mercoledì, agosto 22, 2012

Why Bosnia can’t be divided

La Bosnia e il suo assetto futuribile tornano oggetto di discussione, dopo le ultime "sparate" di mister Srpska, al secolo Milorad Dodik, come sempre pronto ad alzare il prezzo della permanenza della sua entità all'interno della cornice di una Bosnia unita.
Al riguardo segnalo un interessante analisi di Daniel Serwer pibblicata sul suo interessante blog

Some of my Twitter colleagues (antagonists?) are interested in my answering this question:
can join the without , so why can’t join without the Federation? Double standard?
The answer to this one is easy:  The EU only accepts for membership sovereign states.  Serbia can join the EU without Kosovo because Serbia is a sovereign state.  I have no doubt that many of the EU’s 28 members (the 27 current ones plus Croatia, which will join next year) will insist that Serbia be clear about where its sovereign borders lie.  Germany appears to be insisting on that before the EU gives Serbia a date for negotiations to begin.  None of Kosovo (not even the Serb-controlled north) will enter the EU with Serbia.
Republika Srpska (RS) is not sovereign and will not be.  But that begs the question, why can’t the RS be sovereign?  So this is a better formulation of the question:
Speaking of reintegration/independence…why can’t the Republika Srpska divide from B-H & stand alone—or rejoin ?
I have addressed this question on many times, but I suppose there is no harm in revisiting it.  After all, you can skip this post if you feel I’m repeating myself.
My colleague here at SAIS, Michael Haltzel, offers a moral argument:  Republika Srpska, which occupies the 49 per cent of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the product of an ethnic cleansing campaign conducted during the Bosnian war (1992-95).  Few non-Serbs have been able to return.  He argues that the international community will not and should not recognize as sovereign a political entity whose origin lies in war crimes and gross human rights violations.
This is not what I argue, even if I agree with Mike on the merits of the case.  After all, Kosovo Albanians chased Serbs from the area south of the Ibar river and relatively few of them have returned.  Yet the United States and 90 or so other countries have recognized Kosovo as sovereign.  There are many differences of both degree and principle between the two cases, but I don’t expect my Twitter colleagues to appreciate them.
I incline towards the realist arguments.  RS independence would inevitably lead to a three-way division of Bosnia.  The Croat-dominated southern portions would also secede from Bosnia, leaving what my State Department jcolleagues and I during the Bosnian war called “a nonviable rump Islamic state that would be a platform for Iranian terrorism.”  We imagined the terrorism would be aimed at Europe, not the U.S., but the prospect was still to be avoided.  It is even less appetizing today than it was in 1995.
In fact, the prospect is worse than our quoted phrase portrayed.  While some may imagine that the inter-entity boundary line drawn at Dayton divides the RS from any future Islamic state in central Bosnia, there is no comparable line defining the Croat state.  Nor is there any reason why the Bosniaks (that’s the non-religious term many Bosnian Muslims prefer) should accept the inter-entity boundary line as defining the limits of their state, especially as the eastern portion of RS before the 1990s was largely Bosniak, not Serb, majority. In short:  an RS claim of independence would reignite the Bosnian war, as each of the ethnic groups seeks to lay claim to territory it regards as its own.
In the meanwhile, no one in the international community would be interested in recognizing RS independence.  Even Serbia would refrain, because of the implications not only for EU membership but also because there is nothing attractive to Serbia about having a nonviable rump Islamic state on its border.  Croatia’s President Tudjman understood how unattractive that prospect was, which is why he shifted from supporting Croat secession from Bosnia to support of the Croat-Muslim Federation.  Slobodan Milosevic did not understand this, but many in Belgrade today do.  They also understand that RS secession would cause unrest in Sandjak and trouble in Kosovo as well.
In short, division of Bosnia  would cause a whole lot more trouble than Serbia, Croatia, the EU, the United States and most of the rest of the world think wise.  That’s a good enough reason for me to think it should remain a single state, albeit one in which there is a large measure of self-governance not only in Republika Srspka but also in the Federation.  But that is a different subject.


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