18 May 2011

Appeasement in Bosnia-Herzegovina

When Assembly of Republic of Srpska passed the law on Court of BiH referendum the "High Representative" Valentin Inzko turned into a veritable energizer bunny. He demanded the law be revoked, gave the Serb legislators a deadline upon which to do it, threatened sanctions, then hoped away to to tell UN Security Council tall tales about the "worst crisis since war" brought on by the Serbs.

The Serbs shrugged their shoulders, refusing to pay too much attention to him, but let it be known any sanctions applied by Inzko would receive an answer, not elaborating further. The local papers were certain the move in mind was withdrawal from all institutions of the central state, political representatives of the Serbs did not see it fit to contradict them.

Inzko returned from New York, the deadline on his ultimatum came and went and nothing happened. After talking up a storm Inzko did exactly nothing. Instead his boss, Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, flew in to BiH, sat down with Milorad Dodik and appeased the Serbs.

The Serbs have been promised the Court of BiH will have a proper look in to see to what degree their complaints are warranted, the work on this is to begin June. In return they will put the referendum on hold, pending the outcome of this process, just what Dodik had been offering since the very beginning.

Dodik's party had been talking up the issue of Court of BiH for 3-4 years to no avail. Persistent pointing out of its tyrannical aspects, the retroactive application of penal law, the hijacking of cases from entity courts, the regular and appeals judges being appointed by the same person, made no impression on Western colonials. But what years of playing nice could not do a direct challenge to their authority delivered in a month.

There is a lesson there. The way to deal with imperialists is by flexing muscles, it is what they understand best. Take Catherine Ashton. Just months ago she was busy devising an EU sanctions package to be used on the unruly natives. Fast forward one referendum law later and she is in BiH on urgent business, bypassing and undermining the bellicose "High Representative".

This situation is far from satisfactory, that the EU has any say what shape the courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina take is scandalous. Besides, the West has a very poor record of actually doing what it obliges itself to do. But the internationals being forced into making a concession to the Republic of Srpska is an encouraging first.

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