Catherine Ashton, EU apparatchik with the important sounding post of the "High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy" can not get enough of Bosnia. A year ago she boldly declared it a priority for the EU for the year 2010. Having predictably accomplished none of what she had set out to do, she has now let it be known the EU is considering taking measures that would "accelerate the country's path to the EU" (an euphemism for enacting centralisation).
Among the measures being considered are curtailment of financial aid for Bosnia and Herzegovina and travel bans and the freezing of financial assets for those of its politicians for whom it will be determined are "intentionally blocking the countries progression to the EU".
Certainly it is wonderful to know the EU has such a great comprehension of the concept of private property. Seizing the property of politicians you do not like! What a wonderful enhancement of the democratic process. It must be that it is ingenuity like this that is the mark of superior level of political culture in Brussels that legitimises its tutelage over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The criteria for deciding against which elected representatives sanctions would be imposed is no less interesting. Blocking the path to the EU is grounds for confiscation of property? Who knew EU membership was not optional and voluntary, but a must. Travel bans are just as entertaining. I guess, should BiH eventually join the EU the Bosnian politicians with those will just have to be driven out of their homes.
When the scheme was brought to the attention of Doris Pack officially the "European Parliament’s rapporteur on Bosnia and Herzegovina" she stated that she did not know if the proposal was out there, but to no one's surprise whatsoever added, that if there was, she had no objections. She was quoted as saying:
"That is one of the instruments. We do not have many others. We can demand, talk, pass resolutions, but that is not stimulative enough for them. I do not know if there is truth to the initiative of introduction of sanctions, but if there is, I have nothing against it. The politicians [in Bosnia] have to finally realise what they were elected for."Why Doris, we thought politicians were elected to represent the people who elected them?
Locally, SDP reacted by stating they had "absolutely nothing against" such measures and "could not see who could have anything against them". Brussels' favorite sons are obviously not worried any of the sanctions would befell them.
On the other hand the Brussel's least favourite son, Milorad Dodik of the SNSD, did not let himself be fazed, but nonchalantly poured cold rain over the whole thing, noting the international community had tried as much in the period when it had far larger military presence on the ground, immense funding and power through the high representative jet failed to model BiH the way it wanted to regardless.
Indeed, coercive measures such as baroness Catherine Ashton would resort to in the face of her failure would actually be mild in comparison to the berserk methods that were employed in the reign of Wolfgang Petrisch and Paddy Ashdown. Petrisch in 2001 banned from public life the whole upper garniture of the largest party of Bosnian Croats, HDZ BiH, and unseated them from the posts they had been elected to. He actually dismissed the country's Croat member of the presidency from that body. Regardless of such strong-arming frenzies in the past the EU today insists BiH is a failure.
It will remain a failure as long as the extent of the deliberations in Brussels is wether to use coercive methods for establishing of a centralised model of Bosnia, instead of centring around the question if a highly centralised state is actually desirable. Or, what is preferable, over the question if Brussels' has any business meddling in Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin with.