Published On: Pon, velj 22nd, 2016

Fred’s lesson about the European road of BiH

Croatian defender, the defender of Croatian defenders and former Minister of Defenders Predrag Matić Fed, on the, already legendary recording from the collegium meeting of the Ministry of Defenders from autumn last year, better known as “Helloooo Busovača….”, expressed some interesting thoughts about the potential European path for BiH (which he mistakenly calls Republic BiH, because that state is not nominally a republic), and which are very current.

Predrag Matić in the said recording made three claims: 1. That BiH will accede to the EU in 20 years, 2. A claim strictly opposite that one, that BiH will never meet the requirements of membership, and 3. that the EU will sooner fall apart than BiH will become its member.

Nino Raspudić l

Matić’s casual discussion last year is quite current in the light of the events of last Monday 15.2.2016. This event was for the Croats in BiH a “historic day” (Večernji BiH), celebrated in Mostar with great fireworks, while for the majority of Sarajevo media (except Radončićev Avaz) it was treated almost as a day of mourning, and for the Serb media in BiH it passed by almost unnoticed. On that Monday, the Chair of the Presidency of BiH Dragan Čović handed the BiH’s request for membership in the European Union at a celebration in the heart of the European Union, in Bruxelles, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Bert Koenders. At the occasion, Čović said that he is convinced that BiH will receive positive feedback from Bruxelles in a few months, and that next year they should be planning for their candidate status. In addition to that, he expressed his expectation that in June, BiH would receive invitation for initiation of their NATO Action plan.

So, something, at least symbolically, has moved from ground zero on the Euro-atlantic path of BiH, thus it seems worthwhile to analyze Fred’s scenarios.

His first claim that BiH will enter the EU in twenty years sounds realistic, unless the EU does not break up, or BiH does not break up and some miracle happens to make all its actors agree and wholeheartedly work on reforms, implementing their “homework” (we still remember what that looks like: “accessible negotiations” in which there really is no negotiations, rather simple fulfillment of instructions, sucking up to every third-grade diplomat who would come to Zagreb to preach to us, the fears and persecutions preceding every progress report, the intense anticipation of whether we will close the final chapter, etc., placing our hope in the rich funds of the future which will be filled by others, and heftily used by us). Fred ironically stated that even after Croatia entered the EU it did not become a civilized country. One could add even more, three years after the achievement of the “European dream”, unemployment is still the same, as are our paychecks and retirement checks, nor is the state of the society any better. What does seem certain is that we will get from the EU our quota of the migrants onto the state budget. But that’s a different story.

So, as I said, if everything would come together perfectly overnight in BiH, if the unitarists would abandon their unitarism, the separatists their separatism and everyone came together to work for the European path, realistically it would take, as Matić correctly claims, about twenty years to implement all the reforms and fulfill everything that Croatia has already done during the accession negotiation.

But, we should not forget that the process of accession to the EU for countries in near past has not been done according to the same criteria. Some were “thrown in” speedily for geostrategic reasons like Romania and Bulgaria, some were drained of every last detail for a long period of years, like Croatia. If things in Southeastern Europe were to get sharpened, and they already partly are, out of fear of the spread of the Rusian influence, there is a possibility that for BiH there will be a process more like the Bulgaria-Romania scenario of quick accession, with significant lowering of criteria and abandoning of numerous conditions. The fact that the implementation of the judgment “Sejdić-Finci”, which until recently was an unquestionable pre-condition for any kind of discussion about the EU, is now all of a sudden not impossible hurdle to overcome is evidence of this.

Therefore, Fred’s claim number 2 does not fully stand, that BiH will never meet all the conditions to enter the EU, because, to paraphrase an old proverb about Mohammed A.S. and the hill, one could say: if BiH will not come forward toward the conditions, the conditions will come to BiH, i.e. they can be lowered as was the case in previous situations.

