International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

US Embassy to Bosnian leaders-gamble with peace a second time

March 6, 2023

After some political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina condemned a recent statement made by Head of Islamic Community Husein Kavazovic as “warmongering,” this interaction prompted comments of some international institutions based in Sarajevo, who warned the actors “not to gamble with peace a second time” and that Bosnian institutions are the place for political debates.

The US Embassy issued a statement reviewing the situation over the weekend when Reis Kavazovic “made some observations about the threat to BiH institutions,” noting that this included a statement that “we must be ready to defend this country even with arms.”

This triggered a response of Milorad Dodik, the President of Bosnia's Republika Srpska entity, who complained that Kavazovic should “promote peace and tolerance” as the religious leader.

“Let’s start with the first part of the Reis’ observation that there are ongoing attempts to undermine the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is right. These attacks are coming from within by political leaders, such as Milorad Dodik, who frequently attacks the state in word and deed, often calling BiH itself into question,” the embassy said, recalling of Dodik's recent statement when he labelled Bosnia and Herzegovina as a “Muslim lie.”

Also, the embassy pointed out Dodik's implications that he would separate the Republika Srpska entity from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Are his words meaningless? Are his listeners not supposed to take him seriously? If so, perhaps he should say so, and they can tune him out from now on. If not, then it should come as no surprise that after myriad attacks, verbal and otherwise, by Milorad Dodik on Bosnia and Herzegovina that some of its citizens believe that a time may come when they will need to defend it from him,” the US Embassy stressed.

It also emphasised that the attacks on the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina are also coming from within, “by political leaders and parties who are more interested in leading and managing these institutions for their own political and financial profit.”

“We are not certain if the Reis was referring to this as well, but if he was, he was right. There is nothing remotely pro-BiH about politicizing security institutions, about corrupting prosecutors and judges to secure personal protection, or about securing seats in legislative bodies in underhanded, anti-democratic ways. Genuinely pro-BiH political leaders and parties would seek to provide the institutions they lead with efficient, effective, and accountable governance. They would safeguard the integrity of these hard-won bodies for their children and grandchildren,” the embassynoted, adding that “the call and response that dominates political discourse in BiH is deeply destructive to the country and its social fabric.”

The United Stated has condemned it for years, the embassy stressed, and we continue to condemn it, “whether the words come from political or religious leaders.”

“It is especially disappointing when any religious leader implies or threatens violence as a solution to BiH’s problems. The suggestion that there is greater need for “peace and tolerance” in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a good one, but this prescription must apply as much to BiH’s political leaders as it does its religious leaders, not least Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik,” it underlined.

The embassy concluded by urging the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina “not to gamble with peace a second time.”

The Office of the High Representative (OHR) also commented on the statements, emphasising that “the institutions of BiH are a place for political debate” and that “there is no need to defend them with weapons.”

“There is a strong and sustainable international and domestic commitment regarding the functioning of those institutions. Any issues and discussions have to be resolved with concrete democratic measures and within the framework of the Dayton Peace Agreement,” said the OHR, the institution overseeing the peace process implementation in the country after the 1992-95 conflict.

Following the reactions, Kavazovic clarified his statement, explaining that he is “the last person to call for a conflict with anyone” but that he would be “among the first ones to defend the homeland.”

Speaking to Dnevni avaz daily, Kavazovic explained that his aim was to emphasise the importance of state institutions and that he compared it with 1992 when the state was defended with weapon.

“I said that there is peace today and that institutions must do their job. Everything else is insinuation, but I expect nothing else from those who are used to attacking Muslims by supporting war criminals. We will fight bravely for BiH and all its people,” he told the daily.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/us-embassy-to-bosnian-leaders-dont-gamble-with-peace-a-second-time/ 

isn eth zurichBSAdsNATOCentral and Eastern European Online LibraryEurActiv | European Union Information Website