30 October 2010

The Russians See It

The Russian ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina on his talks with the head of the largest Croatian party in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the upcoming Peace Implementation Council meeting as reported by Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje:
"The Russian Federation appreciates the demands of Croats to have their equality secured. Harchenko spoke these past days with the president of HDZ BIH Dragan Čović about the question of a third entity. Russia, said the ambassador, does not not want to interfere and holds that the accomplishment of equality of the Croatian people is a matter of internal agreement."

"Since the elections we see that this situation requires urgent solutions, said Harchenko, adding that Russia, at the session of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) in November, will push to have the greatest attention be given the position of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina."
Official Russia has taken note of the seriousness of the situation the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina find themselves in. The West and even Zagreb remain quiet.

13 October 2010

A People Without a Vote

According to the peace settlement that ended the war Bosnia and Herzegovina has a three man presidency. The members are a Muslim, a Serb and a Croat to represent each of the three nationalities within its borders. In essence then instead of one election, three elections are held in parallel for each of the members of the presidency. A reasonable compact in a land where a mayor reason for the destructive civil war of the 1990s were the fears of Serbs and Croats that under a unitary state they would find themselves pushed around by the more numerous Muslims.

A curious thing happened on election day ten days ago. One of the candidates for the Croat member of the presidency secured by far the most votes at the election, and more voters took part in the election for the Croat representative than in the election for the Muslim representative although the Muslims outnumber the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina by a factor of three or four.

You see, the text of the law dealing with the presidency is ineptly written. Instead of declaring that the presidency is made up of one representative each of the Bosnian Muslim, Croat and Serb peoples (regardless of the nationality of the representative) and then defining the procedures that would ensure this comes true, the law instead declares the members of the presidency need to be a Bosnian Muslim, a Croat and a Serb and leaves it at that. This way there is nothing stopping the Bosnian Muslims, as the most numerous nationality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to determine not just its own representative but also that of the least numerous nationality, the Croats.

This is exactly what happened. If the results are compared with the results of the parallel party elections it can be seen that about 435 thousand Bosnian Muslim voters decided to take part in the election for the Muslim member of the presidency, but around 305 thousand Muslim voters instead took part in the election for the Croat member of the presidency. There were actually more Muslims than Croats, who only managed a turnout of some 205 thousand, taking part in the election for the representative of Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the country's presidency.

300,000 thousand Muslim voters were more than enough to impose on the Croats a representative not of their choice. The Croat member of the presidency, nominated by a Muslim party, received 315 thousand votes of which some 10 thousand or 3% came from Croats. It was such a flooding and an overkill that he ended up receiving more votes than all the Croat candidates combined and twice as many votes as the winning Muslim candidate.

03 October 2010

Irony, Baltic style

Strange times. Latvian party described as "an ethnic Russian party" wants to evacuate Latvian soldiers from Afghanistan. Parties not labeled "ethnic Russian" on the other hand want to continue the present course. And prior to yesterday's parliamentary election the president of Latvia proclaimed that on the account of their Afghanistan stance he will not be passing the mandate to form the new government to the "Russian" party even in the case that it would win the largest number of votes. (It did not.)

Actually the "Russian" party in question, the Harmony Center, is not such. It is not a national party. It is a civic party organized by Russians. It would not make sense for an explicitly Russian party to take part in Latvian elections, considering the way Russians had been treated by Latvian authorities since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The people that could be moved to support such a party would either not be able to cast a vote on the account of Latvia's nationality policy, or would not be inclined to cast one refusing to help legitimize their treatment.

A civic party like the Harmony Center on the other hand can attract votes by appealing to the Russians' and other non-Latvians' more pragmatic side. Also by shedding any national insignia it is less likely to have its activities obstructed.

In truth the Latvian president cared less about the Afghanistan issue and more about making sure he would be passing down the president of government position to political allies rather than to political opponents. Jet the irony is inescapable, seeing how this time around the Russians want Latvian lads out of harm's way, and the Latvians want to make sure they keep on fighting for foreign interests.