Lessons learned after the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement

Signing of the Dayton Agreement

Over the past two and a half decades multiple problems have been identified in the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement. The process of development of the BiH society has generated some visible achievements that could lead to a stable development of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, at the same time, some halts in development of the BiH society and state are also notable.

These halts have led to the deepening of the crisis in economic development, particularly since 2015. Namely, since 2015, several dozen thousands of young people have left Bosnia and Herzegovina and went to European counties in pursuit of economic prosperity. The researchers conducted so far indicate that in the past seven years more than 200,000 people of young and middle age have left Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Another form of crises is constantly developing in Bosnia and Herzegovina Specifically, the crisis of political management of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This form of crisis is conditioned by unfunctional political-legal organization of Bosnia and Herzegovina within which all institutions and all national interests are defined on ethnic basis. In fact, this has provided for the strengthening of the three ethnic parties: SDA, HDZBiH and SNSD.

These parties win the support of their ethnic corps at elections. However, after parliamentary elections, they do not want and do not even attempt to establish a coalition agreement for the exercise of executive government by means of a parliamentary majority. Namely, they only establish partnerships for distribution of sectors in the government. As a result, neither the government nor the parliament exercise their constitutional powers. The power remains in the monopoly by ethno-national leaders. 

When there is no consensus on a parliamentary majority, there is also no consensus for adoption of laws on reforms that would facilitate integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the European Union. On top of it all, when it comes to political developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the nationalist rhetoric is on the increase. In fact, Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), has become the most vocal proponent of nationalist rhetoric. Ever since 2006 he has been continuously advocating secession of Republika Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dodik also advocates opposition to integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the NATO Alliance. As a result, the work of the institutions of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina is blocked. There is a notable trend of devaluation and degradation of the role and institutions of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina such as the Parliament, Council of Ministers and the Constitutional Court. All this is done for one goal – negation of the possibility of functioning of the institutions of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is often also combined with negation of the role of the High Representative of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The Dayton peace agreement has its historic outcome in the creation of geopolitical conditions and assumptions for Bosnia and Herzegovina to successfully complete the historic projects of its integration into the European Union and the NATO Alliance. “In the opinion of our Administration, the only right path is for you to join Europe.”[2] If the project of integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not accelerated and successfully implemented by 2030, Bosnia and Herzegovina will face even bigger economic poverty.

It will become an area of new geopolitical influences of the Russian Federation, Turkey and China. Furthermore, nationalist forces will be further strengthened. The internal integration and the integration into the European Union and the NATO Alliance will be stopped. Such a trend of social developments could be stopped and turned in the direction of acceleration of the integration into the European Union and the NATO Alliance if modelling of a new strategy of the European Union and the international community is initiated. Such a strategy should have several priorities: 

A) Synchronization of efforts by the US Administration and institutions of the European Union, particularly the EU Special Representative. His annual work plan would be a reform agenda, that is as a common framework for activities of the Special Representative, the legislative and executive government at the Bosnia and Herzegovina and entity level; 

B) In light of the geopolitical changes in the world and Europe, ensuring additional political, economic and technical support to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the process of fulfilment of conditions for accession to the European Union and the NATO Alliance. The geo-policy of development of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina has its framework in the Dayton peace agreement and the project of accelerated integration in to the EU and the NATO Alliance; 

C) The international community and the European Union can make their new strategy for implementation of the Dayton peace agreement realistic if they continue to use the Bonn powers of the High Representative of the international community (OHR), as well as bring new faces to the Office of the High Representatives in Sarajevo; 

D) It is necessary to establish a joint expert team for constitutional reforms within the Office of the Special Representative of the European Union and the Office of the High Representative of the international community (OHR). The team would include international and national experts, as well as representatives of nongovernmental organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

E) Introduce the practice that the European Parliament adopts the annual report of the Special Representative of the European Union on implementation of reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Ljubljana/Sarajevo, 12 January 2021            

Footnotes:

[1] IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN, New York, since 2018.

[2] Joseph Biden: The rhetoric of distrust must stop, address to the BiH Parliament, 19 May 2009, Radio Free Europe, 19 May 2009.Link:

https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/bajden_govor/1735152.html

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