At the very end of the interview with Milorad Dodik, they offered a map of the countries of the Western Balkans in the form of some final question. The response of the President of the Republika Srpska was short. Since Dodik wanted to be completely unequivocal, he took a pencil and drew new state boundaries in thin lines on the map of the size of the school atlas.
Then all three of them remained silent.
Simply, there was nothing more to add or to subtract.
The message was politically so straightforward that only the astonished looks of the two people who asked the question remained.
The described event did not happen at the beginning of the Yugoslav wars or even before the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, but on Monday, November 20, 2017.
Dodik first drew the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, then divided Kosovo, made several circular lines within Bosnia and Herzegovina and entered Bosnia in the circle and at the end, charted Herceg Bosna. He gave three explanations for all of this. That Republika Srpska and the north of Kosovo will join the Republic of Serbia, that small state Bosnia will remain in the central part of the present Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that Herceg Bosnia will border with the Republic of Croatia.
The new Dodik’s map is surprisingly reminiscent of the map drawn on the menu of a gala dinner in London, on May 6, 1995, on the occasion of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the great victory over fascism by the then Croatian President Dr. Franjo Tuđman. He wanted to explain to his neighbour, the leader of the British Social Democrats, Paddy Ashdown, in a very clear way, how he intended to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina with the then Serbian President Slobodan Milošević and end the war with an agreement.
At the same time, probably in accordance with the results of their secret negotiations in Karađorđevo at the end of March 1991, Milošević sent a letter in which he ordered his political emissary in Zagreb to announce to Tuđman and the Croatian government the decision of the official Belgrade that the Krajina Serbs are a Serb minority in Croatia obliged to respect the laws of the Croatian state and find solutions for their problems within this frame.
The announcement included the rejection of the Z-4 peace plan, which also had the support of the United States of America and provided the Serbs in Croatia with broad autonomy, including their own currency and the veto power of decision-making within the Croatian government. Tuđman could be satisfied.
Because of this, messages from the London menu, even though they later denied them, were not just a result of good dinner, but political decision. In other words, the then Croatian politics still continued to see Herceg Bosnia as a separate administrative entity linked to Croatia and the ultimate ambition of joining the Republic of Croatia. This was the policy of the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the policy of restoring the Banovina of Croatia and the agreement Cvetković – Maček, signed just before the start of the Second World War.
It is precisely this policy that is responsible for the terrible Croatian-Muslim conflicts. Also, the protests of the Croatian Cardinal Dr. Franjo Kuharić against such a Croatian state policy within such a great strategic goal were simply not heard. More important was Milošević’s consent.
On August 18, 1995, after the end of the Croatian military operation Storm, Tuđman was visited by a special US envoy, Richard Holbrook. He came to Zagreb immediately after a dialogue with Milošević in Belgrade. Of course, I learned later of the details of the conversation. Holbrook, followed by General Wesley Clark and US Ambassador to Zagreb, Peter Galbraith, told Tuđman quite directly and without diplomatic elusions that he would be supported both in Operation Storm and in Western Slavonia. But that he must forget the military intervention in Eastern Slavonia, because Hoolbrook had already reached an agreement with Milošević that Eastern Slavonia was part of Croatia.
At that point, the conversation between the president and the US envoy took a decisive turn. Specifically, Holbrook asked him whether he personally supported the division drawn on Ashdown’s menu. He answered that he first of all supported the thesis that if it was not possible to save Yugoslavia, Bosnia would not be able to be saved either. This was followed by Holbrook’s order, advice or instructions, depending on how we would politically interpret it. “I very much want to tell you that you will not share Bosnia and Herzegovina with Milošević” he began, and continued that at the planned meeting with US President Bill Clinton, he absolutely unambiguously and utterly clearly must say that Croatia shares the US strategic vision of the region that includes Bosnia and Herzegovina “as a separate nation, union, federation, a country with a seat in the UN and with the current borders.”
Tuđman understood the message. He knew that the plan for the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia, as well as the formation of small Bosnia, which would be given to Alija Izetbegovic as a substitute, was at least temporarily banned.
On the first day of this week, Milorad Dodik redrawn the new Balkan maps again and showed that despite all, the history, at least in the Balkans, is also repeatable. And above all, that today there is neither an American president nor any new Holbrook who would travel between the capitals of the countries in the region with the great powers of the European Union.