At The Request of Croatia High Representative, Christian Schmidt, Intends To Impose Discriminatory And Antisemitic Election Laws in Bosnia

Posted: 17. Avgusta 2022. in Intervjui

The High Representative, Christian Schmidt, whose role is to oversee the implementation of the civic structure of Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is planning on imposing new election laws on the Bosnian entity (administrative part) of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the request of Croatia. The new election laws are seen by vast majority of Bosnian citizens to be discriminatory, antisemitic and even fascist. 

After the 1992-95 war on the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (i.e. aggression by Serbia and Croatia) was brought to an end by Dayton Peace Accords, the country was internally organised into two administrative units (I.e. entities). The role of High representative was also established in Annex 10 of Dayton Peace Accords. 

Since the war ended, there has been a succession of High representatives appointed from the EU by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC). 

The present High Representative is Christian  Schmidt, a German politician and former  Minister of Agriculture in Germany.

While there was a heavy ‘push’ by Germany to have him appointed as High Representative, the Bosnian diaspora in the U.S. firmly opposed it, expressing their grave concerns to the U.S. administration in their letter of 22nd February 2021 to the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken.(1) 

In their letter they stated that ‘by seeking to appease the forces of segregation and secessionists in BiH – and their benefactors in Zagreb, Belgrade, and Moscow – Schmidt will only distance the country from its rightful place within the community of Western democracies.” They also went on to say that ‘It is also alarming that Schmidt’s political party – the Christian Social Union (CSU) – is a very vocal supporter of the Croatian HDZ, a far right party with a large anti-Semitic base in Croatia and BiH. In fact, Schmidt received the Order of Ante Starcevic by the HDZ, an award that was also given to individuals that were accused and convicted of war crimes.’(1)

Just to add here that Christian Schmidt was awarded an order of Ante Starcevic in 2020, by the Prime Minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenković. (2)

The same order of Ante Starcevic was also awarded to the convicted war criminals Dario Kordic and Jadranko Prlic.(2a)

Ante Starcevic was a Croatian nationalist politician whose ideology included creation of Greater Croatia. “Most right-wing parties in Croatia claim his politics as their legacy.”(3)

Needless to say that the Croatian right-wing politics in WWII led to the Ustasha movement being founded  which saw 30,000 Jews imprisoned and massacred by the Ustashas in Croatia, in concentration camps like Jasenovac, Stara Gradiška, Lepoglava, to mention just a few. 

The legacy of the same politics was pursued by Croatia and its ruling (far right) nationalist party HDZ during its aggression on the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1993-1995) which had been ruled as ‘joint criminal enterprise’ by the International Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, also confirming that the President of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman was leading the ‘joint criminal enterprise’. 

The ICTY’s ruling of 29th November 2017 also read: 

“The Appeals Chamber upheld the Trial Chamber’s findings that key members of Croatia’s then-leadership, including President Franjo Tuđman, Defence Minister Gojko Šušak, and Janko Bobetko, a senior General in the Croatian Army, shared the criminal purpose to ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims and contributed to realizing that goal.” (3a)

A number of Bosnian Croat politicians and military leaders have been sentenced for war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, running of concentration camps such as Dretelj, Gabela, Heliodrom, to name just a few, where they imprisoned Bosniak civilians, torturing, and killing many of them.(4)(5)(6)

The legacy of that politics is apparently very alive and present in the official politics of present day Croatia which is trying to impose election laws on part of Bosnia and Herzegovina via High Representative, Christian Schmidt-  the election laws one can easily see as being both fascist and antisemitic in that they are discriminating against Jews, Romas and others who do not fall within one of the three ethnic groups (Croats, Serbs or Bosniaks), by depriving them of any rights to run for High office! 

The final and ultimate aim of such an election law is for Croatia to carve up Bosnia and Herzegovina and create ‘Greater Croatia’ by joining the part of Bosnia they had occupied by force during the 1993-95 Croatian aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina, committing war crimes, running concentration camps, mass rapes, and ethnic cleansing, to Croatia, thus creating ‘Greater Croatia’ as per the ideology founded by Ante Starcevic.

The election law that Christian Schmidt seems to want to impose is also contrary to four verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights, one of which is the verdict on Mr. Jakob Finci, a Bosnian Jew, and Mr. Dervo Sejdic,a Bosnian Roma. (6a)(6b)

All the rulings found the existing election law to be discriminatory as explained in an article by Baroness Arminka Helic of 01.08.22. (7) 

None of the verdicts have been implemented till this date. (8)(9)

Implementing those verdicts would bring in equality to the existing election law for all. Sadly, High Representative, Christian Schmidt doesn’t seem concerned with implementing those ECHR verdicts instead of making them his main priority!

He doesn’t seem to be concerned with changing the election laws in Bosnia’s entity of ‘Relublika srpska’ either where only a Serb can run and be elected as a member of the Bosnian Presidency, where apartheid is the best way to describe the place where the remaining non-Serbs (including Jews, Romas and others) live, where all children are taught in schools that war criminals are heroes and the history that is based on lies and fabrications, where the maternal tongue of others is banned – the dark list of similar horrors could go on and on!

The new election laws Christian Schmidt seems to want to impose on the Bosnian entity of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is seeking to just further widen and cement ethnic divide, and ‘may cement de facto ban on Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Jews holding high office’. (8)

Such election laws would weigh local demographics in elections, which would benefit only ethnonationalists to further consolidate their power. (9)

Such an election law is being backed by the US and UK!(7) Knowingly or not, they seem to have chosen to be on the wrong side of history. But, I’d say we definitely must be concerned with such a choice and consequences it would have on people affected by such discriminatory and antisemitic election laws. 