Third Fred’s claim that the EU will break apart sooner than the BiH will acede is not without merit. Even the birds in the trees know by now about the structural problems of the community that is supposed to become something more than an economic-financial union, and which is running away from considering a joint identity foundation, suffers from democratic deficit, because its main decisions are made by supra-institutions that are not elected by anyone directly, without some elementar solidarity (otherwise why would a German worker pay for a Greek), shows that it is incapable of dealing with its problems, from the crisis in Greece, the war in Ukraine and the sharpening of relations with Russia, where it is now seen that the EU still does not have a common foreign and security policy, but is still following the American course, mostly at its detriment, all until the migrant crisis that has almost caused it to tear apart, and let me not even start about the British threat to leave the Union. All thesea re factors that speak in favor of Fred’s prediction about the break up of the Union. It might happen, or maybe it won’t. Most likely scenario is break up of BiH, if the current tendencies internally continue on the same course as now.

The deep dvision of three society, and de facto three political communities in BiH can be seen even in the issue of the accession to the EU. The only ones that certainly and unconditionally are committed to the accession into the Union are the Croats, which is understandable, because this would mean no more borders with Croatia and would mean the entrance into a framework in which it will again be together with five million compatriots. That would be a guarantee of their survival, and even future political equality.

Serb political elite in BiH is for the accession into the EU, under conditions. That condition is, logically, the accession path of Serbia. If Serbia is part of the deal too, RS will strongly support a European path for BiH. If on the other hand, geostrategic maps fall in a way that the border of the hypothetical enlargement of the EU were to fall on Drina, and Serbia were to be in the Russian sphere in the end, it is difficult to expect anything but strong obstruction on the accession way into the EU from the Serbs.

Bosniak political leadership is least clear on that issue. Nominally they are committed to the Euroatlantic integrations, but most recent reactions to the submission of the request for membership into the EU speaks otherwise. It would seem that the problem is not just that this step was done during Čović’s Chairmanship of the Presidency, which strengthened his position additionally, rather the discomfort with which that act was greeted in Sarajevo has more to do with the cramped attempts at retaining the status quo, as an essence of the dominant part of the Bosniak politics. The mantra about the abolishment of the RS remains a fairy tale, in the end everything zeroed in on the superposing of the Croats in the Federation and the de facto division of BiH into two parts, the Serb and the Bosniak. Recent events in the Middle East, the sharpening of the relationships that seems to be heading in the direction of the “clash of the civilizations”, and the danger of the potential to be in the limbo between the euroatlantic and the Russian blocs, would seem to suggest to Bosniaks to strongly decide for the EU. But for now, besides the recently arrested Fahrudin RAdončić, on the Sarajevo political scene, the majority reaction is this already-mentioned cramped holding onto the status quo, patient suffering, putting faith in the demographic processes, the readiness of their own people to endure suffering and the American policy, which enable them to at least cover the entire Federation.

The American-Turkish destructive policy in BiH culminated in recent days with the case of Ivan Šušnjar, when the world’s largest democracy refused to confirm this already nominated consul for BiH in Chicago, only because he in the past criticized the work of the former American Ambassador in Sarajevo (who was the political “daddy” of the Bosniak political marionettes Lijanović and “halala-righteous”, the organizer of the Bosniak spring and the mathematical innovator with a mission to overvote the Croats – the famous case of “5 is a third of 17”). The American policy in BiH can for years now not be characterized any different than anti-European, anti-Croat, and pro-Bosniak, Russian policy is anti-European and pro-Serb, and European policy is mostly non-existent and until now blindly follows American-Turkish matrix of promoting the protégés of the pseudo-citizen option that in fact is a sham for nationalism of the majority. All eyes this year wil be directed at Montenegro and its certain geostrategic orientation, and then even to Serbia, whose course will be clearer after the early elections in the spring, which are expected to cement Vučić’s power. If Serbis goes the Euroatlantic way, BiH can without any problems sail in the same rhythm toward the EU. If Serbia goes the other way, all kinds of scenarios are possible in BiH, such that not even Fred Matić could predict them.