The wall rising between the sides in the Bosnian dialectical showdown keeps thickening and growing more impenetrable. With Milorad Dodik on one and an array of Muslim leaders on the other end of the staggered line of communication marked most recently by a fatwa issued against Dodik and a Dodik's call to Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric to enter the fray of secular politics instead of hiding behind his clerical role; continued accusations from Banja Luka that the central governments steals Srpska's funds, federal leadership's inability to form a new cabinet more than a year after the elections and a constant criticism of the role of the Office of High Representative by Dodik just add fuel to the fire. The fire, actually, bursts up in spikes of flames every so often, to quell down, waiting for the next burst.
The latest burst, according to reports, comes as a play on the French theme of penalizing deniers of the Armenian genocide. Milorad Dodik threw more flame Sarajevo's way today by proposing a law similar to the one that caused the French-Turkish diplomatic row. Bosnia should adopt a law that imposes severe penalties against deniers of Armenian genocide, he said. He saw the feud developing and a bulb went off in his head - or one of his advisors' head. What a perfect way for Dodik to turn tables on Sarajevo...
Let's just imagine for a minute Dodik goes through with this. The attempt would reverberate as righteous and in the light of the French move, as commendable, at least in some Western European circles. At least it can't be condemned since France did it, too. If played right by Dodik's PR machine, it would garner enough attention to turn into a political issue. Dodik is inserting his large self into an international quarrel to provoke reactions. Turkey broke off diplomatic relations with France over this, so it is an issue for her. Now, Turkey is not afraid of Sarajevo actually passing this proposal into a law - it won't happen in Bakir Izetbegovic's house. Dodik's move, coming after the French law, does, however, raise the prospect of a snowball effect and does provide any country that has a beef with Turkey with a powerful diplomatic pressure tool. And we are talking about a legitimate genocide here, which Turkey denies; between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated by Turkish armies. It was a hot issue during Turkish negotiations with the EU. How hot it is we can see from Turkey's reactions to any mention of the Armenian genocide.
Dodik hopes to provoke exactly that: the inability of Bosniac leadership to make a decision without consequences. What can they counter with? A proposal to penalize deniers of Srebrenica "genocide?" How would they enforce such a law even if they can pass it? They'd arrest the entire Srpska? The Srebrenica debate is old - Bosniac political fanaticism did not allow it to be resolved in a sensible manner; the Armenian debate is renewed, brought back to the spotlight by the French action and it does pose interesting questions and dilemmas. I haven't met a Serb that denied or even doubted that Turks committed the Armenian genocide, whether due to feeling empathy towards the victimized, solidarity with the Orthodox brethren or for the sheer sense of justice. I am eager to see what Bosnian Muslims think about that.
Let's hope Dodik will follow through and put Sarajevo on the hot seat. Bosniacs attempted to disparage Dodik during his recent visit to the States, calling him "genocide denier." (I blogged about it here). It's time to hear Sarajevo Bosniacs declare their position on a true genocide. So what if the wall gets thicker?