Radišic vs diplomats
Presidency Chair Živko Radišić threw international and political circles into a tizzy Tuesday by threatening to revoke the diplomatic credentials of US Ambassador to BiH Thomas Miller.
"The Presidency has discussed the possibility of denying an agreement to Miller, because in his own work he has overstepped his mandate," Radišić was quoted in Dnevni Avaz. Croat Presidency member Ante Jelavić agreed and also mentioned the possibility of doing the same to British Ambassador to BiH Graham Hand. Muslim Presidency member Halid Genjac's cabinet announced that he did not agree and if it came down to an actual vote, he would be against it.
Radišić was basically accusing Miller of meddling in Bosnia's internal affairs, such as the ongoing saga of who will become the next chair of the Council of Ministers, Bosnia's central government. Miller has also been vocal in the press about the possibility that the United States will give no more aid to the Republika Srpska (RS) if the makeup of the new government is not pleasing to the US. The US State Department announced that the United States has complete confidence in Miller. The US Embassy in Sarajevo said that Miller's behaviour and activities—meeting with government officials on all levels, and with members of all political parties—were completely in line with his diplomatic agreement.
The United States, a country that helped Bosnian leaders come to a peace agreement in 1995 and then poured millions of dollars into Bosnia's post-war recovery, should not have its ambassador criticised for meddling, an Avaz editorial stated Wednesday.
"The US contribution to establishing peace and carrying out the Dayton Accords is immeasurable," wrote Almasa Bajrić. "Considering that fact, characterising Miller as a diplomat who has allegedly exceeded the limits of his mandate is a move that can only harm BiH. Ambassador Miller is right in his own work, in his moral criteria and in his devotion to a prosperous BiH. He deserves the respect of the citizens of this country."
Radišić has since backed away from his statement. Socialist Party Vice-President Biljana Rodić-Obradović explained Thursday that Radišić only meant to defend the Dayton Accords and the BiH Constitution, not to enter into a conflict with the international community.
House votes down Raguž for Council chair
The Presidency's nominee for BiH Council of Ministers chair, Martin Raguž, was not confirmed by the BiH House of Representatives Wednesday. It was no surprise—the House is dominated by the Social Democratic Party-led coalition Alliance for Changes, and Presidency nominee Raguž is from the nationalist Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). So, it is now February and BiH does not yet have a central government.
"It's disgraceful that BiH and the FBiH do not have governments even three months after the elections," said Office of the High Representative (OHR) spokesperson Oleg Milišić at a press conference Thursday. High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch expects the Presidency to not only nominate another candidate as soon as possible, but to nominate someone who can get the necessary votes in the House.
The so-called "parliamentary crisis" has already made foreign investors wary. Zdenka Gast, of the US energy giant Enron, said Thursday that hundreds of millions of investment dollars would be put on hold indefinitely because currently there is no government with whom to negotiate.
Petritsch picks arbitrator for Dobrinja case
The contentious inter-entity boundary line in the Sarajevo neighbourhood of Dobrinja may be closer to being resolved as of High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch's decision Monday to appoint an Irish judge as the case's arbitrator. The RS-Federation border here has been ambiguous since the signing of the Dayton Accords in 1995—in some places the actual border runs through apartment buildings. The entities were supposed to be responsible for solving the problem, but Petritsch said the entity prime ministers preferred to use it as a "political football" and not do anything about it. He named Irish Judge Diarmuid Sheridan to the position. Sheridan's decision, which will probably be made in April, will be final.
HDZ must respect court decision
The HDZ is looking for new excuses to put off implementing November's election results, even though it promised to do so right after the BiH Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the Provisional Election Commission's (PEC) rules, stated international organisations Wednesday.
Party President Ante Jelavić brought the case to court after the elections, complaining that the PEC rules changing how the FBiH House of Peoples was elected were unconstitutional. The party has been a thorn in the side of the international community since October, when the PEC decided that those in the lower house electing House of Peoples members could vote for members outside their own ethnic group. In January, the party also threatened to boycott Federation institutions, and has yet to make up new governments in Hercegovina-Neretva Canton and in Livno Canton. HDZ officials have also been talking about creating a third Croat entity.
Oleg Milišić said the OHR expected the HDZ to 1) obey the Court decision and create canton governments without delay; 2) take part in forming the Federation and BiH House of Peoples; and 3) express loyalty to the BiH state and publicly announce that they do not want a third entity.
On Thursday, the PEC gave cantons a seven-day deadline to hold canton governments' inaugural sessions and to appoint delegates to the FBiH House of Peoples. OSCE spokesperson Luke Zahner said the international community has been patient with the slow implementation of election results while the Court reviewed the HDZ case, but now that the Court has given its decision, implementing the results must not be delayed any longer.
DU not necessarily to blame for Balkans cancers
Reuters quoted a Sarajevo doctor last weekend as saying that NATO's use of depleted uranium ammunition during its 1995 air strikes against Bosnian Serb forces cannot be blamed for every cancer in Bosnia.
Dr Ismet Gavrankapetanović, who heads Sarajevo University medical centre's bone surgery clinic, said that while his team had noticed an increase in the number of cancer patients two years ago, they did not know the reasons. Even without NATO's depleted uranium shells, he said, there were enough factors to account for the rise of cancer in Sarajevo and Bosnia in general.
"If two million grenades fell on Sarajevo during its siege, there must have been heavy metals there, including uranium," he said. "Heavy metals are genotoxic, causing mutation of the DNA that might create conditions conducive to cancer."
Gavrankapetanović said wartime health conditions, including "poor nutrition during the town's 43-month seige by Bosnian Serb forces, as well as daily stress, fear, lack of water and electricity and the use of medicine well past its shelf life", could have contributed to these cancers. He also said that no one could figure out the cause of the cancers until Bosnia establishes a state-level cancer research institute, as health is one of the areas that the entities control.
"I absolutely oppose any abuse of this information for political or any purposes other than the treatment of patients," he said. "In order to conduct real statistical analysis, you have to have a state institute for cancer. It is an essential. I think Bosnia is the only country in the world without it."
Beth Kampschror, 9 February 2001
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