Bosnia 2018

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simon_in_exile
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Bosnia 2018

Post by simon_in_exile » Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:58 pm

An under-reported region these days, but Bosnia might be back in the news for the wrong reasons... this is worth a read.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... own-russia
Marred by racial abuse, fraud and intimidation, the campaign for this weekend’s elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina has illuminated an alarming picture of rising instability across the entire Balkan region, where the reviving forces of ethnic nationalism, overtly and covertly backed by Russia, are locked in a contest for power and influence with pro-western, pro-EU parties.

Nearly a quarter of a century after it was signed, the complex Dayton peace accord that ended the Bosnian war shows signs of falling apart. Milorad Dodik, the separatist-minded leader of Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb region of Bosnia-Herzegovina), has waged a divisive campaign, stoking tensions with the country’s Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) community.

Dodik’s tactics, replicated to a lesser degree by Croat and Bosniak politicians, have been crude and blatant, according to a report last week by Transparency International. The anti-corruption watchdog recorded an “unprecedented” level of campaign violations by all sides. “The abuses, conducted in the most open manner, [included] direct threats and attacks, pressure on voters and vote-buying,” it said.

In one instance, Dodik, who is standing for the Serb seat in Bosnia’s tripartite state presidency, admitted a one-off payment to pensioners was a sweetener to win votes. He also threatened to sack workers at a publicly owned company if they backed a campaign rival. On Thursday, the electoral commission fined him for hate speech.

But it is Dodik’s undisguised secessionist instincts, close links to Russia, and hostility to the EU that are fuelling fears of wider disintegration. He claimed last month that the US and Britain were interfering in the elections: “Forty British operatives came to Bosnia. Five are right now in Banja Luka ... Every day they are dealing with issues of destabilisation.” Altogether, Dodik said, foreign governments, meaning EU countries and the US, had spent €200m trying to influence the polls. Both the UK and US deny meddling.His claims were backed by Aleksandar Vučić, Serbia’s president. When the elections were over, Vučić promised, he would present “astonishing evidence of the most brutal interference of certain western powers in RS [Republika Srpska]”.

Analysts detect Russia’s hand behind such allegations, pointing to Dodik’s latest, pre-election meeting with Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s close economic and energy ties to RS. It has been clear for some time that Russia’s overall effort to subvert and thwart western democracies, dramatised again by last week’s spy scandal in the Netherlands, extends to the western Balkans. But its level of involvement there is growing.

“Russia makes little secret of the fact that it will do what it takes to ensure the Orthodox Christian countries of former Yugoslavia do not join Nato,” wrote Ivor Roberts, former UK ambassador to Belgrade. It opposes countries seeking EU membership, too. According to Macedonia’s prime minister and US officials, Moscow manipulated last weekend’s referendum in which an allegedly Russian-financed nationalist boycott derailed Skopje’s hopes of joining the EU and Nato. Russia flatly denies these and similar claims relating to a failed coup in Montenegro in 2016.

Bosnia’s elections have highlighted fears that Dayton’s other creation, the Bosniak-Croat federation, whose electoral law is in dispute, could also split apart. Dragan Čović, leader of the main Croat political party and a member of the state presidency, complains Croats have been marginalised and is agitating for a Croat-majority sub-state. Čović has support from Croatia’s nationalist government and recently met Dodik, further intensifying speculation about secessionist moves. Bosnia’s struggling economy – despite decades of EU assistance it remains one of Europe’s poorest countries – its endemic corruption, organised crime and media freedom problems, youth unemployment of around 50% and consequent “brain drain” are all factors feeding resurgent ethnic tensions and hardline nationalist rhetoric.

So, too, is the widely shared perception that Bosnia has been forsaken by an EU that has cooled to further enlargement and is more concerned with its own migration and nationalist-populist tensions. The flipside of aggressive Russian influence-peddling is European complacency, bordering on neglect. To complicate matters further, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s anti-EU, pro-Russia president, is championing Bosnia’s Muslims.

