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Vucic spoke in a more subdued and forlorn tone, avoiding direct comment on the SDA declaration and urging all Bosnian Serb politicians to restrain themselves. The situation in Bosnia and the region was one of the main topics of that meeting, Bosnian Serb officials said.

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Aleksandar Vucic. One reason why the US has again decided to appoint a special Balkan envoy is its growing frustration with the EU, and its wish to establish better, more direct, communications with key EU actors, US officials said. American and Balkan leaders are also frustrated by the fact that EU member countries remain at odds with each other over enlargement, and other issues related to the Balkan crisis.

US and EU policies were — and remain — divided over modalities of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, especially over the issue of possible exchanges of territories between Serbia and Kosovo, which the Serbian and Kosovo presidents, Vucic and Hashim Thaci, have both accepted in principle. While US and Russian leaders seemed willing to accept a land swap as part of a resolution of the Serbia-Kosovo dispute, Germany then blocked the talks between Vucic and Thaci that were going in that direction earlier this year almost singlehandedly.

Although the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue is expected to reconvene later this year, there are no indications that America, the EU or any other international actors have any new ideas that would break the deadlock. Serbian ally Moscow opposes any further centralization of Bosnia, as well as the reopening of the Belgrade-Pristina talks outside of the UN Security Council, where Russia can directly influence the process.

This is bad news for both the EU and the Balkans, since the promise of EU enlargement remains the only incentive that might gradually calm the volatile region and establish the base for its long-term stability. Without this incentive — which the EU has now effectively removed from the table — Balkan tensions will likely only continue to mingle with divisions that exist among the US, EU member countries and Russia.

Some officials fear that, in the absence of the EU enlargement perspective, or another new and realistic idea or plan for the Balkans, the enfolding drama in the region will sooner or later come down to an exchange of territories, not only between Serbia and Kosovo but also including Bosnia and its Serb-dominated entity.


Srecko Latal is a journalist, editor and analyst who has been covering the Balkans since the s. The opinions expressed in the Comment section are those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of BIRN. The unfolding crisis in Bosnia is becoming increasingly intertwined with the tensions rising between a various regional and international factors in the Balkans — all of whom have their own competing interests.

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  • Bosniak declaration is red flag to Serbs:. Winners and losers from zero-sum game:. Europe and US at odds over Balkan problems:. Few believe this can happen without a new, all-out, Balkan war. Srecko Latal. Follow us. Published by BIRN. In general, the various peace plans offered complex territorial division based on ethnic considerations.

    All of these plans failed to gain support. In a visit to Washington the newly elected French president, Jacques Chirac, threatened to recall 3, French UN peacekeepers if the US did not more actively commit to a peace effort. As the US hesitated to convince the Europeans to intervene more aggressively, the escalating atrocities and renewed Serbian offensive in the fall of finally forced a very reluctant Clinton administration to commit to an aggressive US plan of action to stop the conflict and set the conditions for a lasting peace.

    Nor have the constitutional reforms outlined in the agreement been implemented within the region. Bosnia and Herzegovina ordering the country to amend its constitution to eliminate ethnic discrimination in the national tripartite presidency and House of Peoples. The PIC is tasked with providing guidance and creating economic opportunities for the region, as well as encouraging the development of a functioning central government.

    This organization is supposed to provide the OHR with workable solutions that move BiH towards national unity, but to date these efforts have been mostly unsuccessful.

    Bosnia: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

    Many of these impasses are reinforced by the three conflicting political powers of the region, and are sustained by localized corruption. The lack of adequate policing has highlighted the failure to enforce basic rule of law and to prevent and even report human rights violations. The most problematic issue for BiH is the fractured government structure. The current government elected in February faces the same roadblocks as previous governments. It is composed of narrow nationalistic political goals based on ethnic considerations.

    Each of the ethnic groups still maintains separate local level government institutions that duplicate the central government. The lack of centralized government oversight greatly enhances corruption and undermines the integration of reforms that would significantly benefit the BiH citizenry at large. Efforts in other sectors lag as well. The promise of the Dayton Peace Agreement to return displaced persons to their homes is mostly unrealized. Also still lacking is a serious restructuring of police forces at the national level, as local police continue to turn a blind eye to organized crime.

