By Mr. Thierry Domin
First published in
SFOR Informer#111, April 18, 2001
In accordance with its mandate, as stated in General
Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (GFAP,
Annex 1 A), SFOR's mission is to provide a safe and secure environment.
The events that took place during the last 10 days all over the
country remind SFOR of its core tasks.
It's not without reason that SFOR Informer publishes
in this issue several articles about Joint Military Affairs and
various operations conducted in BiH. Recent events in the political
arena have finally affected the Federation Army (VF), SFOR and
the country itself. With the passing of time one can stand back
and judge events better.
It is perhaps useful to go back to the origins of
the crisis: December 1999, when Croatian President Franjo Tudjman
died. General elections following his death brought power to the
moderate politicians at odds with Tudjman's hard-line nationalism.
new approach of regional and international relations was felt
as a betrayal by some of the more extremists among Bosnian-Croats.
One has to keep in mind that, during the war, a so-called "Croat
Republic of Herceg Bosna" was unilaterally proclaimed in
the south and southwest of the country, seceding from Sarajevo's
central power. The aim of this "republic" was, of course,
to join the fatherland of Croatia once the conflict ended.
Appalled by what they looked upon as a denial, B-Croat hard-liners,
among them one of the tri-partite presidents of the state, Mr.
Ante Jelavic, decided last year to add more pressure in order
to obtain new advantages for their community. Fortified by the
very narrow success of their party (HDZ, Croat Democratic Party)
on Nov. 11, 2000, general elections, during which he organised
a parallel and illegal referendum, Jelavic boasted about his being
the unique representative of the B-Croats in BiH.
That was not the case. Other B-Croat political parties, even though
they are smaller than the HDZ, formed a coalition after the elections
with other non-nationalist parties, such as SDP (Social Democrat
Party) of Mr. Lagumdzija and SBiH (Union for BiH) of Mr. Silajdzic.
This coalition, called "Alliance for Change," finally
represented a larger group - with more seats in the different
assemblies - than any of the hard-line parties and, among others,
the HDZ. It is within the "Alliance for Change" that
responsible political leaders have been selected to head the state
and the Federation in both the legislative and executive branches.
In our countries, one calls that democracy.
Jelavic did not accept this reversal of the situation. He indeed
has been, with his friends, leading the country for the past five
years - since the end of the war. Backed by funds of uncertain
origin, he had, under cover of the protection of B-Croats rightful
interests, attempted to perform a coup. His behaviour was in full
opposition to both the Dayton Peace Agreement (Nov. 10, 1995)
and the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(GFAP), signed in Paris Dec. 14, 1995. The international community's
patience was tested for a long time.
Finally, High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch, noting that dialogue
was impossible, sacked Jelavic from his posts as president of
the state and president of the HDZ on March 5. Jelavic then started
to embellish in several areas, re-iterated his refusal to take
part in legislative and executive authorities and called for secession
and desertion of B-Croat military, policemen and state servants.
The decision of the high representative to appoint a provisional
administrator for the "Hercegovacka Banka" sparked the
incidents. But the firmness and the wisdom of legally elected
authorities, backed by the whole international community, wrecked
Jelavic's autonomous and subversive activities. Better, the state
and the Federation could be strengthened after those events.
In accordance with its mandate as stated in GFAP, Annex 1 A, SFOR
re-established, on a theatre-wide scale, a safe and secure environment.