Carriage ride, Velika Aleja in Ilida, west of Sarajevo. Photo: Alan Grant
Bart Simpson in Bosnia
For several years Bosnia had been engulfed by a bitter power struggle between the OHR and the Bosnian Serb authorities. This came to a head when the Bosnian prime minister Nikola Spiric resigned in November 2007 arguing that "it doesn't matter if I am the head of that state, or Bart Simpson." It is also, as we argued in our discussion paper - The worst in class - how the international protectorate hurts the European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina - an unnecessary quarrel.
Our paper looked at numerous myths surrounding the issue of Bosnian police reform: the notion that Bosnia had an overwhelming problem with organised crime (for which there was little evidence); that there was an absence of Bosnian police structures at the level of the central state (which was no longer true); and that opposition to current international proposals meant opposition to European standards of policing (which was disputed by the most serious EU-funded study of the issue).
We urged the EU to rethink its policy of holding up the signature of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Bosnia over an issue where Bosnia has made significantly more progress than many of its neighbours, including Serbia. And indeed initialing the SAA was no longer linked to police reform when Bosnia signed its SAA in June 2008. This was widely seen as a first step on a long way towards eventual membership in the EU.