    And the international community mostly left the responsibility of addressing corruption to the BiH government, which has further entrenched ethnic nationalism as rewards are allocated in support of maintaining the status quo. For BiH citizens, regardless of ethnic identity, lack of progress has contributed to mistrust in government institutions and has lowered confidence that elected officials will formulate policy and laws that are fair and designed for the public good.

    Obstacles that the country faced when I was last here still remain. Key reforms have not yet been made. Party differences stand in the way of shared progress. From within BiH there are continued calls to dissolve the OHR because it no longer serves the purpose of balanced progress. As Steven Woehrel notes:. Many observers in and outside of Bosnia believe that [the] OHR retains little credibility in Bosnia, and therefore should be eliminated in the near future.

    Is it time to revisit Dayton? The primary reason BiH has not met the intent of the Dayton Peace Agreement lies in the failure of the BiH citizens to find compromise as a nation. To grow and prosper BiH needs to gain acceptance into the European fold. This includes membership in the European Union and NATO that would accelerate the departure of international oversight. The questions that are difficult, if not impossible, to answer are the willingness or ability of the former warring parties to put the past behind them in recognition that a unified state will provide the best possible future.

    Given these political and economic difficulties, is it time to revisit the Dayton Peace Accords? A central question is whether it would benefit the US and EU to revisit the Dayton Peace Accords and develop a new agreement Dayton II , thus making a reality of a functioning multi-ethnic state. In interviews with Bosnian media and a speech delivered to a conference in Sarajevo, Gordon repeatedly said that the United States did not advocate a Dayton II.

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    But this has been delayed due to most of the prerequisite conditions still not being fulfilled. The United States will always support an open door to the European Union and to NATO and we will always be ready to help countries to walk through that door. The PFP provides multi-lateral opportunities for nations to improve military professionalism and training opportunities focused on NATO doctrine. The Dayton Peace Agreement is still a viable document.

    The Dayton Peace Agreement itself has not been a roadblock to BiH meeting the greater intent of the accords. Rather, the obstacles continue to be the same narrow issues that started the original conflict: fractured government, ethnic divide, and rampant corruption.

    At a time when both the US and Europe are mired in economic and geopolitical challenges, minimizing efforts towards lasting reform in BiH will only prove more costly down the road.

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    • It is time to reinvigorate the Dayton Agreement by enforcing the accords and applying renewed diplomatic pressure on the parties toward the unified nation envisioned in Further progress lies in the enforcement of the agreement, and the time is now. The argument against Dayton 14 Contrary to the argument above, many analysts have concluded that the Dayton framework is the main obstacle and roadblock preventing BiH from normal development, making its functioning extremely difficult if not impossible.

      Pointing to its shortcomings, numerous commentaries since the signing of the accords have criticized the elite-driven, artificial, rigid, and yet complex nature of the state it tried to establish. It would, however, be simplistic to ignore the underlying merits of the Dayton Accords, namely establishing peace in the region and strengthening the institutional state network. From a strictly political point of view, the accords established the groundwork for an evolution of institutional infrastructure.

      Secondly, the Dayton Accords determined an increased specialization of agencies and institutions focused on human rights, refugee policies, and European integration.

      Bosnia Is Teetering on the Precipice of a Political Crisis – Foreign Policy

      However, its eventual exploitation by external and internal political elites has proven problematic to this day. Serb and Croat leaders refused to accept the reality of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign state because their intention was to divide and annex its territory, anticipating from the outset that its creation would lead to partition. As such, the visions of an effective multiethnic state based on trust and collaboration were essentially dashed from the start. This is because the Constitution included in Annex 4 of the Dayton Accords has determined ethnic separation and irreconcilable multi-ethnicity at an institutional level.

      Secondly, institutions that were put in place to oversee the recognition and subsequent implementation of human rights and fundamental freedoms were partly staffed with internationals. A negative byproduct of the Dayton Peace Accords in the past twenty years has been the increased apathy of everyday citizens toward influencing political decision-making beyond their personal or local networks. This inertia of a heterogeneous civil society is not unique in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and cannot be correlated with innate tendencies of BiH.

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      But, to a large extent, this trend can be connected to the poor experiences with the Dayton-imposed political paralysis of the central government. A decade later, without any significant constitutional change, that assessment remains valid.