(Sidebar to Part III)
Dayton Accords rule Nuevo Bosnia:
The U.S.-brokered Dayton Accords, which ended the Bosnian civil war late in 1995, created a pair of odd, not-quite-nations. Bosnian Serbs received the territory their forces had been fighting for, a crenelated, saddlebags-shaped area from which most Muslims had fled or been driven. The Republika Srpska (or RS) is roughly half of the original Bosnia. The American-forged alliance of Bosnian Croats and Muslims was allocated the other half, named The Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina (or BH). The Muslim-Croat federation was also granted a permanent two-thirds majority in the joint Parliament of BH/RS.
LESSONS FOR KOSOVO
Dayton stipulates that refugees on either side of the partition boundary should return home. Few feel safe in doing so. Two million persons remain displaced, inside and outside Bosnia. The wounds of war are slow to heal. Dayton's refugee-return proviso also applies to Croatia. 600,000 ethnic Serbs are homeless, destitute and scattered throughout Serbia, driven from Croatia in 1995 (or having fled from Bosnia and now Kosovo). But Croatia has refused to repatriate non-Croat refugees, accord or no accord.
The constitution of BH/RS was crafted in Ohio by non-Bosnian negotiators, without the constitutional assembly of, nor ratification by the people it is intended to govern. The UN-appointed High Representative (the country's chief administrator), is not a native and the Foreign Minister is American. Call Dayton a "designer peace plan," by which its Western framers intended Bosnians to recover and thrive. But the nation of BH/RS "is a vast zoo of international organizations falling over each other," reports a Brussels diplomat. Why?
The currency throughout "liberated Yugoslavia" is now the deutschmark. The International Monetary Fund appoints a governor of the Bosnian Central Bank (who is not Bosnian). The Bank cannot extend credit to its citizens until 2001. So the federation/republic cannot manage its reconstruction via independent economic development, although the region is rich in coal, iron, bauxite, manganese, copper, chromium, lead, and zinc. (Amoco and other western concerns mine these minerals today.) The European Union Development Bank runs all postal, energy, communications and transportation services in "the new Bosnia."
Since pacification, many western investor-owned companies have set up shop in BH/RS, where post-war citizens work for low wages. Many once-vigorous state and worker-owned industries have been liquidated, erasing most traces of "market socialism." Soon after Dayton was signed, U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown led a junket of 35 investment bankers, American CEOs, government and CIA officials to war-ravaged Croatia and Bosnia. Their helicopter crashed near the border, killing all on board and leaving "many unanswered questions" concerning "unspoken pressures," in the words of The New York Times (4/6/96). The heads of Riggs International, AT&T, Parsons Corporation, and Bechtel died, apparently scouting for corporate bonanzas.
But bonanzas are difficult to sustain in the western Balkan "designer" republics. The New York Times reported last August that Volkswagen and other internationals, disappointed by government corruption, lack of productivity and workers' low morale, may pull out of BH/RS. The ubiquitous McDonald's has refused to venture there. An American "anti-fraud unit" reports up to $1 billion in international aid stolen or appropriated by Bosnian officials and bankers. The government in Sarajevo borrows from The World Bank to make pension payments. The Croatian mafia imports the country's oil and gas, untaxed of course. The judicial system is overwhelmed; in Tuzla alone, there is a backlog of 30,000 cases of organized and violent crime.
Trying to whip that far-off place into shape, USAID is attempting to seize the assets of entrepreneurial companies behind on their loan payments. The High Representative has dismissed 15 democratically elected officials suspected of corruption or has prevented them from taking office in the first place. UN mission chief Jacques Klein opined, "Dayton stopped the violence but did not end the war... Bosnia and Hercegovina is a patient on life support." 34,000 armed NATO troops remain its police force. The New York Times complained that Muslim, Croat, and Serb nationalists "keep Bosnia rigidly partitioned into three antagonistic enclaves," yet the Accords created those enclaves, calling only for "eventual unity." Obviously the road from partition to unity is fraught with logistic challenges. This does not bode well for Kosovo, where NATO and Western administrators now, likewise, run the show.