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November 26, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 217
Stojan Cerovic's Diary

The Delighted and the Desperate

Only two kinds of people have remained since the Dayton agreement: the delighted and the desperate. The former are glad that the war is over, the latter are beginning to realize its senselessness and the depth of catastrophe. Most of us probably belong to both groups, either at the same time or alternately, but there are still a few people who belong to neither of the two groups. They feel that the war was small, weak, too short, unworthy of the national greatness; that it remained incomplete, interrupted without a reason, unjustly finished and in all respects insufficient. But, I believe that we may easily neglect the minority.

The essential thing to be understood about the peace agreement is that it will be valid. This means that the cleverest thing for all those to whom the agreement refers would be to start liking it right away. This time the liability is not based only on the three famous signatures, the most credible one of the three being hard to tell. Nor is it based on the American authorization. It is primarily based on the fact that sixty thousand NATO soldiers will be arriving in Bosnia. It would be wise to start liking them as well, which will not be easy, particularly for the Serbs, but it is in a way a matter of persistence and practice.

Apart from the Serbs, Croats and Muslims, only Richard Holbrooke knows how impossible the accomplished task was. To wrap up and tie Bosnia after all that had happened was possible only with the help of a unique combination of carefully selected and distributed threats and promises, and even this could have been done only provisionally. The pressures of internal fear, rage, hatred and profit might easily rip up a thousand seams. This is why it is necessary that the sufficient number of troops should arrive there with sufficient authority and that they should stay long enough.

Of course, no one knows exactly how long is long enough here. For the time being, it seems Clinton is willing to let his troops stay for only a year, and it is still impossible to tell what the other countries are prepared to do. This would mean that the Bosnians could count on a year's peace, or even permanent peace, but in order to re-establish life, especially mutual life, a few other things will be necessary. Perhaps NATO and Bosnia will find out that they were made for each other and decide not to part for years or decades. But, Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims shall seek reasons, other than fear from punishment, for living in such a state. This was considered, too. An aid programme for Bosnia is allegedly being prepared, which is expected to open up everyone's appetites and encourage a feeling of respect toward the state agreed in Dayton. This, of course, is important and good but it is not enough. People may persistently and for a long time continue to nourish passionate hatred toward the hand that feeds them. This certainly does not mean that the Serbs, like all the others, will not line up. Moreover, they would more easily give up Karadzic and Mladic not because they are wanted by the Hague tribunal, but because no one is willing to put a coin into their hat.

There is another external reason which should direct the Bosnians toward living together. It is the Dayton map. The demarcation of the two entities can be considered final and unchangeable without a mutual agreement, and restoration of war is practically out of the question. Everyone can keep proving that the demarcation is unfair, but it is certainly malicious. With all the pockets and corridors, both sides will continually be forced to communicate and cooperate with each other.

However, Bosnia's future remains uncertain because a state is always a matter of the heart. Since this is dangerous and since the state is too serious a thing, it ought to be well organized in order to resist the whims of the heart. If this is achieved, the state becomes more of a habit, which may be boring, but is far safer. This case is a complicated one because Bosnia, in the sense of a habit, had existed for a long time; the reasons of the heart now speak against it and the question is whether there will be enough time to acquire a new habit. The American assistance in the organization of the state would, thus, be invaluable as well as the presence of NATO troops, because no one knows better than the Americans how to subdue the heart, passions and instincts.

Of all those who are disappointed with the Dayton agreement, some of the Bosnian Serb leaders seem to be the most dissatisfied. One can understand the fact that Momcilo Krajisnik rejected the agreement and denied Milosevic the legitimacy which his parliament had once given him, but one does not have to take it too seriously. Krajisnik said what he said in Dayton not knowing what the Bosnian Serbs thought about the agreement and whether they were ready to put on their boots and go into the woods once again.

It is true that the Bosnian Serb Republic did not acquire sovereignty, but it is not something to be sorry about. It was an improvised state. Such states are often established in war-time and last like pontoon bridges - until the end of conflicts. Besides, something will remain of the Bosnian Serb Republic, while absolutely nothing will of Herzeg-Bosnia. Finally, much worse things could have happened to the Serbs. Some time ago, it seemed that they might even win; that the whole world would let them take what they had seized; that no one would punish them and that, instead, a sanitary cordon would be placed between them and the rest of the world. It turned out otherwise and much better, although the Serbs themselves had been resisting it for a long time, and those who are still resisting it are considered the best Serbs. Serbia had deserved the sanctions; the Bosnian Serbs deserved to lose most of the territory which had not been theirs and some which had been theirs; only the Krajina Serbs paid too high a price. But, this greatest anti-civilization adventure has chances to end with Serbia's irretrievable entrance into the world which it has been running away from. Once, in better periods of its history, Serbia had made efforts to approach and imitate the West and Europe. Now the West is coming very close, all the way to the Drina river and it would be very wise for the Serbs to notice the difference between the present-day America and European Union and the former Habsburg monarchy.

It is important now that no member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences should utter that the arrival of NATO troops in Bosnia is the same thing as the annexation of Bosnia by the Austro-Hungarians. Then, it is important that nothing resembling the Black Hand organization (a terrorist organization formed before WW1) should be formed by intelligence or counter-intelligence service and that there should not be someone like Gavrilo Princip whom an American officer would remind of Arch-duke Ferdinand. These are difficult tasks for a nation which likes repeating the most painful scenes from its history. I somehow believe that all the energy for such a running start has been used up and that this Slobodan Milosevic is sincerely trying to defeat that Slobodan Milosevic.

International rehabilitation of Serbia will certainly be burdened by the world's incapability to notice how these two men have nothing in common. Since Milosevic is, by no means, a man who gives up and retreats before such difficulties, it will be really interesting, perhaps even amusing, to watch all the phases of his struggle against the mirror.

For the time being, things are running smoothly. If you looked out of your window on Thursday morning, you could have noticed there were no sanctions around. Everything is beginning to look like it used to, even the famous administrative borders of the former Yugoslavia. But no one who has carefully read the Dayton agreement can say that all the death and suffering was futile. Montenegro gets Prevlaka, which seems to have been the only error of the administrative borders of the former Yugoslavia. There may be a hidden message in the fact that, of all the former Yugoslav republics, only the one which did not raise its voice and which demanded the least, got territorial extension.

Finally, since I have not dealt with the dramatic and stage aspects of the Dayton outcome, I must not fail to mention its international dimension. Some European diplomats grumbled that America has been sabotaging the resolution of the Bosnian crisis only in order to prove that nothing can be accomplished without her. If this is so, we should admit that America has managed to prove it. And Europe will get a chance, some other time.

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