After Germany officially confirmed Christian Schmidt’s candidacy for the eighth High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the domestic public became interested in a summary of the activity of the current High Representative, Valentin Inzko, during the last 12 years.
Inzko, who got this position in 2009, is the High Representative with arguably the longest mandate, and the question of how many concrete steps he has taken at this position is causing much controversy. Opinions about Inzko’s political activities, as the man with the greatest powers in BiH, are very polarized, Klix
Politicians from the smaller BiH entity led by Milorad Dodik, who have constantly questioned the need for the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in BiH, blame Inzko, as they say, for favoring the interests of Bosniaks only. On the other hand, politicians from the Federation of BiH often blame him for the apathetic answers and the lack of sanctions for constant attacks on the statehood and sovereignty of our country, as well as the non-use of the Bonn powers.
When Inzko came to BiH 12 years ago, the international community gave him the task of trying to “wean” political entities in our country from international intervention, which would ultimately result in the closure of the OHR in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the time has shown that the transfer of power to BiH politicians only leads to further destabilization of the country, which makes it certain that the OHR will exist for a while longer.
However, in a certain aspect, this can be considered as Inzko’s success, because despite the attacks on the OHR from many sides, primarily Russia, the international community remained decided in its commitment to achieving lasting stability and functionality in our country. The fact that the High Representative role will remain in BiH is just an indication that domestic leaders have not provided enough evidence that they are ready to make this country more functional, reject divisions from the past, and move towards complete reintegration of the country.
One of the certain positive aspects of Inzko’s mandate in our country is that he managed to maintain the focus of the international community on BiH for all 12 years. He has managed to do so primarily through his constant submission of biennial reports to the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
This is particularly important since the UN Security Council deals with much broader, burning global issues and conflicts. In all of this, it is very important to keep the focus of the international community on the peace implementation process in BiH. During Inzko’s mandate, former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, visited Sarajevo and Srebrenica.
During his mandate, more precisely in 2010, BiH got a visa-free regime with the countries of the European Union (EU), which is certainly one of the greatest successes in the international relations of our country.
However, some of the standard “thorns” in BiH are still present, and many have intensified. Domestic institutions have done nothing to stop crime and corruption. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), published annually by Transparency International, our country has been at the top of the European list of the most corrupt countries for years now.
Furthermore, one of the biggest objections that could be made to Inzko is that he did not impose an obligation on domestic leaders to fully implement the five goals and two conditions, which have been confirmed by the Peace Implementation Council, and which would create the conditions for abolishing the OHR. This could create the way for our country’s accession to the EU as soon as possible.
It should be emphasized, however, that Inzko decided to “withdraw with style”. In recent months, to recall, he has begun to take more concrete steps and more direct criticism of certain politicians. He directly announced sanctions against Dodik if he did not remove the plaque with the name of war criminal Radovan Karadzic from the student dormitory in Pale, which he then did, but through an “intermediary”. At the end of last year, he announced that action will be made if the denial of genocide and the celebration of war criminals continue. Part of the credit can certainly be attributed to him for the resignation of the President of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH, Milan Tegeltija, after the “Potkrivanje 2” affair.
In any case, the new High Representative will have a lot of work that needs to be finished in our country, and he can expect the Russian Federation, who is a member of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) to make it difficult.
Namely, as Russia’s influence has strengthened on the world political scene in recent years, their opposition to the High Representative’s powers keeps getting louder.