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Bosnia - Codel Carnahan Helps Mark Srebrenica Anniversary And Reinforces Support For Reforms

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 SARAJEVO 000883
 
SIPDIS
 
EUR/SCE (HYLAND, FOOKS); NSC FOR HELGERSON; OSD FOR BEIN
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/23/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR KDEM OVIP BK
SUBJECT: SUBJECT: BOSNIA - CODEL CARNAHAN HELPS MARK
SREBRENICA ANNIVERSARY AND REINFORCES SUPPORT FOR REFORMS

 
REF: SARAJEVO 865
 
SARAJEVO 00000883  001.2 OF 004
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Charles English.  Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
 
¶1. (SBU) Summary:  From July 11-13 the Congressional
delegation (CODEL) led by Representative Russ Carnahan (D-MO)
and including Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and
Representative Mike Turner (R-OH) visited Bosnia-Herzegovina,
underscoring the strength of the U.S. commitment to help
Bosnia join Euro-Atlantic structures.  The CODEL traveled to
Srebrenica for the 14th Commemoration of the Srebrenica
Genocide and laid a memorial wreath to honor the victims.
Following the Srebrenica commemoration, the CODEL met with
representatives of all of Bosnia's major political parties,
as well as its Tri-Presidency.  The three Presidency members
-- Bosniak member and Party for BiH (SBiH) leader Haris
Silajdzic, Croat member and Social Democratic Party (SDP)
official Zeljko Komsic, and Serb member and Alliance of
Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) official Nebojsa
Radmanovic -- met with the delegation together.  The CODEL
also had dinner with Party of Democratic Action (SDA) deputy
chairman Asim Sarajljic (in chairman Sulejman Tihic's
absence), Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) chairman Mladen
Ivanic, Democratic Party (DS) chairman Dragan Cavic, SDP
chairman Zlatko Lagumdzija, Croatian Democratic Union
(HDZ)-BiH deputy chairman Niko Lozancic, and HDZ-1990
chairman Bozo Ljubic.  SBiH Chairman Haris Silajdzic and SNSD
Chairman Milorad Dodik accepted but did not show up for the
dinner.  The CODEL also met with American University
students, civil society leaders, the International Committee
on Missing Persons (ICMP), and HighRep Valentin Inzko.  The
CODEL's visit which followed CODEL Cardin's visit two weeks
earlier and Vice President Biden's May policy speech in the
BiH Parliament building, received wide favorable press
coverage as a further signal that the U.S. will stay the
course in Bosnia.  End Summary
 
Commemoration of Genocide
-------------------------
 
¶2. (SBU) Immediately following their July 11 arrival in
Sarajevo, CODEL Carnahan traveled to Srebrenica to attend the
14th Commemoration of the genocide in Srebrenica.  After
laying a wreath on the memorial stone, delegation members
stood along side Bosniak political leaders during the
ceremony which included a speech by the Ambassador and a
Muslim funeral service.  CODEL members toured the Potocari
Battery Factory, met with Mothers of Srebrenica as well as a
delegation of Bosniak-Americans from Representative
Carnahan's home district in St. Louis.  As reported reftel,
the CODEL press statements highlighted US, EU and NATO
commitment to keep peace in the region and ensure the tragedy
is never repeated along with calls for the arrest of war
criminal Ratko Mladic received wide and favorable coverage on
electronic and print media.
 
The Presidency on Bosnian Politics, the IC
------------------------------------------
 
¶3. (C) In a July 12 meeting with the CODEL, the three members
of the Presidency discussed Bosnia's greatest successes and
challenges.  Haris Silajdzic, the Bosniak member of the
Presidency, stressed that it was of the utmost importance for
Bosnia to become a member of the EU and NATO, noting that
Bosnia would like a Membership Action Plan (MAP).  Silajdzic
said that though the Dayton Peace Accords was a good
agreement, it had been difficult for Bosnia to maintain the
accords' standards and to permit "minimum integration" (i.e.
refugees returns), especially as violations of the accords
had been allowed to occur.  Nejbosa Radmanovic, the Serb
member of the Presidency, focused on the role of the
International Community (IC) in Bosnia.  He said that
although Vice President Biden's May visit had brought a new
hope with regard to Bosnia's EU and NATO's aspirations,
Bosnia has not always felt it had the support of the IC with
regard to NATO membership.  Similarly, Radmanovic said that
the EU had rejected Bosnia's bid to join the EU's visa
liberalization regime, and by doing so, was sending the
message -- "You are not welcome."  Zejlko Komsic, the Croat
Member and current chair of the Presidency, cited defense
reform as one of Bosnia's greatest successes.  He attributed
Bosnia's success with defense reform in part to U.S. efforts,
which he said were also largely responsible for adoption of
the constitutional amendment on Brcko.  With regard to
 
SARAJEVO 00000883  002.2 OF 004
 
 
challenges, Komsic admitted that relations between the ethnic
groups are much better than politicians portray with their
words and actions, and that politicians had let the public
down.
 
