27 Kasım 2013 Çarşamba

Statehood Day in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Many Questions to be Resolved

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BİH) celebrates Statehood Day on November 25, commemorating the day in 1943 that Bosnia and Herzegovina was re-established by State Anti-fascist Council for the National Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ZAVNOBİH) which was initiated by the Anti-fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ).

The ZAVNOBİH and its activity between 1943 and 1945, is one of the most important events (and relevant legacy) of anti-fascist war in the history of BİH with its resolution at the Founding Assembly and the declaration to Peoples in BİH. This means that the ZAVNOBİH renewed the statehood of BİH by, affirming its historic and political and state-legal individuality, and it later launched a federal Bosnia and Herzegovina after 480 years on November 25th 1943. That is the reason lies behind the Statehood Day and commemoration of it every year on November 25 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The resolution made by ZAVNOBİH has great deal ofimportance in BİH’s history and still stands as a proof of common living in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to ZAVNOBİH’s resolution on June 1st 1944, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina expressed their will to arrange themselves into Yugoslavia as a state of equal nations and ethnicities with the creation of new Yugoslavia. This new state would guarantee full equality to its entire people; the liberated Bosnia and Herzegovina would become free and unified full equality which is also guaranteed to Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats. Therefore, it was stated that peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina desired that their country (which is neither Serb, nor Bosniak and nor Croat rather than either Serb, Bosniakand Croat country) to be free and united in which the full equality of each ethnic group would be secured.

Having considered that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in the year of 1948, the precedingZAVNOBİH resolution passed in 1944 was politically on the same level. This is one of the best examples for traditions of people of the Bosnia and Herzegovina on common living andtheir way of understanding of human rights. It could also beextended to the whole region in terms of AVNOJ’s experience within ex-Yugoslav countries. If people of ex-Yugoslav countries would have deep understanding of human rights and the tradition of common living, why would they havebloody war after the disintegration of Yugoslavia? However, we cannot just blame external factors or one side, as there issome evidence before us to answer this question. It is fact that there had been many crimes during the collapse of Yugoslavia after the Cold War era, but no one as persecuted as Bosniaks,who were not only fighting for survival, but also additionally defending themselves in an ideological war – being waged in the region regarding nationalistic talks of a Greater-Serbia andGreater-Croatia. They also defended the common ground which had been established by the ZAVNOBİH resolution 70 years ago. When the war was stopped by the international community, the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in 1995between the three major ethnic groups. First Bosniaks and Croats made a deal for establishing a federation, with the newly created Bosniak-Croat federation later making anagreement with the Serbs. On this occasion the Dayton Peace Accord divided Bosnia and Herzegovina into two entities and made a reward for the aggressors in which is shown by giving51% of the territory to the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina(which is dominated by Bosniaks and Croats and divided into ten cantons) while, 49% of BİH’s land was designated for the Serbs under the name Republika Srpska (Serbian Republic).                

This year is the 70th anniversary of Statehood Day, under the shadow of claims about splitting Bosnia and Herzegovina into two states by Republika Srpska’s President Milorad Dodik.Dodik’s remarks remind observers of the argument for a potential third entity for Croats in Bosnia Herzegovina.During the speech at a Belgrad Law Faculty last week, Dodikhas made a statement that it would be the best option for Bosnia Herzegovina to divide into two independent states.Dodik said “it would be the best iRepublika Srpska was a state; it will happen one day, we just have to have patience,” emphasizing that Republika Srpska already has all the elements of statehood with regards to its size, number of citizens, independent foreign affairs with other countries and strong state abilities. Moreover, the idea of creating a Croat entity was put up for debate in order to find supporters two years ago.  

These examples could be a spotlight for the argument aboutre-thinking whether the Dayton Peace Accord was fair and contributed to peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or made the situation worse by creating a deadlock condition in thecountry for any progress. It must be underlined that Bosniakscountered a defensive war not just against Serbs and Croats,but also physical aggression which targeted a good example of diversity, pluralistic society and democratic maturity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are still faced with challenges which have been created by the Dayton Peace Agreement as a reward by international community. Richard Holbrooke, the architect of the Dayton agreement, later conceded in 2005 to having made a mistake with the words “Republika Srpska” which isto this day interpreted as if the entity would become an international legal subject.

Burak Yalım
Ph.D Candidate at International University of Sarajevo (IUS)
Researcher @tuicbalkam
He can be followed on twitter by @burakyalim

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