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Valentin Inzko at the UN: Bosnian Stolen Times

High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko and Ban Ki-moon the UN Secretary General (UN photo - for education only)

Valentin Inzko at the UN Security Council (UN courtesy photo=


Valentin Inzko at the UN Security Council (UN courtesy photo=

Valentin Inzko at the UN Security Council (UN courtesy photo=

By Erol Avdovic — The High Representative of international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) told UN Security Council that the situation in Bosnia has not changed much and that the country did not achieve a real progress in past six months. He raised serious concern to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well when he officially met him in New York. But there were some good results in economic area, regional cooperation and finally the first census in BiH has happened – first after 1991, Mr. Inzko told WPP Editor in Chief in an exclusive interview in New York, just hours after he delivered his latest semi-annual report to the UN Security Council.


After all, he pointed — “there are some positive news from Bosnia.” But he warned:


“If you however, take this criteria how Bosnia and Herzegovina could become a candidate country for European Union which we also all support, which we all wish – than you see it was a rather limited progress.”



- If we have a magic wand



Asked what could be done beside the analysis on part of international community – to push Bosnia more on the EU track, bearing also in mind — the last criticism from some Bosnian politicians, who claimed – the international community has given up on Bosnia – Mr. Inzko said:


“Well, if we had a magic wand – than it would be easier,” Inzko said, pointing long-term lack of correct political action among the local politicians, but also at the continued international engagement in Bosnia.


“We are all looking now for mechanisms, we are looking for leverage what to do, in order to achieve a quicker progress. You know that when it hurts the Bosnian politicians a quite fast. For example there was this huge pressure for the visa free travel and then the politicians have implemented 174 requirements and they introduced the bio-metric passport. This was quite fast in order to achieve visa free travel,” Inzko said.


“Bosnian politicians always obliged when it is a question of getting money, for example from the International Monetary Fond. They really fultfilled all the requirements,” High representative added:


“But it is more difficult in other areas where people don’t feel it so much – like Sejdić-Finci, like coordination mechanism, like changing the agreement on stabilization and association – then it does much slower.”



Asked weather he is ready to use so called “Bonn powers” according to which the High Representative has a right to remove from the political office any of current Bosnian politicians, if they continue to hold back the progress and propagate the status-quo, Inzko said — that is still an option. But again, he stressed – not without broad consultation with all international factors:


- Ready to be sharp enough


“I am ready to use ‘Bonn powers’ – but of course I need a international support. I need support in my Steering Board,” Mr. Inzko said by reaffirming as well: “Bonn powers still exist.”


Bosnian High Representative went to explain, Bonn powers are to be applied — once “all other possibilities are exorcised.” But, he added, the “intention and the inclination of the Steering Board is such that we hope for local solutions, and we hope on compromise among the political leaders.”


“The Bonn powers would come only at the very end.”


The “real holders of Bonn powers,” Inzko stressed are the Bosnian people with their right to chose the politicians on the elections day. Asked about people’s will and democratic powers — could some sort of “Bosnian spring” appear next year, Mr. Inzko said it was an “interesting development” in the beginning of last summer – when Bosnians protested against the delay and non-issuance of the citizen’s personal identification numbers (JMB).


“But I think the best possibility is in 11 months when people will have in their hands the ‘Bon powers’ – during the election. People will have the possibility to decide which politician will remain in office – which not, which party will be strengthen which will not. This will be interesting time. And I think nineteen years after Dayton – that will be a moment in which ordinary people – citizens should use a ‘Bonn powers’ by electing the proper politicians and right parties.”



- Dayton needs to be re-designed



Asked would he agree that Dayton Peace accord became liability rather then asset for unlocking Bosnian political process and move forward – and would he state this fact to the US officials whom he was about to meet in Washington on Wednesday Mr. Inzko said he will touch that issue as well:


“Definitely I will praise Dayton because it was fantastic treaty that stopped the war, and until today, eighteen years after – thanks to Dayton we didn’t have atrocities, we didn’t have shootings etc. But of course after eighteen years we can have a review of the certain treaty and you can also have a look weather the Anex 4, which is constitution (for Bosnia and Herzegovina) is still a constitution — which was good in ’95, — is still good in the year of 2014 or 2015,” Mr. Inzko said. He added – he will extend his full observations to the US officials regarding Bosnia:


“I can said openly and repeat what Mr. (Štefan) Fule said few weeks ago that international community should recalibrate its approach.”



