Brcko Arbitration Is No Solution

By Jan Oberg

February 7, 1997

TFF PressInfo 20 originally published here

“The future of the Brcko area was the only one not settled in Dayton. Thus, it was either the most difficult of all, or the United States and the parties agreed that it would be better to have their decision concerning that hot spot appear as binding arbitration. The arbitration decision is expected by mid-February.

But any solution will antagonise at least one of the groups in the Brcko area, the entities or neighbouring republics,” says Jan Øberg, director of the TFF who recently returned from the TFF’s 24th mission to ex-Yugoslavia, including a fact-finding visit to Brcko. “The Dayton Agreement created a conflict by not defining the area under arbitration, and it will create more now,” he adds.

“The three options usually mentioned – give it to the Federation, give it to Republika Srpska, or make it an area under international military control – are zero-sum games and care only for the interests of elites. A viable solution must must be based on the needs of people who lived and are living in that area.

Fateful decisions on complex issues in hot spots should come as a result of confidence-building and prior reconciliation, not its prod. Like all other civil, political problems dealt with in Dayton, this one was rushed and its timeframe completely unrealistic. It would have been wiser to have waited 2-3 years so a positive sum game had a chance to emerge in the Brcko area. [Read more…]

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