Monday, January 26, 2015

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Part of the Communist state of Yugoslavia, under the dictatorship of Marshall Tito, until 1991, when B&H (otherwise a brand of cigarettes, though cigarettes were probably better for your health than either Marshall Tito or what came after him!) declared independence, and sparked (along with several other causes) one of the nastiest wars since the previous "one of the nastiest wars" (its capital is Sarajevo, where the First World War was triggered, by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb as Croatians and Bosniaks like to make a point of reminding us). Moslems versus Christians, Christians versus Moslems (it was ever thus!). On this occasion Bosnian Moslems versus Croatian and Serbian Christians.

Two names still much discussed in media circles and the chambers of the International Criminal Court in The Hague where they are on trial for war crimes, are Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, though several other war criminals have already been tried, imprisoned, and forgotten. Peace was established (a euphemism for imposed) by the European Union and the UN, transforming Yugoslavia into a multitude of states (Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia and B&H), whose people had hated each other for centuries, but had been kept under control by the totalitarianism of Tito. Now they were liberated, which is to say that now they were free to vent their hatred in typically human fashion, which is to say by preaching the virtues, values, ethics and principles of their religion of enlightened humanitarianism, peace, brotherhood, and even occasionally sisterhood, while simultaneously raping as many women as they found attractive, and either shooting, knifing or beheading as many men as did not share their idealism. As inevitable as rain at Wimbledon.

Srebrenica Memorial Centar at Potocari

Approximately two million people were displaced as a result of that conflict, which is highly likely to start up again at any moment, as the population of B&H is comprised of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), as well as Croats and Serbs who have no wish to return to either Croatia or Serbia. The Dayton Peace Accords of 1995 made the wise and brilliant decision to create a governmental system on multiple tiers, so that there is now the Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and there is also the Bosnian Serb Republic, or Republika Srpska, and each has its own President, its own parliament, its own police and other administrative bodies. A recipe for disaster you would be right in thinking. But this is only the underside of the iceberg. Visible above sea level is a central Bosnian government with what is called a "rotating Presidency" (the office rotates every eight months between a Serb, a Bosniak and a Croat). Shish kebabs also employ the rotational method, as did the Spanish Inquisition, and Guantanamo water-boarding is based on the same principle. But even this was not enough for the geniuses of diplomacy who were peace-pipe smoking with B&H tobacco. To add relish, and of course a slab of flatbread (lepinje or somun, depending on whether you are Moslem or Christian), sliced open like a blasphemer's mouth to get this delicacy inside for eating, there is also the district of Brcko, "a self-governing administrative unit established as a neutral area" which has been placed under joint Serb, Croat and Bosniak authority. In England, in the old days, we roasted joints on rotisseries too. I am sure they are familiar with the method in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Those who forced the Dayton Accords on the people of B&H must have known from the outset that they were baking ─ćevapi (the national dish of B&H, made with two types of minced beef, char-grilled), because in addition to this ridiculous administrative hierarchy they also added still one more, the role of Office of the High Representative (OHR), not exactly a King or President, not quite a Pope or an Ayatollah, but with the authority to carry out the greatest human paradox of all: ''to compel the entity governments to comply with the terms of the peace agreement and the state constitution''. How do you compel people to be peaceful, without sending the police or the army to shoot them if they refuse, and thereby break the peace yourself? The answer is: you impose a "Stabilisation and Association Agreement" on the country, and make it a condition of European Union membership, and at the same time you require constitutional amendments that alter the terms laid down in the Dayton Accords, yes, the terms that you laid down, but now you insist they have to be changed, so that the very carefully orchestrated ethnic separations of the multi-tiered system can be broken down, by insisting that each ethnic group allows people from other ethnic groups to be elected to representative bodies that they do not actually represent; and when the multi-tiered hierarchies ignore this, you respond by stepping up the hunt for war criminals, and fill the seats usually reserved for African heads of state with these. 

African heads of state traditionally respond that the ICC is biased against Africa, as Israel, when it is eventually summoned, will call the ICC anti-Semitic, and Hamas, when it is eventually called, will declare the ICC a branch of the International Zionist Conspiracy, and America will declare it Communist, and...Radovan Karadzic predictably declared it biased against Serbs, and insisted that there was no ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, which may actually be an arguable position, because technically Moslems and Christians are not ethnic groups, but religious groups. He was, nevertheless, indicted, and awaits his verdict (Ed Vulliamy's piece in "The Guardian" is worth reading on this subject); as does Ratko Mladic, who led the Bosnian Serb army while Karadzic was its senior politician.

In order to avoid any accusations that I too may hold a bias against Bosnia-Herzegovina, let me add that, in addition to enjoying ─ćevapi with either lepinje or somun, the wines are excellent (though only Vranec is truly native, and actually it's Montenegrin), and Ivo Andric, of whom you have never heard, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961, mostly for "The Bridge on the Drina", though "The Bosnia Chronicles" are vastly superior, if somewhat less "popular". 

Marks For: 2  

Marks Against: 17 (yes, I know my scoring system is out of 10 but I am using the same process of logic to make this calculation as the one employed by the authors of the Dayton Accords)

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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