts.
Claims about the beginning of a new confrontation may be just a part of my speculation, but the fact remains that there is a possibility for something like that to happen.
I know that it is impossible and pointless to predict what, how and when, but people are afraid.
But I also hope that except fear, people still have some reason. This time they'll need it.
( 05.04. 1999)

The fact that nothing has been going on in the political scene in B&H, is widely known. Absolutely nothing, during the last several months. If it's worth of further mentioning.
This is exactly why situations like the one in Yugoslavia, are useful for BH politicians. It's much easier to deal with other people's business/problems. But they're dealing even with that just as badly. Only a few constructive ideas about what's going on came out of their mouths. Hundreds of newspaper pages and hundreds of minutes were spent on a pointless raping of citizens through electronic media.
It's been a month since the beginning of NATO strikes on Yugoslavia and the subject has become only partially interesting. It's about time that the BH government starts dealing with something useful.
I have no intention of being a prophet but it really looks as if the recent Yugoslav situation will have a bad reflection on B&H in the future. If it's not the case already. For two big reasons- Republika Srpska and the Federation. And another 2 million of small reasons.
Situation in RS is very tensed. Foreigners, especially SFOR, are not welcome there. Apart from a few sporadic incidents, there are no major confrontations, for now. Because the Serbs don't have the balls to attack SFOR, and SFOR doesn't have the balls to defend/react as the rules say it should.
I hope it stays that way. There are all kinds of demonstrations organized all over RS every day as a sign of their support for the brothers across the river Drina. Out of protest or out of hate and anger against foreigners of different profiles.
It seems that RS protects Serbia the same way Serbia is trying to protect Russia. Simple. Since protecting yourself and your own these days a-priori means attacking others, I'm very curious to see the end of this episode.
And then the Federation.
There's another talk about the sanctions that were over the head of the Federation during the last year and add some. Reason or motivation for that? Similar to Srpska.
The only difference is that the population and the political leadership have more sympathy for the other side. There was a leak of a reliable and probably true information, that the Federal Army delivers weapons to Kosovo and Sanjack. The same weapons they had got during the last couple of years through "Equip and Train" program , lead by the US military. Americans are not too happy about this.
As well as many reasonable people.
Anyway, the program has been stopped and the question is if it will ever continue, and that's not so bad. Instead of constant armament, the US Army could have simply demilitarized Balkans. But in that case they would not have had a market for the sale of armament they no longer used. Or, could America be so close to Russia if the war has been stopped at the very first beginning. It seems that different sides in Balkans are here for different interests. And they don't have much to do with the peace that they are pleading for.
Number of refugees from Yugoslavia is still quite big. But, at the same time, majority of them are standing in lines in front of the Western embassies stationed in Sarajevo. It is easy to understand and conclude what they can get in Bosnia. And judging from the lines, they have little to get.
It is hard to guess what will be going on in B&H in the upcoming months. Someone must have seriously cursed this country by making it the way it is . The fact is that many are afraid of a new confrontation. Is that the point of all this or...
In the meantime, while Bosnian politicians enjoyed watching the situation in Yugoslavia, problems in their own country grew so big that they could strangle them (and us with them).
The Federal government is facing bankrupt. It's been said that it is 10 million marks short and that only the good Lord could help them. Nobody said where the money had gone. It's just not there. The state government (or in this case, the entity government) is supposed to be a serious institution that looks after the general development of the country. The situation seems to be twisted. Like someone is looking forward to the general failure. But it is the people's will. They chose the rule. Well, since they asked for it...
About a year ago, there were news from London about a mass corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Local authorities tried hard to prove that it was all lies and propaganda against their work. Intention for destabilization of the legal government. Those who were mostly accused were the loudest in attack against the source of information.
Situation today is somewhat different. Or even totally different. A year later everyone knows everything about the corruption in the state. SDA will probably have to get rid of half of their people in positions, so it would come out clean.. But now it's playing a role of the protector of the legal state. It is essential to destroy the corruption of which, what a coincidence, they knew nothing about a year earlier. Everything has been publicly admitted but is that enough to make things change for the better?
And will they ever change?