Ahmed Burić: Survive Escobar and Welcome Chollet

Obituary for Escobar. That is the name of a Serbian film from 2008, which observes the Belgrade criminal milieu in a relatively humorous way. It is mostly a primitive and brutal world, and director and screenwriter Predrag Milinković introduces Anđelo as the narrator, who has the function of the Greek chorus. I don’t know why, but during the visit of the Special Envoy of the United States, that title kept running through my head, not that of Surviving Escobar, a much more famous and developed Colombian series. Maybe because a high-ranking official of the American administration, definitely, has to write some political death certificates if we all want there to be no war.

It is still impossible to read from Gabriel Escobar’s visit what exactly he talked about with the three tribal chieftains, but it is clear that ‘there will be sanctions and they will apply to private individuals’. In practice, this should mean dismantling tycoons from Dodik’s vicinity, who are, in fact, the keepers of his treasure. What is not completely clear is what percentage of Serbs in BiH really think what Dodik is saying. That percentage is probably not small, but the number of those who would fight for it – is. In that sense, the mention of proxy Russians, who would, as it were, come to fight for the world of Republika Srpska, sounds incredible, but people’s fear is justified. As they would say in Herzegovina: Who was bitten by snakes, runs away even from lizards.

The Worst Comes Last

What Dodik really exaggerated is the symbolic level: and Americans know how to be very sensitive to that. Do you know, for example, why fellow journalists are freezing and waiting for his statement in front of the presidency? Because he will not be photographed in front of the coat of arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the flag. Did you know, furthermore, that in the ceremonial hall of the presidency there is a painting by the Austrian painter Franz Leo Ruben, created around 1897, which, among other things, shows motifs of old Sarajevo, women in ‘dimije’ (Ottoman era pants) and a minaret in a small mosque. Ruben was a ‘court’ painter of historical scenes and landscapes, and lived in various destinations. Among others in Rome and Venice. Paintings from his Sarajevo period reach relatively high prices at international auctions, but the painting must be covered when Milorad is in the Presidency. So he doesn’t look at folk costumes. And mosques. And all that together. Really, how primitive does one have to be, to behave like that? He regularly holds press conferences in East Sarajevo, exclusively with RS insignias, and there are about 7,000 people from RS in state institutions, who cost the state budget like St. Peter’s scrambled eggs. The paradox is that in a country where no one feels safe, the biggest consumers are SIPA, coordinating police bodies, and the Ministry of Defence, which is Dodik’s biggest thorn in his side. Most of these people are paid for their travel expenses per kilometre, and most of them live in pale and are reported throughout the RS. Just so more kilometres can be displayed. Plus meal allowance, bonuses and all other benefits of the Civil Service.

There, that is part of the truth about Dodik, who insults everyone. But sometimes, the table turns: in a recent visit to Erdoğan, he still had to appear before journalists under the Bosnian flag. Force, therefore, does not substitute prayer, but it also shows the weakness of intentions. Because he, and that absolutely connects him with Čović and Izetbegović, does not have a political vision of the future. Except staying in power. It is true that he follows the Greater Serbia plan for the Serbian world, but that was not his original commitment: he entered the scene as a social democrat and anti-Karadžić, and as such had American sympathies. It turns out that time has passed, and that the best, that is, the worst comes at the end.

The cherry on top of the cake is Derek Chollet, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who is called Joseph Biden’s man for special political assignments. Who usually carries out what he set out to do. ‘Little Holbrooke,’ as they used to call him in part of the administration, played a serious role in creating peace processes in the Balkans, was a speech writer for the creator of the Dayton Agreement and, practically, created the Armed Forces of BiH. He has the opportunity to preserve what he has done, but we should also listen to Escobar, who says: ‘BiH citizens must fight more for the rule of law in their country.’

Therefore, the protests in front of the OHR and the constant addressing of the problem to the international community are mostly meaningless. As long as everything is resolved between the representatives of the people, and the Bosniak and Croat leaders are led by criminals who would like their problems to be solved by someone else, and for them to rule indefinitely and unhindered – there will be no luck.

Everything Has an Expiration Date, Even Dayton

The Dayton Peace Agreement, like any paper, has its own expiration date. In the meantime, nothing else has emerged that could replace it, and things on the ground, however, cannot be regulated by something that is, in fact, a truce signing agreement.

So, if the judiciary is not depoliticized and the smooth operation of a few prosecutors who could act independently is ensured, and electronic voting is not introduced in the elections, there will be no effect on punishing Dodik and his tycoons.

Until then, civil servants who Dodik loaded into the service for his mandate, and today, he does not allow them to go to work, will nibble on their sandwiches – not to spend any money on their work, with the ‘enemy’ – and cover the canvases on which the mosques are. Because they can.

And because those who should have, did nothing to make it so. And it would be neither right nor fair for them to remain there without Dodik being removed.

Because Bosnia and Herzegovina can only exist in the integration process, and with the protection of the United States, when the Democrats are in power: Nazi-populists cannot build a civil society.

This will, one day, have to be understood by the Special Envoys as well.

Until then, they will continue doing our politicians jobs.

Prethodna vijest

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