Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dayton Drama Produces Very Little

I missed the Dayton anniversary celebrationens in Washington yesterday. Previous commitments in Athens - where weather is as bad as you get - had to be honoured.

It was all built up as a very major thing to get the Bosnian parties to agree to major constitutional revisions and reforms. Not a bad thing in itself, although I'm always somewhat hesitant against anything that takes focus away from the necessary economic and social reforms.

At the end of the day, very little was achieved. There was plenty of smoke and sound, but precious little of fire and substance.

The Bosnian party leaders assembled in Washington agreed in the most general terms possible to undertake constitutional reforms to strengthen the government and to streamline the presidency and parliament.

They could evidently not be brought to agree on what that actually would entail, but undertook to have some answer ready by March 2006.

We'll see what that means. Some will undoubtedly interpret it in a maximalist way, and others in a minimalist. That was the critical gap that Washington obviously failed to bridge.

It's high time for the European Union to take charge of the process. After all, it should be related to the process of European integration, even if that is likely to be a rather slow one.

The Dayton anniversary drama of Washington achieved very little. Europe has a somewhat more long-term view.

That is likely to achieve more.