Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What Bosnia's Vote Means the Hope Is to Ameliorate Hardship with a Common Market

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What Bosnia's Vote Means the Hope Is to Ameliorate Hardship with a Common Market

Article excerpt

As an election, the voting in Bosnia will have no lasting significance. The institutions it was meant to bring to life - a tripartite presidency, a parliament, a supreme court, central bank, and such - have little or no chance of emerging. However, as an event, the voting sets other things in motion and marks a sea change in the Western attitude toward the Yugoslavia problem.

The change is this: The West, in its zigzag way, had wanted to restore the unity of Bosnia; now, despite protestations to the contrary, it accepts that this is impossible. The aim must be to see that the division into Serb, Croat, and Bosnian Muslim entities proceeds without the killing that NATO stopped in 1995.

How not to live together The circumstances of the election support this premise. Not only did nationalist and extremist elements set the tone but the general discourse revealed the sentiment that the ethnic communities do not want to live together. The leaders of the Republika Srpska, the Serb Republic, one of the two entities composing the new state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, remain openly dedicated to their ultimate goal of union with Serbia proper. The other entity, the Bosnian-Croatian Federation, is in confusion. Proclaimed in Washington at US urging two years ago, it exists only on paper. The Bosnian Croats pledged to dissolve their ministate, the "Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna," by Aug. 31. That was not done. The city of Mostar remains brutally split between Croats and Muslims despite years of special effort by the European community - and an election. Practically nothing has been done toward merging the working administrations of the three ethnic groups. The new Bosnia and Herzegovina has neither flag nor symbol. The entire infrastructure of agencies and institutions down to traffic rules and postal service must be shaped from scratch. The new state's army, for instance, to be formed within three years, is totally boycotted by the Serbs. So great is the mistrust inside the federation that the Croats and Bosnian Muslims are to maintain separate ethnic battalions. The logical conclusion would seem to be meltdown and resumption of the war, which would affect IFOR, the 55,000 strong NATO force in Bosnia and its 16,000 Americans. …

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