* FIVE STORIES ABOUT ONE COUNTRY WITH THE SAME ENDING
1. During the last ten years, the pensioners in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been protesting, with more or less intensity, representing one of the few critical masses of this country (if it is possible to speak of the existence of the country and the critical mass within it). Pensioners shall continue to protest, especially if the changes of the proposed Law on Pension-Invalid Insurance actually happen. According to the recommendation of the Wolfgang Petrisch administration and OHR, the Federal government should reduce the pensions (that are minor, any way) for 30%. The foreigners found a justification for this change in the fact that the pensions are too high - therefore it is not possible to pay them regularly. The simplest solution was found in the mentioned pension reduction for 30%.* 2000: WHAT WE EXPECTED AND WHAT WE GOT
Ah, the short-sighted Petritsch. Instead of solving the problem where it actually exists (that is - the Federal government), the Austrian politician set on the backs of tortured and poor Bosnian pensioners thinking that it is the right solution for their problem. As if he does not know that the Government has no intention of paying. According to the new law, monthly pensions would be a disgraceful 80 DM.
On December 20th of the out-going year, more than 15 000 pensioners demonstrated in front of the OHR Headquarters in Sarajevo. During that time, their representatives had a conversation with Petritsch, but without result, so there will be more demonstrations in other cities around the BH Federation. Representatives of the Federal pensioners announced more and larger demonstrations for the beginning of the next year, after the first reduced pensions are paid.
There is no need for you to think that the situation in the Republic of Srpska is different. The only difference is that the bitter pensioners blocked the main streets in Banja Luka. Everything else is the same.
2. In order to prove that there is no money for pensions, the Federal Government decided, at the beginning of this month, to increase the salaries of its employees. And it is all retroactive - the increment relates to the period since the June 25th of this year, until now. Regardless of the fact that the salaries from the June 25th until today have already been paid... Still, it is necessary to reward in some way one of the largest administrations in Europe for their work and sacrifice which has brought Bosnia and Herzegovina to the bottom of the European ladder.
According to the estimates of the local press, the Government, which often functions as a group of idiots rather than a group of people that is supposed to be leading one entity/state, will need several tens of millions of marks a year for these increases. Deutsch marks, of course. Wolfgang Petritsch, from the first story, hasn't reacted to this decision yet.
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina had its George Bush Junior, long before the United States got him for a President. Muhamed Sacirbegovic, the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations resigned from the duty. He used to be the BH Minister for Foreign Affairs. Sacirbegovic's father was not the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina but Nedzib Sacirbegovic was one of the founders of the Party for Democratic Action (SDA). In one of the Bosnian war moments, it was almost the same thing. Thanks to his father, Muhamed Sacirbegovic had an opportunity to represent this country in functions for which many people doubted he was qualified. And through his work he proved that the critics were right. In one of the "breaks between two country representations" Sacirbegovic got arrested by the American police because of gambling. In a country with a normal political leadership, the young gambler would have been forgotten in the political sense. Still, the young gambler continued his diplomatic career until he found something more profitable.
Maybe Sacirbegovic was not directly and absolutely to blame that the international reputation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is destroyed. But he is to blame as one of the founders and implementators of the politics which brought the country to this situation. Too bad, but for this kind of people there never was and never will be a Court in this country.
4. Sarajevo radio station - ISV, directed to rock 'n' roll and youth, whatever that might mean, decided to celebrate this month their 7th anniversary. And there was a celebration, until the Sarajevo police came in and said - ENOUGH. The birthday concert of the ISV radio was over. Just as it happened to ISV the previous year. The cops refused to give a permission for a party which would last after 11 PM. And ISV folks celebrated until 1 p.m. when the police came in.
Finally, the only thing the radio management could do was to protest through the local media, although it will not help them much. While they are protesting, the cops smile to those who break more serious laws. It is enough to go out in the street and see for yourself.
If we ignore the potential plastic need of the local radio station to draw attention to it and its work, still the fact remains that justice and laws are still not equal for all, regardless of those who claim otherwise.
5. At the beginning of December, an exhibition of the American photographer Ron Haviv was opened . The American managed to note some of the most bizarre motives of this country in the past 10 years. Pictures of prisoners in Bosnian camps Manjaca and Trnopolje in summer 1992, pictures of the Arkan military units kicking dead civilians in the streets of Bijeljina, pictures of prisoners begging for mercy... were published in a book called "Balkans - Blood and Honey". After they have been going around the world during the past decade, they have finally found their place on a book paper. Haviv gave the following explanation about the book title to the Bosnian newspaper DANI: "While looking for the meaning of the word Balkans, I discovered that in Turkish, words 'bal' and 'kan' mean 'blood' and 'honey'". Balkans - stressing the bal - like blood. So it is not strange that all the above written stories are true - here and now. And in this way.
