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Reducing the Human Cost of the New Nagorno-Karabakh War
Reducing the Human Cost of the New Nagorno-Karabakh War
Briefing 60 / Europe & Central Asia

Bosna i Hercegovina: Vrijeme je da Evropa djeluje

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Pregled

Nakon godina oklijevanja, zemlje članice Evropske unije (EU) bi trebale učiniti 2011. godinom u kojoj će se vodeća međunarodna uloga u Bosni i Hercegovini prenijeti sa Ureda visokog predstavnika (OHR) na ojačanu EU delegaciju. BiH je prerasla OHR koji je uspostavljen 1995. nakon Dejtonskog mirovnog sporazuma i stvaranja Savjeta za implementaciju mira (PIC). Danas ovoj zemlji treba tehnička asistencija i političko vođstvo EU da bi postala kredibilan kandidat za članstvo u EU, a ne međunarodni nadzornik koji donosi zakone i održava bezbjednost. Zemlje članice bi trebale hitno napraviti sveobuhvatan plan da ojačaju prisustvo EU uključujući predstavništvo pod rukovodstvom jakog ambasadora, i ojačaju perspektivu članstva te izgrade lokalni kredibilitet. Ukoliko ne dođe do prijetnje miru, OHR bi se trebao povući iz domaćih političkih dešavanja i fokusirati se na reviziju prošlih odluka.

Zemlje članice bi trebale pojačati prisustvo EU dok BiH političke partije pokušavaju da formiraju entitetske i državne vlade više od tri mjeseca nakon Opštih izbora 3. oktobra 2010. Reforma je hitno potrebna kako bi se izbjegla politička i ekonomska kriza, ali OHR više nije organizacija koja može nagovoriti bošnjačke, hrvatske i srpske lidere na promjene. Perspektiva članstva u EU može bolje stimulirati stvaranje zajedničke vizije budućnosti BiH među njenim liderima i podržati ključne reforme potrebne za poboljšanje institucionalne efikasnosti. „Zamorenost proširivanjem“ i kriza Eura ne bi smjeli dozvoliti skepticima među zemljama članicama da potkopaju uspjeh Evrope u stvaranju stabilnosti na zapadnom Balkanu, što predstavlja veliki test sposobnosti nove Evropske Službe za vanjske poslove (EEAS) u pružanju efektivnije zajedničke vanjske i bezbjedonosne politike.

PIC je najavio svoju spremnost da zatvori OHR prije pet godina, ali ova mogućnost sada izgleda udaljena. Stalna pomjeranja rokova su 2008. ustupila mjesto paketu od pet ciljeva i dva uslova („pet plus dva“) – od kojih je BiH ispunila tri cilja i jedan uslov. Pošto su se preostala dva cilja – podjela državne i vojne imovine – oduprla svim pokušajima političkih rješenja, vjerovatno je da će OHR ostati otvoren tokom 2011. ako ne i duže. Prije nego predaju palicu, nekoliko članica PICa koje nisu zemlje EU također žele da vide jače dokaze vođstva od strane Brisela, posebno u vidu alociranja većih resursa.

Rješenje pitanja imovine ima malo uticaja na održivost države ali je postalo simbol mogućnosti lidera BiH da sami upravljaju zemljom. Ovaj simbol ne bi trebao zamagliti stvarnu situaciju: BiH lideri upravljaju svojim poslovima bez bitnije vanjske pomoći. Dok su PIC i BiH elite raspravljale o sudbini OHRa, veći dio tranzicije ka lokalnoj odgovornosti se već neprimjetno desio. Državne institucije u potpunosti koriste imovinu koja im treba bez obzira na nedostatak jasnog imovinskog statusa. Narodna skupština Republike Srpske u kojoj dominiraju srpski delegati je donijela svoj zakon o imovini u 2010., koji je sada na razmatranju pred Ustavnim sudom BiH. Oružane snage BiH imaju nesmetan pristup svim vojnim objektima i imovini. Vlasništvo će se prije ili kasnije morati uspostaviti kako bi se omogućile prodaja i investicije ali to nije hitno.

Politička scena se također promijenila. Većina bošnjaka su glasali za umjerene partije na Izborima 2010, dok su oni koji su se u kampanjama fokusirali na stare teze odbrane države od srpskog izazova žestoko poraženi. U RS, vladajuća SNSD partija je sprovela nacionalističku kampanju ali je ostvarila slabiji rezultat od onog kom su se nadali. Mala hrvatska populacija je glasala za svoje nacionalne partije. Natezanja oko uspostave državne vlade i njenog programa su se nastavila i u 2011., kada se očekuje da će se vlasti na državnim i entitetskim nivoima – posebno u RSu – suočiti sa ozbiljnim budžetskim deficitima, i da globalna ekonomska kriza sa zakašnjenjem pogodi BiH. Kao rezultat takve situacije lokalni lideri imaju ograničen prostor za nepopustljivost. Sve vodeće partije sada barem deklarativno podržavaju ključne reforme i ubrzavanje EU integracija; ni jedna od njih ne računa ozbiljno da će im OHR intervencije pomoći kod teških odluka koje se traže.