- Parents from Konjević polje have right to protest



Noting that people are objecting – the OHR didn’t do much for the protestors – the parents of Bosniak children from Konjević-polje (in Srebrenica county) – protesting for weeks in front of his office in Sarajevo — for not being allowed to study in their own Bosnian language by the authorities of RS – Inzko expressed his understanding of the problem. Asked why OHR is quit calm on the Issue, he responded: “Yes indeed people are vey disappointed with Valentin Inzko” on that.


“People are frustrated with me because they think I can change this issue about education. And indeed it is a question which concerns whole country,” he said, adding there are also “Serb children in Sarajevo and Serb children in Čapljina” whith the similar problems.


He said there are also the “Cyrillic letters sometimes being removed from public road signs.”


“Concretely in Konjević polje parents wanted more teaching (of)  international subjects – Bosnian language. They wanted to have better representation in the school council of the parents. It is also the issue that the children were not being in school for two months – get sort of compensatory school that they would get additional hours to compensate for the lost two months. These are the issues and I am not shying my responsibilities. I am responsible for the return of refugees (according to the Dayton Peace Agreement) – Anex Seven, but the education is an issue where OSCE (Organization of the Security and Cooperation in Europe) is in the lead. OSCE have had many contacts with minister of education in RS – Mr. Mutapčija. I know that OSCE would like to facilitate this solution, but I think we still need some short time to get the solution,” he said.


High representative insisted – the cooperation of both sides are necessary: “Minister of education of RS and also parents must realize that they can achieve a lot, but they can not get everything in one day. It is a process.”


Asked weather he is an optimist on the issue — that the children from Konjević polje will eventually get what they have right to study in their own Bosnian language in their own country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Inzko said he is a cautious optimist:


“I am optimistic that parents will accept two or three regulations that would be better than in the past and that they have accepted that now the process have started. This is most important,” Inzko said.


“If I would have being a parent (of those children) there I would have accept for example national subjects – Bosnian teaching (language) if I have a better representation in the parents school council and if I get additional teaching for the last two months. I would have accept this, hoping that the negotiation continues. And I would have returned children to school. But of course – the decision is up to the parents.”



– Bosnia last in the region



In his latest report to the UN Security Council on situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina Mr. Inzko warned that Bosnia seriously lags among all her neighbors on the road to the EU-Atlantic integrations. Asked what should be done for Bosnia not to stay on the tail of that process – High Representative noted “that everybody was given the same chances among the countries in the region.”


“This was actually apart from territorial integrity and sovereignty one thing that was repeated most frequently,” Inzko said:


“Region is moving as you know. Croatia has now become a EU member state. Serbia will soon be a candidate state. Montenegro has already closed three chapters negotiations with EU – only Bosnia is lagging behind. Actually – the recipe (for success) is simple: do just the same what Montenegro is doing. Do what Serbia is doing.”


High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko and Ban Ki-moon the UN Secretary General (UN photo - for education only)

High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko and Ban Ki-moon the UN Secretary General (UN photo – for education only)

Mr. Inzko compared the inside Bosnian problem with the Kosovo-Serbia’s centuries-old misunderstanding saying the Bosnian problem is even easier. Yet, Bosnia is now seriously  lagging in the region:


“If you compare the huge problem which is the 600 years old regarding Serbia and Kosovo – if you compare this huge problem — ‘Sejdić-Finci’ is much smaller. So if they could solve this huge historic issue in such a short time why can not the Bosnian politicians solve also ‘Sejdić-Finci’,” Inzko posted the question


But he also expressed hope, that Bosnia will also start moving — since the whole region is moving.


“We still have 12 months before the elections in Bosnia and all chances are there, all possibilities are there, and politicians can still make up for the lost time,” he concluded.

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