Euro-Atlantic Integration and Ethno-nationalism – Two Dynamics at Work in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Late 2011 and early 2012 saw an apparent political breakthrough in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A ruling coalition of parties finally agreed on the formation of a state government some 15 months after the 2010 parliamentary elections. The parliament adopted two key pieces of legislation required under the EU integration process. The ruling parties reached a political deal outlining principles to resolve the thorny question of how publicly owned property would be distributed among different levels of government, including property for military purposes, a crucial condition for NATO MAP.
By the summer this progress had stalled amid a protracted series of government reshuffles at state and Federation levels. Of more fundamental concern, officials from Bosnia’s Republika Srpska had intensified their rhetorical campaign for state dissolution and secession. Political divisions between parties representing different ethnic groups became a prominent feature of campaigning in the summer and fall for the October local elections. These factors conspired to stall the progress achieved by the country’s authorities early in the year towards integration with the EU and NATO.
Despite these worrying developments, Bosnia and Herzegovina still has the potential to catch up with other countries in the region on the Euro-Atlantic path and to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity. For this to happen, political will and maturity by the country’s leaders will be needed. The international community will also need to remain united behind a combined approach which focuses on the pull factor of EU integration, but also retains the tools of the executive mandates provided for under the Dayton Peace Accords.
Valentin Inzko is an Austrian diplomat who served for four years as Ambassador to Slovenia immediately before taking up his appointment as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina in March 2009.
Inzko has been involved in Southeast European diplomacy since 1981, when he joined the Austrian Foreign Ministry and began working for the department responsible for relations with the region. He was assigned to the Austrian Embassy in Belgrade from 1982 to 1986, and in1992 he headed the OSCE Mission in Sandzak. From 1996 to 1999 Inzko served as the first resident Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this capacity he was responsible for establishing the Austrian embassy in Sarajevo. Based in Vienna from 1999 to 2005, Inzko headed the Austrian Foreign Ministry department responsible for Central, Eastern and Southern Europe as well as Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus.
Before joining the Foreign Ministry, Inzko held senior positions with UN Development Programme missions in Mongolia and Sri Lanka. His other diplomatic postings have included serving as the Austrian Representative at the United Nations, and as the Deputy Director of the UN Disarmament mission.