The Center for Transatlantic Relations conference
on Twenty Years after Dayton: Prospects for Progress in Reforms in
Bosnia and Herzegovina wrapped up yesterday. Here are ten of my main
1.The Reform Agenda the Europeans, the IMF and the
World Bank are pursuing contains lots of good initiatives that
Bosnian politicians of all stripes warmly welcome, hoping they will
generate the prosperity so sorely lacking since the financial crisis
of 2007/8 (or at least a large flow of IFI and EU funding).
2.Focus on the Reform Agenda has driven political
and institutional reform, without which it is hard to picture much
improvement in the functionality of government in Bosnia, off the
agenda, at least for the moment.
3.The leadership of the two Bosnian sub-state
entities, Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation, are happy with
this, as it blocks any effort to strengthen the state and empowers
them to collaborate in fulfilling the demands for policy reform from
the EU and the international financial institutions in ways that
don’t endanger the powers that be.
4.Policy collaboration between the entities is
frequent and substantial but unlikely to bring about any serious
5.Republika Srpska continues to try to use the
threat of holding a vague and tendentious referendum on the High
Representative and the state judiciary to extract concessions from
the Europeans in the “structured dialogue” on the judiciary.
6.Serbs (even within the RS) are however not
united in supporting the referendum, though I imagine it will pass
overwhelmingly if held (since many of those opposed won’t vote).
7.The lure of eventual EU membership is unlikely
to be strong enough to prevent the referendum from being held; RS
President Dodik is aiming to neuter the Bosnian state judiciary, not
to enter the EU.
8.If the referendum passes, the Americans would
want to respond with some vigor, but it is not clear the EU would
9.Referendum or not, the RS is progressing towards
its goal of accumulating all the sovereign power it thinks itself
entitled to under the Dayton constitution.
10.The state government could end up lacking the
authority required to negotiate and implement the acquis
communitaire, making the EU accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina
highly unlikely unless there is a serious effort at institutional
reform and strengthening state competences, including the authority
of its judiciary throughout the country.
Oh, how I wish I am wrong. But that’s how I see