Never before, since the mid-1990s, has there been such an intense story of war or potential conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as there has been in recent months. What is the background of such a story and how did we get to the stage where an acquaintance or neighbor asks you frequently: What is happening?
The political chaos that is happening in BiH is the result of several new and older problems in combination with the new undermining of the state, carried out by the SNSD and Milorad Dodik, wrapped in the story of the so-called returning competencies to the Republika Srpska (RS) entity. And when the political challenge to resolve the changes to the Election Law and the demands/proposals of the HDZ are added to that story, we get an extremely complex political drum waiting to explode or be silenced in the mass of compromises that will shape the state.
On July 23rd, the day former High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko passed amendments to the Criminal Code, which include a ban on denying genocide and other war crimes and glorifyingcrimes, an analysis entitled: A political turning point in BiH: Nothing will be the same now, was published. And it was this law that was the trigger for Dodik and the ruling structure in RS to launch a kind of offensive, after which little can be the same on the political scene. Although, nothing can be a surprise here.
As the loudest political player from the RS, Dodik has tightened the situation so much in the past three months and heated up the already hot political pot that the public has begun to question peace as well. The demands for the return of competencies to the entity, the formation of entity institutions and the passing of an entity law, which rejects the application of state law, are obviousexamples of blows to the state. For now, everyone condemns such moves, but Dodik is still an active political factor and a legitimate political interlocutor with international representatives.
In parallel with Dodik’s undermining of the state, as a long-standing smoldering problem with the imperative of resolving it soon, the search for a solution to the amendments to the Election Law is on the constant agenda. Apart from that, it is clear that minimal changes must be made to the BiH Constitution. The diametrical positions of the HDZ and SDA and other pro-Bosnian parties form the line where solutions need to be found. Considering that this is probably the most important law in the country after the Constitution, there is a big stake in the game. What the state will look like and how will it be organized, whether a compromise will be found between the ethnic and the civil will be achieved or whether the crisis will deepen are questions that can be answered in the following months.
In the whirlwind of the essential political battle for the Election Law, the unusual lobbying in the world, primarily of Croatia to push through the so-called legitimate representation on the one hand and the overthrow of state institutions directed by Milorad Dodik, who is in direct conflict with the international factor (non-recognition of the HR, ignoring the invitations of the United States – U.S. for cooperation despite threats of sanctions for the entire entity), we came to the story of war. Certainly, the story of possible riots, incidents, or whatever you call it, is not possible to ignore it when someone forms parainstitutions and attacks state institutions. However, it is necessary to analyze the broader context in which all this is happening.
And the story about conflicts suits Dodik the most, who, along the way, uses the opportunity to point out that he absolutely supports peace, but someone else there is allegedly provokingthe war. As expected, the general public cannot monitor or analyze all political maneuvers in detail, so it is easier for citizens to place a story that conflicts are not excluded. While the public comments on some polls and stories about possible conflicts or incidents, Dodik adopts laws and seizes state competencies.
In such circumstances, when politics creates an atmosphere of fear, citizens will be quicker to forgive any blow to the state and undermining the state, because… it is important that there is no shooting. In this situation, the space for any concrete reaction is narrowed, since any comment can be interpreted as a conscious heating up of such an atmosphere. And while the essential fightfor state institutions is taking place on the issues of the Election Law and Dodik’s attack on the state, the story of the war came as a great alibi that will occupy the public. And when the situation calms down tomorrow, regardless of the outcomes of key political issues, the public will be able to be told the story: It is all good now considering of what could have happened, even the war was mentioned.