|I open my front door and see all this.|
|Tara National Park, just before the BiH border|
|The Bridge over the Drina at Višegrad|
The result, whilst welcome in the short term, has in the medium term ensured a situation of permanent instability. The territory of Bosnia-Hercegovina is now split between two entirely separate political entities; the Bosnian-Croat federation, which controls 51% of the territory, including the vast majority of Sarajevo; and Republika Srpska, the Serb entity, which controls the remaining 49%, together with a small corner in south-eatern Sarajevo. Whilst there is no Berlin Wall-style situation, and it is possible to move from the Federation to Republika Srpska and back, without noticing, the current outcome is one of political deadlock. Bosnia has a colossally bloated political class and attendant bureaucracy; it has three presidents, one each from Bosnian, Croat and Serb ethnicities; those presidents have been unable to agree on anything for the last year, resulting in damaging paralysis. Effectively, at present, BiH has no functioning or recognisable government and looks unlikely to have one for the foreseeable future.
Then, the layer of EU oversight has to be added, with the EU high representative in BiH effectively acting as some kind of viceroy, with wide ranging powers to intervene in political disputes, and to make decisions in the current absence of government. In the absence of a working government, BiH becomes, more than ever, a de facto EU protectorate. The future, with constant to-ing and fro-ing between separate political classes still bitterly divided and resentful, appears very uncertain, sadly. This in a country where the unemployment rate is estimated at 42%, with most of those in work reliant one one of the BiH political states for employment.
|Entrance to the Sarajevo tunnels|
I'm using this as an example, and I'm not meaning to take one side or another. There are as many stories of what happened here, all of them contradictory, some overlapping. If one is determined to pass judgement on one community or another for what happened here and elsewhere, then one is doomed to only ever understand partially the course of events; and quite likely to end up hating everybody.
However, in BiH more than anywhere else, the shadows of events in the last fifteen years continue to blot out many hopes for future stability. The current impasse also humiliatingly reminds international political institutions, and western governments, of their abject failure here; of their shaming and disgraceful misunderstanding of this part of the world, based on books written 70-100 years previously; and the loathsome mix of self-interest, doublespeak and hypocrisy which has perpetuated the situation of 1995 here. The embarrassing shambles that was the UN / EC response to the Bosnian crisis during the 90s stands alongside the pitiful, supine hand-wringing concerning the Rwandan genocide in 1995, as events that to this day have undermined, perhaps fatally, confidence in the integrity and capability of supranational political institutions to intervene meaningfully in situations of civil war and ethnic conflict. Ironically, these very tainted institutions are still the ultimate guarantors of security here.
For more detailed discussion of the current situation in BiH from a legal and political point of view, see Matthew Parish's blog.
|Habsburg fragments in downtown Sarajevo|
I'll write more from here once I've seen some art to tell you about.