Lawyer Luka Misetic, who defended Croatian general AnteGotovina in The Hague, in the context of changes to the Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), commented that neighboring countries have the right to terminate the Dayton Peace Agreement.
The Dayton Peace Agreement ended the three-and-a-half-year war in BiH. The president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, and the then president of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, participated in the negotiations. These two countries are signatories to the Dayton Peace Agreement, while the United States (U.S.), the United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany and Russia are witnesses.
Although Croatia and Serbia often claim otherwise, those two countries are only signatories and not guarantors of Dayton.
“The war in BiH, as elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia, was fought, among other things, because no ethnic/national group wanted to be a minority in the country of the other majority. In BiH, this problem was finally solved by the promise of all three warring parties – the Serbs, the Bosniaks and Croats – that none of them will ever be reduced to an ethnic minority, but instead they will be guaranteed equal representation in government, with an equal division of power and the right to prevent the imposition of laws that harm their vital national interests,” Misetic believes.
He thinks that this “protection” was provided to the Croats by the Bosniaks in the 1994 Washington Agreement.
“This system of separation of powers and guarantees is protected by defining each of these three groups as a ‘constituent nation’ of BiH. Dayton envisioned that a civilian supervisor known as the Office of the High Representative (OHR) appointed by foreign countries would have the ultimate power to ensure implementation agreement. In 2002, the OHR made a decision that is the core of today’s crisis in BiH: a decree was issued requiring that in the half of the country known as the Federation, each canton must elect 1 Serb, 1 Croat and 1 Bosniak delegate to the Federation’s House of Peoples.” explains.
According to him, such a decision by the OHR resulted in Bosniaks being able to elect Croatian delegates to the House of Peoples of FBiH in cantons where few Croats live.
“How could Bosniak delegates and ‘Croatian’ delegates elected by Bosniaks eliminate the majority of the Croat population from the status of a constituent nation, but Milorad Dodik and Serbian nationalists would undoubtedly use Bosniak unilateralism as proof of their arguments since 1991: that Bosniaks intend to turn BiH into the Bosniak national state and to reduce the Serbs to an ethnic minority, and that only a strong Republika Srpska (RS)can guarantee the Serbs that they will rule by themselves and never be turned into an ethnic minority in BiH. It is not difficult to predict that Dodik will use the abolition of Croatian rights as a constituent nation to declare Dayton dead, and to continue with the declaration of independence of RS from BiH. He would probably have the support of Russia,” Misetic points out.
He also believes that the OHR, in an attempt to prevent such a scenario, apparently plans to “take measures to close the loophole it created itself in 2002”.
“This action would be a necessary correction of the OHR decision from 2002 and would ensure that Dayton and Washington’s guarantees will not be canceled until the elections in October 2022. It is a necessary action to preserve the Dayton peace. After the October elections, Croatia and Serbia will probably have the right to terminate the Dayton Agreement, including the Dayton Constitution, as a result of BiH’s violation of the Dayton Agreement,” Misetic opined.
Dean of the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo Sead Turcalo also commented on this statement.
“It seems that Luka Misetic expects that Croatia and Serbia – as belligerents in the aggression against Bosnia in 1992-1995, will ask BiH to return to the constitution of the Republic of BiH, or expects the development that has already been described in the final verdict in the Prlic case et al. appeal case,” Turcalo reminded.
Article 1 of Dayton states that the parties that signed the peace agreement will fully respect each other’s sovereign equality, resolve disputes peacefully, and refrain from any action by threat or use of force or otherwise, against the territorial integrity or political independence of BiH or any which other countries.
One of the principles of Dayton is the building of trust among the signatory states, which seems unattainable since no one in the region is giving up on big-state aspirations and the dismemberment of BiH, although no longer with military, but now with extensive diplomatic activities, Klix.ba writes.