Važne članice PICa kao što su SAD, Velika Britanija i Turska, zajedno sa nekim domaćim elitama, brinu da BiH političari nisu spremni da samostalno upravljaju (mada je suverenoj BiH povjereno mjesto u Savjetu bezbjednosti UNa) i da neće biti u stanju da formiraju funkcionalnu koalicijsku vladu, da će RS pokušati otcjepljenje i da će to rezultirati nasiljem. Oni se plaše da će zatvaranje OHRa pokrenuti cijepanje zemlje, ili barem ukloniti prepreku da se krene u tomn pravcu. Ali OHR više nije garant bezbjednosti kakav je nekad bio. U slučaju da dođe do prijetnje teritorijanom integritetu i uz savjete od strane njihovih predstavnika na terenu, EU, SAD i ostali u međunarodnoj zajednici mogu prikupiti političku volju i vojna sredstva da reaguju bez obzira da li je OHR prisutan ili ne; BiH političari koji djeluju neodgovorno bi bili podložni istim diplomatskim i ostalim međunarodnim mehanizmima uključujući sankcije ili u ekstremnom slučaju upotrebu sile, kao i bilo koji drugi nacionalni lideri.U međuvremenu prisustvo OHRa daje BiH liderima izgovor da prebace odgovornost za svoje propuste na međunarodnu zajednicu.

2011. može biti ključna godina tokom koje bi se postepeno uloga EU pojačala a OHRa smanjila. Za efektivnu nježnu tranziciju zemlje članice EU i ključni igrači u Briselu – prevashodno Visoki predstavnik EU za vanjsku politiku i Podpredsjednik za bezbjedonosne politike Evropske komisije (Ketrin Ešton) i Evropska komisija – bi trebali napraviti nekoliko paralelnih koraka:

  1. Ešton treba imenovati, bez daljeg produžavanja onog što je već šestomjesečno odgađanje, jakog ambasadora da vodi EU delegaciju (formalni naziv za njihovo predstavništvo) u Sarajevu, po mogućnosti bivšeg visokog zvaničnika zemlje članice sa dobrim EU iskustvom, a posebno u pitanjima proširenja;
  2. bitno pojačati kapacitet političke sekcije Delegacije da savjetuje ambasadora o dešavanjima u BiH, da komunicira sa višim partijskim i vladinim zvaničnicima o usklađivanju legalnih i institucionalnih struktura sa normama EU i da koordinira doprinose ostalih EU igrača;
  3. kreirati ili ojačati pravnu, komunikacijsku, ekonomsku i bezjedonosnu sekciju delegacije, oslanjajući se na ostalo EU osoblje koje je već u BiH i jačanje terenskog ureda u Banjaluci; jačanje budžeta Delegacije u skladu sa njenim novim odgovornostima; i
  4. pojačati finansiranje u okviru Instrumenta za predpristupnu pomoć (IPA) do nivoa uporedivih sa onima u susjednim zemljama i konzistetnim sa nevadenim ciljem EU da preuzme vodeću ulogu u BiH.

Iako je EU dugo težila da preuzme vođstvo nad međunarodnim naporima zemlje članice i ostali igrači iz Brisela još uvijek moraju da razriješe različite stavove oko tempiranja, strategije, ljudskih i finansijskih resursa tog pojačanog prisustva i misije. Ako to ne uspiju početkom 2011. – počevši sa sveobuhvatnom diskusijom među ministrima vanjskih poslova na sastanku Vijeća vanjskoh poslova 31. januara – i ako BiH zvaničnici ne uspiju podržati proces poduzimanjem iskrenog napora u pravcu EU integracija, primopredaja može biti loše izvedena. BiH bi u tom slučaju bila ostavljena sa najgorim od oba pristupa: sa rivalstvom između oslabljenog OHRa i sa EU Delegacijom koja bi bezuspješno pokušavala da se nametne.

Da bi se to izbjeglo, PIC bi trebao:

  • promijeniti fokus OHRa na njegov nezavršeni posao, posebno vezano za slučajeve BiH zvaničnika kojima je zabranjen rad u javnim službama, istovremeno ograničavajući OHRovo korištenje izvršnih ovlasti samo na istinske kritične situacije;
     
  • podržati vodeću ulogu EU u BiH pristajući na transfer funkcije Specijalnog predstavnika EU (EUSR) koji trenutno vrši dualnu funkciju Visokog predstavnika i njegovog osoblja u EU Delegaciju; i
     
  • nastaviti se zalagati za teritorijalni integritet i suverenitet BiH, podržavati izvršni mandat vojnih snaga EU (EUFOR) koje su preuzele madat u zemlji od NATOa, te održati Savjet bezbjednosti UNa upoznatim sa bilo kakvim prijetnjama Dejtonskom sporazumu iz 1995. i relevatnim rezolucijama Savjeta bezbjednosti.