With the end of the year 2000, the optimism with which most of the Bosnia and Herzegovina residents twelve months back entered the new year was gone. This could be short but correct resume of the final year of this millennium. It simply is not enough that Franjo Tudjman died, that Slobodan Milosevic fell down from the Yugoslav presidential throne, for the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to become better. Regardless of the fact that some media said it would. In 2000, Bosnia and Herzegovina saw a tiny little bit of the highly announced bright future.
The results of the recent general elections in November show how ridiculous it is to expect anything in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Anything but bad, so I wouldn't say the worst. Or how else can we interpret the fact on the elections result which smells like 1990 and that means blood and gun powder. Coalition SDA-SDS-HDZ after the ten bloody years still dances happily on the top of the BH power pyramid. But it does not seem to be a thinking problem for a certain percentage of the population. Political December, and especially the up-coming 2001, give hope that the "Alliance for Changes", the coalition of the opposition and left parties, will become very much alive and become a serious counter balance to the nationalistic triplet. Not because the "Alliance for Changes" is a perfect political solution for Bosnia and Herzegovina but because we, as a potential post-nationalistic society, need a transitional form of power before the civil one. If the civil power and the state ever become possible here.
It is hard, from this perspective, to talk about how favorable the local election result was for the opposition. The post election winning euphoria of the SDP (Social-democrats), which happened thanks to Bosniak voters, simply lost its value with each new remark that "Serbs vote for SDS, Croats for HDZ, why should we vote differently" - stated many times by the Bosniak youth (and older ones). The SDA rhetoric, seen in the mentioned statement, won again, unfortunately. Remember the SDA pre-election motto in 1996 -"Serbs and Croats know who they are voting for, and you?" (paraphrase). Five years later SDA mentioned to the Bosnian population through their posters "Everyone chose their own, and you?". It is sad but it actually works. In mid October Alija Izetbegovic retired from the state institutions so he was not in the election lists of his party. But any way, regardless of the list, the fear remains as one of the main political and ideological presentation.
OHR continued in this year the boring practice of adopting/bringing/imposing decisions that belong to the jurisdiction of the BH state authorities. But often these decisions were only made and nothing else. When the strong action for their implementation was needed, OHR was silent. Instead of doing the work for which they are paid for, OHR wasted their time (for example) in trying to define how many "civilian" buses are allowed to go to Potocari for the fifth anniversary of the Srebrenica tragedy. So much for the freedom of movement. On the other hand, there were several surprising decisions of the International Community which made the position on nationalistic parties even stronger during the pre-election period. Many people claim that HDZ would have gotten a lot lower number of votes if the OSCE used its head more.
1998 was proclaimed a year of return in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It would be bad taste to talk about the low number of returns that took place in that year, since there was hardly anyone who managed to return to their pre-war address. 1999 had almost identical story. The displaced and the refugees finally realized that local power or the International Community or various amendments, declarations etc. will not help them. The return became self-organized. Especially during summer when the climate conditions were used for reconstruction of the pre-war habitats. But, to prevent the perfection, the "new local residents" as well as "some old residents" took care of that. POO newsletter already wrote about some attacks on the returnees all over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Check our Internet archives.
And, another thing, almost traditional for annual reports of this kind, is the work of the Hague War Crimes Tribunal for the crimes committed during the war in former Yugoslavia. This year, Momcilo Krajisnik, one of the war leaders of the Bosnian Serbs, also found his place in Hague. But he wasn't the only one. Number of arrested people grows daily. Regardless of the nationality. The arrested people can enjoy in a multi-cultural environment that was talked about so much (by them or their superiors).
At the same time, is it because the anti-corruption campaign got intensive or because the International community pressure on local legislative became unsupportable, but even the local police started to do its work, at least partially. Local gang members are starting to get imprisoned. Characters like Alija Delimustafic, once a head of the Bosnian Ministry of Internal Affairs, are behind the prison bars.
It has become boring to write about Bosnia and Herzegovina. Because all the new things that are written are very similar to the previous ones. We entered each of the past years with a new hope. 2000 gave us more disappointments. But it was still worth living here. But the question remains when will the citizens of this country stop to accept halfway solutions and that kind of lives too. When that changes, then the texts like this will get a different tone.