Posted 05.04.2012 10:37:00 UTC
Updated 06.04.2012 08:40:59 UTC
Author: Erhan Türbedar
The approaches displayed by Zagreb and Belgrade are still being called into question today on a backdrop of many of the problems faced in Bosnia Herzegovina. Bosnians, in particular, do not find genuinely sincere the statements from Serbia and Croatia in favour of Bosnia Herzegovina's territorial integrity.
Bosnians are of the conviction that Serbian leader Slobodon Milosevic and Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman were both archenemies of one another and colleagues until the first half of the 1990s. They warred on the one side and had secret meetings on the other to discuss how they could divide Bosnia Herzegovina among them. Croatia's former president Stjepan Mesic serving as a witness in that regard has made a note of the fact that delegations from Zagreb and Belgrade have met numerous time to share their views on the future of Bosnia Herzegovina territories even when confrontations between the two countries were at their fiercest. Meanwhile, the Dayton Peace Accord having been signed by the presidents of Bosnia Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia shows that the Bosnia War was not only a civil war but one whose dimensions were those of an international war.
Bosnians firmly believe that whatever has happened to Bosnia Herzegovina has been planned in Serbia and Montenegro and the Milosevic administration in Belgrade conducted all the wars fought across the geography of former Yugoslavia. That is why Bosnians were not satisfied with the decision taken by the International Court of Justice on February 26, 2007 in the lawsuit Bosnia Herzegovina opened against Serbia on charges of genocide. This decision which in a way acquitted Serbia absolving it from its crimes is believed to have been politically motivated. What is worse, owing to the years-long propaganda of the Milosevic regime, the majority of Serbs believe even today that they fought in Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia in the 1990s for their freedom and conducted a kind of war of liberation. It is because of that conviction that figures such as Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic arraigned on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity continue to be perceived by the majority of Serbs as national heroes.
Almost all of the intellectuals in Sarajevo think that Serbia continues to interfere in the internal affairs of Bosnia Herzegovina even in the post-war era. Belgrade, however, dismisses allegations and accusations of that kind. The thing is that Belgrade did interfere openly in the internal affairs of its neighbour in the elections in October 2010. Serbian President Boris Tadzic and Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Yeremic took part in the electoral campaigns of Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik supporting his separatist rhetoric. What is more, Tadic and Dodik are known to be close friends. Belgrade is against any of the powers of Republika Srpyska, one of the entities of Bosnia Herzegovina, being restrained in any way. On the other hand, the former Serbian government under Voyislav Kostunica, drawing a parallel between the Kosovo problem and the Republika Srpyska, aspired to use the Serbian entity in Bosnia more openly for his own interests.
Unlike Belgrade, Zagreb constantly gave messages in the post-2000 period to the Bosnian Croatians that their homeland was Bosnia Herzegovina and their capital was Sarajevo and not Zagreb. With this attitude, Croatia has shown that it can be the key country of peace and stability in the western Balkans. Zagreb has also made a point of not interfering into Sarajevo's internal affairs. The criticism levelled against Croatia in that period was that Zagreb, when it was capable of taking more serious steps towards trying to resolve the problems in Bosnia Herzegovina, had done nothing. Meanwhile, Zagreb broke its silence regarding the Croatians in Bosnia Herzegovina when it hosted the two leading Croatian political parties of Bosnia Herzegovina in January 12, 2011. Both Croatian President Ivo Yosipovic and Croatian Prime Minister Yadranka Kosor said that the political parties they hosted should be in the new government to be set up in Bosnia Herzegovina. Additionally, some Croatian officials said that the Croatians in Bosnia were not at an equal footing with the others. Although Zagreb does not insist on a separate Croatian entity being set up in Bosnia Herzegovina, it comes up with no opposition to the Bosnian Crotaians' demand in that direction, thus causing Bosnians to criticize Croatia. According to reputed Croatian historian Ivo Banac, Zagreb has recently been giving the impression that it has started embracing the Bosnian Croatians' separatist policy as a reality.
And Banac feels concerned that Zagreb may have already started embarking upon cooperation for a Project the results of which could be very frightening.
This matter needs to be examined in terms of what aspects of Sarajevo policies are being criticized by Croatia and Serbia. However, no matter what, Serbia and Croatia, in their capacity as the guarantor states of the Dayton Peace Accord, should play a role conducive to the restoration of stability to Bosnia Herzegovina. Therefore, besides the recent rapprochement between Croatia and Serbia, the two countries should also sit at the table and discuss what they can jointly do for Bosnia Hercegovina to be turned into a more stable state.