Jednom oslobođen svojih veza sa OHRom, diplomatski tim bi trebao biti u stanju da se fokusira na posredovanje u političkom procesu i pomogne podijeljenim zajednicama u BiH da nađu zajednički glas koji je neophodan za odgovornu interakciju sa njihovim evropskim susjedima.

Sarajevo/Istanbul/Brisel, 11. januar 2011.

Woman cries inside a bus prepared for evacuation of civilians during increased fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, on 3 October, 2020. Celestino Arce / NurPhoto via AFP.

Reducing the Human Cost of the New Nagorno-Karabakh War

Fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh is decimating towns and cities, displacing tens of thousands and killing scores. Combatants must cease attacks on populated areas and let humanitarian aid through. International actors, notably the UN and OSCE, should send monitors and push harder for a ceasefire.

Two weeks into a renewed war between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and its environs, fighting appears poised to escalate. On 10 October, a Russian-brokered humanitarian ceasefire intended to enable combatants to retrieve the bodies of the dead and exchange prisoners appeared to fall apart as its ink was drying. Both sides have since struck towns and villages, with enormous damage to lives and livelihoods. While it may take time for the parties to return to peace talks, they and international actors must act to stem the mounting human toll. Whatever an eventual settlement entails, it will be closer to hand and more sustainable if the parties stop killing civilians and adding fresh grievances to an already intractable conflict.

Both sides have struck towns and villages, with enormous damage to lives and livelihoods.

As Crisis Group noted in a 2 October statement, the conflict has no simple solution. Since the 1992-1994 war, which pitted Azerbaijani forces against Nagorno-Karabakh rebels backed by the Armenian army and ended with Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto independence, decades of stalled negotiations, outbreaks of violence and hardened positions on all sides have compounded the territorial dispute. Foreign actors matter, but for now cannot impose a lasting peace. The failure of the 10 October ceasefire shows that even Russia, which has a treaty with Armenia and longstanding relationships with both Yerevan and Baku, has only limited leverage. Turkey backs Azerbaijan diplomatically and with military aid, but Baku is not sufficiently dependent on Ankara’s support that threats of its withdrawal, even if they were forthcoming, would end fighting. Europe and the United States have even less influence. 

Military casualties already number high in the hundreds and the civilian toll is also mounting. Azerbaijani missile, artillery and drone strikes on Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital of Stepanakert and other towns and villages have turned homes, schools, and much of the region’s infrastructure to rubble. Credible reports indicate the use of cluster bombs, particularly dangerous to civilians and banned by an international convention (although neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan are signatories). Since 10 October, fighting has spread to the streets of Hadrut, a town 40km south of Stepanakert and well within Nagorno-Karabakh itself, rather than being limited, as it was during the first days of the war, mainly to the unpopulated adjacent territories controlled by Armenian forces since the 1992-1994 war. According to the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh authorities, as of 12 October, at least 31 civilians had been killed in the region and over 100 injured, many seriously. Some 70,000-75,000 people, half the region’s population and 90 per cent of its women and children, have fled their homes. Many are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. With a continuing pandemic and rapidly cooling weather, the mass displacement could have severe public health consequences.

With a continuing pandemic and rapidly cooling weather, the mass displacement could have severe public health consequences.

On the other side of the front lines, Azerbaijani officials report 42 civilians killed and 206 injured as of 12 October. Most attacks have hit Azerbaijani cities near the breakaway territory, but some have struck civilian areas hundreds of kilometres away, including the Absheron peninsula, where the capital, Baku, is located. Azerbaijan accuses Armenian forces of using cluster bombs and Scud missiles. Particularly hard hit are the country’s second-biggest city of Ganja and a town, Mingachevir, which hosts a large water reservoir and serves as a regional electricity hub. Ganja was hit again within 24 hours of the weekend’s ceasefire. Journalists tell Crisis Group that several hundred people, mostly women and children, have evacuated front-line areas.

Employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations work near destroyed houses in Ganja, Azerbaijan on 11 October 2020. They were hit by shelling after fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces began in and around Nagorno-Karabakh on 27 September. Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Sputnik via AFP.

Many outside actors have expressed alarm. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has joined calls for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds, while the European UnionSlovakia, and a variety of humanitarian organisations promise aid, though the fighting hampers aid delivery. Moreover, no international aid can reach Nagorno-Karabakh itself without Azerbaijan’s blessing, which Baku has not granted, leaving only the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has maintained a permanent office in the region since the 1990s. With international borders closed due to COVID-19, if fighting escalates to engulf more of Azerbaijan and Armenia, it will result in many displaced who have nowhere to go.