The CODEL Offers Friendly Advice
--------------------------------
 
¶4. (SBU) Representative Carnahan thanked Bosnia for
contributing know-how on demining in Iraq, and said that more
work needed to be done on education, especially since subject
matters were being treated differently in schools across the
country.  Representative Woolsey asked why the EU should let
Bosnia in if Bosnia has not done the work required of it by
the EU.  She also said that during their visit to Srebrenica
over the weekend, the Mothers of Srebrenica had expressed
anger towards the CODEL for not doing more to bring alleged
war criminals to justice.  Stressing that she was speaking as
a friend of Bosnia, Woolsey said that in order to begin the
healing and to build trust, the government needs to take
specfic steps.  These include passing a resolution decaring
that genocide had in fact occurred in Bosna, apologizing for
the atrocities that had been ommitted, doing all it can to
assist in identifying victims of the genocide and arresting
and prosecuting those responsible for it.
 
OHR: IC Will Need to Remain Engaged in Bosnia
---------------------------------------------
 
¶5. (SBU) HighRep Valentin Inzko told the CODEL that the
international community needs to stay engaged in Bosnia for
some time and that the CODEL's presence in Srebrenica had
sent a strong signal of a renewed US interest in Bosnia.  The
HighRep then listed some of the challenges the country faces,
such as political obstacles impeding investment in the energy
sector (i.e. hydropower), and infrastructure (construction of
part of the "Corridor 5C" highway through Bosnia).  He also
spoke of other problems facing the country including:
attempts by the entities to seize state-level competencies;
the absence of a Supreme Court; the lack of investment in
Srebrenica by Sarajevo; segregation of schools in parts of
the country; the Croats' insecurity; and the inability of
those classified as "Others" to become President or serve in
the BiH House of Peoples.
 
¶6. (C) Representative Turner expressed disappointment with
the Office of the High Representative (OHR), stating that he
expected OHR to be more than a "traffic cop" and to push for
a "Dayton II" to reform the country's political structure.
He asserted that if OHR could not fulfill this function, the
US would have to step in for OHR.  Inzko responded by saying
that he has been willing to use his Bonn Powers and had done
so in the case of the Republika Srpska National Assembly
Conclusions.  However, he confided that he had faced stiff
resistance on the part of some European countries who oppose
the use of the Bonn Powers due to their concern that the
international community was perpetuating a concept that
belonged to the past as well as Bosnia's dependency.  The
Ambassador pointed out that the key issue at play is how to
revive the international presence and whether the
international community can leverage Bosnia's desire to enter
the EU and NATO to persuade Bosnian politicians to undertake
needed reforms and to move away from the themes of separatism
(advocated by Bosnian Serbs) and dominance (advocated by
Bosniaks).
 
CODEL Cites Evidence of Progress
--------------------------------
 
¶7. (SBU) In a July 12 dinner with political party leaders at
the Ambassador's residence, Representative Carnahan delivered
a positive message to party leaders about the healing process
he witnessed at Srebrenica and the sentiments the youth he
had met conveyed to him about their desire for a multiethnic
Bosnia.  He stressed that this US administration wants to be
heavily engaged in Bosnia and that it wants to work with the
Bosnians to build on the progress made so far.
Representative Mike Turner (R-OH) remarked that he always
sees progress when he visits Bosnia and that the USG wants to
partner with Bosnia in its further efforts.
 
