Bosnia by the Black Sea? Could Crimea be another BiH?

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I have an op ed on this topic on the Open Democracy Russia website under the title “Could Crimea Be Another Bosnia?”

http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/gerard-toal/could-crimea-be-another-bosnia-republika-srpska-krajina

For Bosnia specialists, below is the source I used for the opening quote. Specialists will know I analyzed this ‘performative structure’ in my long article on Dodik’s referendum discourse in Nationalities Papers though it was cited incorrectly as Croatian Radio 1990 when it should have, obviously, been 1991, and I incorrectly attributed it to Karadzic whereas Nikola Koljevic, SDS’s BiH President at the time, is the figure reported as using that characterization.

Also, Bosnian specialists will know that there is considerable debate over the significance of October Memorandum passed by the Socialist Assembly and the relationship of ‘sovereign’ to ‘independent.’ Izetbegovic stressed that sovereignty did not mean independence. As we know, the “independence” declaration came later after the Feb 29-March 1 1992 referendum. This understanding equates “independent” with “independent state” in the international interstate system. There is a second more localized understanding of independent, that of a coherent unified (“within its existing borders”) non-encumbered singular actor in a federal system (with a legal right to secession from this system). This, of course, was a stepping stone to the first meaning, which is why Karadzic’s SDS members were dramatically upping the ante after the (depending on your perspective) illegal maneuvre or democratic majority vote on the Memorandum of Sovereignty in October 1991. In the end, to avoid confusion, I dropped the word ‘independent’ though this is how Ana Trbovich described (my emphasis) the Memorandum  A Legal Geography of Yugoslavia’s Disintegration (Oxford, 2008) p. 220: “The proposed Memorandum declared the republic a sovereign and independent state within its existing boundaries…”

__________________________________________________

November 14, 1991, Thursday

BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA SERBS VOTE OVERWHELMINGLY TO STAY IN YUGOSLAVIA

SOURCE: Text of report from Sarajevo

(c) Croatian Radio, Zagreb 1600 gmt 11 Nov 91

SECTION: Part 2 Eastern Europe; C. SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT; YUGOSLAVIA; EE/1229/C1/ 1;

LENGTH: 513 words

Who is against Yugoslavia is against us, and now, after the plebiscite, we have enough arguments to prevent the separation of the whole of Bosnia-Hercegovina from Yugoslavia, Radovan Karadzic, president of the SDS, said at a press conference today in reaction to the referendum of the Serbian people in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

It is clear after the plebiscite that the statistical figures of the last census were incorrect and that the number of Serbs is higher. In some municipalities the number of Serbs who voted was about 1,000 higher than had been stated in the census, Vojislav Maksimovic, chairman of the SDS deputies’ club, stated at the same press conference.

The plebiscite of the Serbian people is a democratic reply to undemocratic pressures, and it is now clear that Bosnia-Hercegovina does not have to be either sovereign or independent as far as the people are concerned, Nikola Koljevic, member of the Bosnia-Hercegovina Presidency from the SDS ranks, said. The plebiscite has provided Europe with an indication as to where a solution to the problem of Yugoslavia should be looked for. But we in Yugoslavia do not need their recipes, Momcilo Krajisnik, President of the Assembly of the Serbian Nation, said, going on to add that as early as in the course of the current week that same Assembly would verify the results of the plebiscite and pass decisions to reflect its outcome.

In the light of the above it is quite clear what motives were behind the plebiscite and what further steps the SDS is going to take. This was a plebiscite in which people were allowed to cast votes by producing only an identification card, without adequate lists or any control.

According to the organisers the voting also took place in other republics and countries. Results have already been received from Switzerland, America, Sweden, and Germany and are expected from the Soviet Union from Bosnia-Hercegovina Serbs who work there.

After the counting of votes it became clear that the turnout at some polling stations had been larger than the number of names on election lists. According to Radovan Karadzic, almost 100% of votes were for while the number of those who voted against was below 1%. In the light of their statement that they expected over 1,500,000 voters to cast their vote, it is easy to conclude that one of the aims of the plebiscite was that over 51% of Bosnia-Hercegovina adolescents were for Yugoslavia. But this will be very difficult to prove.

[Note Tanjug (in English 2050 gmt 11 Nov 91) noted ”Apart from Serbs, members of other ethnic communities born or living in Bosnia-Hercegovina were also allowed to vote if they wished so, but on differently-coloured ballots.” The report went on ”Asked by journalists what would happen now, Karadzic said this depended on the other two partners in the government coalition – the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). SDS can agree with HDZ and SDA on everything except the position of Bosnia-Hercegovina in Yugoslavia, Karadzic said.”]

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About Gerard Toal

I am an Irish born DC based Political Geographer researching territorial conflicts and the dynamics of geopolitical competition in post-Communist Europe.
This entry was posted in Bosnia, Bosnian war, Current affairs, De Facto States, Political Borders, Political Geography, Putin, Radovan Karadzic, referendum, Rhetoric, unilateral declaration of independence and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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