With the collapse of the Russian-brokered ceasefire, both parties look set to escalate fighting, with prospectively grave consequences. Azerbaijani advances fuel Armenian fears and counter-strikes. The attacks on civilian areas to date may be mistakes or efforts by combatants to deter further escalation by the other side. If intentional or with insufficient care for protecting the civilian population, they violate international law. Even if not, they are causing tremendous suffering. They are counterproductive to an eventual peace, hardening hostility and rendering a sustainable settlement more remote.

It is critical that both sides cease targeting civilians and undertake efforts to prevent and alleviate humanitarian suffering.

Ideally, both sides would return to talks, but even absent that, it is critical that they cease targeting civilians and undertake efforts to prevent and alleviate humanitarian suffering. They must eschew cluster bombs, stop targeting population centres and provide corridors for the evacuation of the wounded and dead and the delivery of humanitarian aid. International actors, including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, which has overseen negotiations since the end of hostilities in 1994, and its co-chairs France, Russia and the U.S., other capitals worldwide and international organisations should speak in one voice and specifically call for such measures. Countries that provide weapons to the parties, including Russia, Turkey, Belarus, Pakistan and Israel, and those through which deliveries transit, including Iran and Georgia, should cease provision and transit, at least when it comes to systems credibly reported to have been used in attacks on civilian targets (Georgia has already stopped weapons transit through its territory).

The UN Security Council can play a role. First, the council, which has to date discussed the crisis in private and released a press statement calling for calm, should now convene an urgent public meeting on the escalating fighting and attacks on civilian areas. It should insist the parties abide by the 10 October Moscow agreement on a humanitarian ceasefire and facilitate the safe, unhindered and sustained delivery of lifesaving aid, including providing full and secure access to the region for humanitarian actors. Going further, the council should adopt a resolution calling for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, beyond the limited humanitarian one agreed in Moscow. The resolution should also condemn the parties for endangering the lives of civilians and call on them to return to talks under the Minsk Group co-chairs’ auspices.

The OSCE and its Minsk Group should step up efforts on the ground.

As for the OSCE and its Minsk Group, they should step up efforts on the ground. Mitigating harm to civilians will require coordination across front lines even as fighting continues. The Minsk Group process has frustrated both sides (and particularly Baku) in its failure over three decades to deliver a lasting peace. Still, it provides a format for the parties to carry out such coordination. In the wake of the Moscow agreement, which called for a return to Minsk Group talks, the co-chairs reported that they and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office (OSCE CIO PR) were working with the ICRC to explore “modalities and logistics for the return of remains and detainees”. They also report that they continue to engage the conflict parties on a long-term settlement. Building upon this work, the OSCE should resume its field activity in the region, suspended in March as a result of COVID-19, and work with military and diplomatic representatives of the warring parties and the ICRC to develop guidelines and a contact mechanism to facilitate the humanitarian measures outlined above. 

This expanded field activity should include means to monitor and “verify” the Moscow agreement’s or any new ceasefire, as the Russian and Armenian foreign ministers called for in a 12 October press conference. One tool might be a version of the investigative mechanism to study incidents that Yerevan, Baku and OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries agreed to put in place, along with an expansion of the OSCE CIO PR’s office, after four days of clashes in 2016. This could give OSCE monitors the unrestricted access they would need to Nagorno-Karabakh and, if expanded, any parts of Azerbaijan and Armenia under fire. In the past, Baku resisted the mechanism, despite having agreed to it on paper. At the time, Azerbaijan sought to regain control over the adjacent territories through negotiations before agreeing to new mechanisms that it feared would solidify the status quo. But Baku may be more amenable to granting monitors temporary access to its territory and that of Armenia to investigate recent attacks, while active hostilities continue. Whatever its specific tools, the OSCE should consider making its monitors’ and investigative reports public,given the lack of objective, neutral reporting on the conflict and rampant biased information and disinformation.

The UN could support the OSCE’s monitoring. The two institutions already have a strong relationship. The OSCE Minsk Group could tap UN expertise on observer missions and investigative techniques in warzones as it designs a way forward. The UN could be even more active in its support if the Security Council requests that the UN Secretary-General dispatch, in coordination with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office’s Personal Representative, military and civilian observers to Nagorno-Karabakh and the wider conflict region. Such a mission could observe the ceasefire and document and report on violations of international humanitarian law committed during the fighting. Once the OSCE’s monitoring mission takes shape, the UN mission could withdraw. Such missions would require the conflict parties to guarantee members’ security, which in itself could help limit violence. 

These steps will not, in and of themselves, end the war. But they would save lives and improve prospects for a real peace, whenever it may come.