Clark/Hunt: Bosnia Still Needs Fixing, Moon: Locals must to finish the work

General Wesley Clark (Photo: Flickr)

Bosnian constitution and country’s future in Euro-atlantic organizations such as NATO and EU is one of the most discussed themes in the last couple of week. Over that period of time we heard Daniel Serwer with his ideas what Bosnian government and politicians should do, following him comes the op-ed article in The New York Times written by ret. gen. Wesley Clark and fmr. amb. Swanee Hunt and at the end current US ambassador to Sarajevo Patrick Moon presented his stands on the future of integrations and political situation in Bosnia. As you probably already read here professor Serwer wants local politicians to stand up and finish the work without waiting on international help, he also thinks that US and EU as major allies in creation of current constitution would not put their own credibility and integrity on the line for Bosnia again. Duo Clark/Swanee came out with different approach to Bosnian case calling on international community to speed up state integration into NATO and EU without waiting on fulfilment of requirements in the light of Serbia’s recent elevation to the candidate status, and Croatia’s confirmation of membership status which will start in 2013. But it seems that their call will end up unanswered because US Ambassador to Sarajevo, Patrick Moon, said in an interview that Bosnia is still years away from NATO/EU membership adding that all changes in constitutional formation of the country should be done without international interventions. 

Swanee Hunt / Wesley Clark op-ed in the NY Times


In their joint op-ed in The New York Times, gen. Clark and amb. Hunt, presented three step program for Bosnia and Herzegovina hoping that will boost positive attitude, calling the international community to finish their work started decade and a half ago during Dayton Peace, Washington and Paris negotiations.

First, the American and European governments must help Bosnia change the Constitution we helped create.

Second, after the Constitution has been revised, the European Union should reward Bosnia by granting it membership. Serbia, after all, was given candidate status — a critical step toward full membership — in March, and Croatia is scheduled to become a full member next year. Europe should also extend more financial and technical assistance to implement the reforms needed to re-establish a pluralistic society and secure candidate status for Bosnia (which the European Union treats as a “potential candidate” for membership).

Third, NATO needs to offer the country a clear path for joining the alliance; it will have an opportunity to do so later this month when NATO holds a summit meeting in Chicago. Many Bosnians of all ethnicities look at membership in NATO as a guarantee of security, prosperity and stability. In addition, the military is the one Bosnian institution in which ethnic differences have mattered least; recently, when Serbian veterans’ benefits were cut, Bosniak veterans raised money to give to the people who once fought against them.

Their first objective is wrong because both sides already try to change Bosnian constitution in several occasions. First we saw April packet in 2006, that was followed with two rounds of negotiations in Butmir and several more smaller rounds which didn’t brought anything positive to the Bosnian constitutional lock. Without having strong political wish among local leaders to change the constitution none of the foreign governments or political influents wouldn’t be able to change current constitution which is part of the agreement forged in Dayton in 1995 by president Clinton and his envoy to Balkans late Richard Holbrooke. Second I wouldn’t agree to speed up Bosnian road to the EU without fulfilled all requirements of the union because you don’t want to have another Greece or any other troubling nation in the membership ever again. EU/USA/Russia/Arab Countries already injected in Bosnia and Herzegovina few billions of dollars over the last decade and we don’t see any improvement because state and entity governments don’t care about corruption, inappropriate dealings with donated money and if they got new injection of financial support that trend would be continued. So what’s the solution? International community should work with local leaders as the partner in ensuring that fight against corruption and organized criminal is strong and truthful staging right path for the country to implement all reforms and requirements for EU and NATO as soon as possible without speed roads. Knowing mental situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina I’m not quite sure that all citizens from all ethnicities are in favour of NATO membership for Bosnia and Herzegovina. We must to remember that gen. Clark lead NATO forces in the last war when they bombarded Serbian forces, that bitter taste is still very present among that ethnic group and they’re calling for referendum in Republic Srpska on NATO membership. Currently Republic Srpska leaders are in favour of NATO membership and that’s not so secure notion because I’m suspecting they will follow Serbia’s stand on NATO based on previously mentioned hard feelings from war times and refuse to give their nod for the membership. It seems like Clark/Swanee forgot that sometimes doesn’t matter what people want, it matters what politicians want, and in Bosnia you always need to have three political opinions merged together to move something forward, that usually end’s up with failure and disagreement.

Patrick Moon, US Ambassador to Sarajevo


In his interview to the Bosnian FaceTV US ambassador to Sarajevo, Patrick Moon, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina made several important improvement on the road to the NATO, but membership itself is several years away. He and his colleagues in the Mission in Bosnia are working hard on helping local governments to made needed improvements especially in the area of informing  people about advantages which will come with membership.

What we want to see a country with strong civil control over army forces, where the army is competent and working in interests of citizens. NATO wants to see strong democracy in this country. All those are things on which Bosnia and Herzegovina will be judged by NATO. Remaining time will help Bosnia to make its army more professional, stronger and to build stronger democracy. Same elements will be needed for EU membership, but we still several years ahead of us, said amb. Moon. 

Ambassador is firm in his opinion that this process, towards EU and NATO, is positive process which already bring some positive reforms and changes to Bosnia and Herzegovina adding that same can’t be stopped. Going down this path of reform democracy will be stronger, people will have better representation in the government and will be followed with better economical situation and growth, said Moon, adding that was previously case with current member states. According to Moon international community invested a lot in Bosnia and Herzegovina, will stay there as support on long terms but all changes and political decision must to be done in local political establishment.


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