Bosnia accord faces twin threat

Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat authorities are flouting key provisions of the Dayton peace settlement at a highly sensitive phase of Bosnia's post-war development.

Their actions leave littledoubt that the Bosnian Serbs and Croats are seeking to block the implementation of Dayton and its aim of reuniting Bosnia as a multi-national state in its pre-war frontiers.

Last week Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal, was nominated by the Pale branch of his ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) for president of Republika Srpska, the Serb section of Bosnia. The nomination was a defiant response to the West's insistence that elections across the whole of Bosnia should take place on 14 September.

Bosnian Serb sources said last week that aides to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic - the region's most powerful politician and erstwhile mentor of Mr Karadzic - had ordered Mr Karadzic to resign by 25 June.

Mr Karadzic's nomination contravenes the Dayton accords, which ban alleged war criminals from running in the elections and holding public office. In a reaction that summed up the West's anger, Germany's Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, said: "Karadzic belongs before the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, not in the president's chair."

Mr Karadzic's nomination is viewed as an attempt by his wing of the SDS to torpedo the elections and thus disrupt the Dayton timetable for reintegrating as far as possible Bosnia's multi-national communities. Neither Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation nor Western governments will approve elections in which Mr Karadzic takes part, but that could provide the pro-Karadzic camp with an excuse to orchestrate a boycott of the polls.

Meanwhile, Bosnian Croat nationalists have struck a blow against Dayton by naming a new government for Herzeg-Bosnia, their self-styled state in southwestern Bosnia which was supposed to have been dissolved earlier this year in line with the Dayton agreement. The Bosnian Croats are evidently not ready to give up Herzeg-Bosnia, and the hope of merging the region with Croatia proper.

A known hardliner, Pero Markovic, was appointed the prime minister of Herzeg-Bosnia, and its defence minister was named as Vladimir Soljic - who, since he was defence minister in the Muslim-Croat federation, should never have accepted the new job.

Bosnian Muslim politicians were outraged that Mr Soljic should be so disloyal to the Muslim-Croat alliance. International authorities also expressed frustration.

"The number of hardliners in the so-called government [of Herzeg-Bosnia] is disquieting," said Colum Murphy, the spokesman of Carl Bildt, the international community's High Representative for Bosnia. "It is an abhorrent new manifestation of their contempt for the Dayton agreement."

The recent actions of the Bosnian Croats, and the pro-Karadzic forces in Serb-controlled Bosnia, make it abundantly clear that both sides are still trying to find a way of arranging a three-way national partition of Bosnia. The Serb aim remains the unification of Republika Srpska with Serbia, just as the Croat aim remains the unification of Herzeg-Bosnia with Croatia.

Both appear to be calculating that the West's interest in Bosnia will not last as long as their own determination to realise their national dreams.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect