With the imminent beginning of discussions about the accession to Europe, the EU has an instrument to progressively replace the powers of the High Representative. The numerous reforms and adjustments which are necessary to enter Europe will very soon blow up Dayton’s incomplete framework. That is a trump card we should exploit since experience tells us that the three Bosnian populations have at least a common vision: the accession to Europe.
The distribution of roles based on ethnic groups was necessary in a country where civil war had shattered the confidence among communities. By slowly restoring confidence in the police and administration, for example, the elimination of such measures could be considered. The Mravkovica-Sarajevo Agreement signed in 2002 is already a first step to re-establishing equal rights among Serbs, Bosnians and Croats.
Regarding the 10-years balance of Dayton and the critical economic situation faced by the country today, with an unemployment rate of 40%, it is necessary to remember the situation of the immediate post-war period: more than 200,000 people dead, more than 2 million refugees, and 90% of the economic infrastructure was destroyed. Furthermore, Bosnia was completely left without industry, since the old one was based upon iron and steel as well as upon armaments. It is a pity that the recipes of the neo-liberal dogma had been blindly implemented, privatizing at the most and opening markets to foreign investments. It would have been much more reasonable to go through a transition period and certain State protectionism which would have enabled the economy to recover.
In May 2002, I announced the imminent arrest of Karadzic and Mladic; the fact that they are not in jail yet is not only disappointing to me but it is also an obstacle to any normalization. As long as Karadzic and Mladic are considered heroes by part of the Serbian population, they are relatively safe. On the one hand, there is NATO failure, and on another hand, politicians lack of courage, contrary to Djindjic, who dared to hand over Milosevic to The Hague. The fact that there are still people with garlands singing the glory of those two criminals is an indication that we have failed in part to make people understand the details of this tragic conflict. But also it has to be seen as the expression of a protest in view of what is understood as a political impotence that has to be expressed. In Austria, Germany and also in our country, there are people who glorify an old cruel system because they are unable to find their place in the current one.

Der Standard (Austria)

Die drei Völker eint Europa”, by Wolfgang Petritsch, Der Standard, November 19, 2005.