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Bosnien Unruhen in Sarajevo 2014
Image: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Bosnia unrest

Interview: Jasmina Rose / glb
February 9, 2014

Anti-government protests in Bosnia died down over the weekend. However, former German envoy to Bosnia Christian Schwarz-Schilling tells DW that the problems there won't go away - for a long time.


DW: On Friday, protesters across Bosnia set fire to government buildings and battled riot police. As a politician, you know most of the places where the violence erupted: Did you see this coming?

Christian Schwarz-Schilling: Yes. Quite frankly, I've seen it coming for a long time. It was always ignored by the international community. And the consequence of that could be disastrous.

CDU Politician Christian Schwarz-Schilling
Christian Schwarz-SchillingImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Many demonstrators are impoverished citizens who don't have enough money to eat. They aren't organized. Could a movement emerge from this that ultimately leads the country in a more positive direction?

A movement could emerge. There is enough firepower in Bosnia. And once the poverty level reaches a certain barrier, once pensioners no longer receive their pensions, when teachers no longer receive their salaries and policemen aren't paid - which is on the horizon - then a violent movement is more than likely to emerge. Whether or not this will be positive? We can't say that with any certainty now.

What should politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina do to bring lasting peace to the situation?

The politics that they have practiced must be stopped immediately. The privileges they have enjoyed for too long from old times now must be curtailed. But this would necessitate involvement from the international community. And I don't see that coming.

It's just like with Ukraine. There, the international community woke up only after a critical situation arose. The same thing will happen in Bosnia.

Protestors clash with police officers on the street.
Unemployment in Bosnia is at an alarming 40 percentImage: Reuters

What do you think the international community should do in Bosnia?

They have to take responsibility into their own hands. The Dayton Accords still give them the power to do so.

A police officer rests against a wall.
Security forces in Sarajevo were overwhelmedImage: klix.ba

To simply say it's no longer necessary to be present in this region - this must be changed. It is imperative that measures be taken that include the application of mandates that go all the way to the [United Nations] Security Council. Above all, it must be shown distinctly that the international community is ready to act.

As long as this remains in question, as long as officials say that the problems are to be resolved by Bosnia alone - even though the international community played a large role in the formation of the current, ungovernable situation - then there can't be any long-term improvement.

Christian Schwarz-Schilling (83) was the high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and observed the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the Bosnian War on December 14, 1995.

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