|Krug 99 – Circle 99 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
21 December 2023 – 49
Concerning the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to submit the “Kovacevic” case to the full Council
A majority of the citizenry of Bosnia and Herzegovina (and of those outside Bosnia), have congratulated the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the “Kovacevic” case as a way forward for the country’s historic transition out of an ethnic-based undemocratic political system and into a truly democratic system.
The most recent decision of the five-member council of the European Court of Human Rights respected without dissent the request of ‘self-appointed agents’ and in doing so rejected the opinions of some senior Bosnian officials who claimed that the status of ‘self-appointed agents’ is not valid in Bosnia. In fact, these claims represented an unanticipated insidious blow and an expression of lack of confidence in the European Court itself, where the activity of such agents has long been a valid judicial norm. But, this also stimulated democratic peaceful forces that support a state without discrimination and express a desire for the equality of all citizens. These forces have now gained additional energy in promoting reform and equality of the Bosnian state in international relations. A delay in implementing this judicial decision should not be permitted, for that would further strengthen political divisions in Bosnia and could in the end result in territorial partition. Even the deceitful traps of accelerated integration, bypassing European standards, could de facto contribute to the achieving of the wartime political objectives and the ‘impossibility’ of a civic society, a nation without sovereignty and a people remaining uncertain about a process which would continue to be a precariously lit fuse.
Croatia’s and Serbia’s neo-colonial agenda in the Balkans should not and cannot be accepted, since these hegemonic positions and irredentist policies would place Bosnia’s sovereignty in a constant state of instability. Equally unacceptable is the creation of a “cordon sanitaire,” isolation, apartheid, or special democratic rights for the majority nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Those who gave their lives in the victory of international recognition of a sovereign Bosnian state did not do so in order that their sacrifice be besmirched by shameless treason and gradual oblivion. Implementation of the Court’s decision in “Kovacevic vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina” would require a modern political restructuring of the Bosnian nation, as well as the rejection of the ethnic formula in favor of a civic principle. Not implementing the decision would run the risk of a return to warfare and renewed destabilization derived in fact from the previous destabilization. In addition, it would result in a short-term satisfying of the interests of neighboring states that have already previously participated in international armed conflict against Bosnia, including genocide and what the courts have termed ‘joint criminal enterprises.’
On the contrary, the currently imposed political system constantly generates conflicts and creates situations for new ones, including potentially armed warfare. The Dayton peace agreement and constitutional arrangement were set up during wartime conditions and do not reflect international legal norms. Today, some would want to achieve their wartime objectives by frightening the European Court of Human Rights with the specter of war and by blocking Bosnia’s transition into a modern democratic state.
OHR’s [Office of the High Representative] argument in this regard is hollow and was invented by one of its key offices, several people in the legal division, whom the Bosnian Presidency should long ago have declared persona non grata. They present arguments and dream up solutions that are in the interests of neighboring states, but not at all in the interests of democratic transition and peace in Bosnia.
To this end we call upon all civic society organizations in the country and in the diaspora – that may have, like Krug 99 (Circle 99), already addressed the European Court of Human Rights – to intensify their expositions of the situation in Bosnia and to unveil the insidious arguments that are raised against a modern democratic Bosnia.
We can only express our gratitude to those intellectuals at prominent universities around the world, who have already appeared at the European Court of Human Rights in order to present their own opinions about the importance of the “Kovacevic case.”
One of the main creators of anti-Bosnian policies among EU institutions, the Prime Minister of Croatia, has already announced his upcoming visit to Sarajevo. His solutions do not support a modern democratic Bosnia and should be met with clear resistance and an outpouring of energy, as was done recently during protests in front of OHR headquarters.
Otherwise, the destiny and future reality of Bosnia could be that our state would be eventually governed by neighboring countries rather than by our own citizens as representatives of our sovereignty. For this reason, we need to clearly and visibly demonstrate our Bosnian resistance. As far as the President of the European Court of Human Rights is concerned, we have one single question: Why is it necessary to lobby for human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Or, is it that in your eyes this country is already condemned to be a state devoid of human rights and with continuous discrimination through so-called ‘consociational’ democracy?
Otherwise it might seem that Bosnia’s position in European institutions is even more important than the protection of human rights and that the political dissents presented at the Court’s five-person council take precedence over the legal decisions in the case “Kovacevic vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
There is no turning back from the struggle with all means possible for a modern democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina!
Adil Kulenović, president
|Association of Independent Intellectuals – Circle 99 (Bosnian: Krug 99), a leading Bosnian think-tank, was established in Sarajevo in 1993, in the midst of the Bosnian war (1992-1995), while the capital was under siege. Circle 99 provides a platform to bring together intellectuals of various professional and ethnic identities; university professors, members of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and other prominent figures from Bosnia and from abroad. Multidisciplinary discussions and initiatives are held each Sunday throughout the academic year, in the form of regular sessions about politics, science, education, culture, economy, and other societal issues. The overall goal is to sensitize the public towards a democratic transformation, achieving and maintaining peace, and integration of modern Bosnia into the community of countries fostering liberal democracy. Circle 99 has been declared an organization of special significance for the city of Sarajevo.