The people who are here are just fighting for their rights. They are all victims of the politicians here in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Abid Sehovic, 39, the Muslim who leads Bosnias version of the Occupy movement. They promised us everything and then fooled us.
Western diplomats and experts said that the United States and the European Union, their attentions shifted to other global trouble spots, have refused to get tough with Bosnias nationalists — especially Dodik — whom theyve instead tried to appease. In their latest concession, they agreed to his demand to pull international judges and prosecutors out of Bosnias top war crimes court at the end of the year.
There is a real need for us to stay here, said Phillip Weiner, a former Massachusetts prosecutor who serves as a judge, explaining that hundreds of war crimes cases are still pending. There is still a lack of trust between the ethnic groups. Thats why you need an international presence (on the court) thats not involved with any of the sides.
U.S. and European officials now hope that the prospect of Bosnias membership in NATO and the EU will push the nationalist parties to embrace the reforms theyve repeatedly failed to approve. But that seems a long shot _ especially in the Serbian republic, where anger remains high over NATO bombing of Bosnian Serb forces in 1994-95 and the 1999 NATO air campaign against Serbia.
Never in NATO, Brother Serb, declares a roadside billboard in Lukavica bearing a picture of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia, regarded by many Serbs as their historic foreign protector. In an upper corner of the billboard is a small picture of Vojislav Seselj, a Serbian ultranationalist on trial before the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
We dont want the European Union, it says.
Emotionally freighted symbols are everywhere. In Mostar, a southern city where some 50,000 Muslims were driven into a pocket on the eastern bank of the Neretva River in 1993 and pounded by fighters of a self-declared Bosnian Croat mini-state, tensions over one such symbol are threatening a financial crisis.
The city council has been unable to meet to pass a 2012 budget since Muslim members boycotted the March 26 opening of a new city hall. The reason for the boycott: a replica of a medieval Croatian tombstone that was placed next to the building as a memorial to seven fighters of the Bosnian Croat militia that besieged the Muslims.
Sometime during the night of April 13-14, another monument was quietly placed in front of the building, this one to fallen soldiers of the predominantly Muslim Bosnian army.