“The international community, and in particular the EU, has completely abandoned the idea of substantive constitutional and political reform in Bosnia. And that’s played directly into the hands of malign, entrenched and reactionary political figures,” a political scientist, Jasmin Mujanovic, told Euronews.

The Sofia summit last May and a later meeting in London between the EU and six aspiring Balkan countries– Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia – undoubtedly caused great disappointment. Their so-called “European perspective” on a timetable for future membership was eclipsed almost indefinitely, due to opposition led by France.

Nor can Bosnia and other struggling democracies look again to the US for salvation. Donald Trump’s admiration for Putin, compounded by “America First” indifference, is adding to security fears across the western Balkans. Trump recently made brutally clear that he would fight no battles for Montenegro, and he is no fan of Nato or the EU. Meanwhile, two former Trump campaign aides have become paid lobbyists for Dodik.

Is Europe prepared for another Balkan meltdown? It seems not. Is one brewing? It could be. After Dayton, Nato forces in the region numbered 54,000 troops. The EU-led military mission in Bosnia is now down to a mere 600. Like UN peacekeepers in 1995, they could find themselves hopelessly outgunned
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Re: Bosnia 2018

Post by eric84 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:12 pm

It can’t be surprising that Bosnia would be vulnerable to Russian attempts to destabilize europe. Apt that I’m reading Cellist of Sarajevo.
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Re: Bosnia 2018

Post by ASQ » Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:37 pm

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Re: Bosnia 2018

Post by jedgarandclyde » Sat Oct 06, 2018 9:44 pm

It is another attempt by the Russian bully boys of thinking they can do anything they like in affairs of other countries, they have had this mind set for ever, and it just continues.

It should be seen for what it is, and the Kremlin should stop telling lies to its own people.
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Re: Bosnia 2018

Post by dBrother » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:45 am

the problem is these people just can't get along..

a mates ancestral family farmhouse is in bosnia/hertz right up against the croatian border, it was blown up and rebuilt in ww1, and again in ww2, then again in the 90's war it got blown up again, later after the dust had settled they had a family meeting about rebuilding again, a couple of the younger generation thought it was a bit of bad luck having their house blown up 3 times in a century and weren't so sure about rebuilding, but the old grandfather piped up "but the foundations are strong" (with all the accumulated rubble from the previous three houses)

followers of st stephen they are..
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Re: Bosnia 2018

Post by Unwashed_Pom » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:33 am

the problem is these people just can't get along..
That about sums it up. They haven't for centuries and probably not likely to in the forseeable future. Forget Istabul. The Balkans are where East really meets West. On the road to Mostar we gave a lift to some old duck and her bags of dried fruit who openly admitted that the former Yugoslavia had a lot going for it except for the fact that the various religious factions absolutely fucking loathed each other. This place raises the bar on inventive atrocities.

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Re: Bosnia 2018

Post by dBrother » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:49 am

The Serbs blame the croats and muslims for ganging up against them with Hitler during the war, Tito suppressed their revenge for forty years while their vengeful rage bubbled away underneath like a pressure cooker.
Then the chance for sweet revenge.
Took near half a century but vendettas are vendettas.
Then of course the Turks rapng their (great great) grandmothers...
Putting some kinda multi generational ancestral memory amnesiac in the water supply so they all forget emulating what happened before they were born might do the trick.
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Re: Bosnia 2018

Post by Unwashed_Pom » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:15 am

It was when I was researching our first trip to the Balkans when I stumbled on this photo. It says to me, I can't stand too close as I snuff out this life lest I get blood and brains on my clean tunic.

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Re: Bosnia 2018

Post by dBrother » Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:19 am

Yah, He'd probably made that mistake before, got told off by the little babooshka for letting the bloodstains boil in the washing..

(He could seriously only see the turk that raped his great grandma there)
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Re: Bosnia 2018

Post by brodie_bruce » Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:18 pm

Read that yesterday myself - was going to mention it to a Serb mate and thought better if it.

It’s bad enough I’m watching Red Star Belgrade v Liverpool with him. God help me if Shaqiri plays as the Serb hates him for being Albanian and doing some national symbol thing during the World Cup.....


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