Ten Years After the Start of the Bosnian War
Summary of the East European Studies seminar with Robert Hayden, Director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, PA; Paul Shoup, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of Virginia, VA; and, Stevan Lilic, Fellow at the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, PA.
Today, April 5, 2002, marks the tenth anniversary of the outbreak of war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH). To mark this anniversary, EES organized this panel in order to provide a detailed description, retrospective, and analysis of the progress made during the past ten years. While Dr. Shoup and Dr. Hayden were more guarded in their evaluations, Mr. Lilic, a member of the Serbian parliament, expressed a positive outlook for the future of BiH. Both Shoup and Lilic emphasized the importance of keeping international peacekeeping troops in Bosnia and other areas of the former Yugoslavia in order to ensure needed stability and peace.
Dr. Shoup focused primarily on the academic literature on the war in Bosnia, which he believes is starting to reflect more of a realistic as opposed to an "agenda-driven" focus, and this is all for the good. Dr. Shoup also addressed the debate surrounding ancient hatreds as a cause of the Bosnian war, emphasizing that fear was a main cause of the war and that this fear was grounded in the region's real, not imagined, past. For this reason, Dr. Shoup worries that Bosnia today, despite its tranquility, is still a place of hidden fears and dread, and therefore of instability.
Dr. Hayden expressed concern that BiH today is more and more coming to resemble the Bosnia of the Titoist era, when decisions were made by decree of non-elected communist officials acting the name of a "higher good." He attributes the troubling political deadlock in large part to the international community's Office of the High Representative, which he claims are unelected international civil servants, who are running the country like colonial viceroys while simultaneously proclaiming themselves to be acting according to the highest principles of democracy and morality. Hayden suggests Switzerland's cantonal structure as evidence that a BiH consisting of mono-ethnic entities is possible and could prove successful.
From a somewhat more upbeat perspective, Mr. Lilic focused on the many positive developments in the region. He was quick to point out that, ten years later, BiH has experienced six years of peace. The fact that there is little to report is a good thing, in that ten years ago what could be reported was very bad. Looking down the road, Mr. Lilic predicts steady progress for BiH. He expects Southeastern Europe to become increasingly integrated into the European processes, while the United States takes a less predominant role.