A group of Bosnian intellectuals wrote to Michael Roth, the Chair of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee, expressing their concern over the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina where, as they said, “the peace is under the threat, and the stability of the country is seriously jeopardised.”
“This is especially significant considering Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the fact that there is currently a war going on in Europe. We don't want to raise false alarms, but we want to draw your attention because we believe that if Bosnia and Herzegovina stays on its current path, it will lead to violent conflict. The consequences of such a conflict, regardless of its scale, would be difficult to contain and would be felt beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” reads the letter signed by Senad Pecanin, Senada Selo-Sabic, Edina Becirevic, Sead Turcalo and Vedran Djihic.
They described the recent developments in Republika Srpska entity, including physical attacks on LGBT activists, suppression of media through adoption of law amendments that criminalise defamation and announcement of a law on NGO activists, who would be labelled as “foreign agents,” noting that this only illustrates a trend “in which ethno-political leaders go step by step to threaten the democratic-liberal order in Bosnia and Herzegovina, taking the country into a dangerous situation.”
“This openly ignores the resolution of the Bundestag on Bosnia and Herzegovina from July 8, 2022. In accordance with the spirit and content of your resolution, it is necessary to firmly reiterate the vision of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state based on the principles of liberal democracy, in which its citizens are completely equal regardless of ethnic, religious, racial or any other identity. Almost 30 years after the end of the war, peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina has not been firmly established as nationalists continue to strive for ethnically exclusive rule. The real progress made in the decade immediately after the war has been systematically reversed in the last 15 years,” warn the authors of the letter.
They called for the “upgrade” of the current political system, which would end discrimination and reward a true initiative and integrity, and incite reforms strengthening the rule of law and protecting the human rights.
“Germany, as one of the founders of the European Union and its most powerful member, has the capacity – and thus the responsibility – to confirm the strong message that the best solution for Bosnia and Herzegovina is a system that guarantees equal rights to all its citizens, based on the rule of law,” they stressed.
The authors of the letter also pointed out the role of High Representative Christian Schmidt, the German diplomat who took over the post of the international peace envoy in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2021.
“Since he assumed the said duty in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2021, Mr. Christian Schmidt made decisions that threatened the prospects for an inclusive, open and resilient democratic society. These decisions have emboldened ethno-nationalists who, instead of seeking compromise, believe that bullying the international community will weaken the state and expand their corrupt power networks. As a German citizen and representative of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Schmidt should be encouraged to make decisions that bring together the intentionally broken threads of Bosnian society, instead of tearing them apart further”, they wrote.
The intellectuals urged the Bundestag and the Committee headed by Roth to “unequivocally and uncompromisingly stand behind the principles of liberal democracy as the basis for peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
“The danger of destroying the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina is real. The rule of ethnic exclusivity, politics of fear and increasingly brutal attacks on liberal-democratic values and human rights bring the country to the brink of violence. The implosion of Bosnia and Herzegovina can be actively prevented – as well as its potential negative consequences for Europe,” they concluded.
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