AIM: start

MON, 04 FEB 2002 22:02:11 GMT

Constitutional Amendments in RS: I Will Replace You All

The team from Serb Democratic Party (SDS) and Party of Democratic Action (SDA) will make an agreement without Petritsch about Constitutional amendments in Republika Srpska (RS) by dividing power among themselves like before. If he tries to interfere, Petritsch will cause ridicule because united nationalists might bluntly retort that he had no role in their already reached agreement. It is even possible to foretell what their answer will be: there will be more Bosniacs in the authorities in RS, but not according to the census of 1991.

AIM Banja Luka, January 23, 2002

It is as if you smashed an egg for breakfast with a Magnum 44 - too drastic to accomplish something normal! This is how one could describe in a single sentence the demand of Wolfgang Petritsch for Constitutional amendments in Republika Srpska according to which all levels of power in this entity would be divided in respect to '91 census. Petritsch's drastic demand would mean, as diligent Dragan Kalinic instantly calculated, that out of 15 ministries in the Government of RS the Serbs would get eight, the Bosniacs four, the Croats two and those marked as "Others" - one ministry.

Kalinic's haste to calculate how the power in the Serb entity should be divided - testifies that Petritsch's demand, at least on the starting level, or the diagnosis, is absolutely truthful. This means that none of post-Dayton teams in power in RS were capable of crossing the mental barrier beyond which the simple truth would stand that single-ethnic territories (those that are not like that "since always", especially those that have become like that in the past several years) are in fact a para-historical category and that as such they are but an incident that the world is doing its best to eliminate.

That is why it continues to be symptomatic that the worst among the political Serbs, looking into the future with great concern, keep sighing that Franjo Tudjman, may-he-rest-in-peace, succeeded in cleansing Croatia, while we were not permitted (or did not know how) to do it. These visionaries of the why-did-we-not-have-Tudjman type are disregarding the fact that the new Croatian regime, even without international pressure, nowadays still stands at the point where it must answer to itself and the world whether it is the same as Tudjman's or wishes to differ from it.

In RS things are even more drastic. Whether rightfully or not, in the Balkan international distribution of positions, RS is wearing the dunce's cap, with only Albanian Kosovo as its rival with the only difference that for their chauvinism the Albanians have at least got some legitimacy through the seized halo of victims, that the Serbs have never provided for themselves. But in fact they look so pitiful with the dunce's cap that RS is not completely deprived of hope. How come?

If they used their heads at least a little bit, the most addicted Serb nationalists would very easily make a consensus with the moderate ones. While the moderate Serbs believe that RS is the question of the quality of life, the economy and society, and that if it is not that neither the Serbs nor anybody else need it, they consider the return of the Bosniacs and the Croats logical at least to the extent to which it is logical that everybody who was banished by force from home should come back. At the same time, to the fans of RS, no matter how small it may be, it must be clear that the country which in the past years, instead of food, produced fools and criminals (in the ratio 10000 to 1), which instead of political ideas launched collective hypnosis - can achieve legitimacy only by getting rid of the dunce's cap and return of the non-Serbs to their homes.

Let us follow their logic: RS will get rid of the status of the world pariah only if the Bosniacs return, and how many of them will return, even if red carpets were laid down for them all over RS, is highly questionable. There will definitely never be as many of them as there were in 1991, and this could console the Serb nationalists because things will never be as before. In other words, both the moderate ones (for a long time) and the extremists (since recently) in RS are aware that RS will not exist as an ethnically exclusive territory, that it is nowadays more important for its survival that the Ferhadija mosque is under construction than all the bells of the St. Sava temple, even if they were heard all the way to Istanbul as Matija Beckovic says, and therefore logically - to Banja Luka. Therefore, RS can survive only as a multiethnic category, and the fact that this will "be the end of its essence and name" as modern ideologists of multiethnicity say is not important; it is just important that it will offer protection to all those who live in it, the Serbs inclusive, where protection is not just the archaic defence of life from the knife but also of the categories that make the difference between a nation and a herd.

Will Petritsch's idea enable that? No! There are two main reasons for that. His idea says that democracy is not good for the Serbs, the Bosniacs and the Croats. Because this demand says that the elections are not important, but that the important thing is the census, so that the regime in RS would operate as a house of lords - people chosen by birth - but unlike the real house of lords it would have actual, not symbolic influence. In suspending democracy, Petritsch is right about one thing. Whatever anybody may think, Bosnia had its golden time under the rule of communists who did the same. The other period of progress in the last century Bosnia had under Austria-Hungarian occupation, so according to this logic, Bosnia will flourish for the third time under Petritsch's rule and that of the international community. At the same time, whatever anybody may think about it, Bosnia has never in its history had a more democratically elected government than the one formed by the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Serb Democratic Party (SDS) and Croat Democratic Union (HDZ) in 1990, that resulted in its peaceful and democratic demolition.

Relying only on the empiric quality is not a good ally: the goal is to have Bosnia operate as a democratic state, because Petritsch and Kleine and other peace angels eventually go home, and Franz Ferdinand had the encounter with Gavrilo Princip near the city hall, and Josip Broz met his doom. After that, slaughtering began. In other words, a public dispute not just in RS about whether Bosnia is possible as a democratic state would certainly be more beneficial than the public debate on Constitutional amendments in RS that will go on until February 15, on the question whether we can fool Petritsch like we did everybody else until we got in these shallow waters.

The second problem of Petritsch's idea lies in his intention to pressure the ethnically moderate parties in RS to join alliances with the moderate parties in the Federation and suppress the nationalists in this way. The first problem is in the criteria of moderation prevailing in the circles such as Petritsch's. To be moderate for them means not to be SDA, SDS or HDZ, which is quite wrong, since there are much more extremist examples on the political scene of B&H than these three. According to that idea, for example, the party of Mladen Ivanic should join an election coalition with Haris Silajdzic's party, that would be more difficult for the voters in Banja Luka, quite rightfully, than if the seat of the government were turned into a mosque. As it was much easier for Alija Izetbegovic to reach an agreement with Momcilo Krajisnik than for Ivanic to do it with Zlatko Lagumdzija, Kalinic and Tihic would very quickly be able to make a deal (much before the reformists), so one would administer power in RS and the other in the Federation, where Tesanj would be more SDS's than ever, Teslic would belong to SDA, and Bosnia would be less moderate than ever.

That will most probably become obvious very soon: when the teams from SDS and SDA reach an agreement about Constitutional amendments without Petritsch and when they divide the power among themselves as before. Petritsch who is trying to interfere will seem quite ridiculous because united nationalists could ask him what he is interfering about when they had already reached an agreement. It is possible to foretell what they will agree about: there will be more Bosniacs in the authorities of RS, but not as many as according to '91 census.

And in the end there is the question: where did Petritsch get such an unfeasible idea. And that is exactly what should cause concern: Petritsch is not a welcomed guest in world financial institutions any more, where he used to go for the money needed to make Bosnia multiethnic. There is no more money, so with what can he make it multiethnic? Simply: by making noise and that is what his demand comes down to. Petritsch increasingly resembles a coach of a team whose fame is decreasing. The best players have left, the team is playing in shabby uniforms, after 20 minutes in the game, they are exhausted. And to them, at the intermission of the game they are losing with the score 3:0 Petritsch is saying: if you do not run, I will replace all of you.

Zeljko Cvijanovic