May 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 April 2008
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EUROPE

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Expected Council Action 

In mid-May, the Council is expected to be briefed by the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia. His latest report is expected in early May.

These regular reports are in accordance with annex 10 of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement and the conclusions of the London Peace Implementation Conference of 1995.

For several years, the Council has tended to limit its involvement in this issue to the annual re-authorisation of the EU force in Bosnia and Herzegovina every November. But recent signs of increasing nationalism among political parties may lead the Council to pay closer attention to the underlying problems obstructing progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina—although no formal action is expected at this stage.

Key Recent Developments
At the time of writing, Bosnia and Herzegovina appeared to be close to signing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU. The SAA was initialed on 4 December 2007. The main outstanding condition for signing the SAA is the completion of police restructuring.

On 26 February, the EU enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn, announced that Bosnia and Herzegovina might be able to sign the SAA at the end of April. This date was earlier than expected, and some observers see this as a strategic move to provide incentives for stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina given the uncertainties in the region following Kosovo’s declaration of independence.

On 3 April, NATO invited Bosnia and Herzegovina to “intensified dialogue,” a key step towards membership. Next, Bosnia and Herzegovina would need to present the Membership Action Plan (MAP) as a final step before being invited to full membership by NATO. The High Representative, Miroslav Lajcak, has indicated that NATO’s decision was a reward for “concrete progress on the defence reform agenda.”

At its 26-27 February meeting, the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC)—a Council which is made up of 55 countries and agencies and was established at the Peace Implementation Conference held in London and following the Dayton Peace Agreement in November 1995—decided to extend the mandate of the Office of the High Representative until the following political benchmarks are met:

  • resolution of state and defence property by the authorities (This relates to the ownership and use of state property and the transfer of property for defence purposes.);
  • implementation of the Brcko Final Award (The Dayton Conference postponed a decision on which entity, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina or Republika Srpska, should control Brcko. The Brcko Arbitration in 1997 created the “Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina” under the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina.);
  • establishment of the administrative and legal structures for fiscal sustainability of the state; and
  • entrenchment of the rule of law by passing legislation on war crimes, asylum and judicial reform.

The PIC will meet again in June and will then assess progress made on these benchmarks.

On 10 April, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s parliament adopted two police reform bills. Fundamental differences remain but a compromise solution was adopted setting up seven coordinating bodies. The compromise does not fully integrate the two police forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Republika Srpska (RS), but given that police reform has long been a contentious issue among the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is an important development.

Shortly after Kosovo declared independence, the Bosnian Serb parliament adopted a resolution calling for a referendum on Srpska seceding from Bosnia and Herzegovina if Kosovo’s independence is recognised by a majority of EU and UN states. There were also demonstrations protesting Kosovo’s independence. Police used tear gas to stop protestors from entering the US consulate in Banja Luka.

Key Issues
A key issue is whether the Council will be inclined to become more active and seek to encourage progress on policy objectives for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A related issue is whether to try and prod Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Muslim, Croat and Serbian political leaders towards consensus on constitutional reform. The increase in nationalist sentiments among the political parties may suggest that this is becoming relatively more important.

A further issue is whether the police reform is real. The EU has asked for a police force that is effective, not subject to political influence and centrally funded. However, in order to pass the two police reform bills and meet a key EU condition, a compromise was reached in April to establish seven bodies instead of merging the two existing forces and integrating some areas like training and forensics. This is an indication that fundamental differences are far from resolved. Haris Silajdzic, leader of the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and current head of Bosnia’s rotating three-member presidency, sees police reform as the first step towards a police force controlled by the central government, while Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb prime minister, has said that the Serbs will never give up their police force.

Another issue is the regional uncertainty following Kosovo’s declaration of independence and its possible future impact on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political development.

A connected issue is how far RS is willing to take the threat of secession, and whether it sees this in part as leverage in the reform negotiating, and how the High Representative should respond if there are continued calls for secession from RS.

Options
A possible option is a presidential statement covering the following:

  • welcoming progress made, especially if Bosnia and Herzegovina has signed the SAA;
  • urging Bosnia and Herzegovina to take steps to complete outstanding reforms;
  • reaffirming the final authority of the High Representative;
  • expressing concern over official calls for secession and reminding authorities that under the Dayton Agreement no entity has the right to secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina; and
  • encouraging swift completion of the key conditions set by the PIC for closure of the Office of the High Representative.

Other options include:

  • holding a Council open debate;
  • reviewing the structures set up by the Dayton Agreement to assess if they are still effective in supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political development;
  • suggesting that the High Representative draw up an action plan outlining how Bosnia and Herzegovina can meet the benchmarks demanded by the PIC for the closure of the Office of the High Representative, and asking him to share this with the Council before June; and
  • requesting the Contact Group to find ways of playing a more significant role in helping the key political actors find consensus on reform issues.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Some Council members have a degree of “Balkans fatigue” as a result of the intense focus on Kosovo over the past year. Others feel that, compared to many other issues on the Council’s agenda, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is relatively stable and therefore does not need to be given much attention.

On the issue of closing down the Office of the High Representative there are differences over how quickly this should happen. Russia has been advocating a closure of the office but agreed as part of the PIC to keep it open till key political benchmarks could be met while stressing that this should be done in the shortest time possible.

The Council’s divide over Kosovo’s declaration of independence could colour any discussions surrounding territorial integrityand the right of Republika Sprska to secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1785 (21 November 2007) reauthorized EUFOR till 21 November 2008.
  • S/RES/1575 (22 November 2004) established the European Union Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR).
  • S/RES/1088 (12 December 1996) contained the authorisation of the establishment of a multinational Stabilisation Force (SFOR).
  • S/RES/1035 (21 December 1995) established the International Police Task Force (IPTF).
  • S/RES/1031 (15 December 1995) was on the implementation of the Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina and transfer of authority from the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to the multinational implementation force (IFOR).
  • S/RES/743 (21 February 1992) established UNPROFOR.
  • S/RES/713 (25 September 1991) marked the start of the UN’s involvement in the former Yugoslavia.

Selected Letters

  • S/2008/242 (11 April 2008) was the letter from the Secretary-General transmitting the latest report on the activities of the EUFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1 December 2007 to 29 February 2008.
  • S/2007/651 (5 November 2007) was the letter from the Secretary-General conveying the most recent report of High Representative on the implementation of the Peace Agreement including an annex of the PIC’s Declaration of 31 October 2007.

Other

  • S/1995/999 and annexes (29 November 1995) was the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Annexes, signed in Dayton.

Useful Additional Sources

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