VOICES: Is the upcoming anniversary of the Peace Agreement the expiration date of its existence?

Twenty-six years ago in Dayton, Ohio, a peace agreement was reached that ended the bloody 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In fact, it can be said that the war did not end in the true sense of the word because the cause for which it began was not eliminated; nationalist terror continued; true peace and tranquility for the citizens of Bosnia did not come. Even more, over time things got worse because nationalism contaminated public life and stifled all positive attempts. The tensions and fears of renewed conflict have recently culminated.

The Dayton Peace Agreement defines Bosnia and Hercegovina (B&H) as one state with two entities, Federation of B&H (51% of territory) and the Republika Srpska (49% of territory). The Bosnian constitution is an annex (Annex X) to the peace agreement with provisions reserving public office for members of particular ethnic groups: Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats. All other people are classified and treated as others. The Bosnian presidency was created to involve three people, one Serb, one Bosniacs and one Croat. This prevent anyone not a member of one of those three groups from holding a seat in the presidency. This is serious breach of the Convention on Racial Discrimination and of the constitutional principle of equity of people as confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in several cases of individual lawsuits filed by ordinary Bosnian’s citizens.

Everything that seemed to have been achieved in the period after the Dayton Agreement is now in question. The misconception that those who started and fought the war in Bosnia can live beyond history has lasted too long. Those in power, all these years after the war, had no intention other than plundering their own country. Of course, that can’t work and everyone knows that, but no one is ready to change that.

In such a difficult situation, the statement of the newly elected High Representative sounds especially ominous, saying that his task is to preserve the territorial integrity of B&H. The priorities of the previous high representatives were integration into the European Union and NATO. This means that the territorial integrity of B&H is again threatened, and consequently the Dayton Peace Agreement. Although the creators of the Dayton Agreement did not in any way indicate its expiration date of Agreement, the current situation in Bosnia suggests that date is close. But the key question remains unanswered, whether it can all end peacefully? This will largely depend on the position of the international community and it’s High Representative in B&H and their determination to finally implement European and Euro-Atlantic principles and standards in Bosnia.

The eyes of the majority of the Bosnian people are now on the United States. Will America take over the leadership role again and protect the existing Dayton Bosnia, or will a new one be sought? Or, everything might be left to Bosnian and European Union politicians waiting for their agreement. The previous experience of Bosnians from the last war tells them that in the case of this third possibility Dayton Bosnia would disappear. They are also fully convinced that is not possible for this to happen peacefully. So, these days, you can almost read the questions on the worried faces of the people of Bosnia: Is the upcoming 26th anniversary of the peace agreement the date of the end of Dayton Bosnia? And will the war of the 1990s continue. Nobody knows the answers. Everyone is waiting.

Mirsad Kulovic was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was professor at the University of Sarajevo. He found himself outside Sarajevo at the beginning of its siege. Unable to return home, he immigrated to the United States in 1993. He lives, with his wife, in Nashville, Tennessee.

President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, President Alija Izetbegovic of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and President Franjo Tudjman of the Republic of Croatia initial the Dayton Peace Accords. The Balkan Proximity Peace Talks were conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Nov. 1-21, 1995. The talks ended the conflict arising from the breakup of the Republic of Yugoslavia. The Dayton Accords paved the way for the signing of the final “General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina” on Dec. 14 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. PUBLIC DOMAIN: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Brian Schlumbohm
Caption
President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, President Alija Izetbegovic of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and President Franjo Tudjman of the Republic of Croatia initial the Dayton Peace Accords. The Balkan Proximity Peace Talks were conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Nov. 1-21, 1995. The talks ended the conflict arising from the breakup of the Republic of Yugoslavia. The Dayton Accords paved the way for the signing of the final “General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina” on Dec. 14 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. PUBLIC DOMAIN: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Brian Schlumbohm

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