Reshaping International Priorities In Bosnia And Herzegovina - Part II International Power In Bosnia
The international community has the potential to exercise considerable power in Bosnia. However, it has been slow at learning the lessons of its successes, and at understanding the sources of its influence. The limited progress in the peace process is attributable in large part to the failure of the international community to understand international power as a resource which must be used strategically in support of the peace mission.
Power And Strategy In Bosnia And Herzegovina - ESI Stockholm Discussion For The Stockholm Seminar On Bosnia And Herzegovina
This paper, part of the ESI series Changing International Priorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, discusses prerequisites for a successful medium-term strategy in Bosnia ahead of the upcoming Peace Implementation Council (PIC) meeting. It studies international influence in Bosnia, state and institution building, international agenda setting, the PIC's role, and deriving insights from peace process successes.
According to current plans, the coming year in Bosnia and Herzegovina will once again be a year dominated by elections. ESI has serious concerns about the impact of these elections on the Bosnian peace process. Because of their timing, the elections are likely to reinforce the war-time nationalist regimes. They will also dominate the international agenda in a year when attention should be focused on addressing the institutional reasons for the weakness of Bosnian democracy.
As municipalities are passing resolutions to assert their autonomy from Podgorica, a real threat of parallel structures consolidating in parts of Montenegro prevails. The extent of authority of the Podgorica administration is being challenged, even holding a referendum on independence in these areas is considered impossible by some observers. The Montenegrin Interior Ministry continues to remain confident that it can maintain control of a complex security situation.
Until now, the evolution of international power in Bosnia has occurred haphazardly, in response to events on the ground rather than according to a strategic vision. If international support is withdrawn in the absence of self-sustaining domestic structures, the peace process may falter, and many of the gains made to date will be lost. The concept of "ownership" of the Bosnian peace process raises an obvious question: to which individuals or local institutions should "ownership" be entrusted?
Opposition figures warn of special protection forces and organized gatherings and tribal council meetings in the Serb-majority areas in the North of Montenegro. The financial support given to Montenegro by the international community is claimed to be less than Milosevic's support to the SNP. Conversely, if the main obstacle for becoming a recipient of Western assistance is seen to be belonging to a joint state with Serbia (e.g. World Bank policy), there will be increasing calls for separation.
Assisting displaced Bosnians return to their homes in areas controlled by the military of another ethnic group, so-called minority returns, has proved one of the most difficult challenges of the peace process. While progress was slow initially, returns have accelerated in 1999 to previously inaccessible areas. The Return and Reconstruction Task Force's on-the-ground expertise has been key in brokering returns and monitoring conditions.
The 1990s saw the creation of several regional initiatives in South Eastern Europe following historical turning points like the end of the Cold War and the Bosnian War. These had overlapping objectives, expanding memberships, focused on meetings not implementation, and lacked strategic vision and impact assessment. The Stability Pact faces challenges to develop clear priorities, implementation mechanisms, mobilize resources, gain visibility, and promote real institution building.