Bosnia-Herzegovina Church and Dayton Agreement
A woman prays against a crucifix on Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 25 June . Millions of pilgrims from all over the world have visited the site where six village children first claimed to see Mary in June 1981. (photo: CNS/Dado Ruvic, Reuters)
13 Jul 2012 by Jonathan Luxmoore
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — The president of the
Bishops Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina called for
renegotiation of the 1995 U.S.-brokered peace deal, which
ended the countrys bloody four-year war.
Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka told the
European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 3 that a
revision of the Dayton Agreement reached at the height of
the war would be needed for Bosnia-Herzegovina to
become a united, sovereign, peaceful, secular country.
The Dayton agreements stopped the war but
didnt help create democracy and peaceful cohabitation, he said of the accord negotiated in the southwest Ohio city.
He said Bosnia-Herzegovinas social, political,
legal and economic situation remained unsatisfactory 16 years after the war, which cost more than 100,000 lives
and ended with the formation of two autonomous entities
within a unitary state: a Serb Republic and Croat-Muslim
Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The bishop added that the Catholic Church risked
annihilation after losing many of its members, because of the states failure to provide political, legal and material support for returning refugees despite constitutional guarantees.
A rhetoric of hatred, spread by ruthless,
irresponsible politicians still prevails here, and justice,
equality and rules for civilized, democratic coexistence
are missing, said Bishop Komarica, who has been recognized internationally for pastoral work during the
conflict following the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Unofficial figures from the Bosnian State
Statistics Agency in 2008 show that Catholics made up
about 15 percent of Bosnia-Herzegovinas 4 million
citizens, while Muslims comprised 45 percent of the
population, Serbian Orthodox 36 percent and Protestants
The church has complained about the
implementation of the general framework of the
agreement, insisting its guarantees for rights and freedoms
have been routinely ignored.
In his address, Bishop Komarica said the
international community had put great efforts and
resources into rebuilding Bosnia-Herzegovina, but that they were being squandered by crime and corruption and a lack of shared vision about the future.
Msgr. Ivo Tomasevic, secretary-general of the
bishops conference, said church leaders concurred that fundamental change was needed to enable the countrys three main ethnic groups to enjoy the same civic rights.
Many good things have happened here. Weve
rebuilt most of our destroyed churches and tried to create
an atmosphere of hope, but you cant build democracy in such a deeply divided society, he told Catholic News Service.
Our own constitution formed part of the Dayton Agreement and wasnt adopted in a democratic way, while every subsequent change has been at the cost of the
Catholic community. Today, foreign governments are too
divided in their views to uphold justice here or ensure the
equality of languages, cultures and faiths, which is so
important for each ethnic community, he added.