Apart from the US and UK, Israel seems to have landed its support to such election laws that would discriminate Jews!

Namely, the Israeli embassy in Tirana, covering Bosnia and Herzegovina as well, issued a Memo ‘welcoming’ such discriminating (and antisemitic) election laws as reported in all Bosnian media on 8th August 2022.

The Israeli embassy Memo was also reported in the Israeli media such as the Haaretz on 10th August 2022, and the Times of Israel on 13th August 2022. (10)(11)

The Memo of support to such election laws issued by the Israeli embassy in Tirana was met with official reactions in Bosnia and Herzegovina condemning such an action on part of Israel. 

Thus, Bosnian Foreign Minister, Mrs. Bisera Turkovic, a Bosniak of Jewish descent, expressed her disbelief in her interview given to the Haaretz and reported in the JTA:

“It is hard to fathom how the official policy of the State of Israel could be to welcome the discrimination of Jews in not being able to hold office in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic, according to Haaretz. “The proposed electoral legislation would cement the current discriminatory system towards minorities in Bosnia.”(11)

Head of Bosnian Jewish community, Mr. Jakob Finci, also expressed his disbelief in the support given by Israel to the election laws that High representative, C. Schmidt intends on imposing on Bosnia at the request of Croatia, stating that those would ‘minimise the political influence of Jews and other minorities’. (9) Criticising Israel, Mr. Finci accused the Israeli embassy in Tirana of ‘acting in support of a local ethnic Croat political party’. 

Mr. Finci stated that ‘this was the first time that Israel is taking a position in internal Bosnia affairs, not,helping the Jewish community, or,at the request of Jewish community, but one political party in the country’.(9)

The ‘political party’ that Mr. Jakob Finci referred to in his statement is the Croatian HDZ in Bosnia- ‘a far right party with a large anti-Semitic base in Croatia and BiH’ as per the letter of the Bosnian diaspora of 22nd February 2021. (1)

In their response to Mr. Finci The Foreign Ministry of Israel stated they had ‘no interest in responding to his words’!(9) 

Putting it politely, ‘we heard you but we shall still continue to do as we please’! 

Should we too, be left in disbelief to the state of Israel welcoming such election laws that discriminate against Jews, that High Representative, Christian Schmidt, a former German diplomat and politician, seems to want to impose on Bosnia at the request of Croatia? Shouldn’t they instead be screaming ‘antisemitism’ at the very mention of a possibility of imposing such election laws in Bosnia? Shouldn’t they be protesting to the US and UK for supporting Christian Schmidt in his intention to impose such laws?! 

I shall leave it to the readers to ponder over those questions, and would finish by quoting a tweet from Jews Sans Frontiers of 11th August 2022 commenting on the interview given by Head of Bosnian Jewish community, Mr. Jakob Finci: “Bosnian Jewish community leader protests Israel's support for ethnonationalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina. New electoral law excludes Jews and Roma with Israel's support. I don't know why a knowledgeable Jewish leader would be surprised at this.”(12)

What can we do? Write to our governments  and MPs or members of Congress in the UK, US and Israel, to protest and demand that they stop supporting High Representative, Christian Schmidt in his intention to impose such discriminatory and antisemitic election laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina. If you can, please do. 

J. Delich 

——-

(1) Bosnian American Diaspora Opposes German Push for New High Representative – Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina

(2) Berlinski Magazin – Premijer Plenković U Berlinu uručio odličje Red Ante Starčevića, Christianu Schmidtu njemačkom zastupniku.

(2a) https://istraga.ba/njemacki-kandidat-za-visokog-predstavnika-schmidt-u-starcevicevom-redu-sa-ratnim-zlocincima/?amp

(3) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ante_Star%C4%8Devi%C4%87

(3a) https://www.icty.org/en/press/statement-of-the-office-of-the-prosecutor-in-relation-to-the-judgement-in-the-case-prosecutor

(4) https://balkaninsight.com/2012/09/14/the-untold-story-of-the-dretelj-horrors/

(5)https://hyperleap.com/topic/Dretelj_camp/Heliodrom_camp

(6) What do Heliodrom camp, Milivoj Petković and Dretelj…

(6a)https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/app/conversion/pdf/?library=ECHR&id=001-96491&filename=001-96491.pdf&TID=iebbmqdlge

(6b) https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-4820451-5878717#%7B%22itemid%22:%5B%22003-4820451-5878717%22%5D%7D

(7) https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/electoral-reform-proposals-bosnia-and-herzegovina-will-cement-ethnic-divisions/

(8) https://www.timesofisrael.com/new-law-may-cement-de-facto-ban-on-bosnia-herzegovinas-jews-holding-high-office/

(9) https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/2022-08-11/ty-article/.premium/head-of-bosnian-jewish-community-astonished-by-israeli-memo-on-election-reform/00000182-8d44-d68b-a3e2-ff454bfb0000

(10) https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2022-08-10/ty-article/.highlight/this-is-crazy-israel-embassy-memo-creates-political-storm-in-balkans/00000182-87b4-dd75-a7eb-a7bfd7f60000

(11)https://www.timesofisrael.com/leaked-memo-shows-israeli-support-for-law-blocking-jews-from-bosnias-leadership/

(12)https://twitter.com/jewssf/status/1558154206900625410?s=30&t=LaX6uDt2Q-6dAYJ2W7nGCw

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