TRIP REPORT 2003-5/6: 19-25 October 2003
and 7-13 December 2003

In 2004 reforms are moving forward and responsibility for the peace process continues to be passed over to local institutions.  The State Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees is moving forward with implementation of its reconstruction plans and at the state level progress has been made in the area of defense reform, VAT and there legal framework needed for further integration into Euro-atlantic structures.  However, at the local level municipal leaders are finding it harder to make progress with their resources and competencies.  Without further and substantial progress at the entity level in creating a more efficient legal framework, municipal governments cannot complete the reforms necessary.

Hard-line and overt obstruction is hardly ever displayed and dialogue between the various sides has improved substantially in the last three or four years.  It is often the case that local leaders from the various sides sit together and try and find solutions to everyday problems.  For example, in many municipalities offensive street names are being changed and return commissions are working to identify reconstruction needs.  However, the Mediator has noticed that behind this perceived positive development, there has not been a fundamental change in the way returnees are treated.  Returnees must struggle and pressure local authorities at every stage of their return, and changes only come when all delays have been exhausted.  The Mediator is worried that with time returnees will be discouraged and will not return, even when they had hoped to do so.  As time passes, people become accustomed to their new surroundings and the next generation is less willing to move and leave behind their new friends and social networks.  It is essential for BaH politicians, together with the international community, to find a way to increase the speed of reconstruction and legal reforms to ensure sustainable returns happen as soon as possible.  In this respect, it might be necessary to provide a one-time increase in international funds for reconstruction to ensure a speedy completion this process.  As long as the return process is still at this stage, peace implementation cannot be completed or deemed a success.

In this report the Mediator highlights some of the problems facing municipalities in Eastern Republika Srpska and how the entity level is crucial in creating the necessary conditions for further progress.  On this trip, the Mediator visited the municipalities of Zvornik, Bratunac and Srebrenica.  He was accompanied by his mediation team: Amela Curkovic, Juan Diaz and Dieter Wolkewitz.  The delegation would like to express its special gratitude to the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, OSCE Operations in BaH, OHR Tuzla and the German Embassy in Sarajevo for their logistical support.  Special appreciation goes to Austrian Airlines, the preferred carrier of the team.

Trip Report 2003-5/6: 19-25 October 2003 and 7-13 December 2003
(WORD, 240KB)