Party Leaders Present Views on Constitutional Reform
--------------------------------------------- -------
 
 
SARAJEVO 00000883  003.2 OF 004
 
 
¶8. (C) The political leaders delivered divergent messages on
the form constitutional reform should take, but all agreed on
the need for it.  Zlatko Lagumdzija (SDP) lauded the Dayton
Accords for "stopping the war effectively without military
force," but he added that the same Accords could now
jeopardize Bosnia's future and that Bosnia needs to move past
them.  He expressed optimism that Bosnian leaders could take
small steps on constitutional reform by the end of the year
but was not sanguine about the prospect of major changes.  He
stressed that Bosnia will need constitutional reform for
eventual NATO membership but that these reforms would not be
possible without a clear US-European partnership.  Asim
Sarajljic (SDA) noted that SDA has always led dialogue on key
issues, and he blamed Silajdzic for bringing down the 2006
"April Package" of constitutional reforms and then not
proposing any viable alternatives.  He encouraged the USG to
help improve the political climate before launching reform
talks.  Niko Lozancic (HDZ-BiH) echoed Sarajljic's concerns
about the political climate, adding that the April Package
fell in part because the USG was alone in its endorsement of
it.  Mladen Ivanic (PDP) said that constitutional reform
would be possible but not through a "big bang" approach.
When the Ambassador asked whether he would be willing to
modify entity voting in order to bring Bosnia into NATO, he
replied that he does not support changes to entity voting and
that most of the abuses of entity voting have come from SNSD.
 Bozo Ljubic (HDZ-1990) opined that Bosnia will continue as a
dysfunctional state incapable of meeting its NATO and EU
requirements until it undergoes constitutional reform, and
that the USG will be essential to the reform process.  He
complained that one-third of pre-war Bosnian Croats are now
refugees who see no benefit to returning to Bosnia, as they
would comprise a minority in either entity.  Dragan Cavic
(DS) opined that constitutional reform probably would not be
possible because all sides are too frustrated, to seek
appropriate compromises.
 
Party Leaders Expound on Government Woes
----------------------------------------
 
¶9. (C) Party leaders also discussed other political
stalemates with the CODEL.  Lagumdzija reiterated his
long-standing point that the ruling coalition must work out a
deal on its own, adding that the USG should either pressure
the government -- "without doing their job for them" -- or
let it fall in the elections.  Sarajljic chided Dodik for
agreeing to elements of the Prud Agreement then blocking them
in Parliament, and he stressed that he supports Tihic's
decision to back away from Prud until other parties decide to
join the discussion.  Lozancic noted that there is a big
difference between what political leaders favor and what they
say they favor, which fuels mistrust.  He noted that those
parties that supported the April Package fell in the
following elections, which shows that willingness to
compromise is seen as a sign of weakness.  He quipped that
the government has so much internal dissent that opposition
is not necessary.  Striking a more positive note, Ivanic and
Lagumdzija lauded Cavic for publicly acknowledging the
Srebrenica genocide despite the heat he took from the RS
public.  Lagumdzija stressed that Cavic was punished by his
party and the Serb populace and left out to dry by the
international community.  Senator Carnahan praised Cavic and
said that if other Bosnian politicians could show similar
courage, Bosnia could make progress.
 
Representative Turner Reconnects with "Sister City"
--------------------------------------------- ------
 
¶10. (SBU) Representative Turner -- who served as mayor of
Dayton, Ohio when the Dayton Accords were signed -- met with
current Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo Nenad Markovic, advisor to
the Mayor Emir Suljagic, and Cantonal PM Besim Mehmedic to
convey support for Sarajevo as Dayton's "sister city."
Mehmedic told Rep. Turner that Sarajevo could greatly benefit
from Dayton's expertise -- and USG financial support -- in
building a city infrastructure.  Rep. Turner replied that
USAID offers funding opportunities for local government
capacity building and that he would inform Dayton of
Sarajevo's interest in its expertise.  The group then
discussed Srebrenica, and Rep. Turner stressed that he
witnessed hope, not hate, at the commemoration and that
although it is understandable for Bosnian leaders to be
frustrated by Bosnia's lack of progress, Bosnians should be
proud of how far they have come since the war.  Rep. Turner
 
SARAJEVO 00000883  004.2 OF 004
 
 
added that this administration will be more engaged in
Bosnia, particularly given Secretary Clinton's family's
legacy.
 
Comment
-------
 
¶11. (SBU) CODEL Carnahan's recent visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina
firmly underscored the message that the US cares deeply for
BiH and for what its people have been through including the
Srebrenica genocide.  The CODEL's message was well delivered
to all political interlocutors and was widely echoed in the
print and electronic media in both entities.  The visit of
Representatives Carnahan, Turner and Woolsey, following
closely the visit of CODEL Cardin, and Vice President's Biden
speech effectively reinforced the message that the USG is
back and firmly engaged in helping BiH become a normal and
functional state moving ahead on the road to Euro-Atlantic
integration.  End Comment
ENGLISH
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Full cable: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/07/09SARAJEVO883.html