Monday, December 28, 2009

Domination and Discrimination

My column last week dealt with the decision at the European Court of Human Rights that the Dayton Constitution discriminates against minorities in Bosnia, and I also had a live guest appearance on RT about the story as well.

Not surprisingly, I said the same thing in both venues: yes, the Constitution shortchanges Bosnians that do not belong to the three constituent communities - Serbs, Croats and Muslims ("Bosniaks"), and that obviously ought to be fixed. However, this should not be used as an excuse to tear down what little is left of the Dayton accords, because there exists no viable alternative to the 1995 armistice. The fundamental problem of Bosnia - the fact that its three main ethnic communities disagree whether the country should exist in the first place, let alone how it ought to be organized, and that there is little trust between them, if any - remains just as acute today as it was in April 1992 when it spiraled into bloody ethnic warfare.

This doesn't mean I endorse second-class citizen status for Jews, Roma, or anyone else. But there has to be a better way to ensure one's civil rights than playing into the hands of people like Haris Silajdzic, who hide their agenda of making everyone a second-class citizen behind the rhetoric of "citizen state" and multiethnic multiculturalism. One way or another, the three principal communities in the country have to agree to live together - or separately, if it comes to that - in a way that doesn't trample the rights of anyone, including minorities. If there's a better way to do so than Dayton, by all means let's hear it.

But the real problem for Jews in Bosnia isn't that Jakub Finci can't run for President. Once there was a vibrant Jewish community in Sarajevo. Then came the Independent State of Croatia, with its ideas about "Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and dogs" and support of the "community of European nations" led by Nazi Germany. The descendants of those that survived packed up and left when the civil war broke out in 1992, and never came back. Sarajevo is now over 90% Muslim. There's barely a handful of Jews left, so few that a rabbi has to fly in from Israel to hold services at major holidays.

Somehow I doubt that's the fault of the Dayton agreement.


Homophobic Horse said...

Haris Silajdzic is beneath comment.

ajokic said...

You say that the problem of constitutional "shortchanging" of non-Serb-non-Muslim-non-Croat citizens of BiH ought to be "fixed". And then you add a "but". But here's my BUT: Wasn't this an opportunity for the alleged big deal HR Court in Europe to judge properly, i.e., instead of just giving the Jew 20K euros and the Rom 1K of euros, the "court" should have said: "BiH" you have 50 days to write out discriminatory shit language from your "constitution" written by moron foreigners.

Gray Falcon said...

The court did say the Constitution needs to be amended, though. Now the question is of how. No doubt those who would like nothing more than for the "international community" to impose more centralization will not even try to craft a workable amendment. We'll see how that works.

ajokic said...

Well, with all due respect constitutions are not the sort of things that can have needs. The court "saying" that change (something vague and useless) "is needed" is a very different from mandating a very specific change that would do away with present discriminatory character of the document. I know you are concerned about "centralization" as it is necessarily anti-Serb (even anti-Croat). But, it is a wild speculation to claim as you do that even if the court were very specific in what it mandated as required change, that this would also lead to some dramatic anti-Serb rewriting of the constitution. Some times it is rational to be paranoid, and this might be the predicament of Serbs in Bosnia vis a vis "international community," but it strikes me as exaggerated to be afraid of the specific kind of change I describe the court should have demanded.

Gray Falcon said...

If the court specifically said "make such and such a change and the Constitution will no longer be discriminatory," that would be one thing. I don't know that it has. But if it has, I'll definitely try and find out what those specifics were.

One question to keep in mind is that the Constitution doesn't rewrite itself. It needs to be amended by the legislators in Bosnia - who are divided not just along ethnic lines, but also politically. And so far, every time their discussions inevitably dead-ended, the "international community" stepped in and imposed a solution, usually favoring a centralized government. So I wouldn't say I'm being paranoid. Just realistic.