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Bosnia: The missing billions

Bosnia: The missing billions
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Valerie Zabriskie: “Joining me now from Sarajevo is Sanel Huskic, President of the ACIPS think tank which focuses on EU integration and current political issues.

“Mr Huskic, since the end of the war in Bosnia, there has been more financial aid from foreign donors than the amount poured into 18 western European nations under the post-World War II Marshall Plan.

“Yet out of almost eight billion euros, only half can be accounted for. Where does this money go?”

Sanel Huskic: “Well, it’s a very good point. Bosnia has received the most aid since World War II, per capita, I have to add. And the money has gone into the pockets of nationalist political leaders because of the very complex administrative structures and the many layers of the decision-making which means it enables them to find ways to actually take this money for their own personal interest. So half of that money has pretty much gone in that way. The second half did not yield very much because the international community was investing in a very inefficient and very expensive state.”

Zabriskie: “Fifteen years after the genocide in Srebenica, it seems that Bosnia still has a long way to go to aspire to EU or NATO membership. Is there a feeling that Bosnians are let’s say, frustrated with paying for the political mistakes of others?”

Sanel Huskic: “Well, there is certainly this feeling of helplessness because we are at the mercy of our politicians who have been governing this country since 1996 and there’s been very little progress.

“They are the elites who really don’t mean to do well for the people they are supposed to govern. So of course the Bosnians are turning towards the European Union and the United States.

“At the moment, the EU is going through a terrible period of financial crisis with Greece, Portugal and Spain and there is also a sense of enlargement fatigue. And we can sense that there is little engagement in Bosnia at the moment. So, in that sense, Bosnians are quite frustrated with this because we really need some assistance at this point because it’s becoming very, very intolerable especially during the pre-election period.”

Zabriskie: “My last question. They say that the Srebrenica genocide paved the way for the Dayton Peace Accords in November of 1995. Yet today Bosnia is still divided among ethnic lines. For you, have these peace accords been a failure?”

Sanel Huskic: “Well, the Dayton Peace Accords, which is our constitution, they did not fail with one thing. That thing is they stopped the bloodshed, there is no doubt about that. But they actually stopped everything else. There are no reforms that are undertaken. There is no new energy, ideas or innovations at any level. So in that sense they really failed. They are just not creating any premises for improvement.

“The unemployment rate is atrocious, the standard of living is appalling. Basically the state – in such a constitutional set-up – cannot take care of its own business, the business it’s supposed to do. The only thing the Dayton Peace Accords, which, again, represents our constitution, is providing now is a haven for the crooked politicians to undertake the very bad things such as corruption, lack of transparency and many other things. So the Dayton Peace Accords, they stopped the war but they also stopped all other progress in this state.”

Zabriskie: “Mr Huskic thank you for your time.”

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