AIM
Bosnia and Herzegovina after elections in Croatia

FOR STARTERS - MENTAL CHANGES

Zeljko IVANKOVIC

SUN, 06 FEB 2000


Sarajevo, January 26, 2000 - Sarajevo triumphantly welcomed the electoral victory of the Croatian opposition, as well as the final elimination of the presidential candidate Mate Granic, as the last HDZ member with even formal chances of winning. Judging by one of those Izetbegovic's platitudes without any political sense and reality, his Party of Democratic Action (SDA) immediately took this as a sign that B&H too is now only a step away from democracy: "Weak Serbia and democratic Croatia equals peaceful Bosnia". For their part, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian opposition and alternative forces see the changes in Croatia as an encouragement for B&H voters.

Namely, now even an ordinary man in B&H can see that this doesn't hurt, i.e. that it is possible to vote against those who have television on their side, as well as those for whom khojas and priests are campaigning, i.e. those who, in fear of losing power, are trying to scare the voters. And that is the element Izetbegovic did not count on at the moment of exalted emotions.

Only the Bosnian-Herzegovinian HDZ kept silent for a long time and in its confusion tried to think of something to say to the public! Now, after Tudjman's death this party definitely is no longer the HDZ for B&H, but only, or if you rather have, much more the B&H HDZ, meaning that it is now on its own, since the one who was the authority and their leader is no more.

But, when the father dies it is up to the sons to either wisely keep the accumulated property or to divide it. The way Tudjman's successors are dividing it in Croatia it is not impossible that the B&H HDZ will soon be infected with that same nervousness of division which results from the inferiority complex and its unpreparedness for what comes "next".

This is best seen now when presidential elections in Croatia are behind us...

Irrespective of the fact that Croatia still doesn't have the President, B&H is intensively experiencing the Croatian changes. The Bosniac and opposition political scenes are triumphant again: first because a HDZ member, be it a soft-core Mate Granic, has been eliminated, and then because Stipe Mesic, whom the Bosniacs consider their friend more than they do Budisa, is in the lead. On the other hand, B&H HDZ has finally realised that it has lost and that that loss will lead to the further disintegration of the party. Mesic's head start scares it, because it considers him a dissident and an enemy, as he knows the structure and functioning of HDZ in Herzegovina from within. It would probably prefer to see Budisa as its candidate (at the time of the convention of Croats in Sarajevo in 1993 he went to se Boban in Livno!), since he promised to help the Croats in B&H (HDZ always thinks that it only means HDZ) and since the Government is also his, so that all the authorities would be, in a way, of the same type from top to bottom.

If Mesic were to win, with the authority inherent in the President of Croatia, he would be in control of the existing authorities. In other words, what would please Croats in Croatia and the opposition in B&H, would make the Bosnian-Herzegovinian HDZ sad, because its disorientation is spreading through its grassroots in a form of fear. It is therefore, imperative for HDZ to even more homogenise its own ranks pending the communal elections in April.

The new Croatian authorities, together with the new opposition, are growing louder by the day in their demands for a differently organised state of B&H. Namely, they are insisting on the need for the reshaping of Dayton Accords for the sake of ensuring a more rational organisation of B&H without the Republic of Srpska, testing the constitutiveness of all peoples in the entire B&H territory, ensuring the strengthening of the positions of the state in B&H, etc. The Bosnian-Herzegovinian opposition has been pointing to this need all the time, and lately even the parties in power and Haris Silajdzic, in his own specific way, are loudly voicing the same opinion. And while intentions of the opposition are clear, since it cannot agree to the violation of fundamental human rights and of all European Conventions pertaining to human rights, which are incorporated into the Constitution of the Dayton Bosnia&Herzegovina, and especially in the electoral law which OSCE tried to impose, Silajdzic's advocacy arouses suspicion.

Namely, the man who had signed the Dayton Accords, formalised the division of B&H, who was in Dayton only as the Bosniac representative where he fought only for Bosniac territories, namely those in which the ruling nomenclature was personally interested (a metaphor that they were fighting for "holy land" Ustikolina in which the Bosniac leaders have weekend houses, speaks for itself), and who later on formed the Party for B&H with extreme Bosniac political orientation, that man is today supposedly for integral Bosnia and Herzegovina. Actually, he sees B&H just as Yugoslavia once used to be, and Bosniacs in the position the Serbs once held in that Yugoslavia since the only possible concept for resolving political problems can be the one formulated on national basis and by the largest nation. The story that godfathers and guarantors of the Dayton B&H are either physically or politically dead, is the only argument he is offering. Since he is already speaking about national categories, it is strange that Silajdzic has never mentioned the other two people or, God forbid, basic human rights which would also imply that some of his closest relatives would have to move out of other people's flats they have taken.

The aim of his present campaign is evidently to show an average B&H citizen on the Croatian example that changes are possible and that he is as ready for them as he would ever be. Such a policy aims at homogenising the Croatian and Serbian leaderships, as well as their voters, who would in turn help preserve the existing system of power and all that it implies or that it could bring in the transformation of the society which current authorities are trying to avoid at all costs, but which they will once again use to rob their own people. Were it not hypocritical, Silajdzic's struggle could make sense in that same respect in which the B&H opposition and the Croatian authorities are fighting for the same principles.

Nevertheless, it remains true that Croatian political changes do not imply much for B&H, no matter how much SDA tried to prove the opposite. Stories that this will make things easier are just another of Izetbegovic's scams, unless he is truly as incompetent as he pretends to be. What political changes in Croatia can do for B&H has already been done and will be completed when Croatia finally gets the President. These are psychological, mental changes in the heads of voters who will see that changes are nothing to be afraid of, that it is not enough to have them in one's neighbourhood and that time has come to definitely replace those who have caused the downfall of these lands. However, the one who will together with the Bosnian-Herzegovinian SDP, benefit from the Croatian changes both politically and otherwise, is none else but the HDZ B&H. It is certain that it will have a decisive role in defining political interests of the Croatian electorate in B&H in at least one more electoral cycle.

The smallest Croatian nation in B&H, politically, and what is more important, economically (pensions, insurance, wages, etc.) manipulated by the political Zagreb and its para-statal bodies which Tudjman used very frequently for these purposes, has not developed its own autonomous political conscience and has no other political alternative today for B&H HDZ and will therefore remain a hostage to such HDZ for a long time to come. But, it is inevitable for such HDZ to necessarily progress towards transformation since it is clear that such as it is it will have to leave the B&H political scene which, same as in communist times, is still the arena for the training of much more radical political factions than those in its western and eastern neighbourhood are.




Original article