Another One Bites the Dust: Lajcak Leaving Post as HR

Miroslav Lajcak just announced that he’s leaving the post of High Representative for Bosnia to become the next foreign minister of Slovakia. So now the third High Representative of Bosnia who wanted to close the OHR is leaving before the job is done.

Where does this leave Bosnia?

Any transition brings with it a vacuum, so this one is certainly not helping stability in Bosnia, especially as his departure appears to be rather sudden and he’ll be gone sooner rather than later. His departure comes at a crucial time with the meeting of the PIC to discuss whether or not to close the OHR only two months away. With a closure of the OHR potentially close, Lajcak’s departure could not have come at a worse time.

However, there are also some opportunities here:

He has been unable to drag Bosnia out of the political crisis, especially in regard to the dominance of Milorad Dodik. In fact, he has to some degree inadvertently consolidated his hold own power. True, this was in part due to American disengagement and lack of a EU strategy. At the same time, his frequent emphasis that he was powerless and lacked backing in the EU capitals certainly did not help him to shore up the little power and credibility the OHR had left at that time. A new High Rep. has a few advantages: a) a new US administration; b) some tougher language coming from Brussels and c) the transition towards the EUSR. The former two might be clear, the later merits some further elaboration: Had Lajcak overseen the transition from OHR to EUSR, it would have seemed logical for his mandate to end with or shortly after the closure of the OHR. However, now there is an opportunity to have the next HR continue as EUSR for a while to make sure that the break in the institution is less of a break in personnel. This is going to be important to avoid the EUSR to become even weaker.

Going out with a bang, not a whimper.

So far there has been a clear decline in the prestige and weight of the HR. The closing strategy to nominate new HRs which have less political clout to wind down the work of the organization. It seems like now is the opportunity and the need to reverse this approach: Get a heavy weight who can make sure that Bosnia gets the attention of the EU capitals and Washington and that Bosnia gets out of the crisis before the campaign for the 2010 elections begins when nationalist rhetoric is likely to get worse again and another window of opportunity is closed. For the OHR to close down–long overdue–there is a need for a lost push: it requires more weight, more effort to get Bosnia moving again.

Just looked back to May 2007 when Lajcak was nominated… here’s my post from back then

4 Responses to Another One Bites the Dust: Lajcak Leaving Post as HR

  1. Dany says:


    so last time I commented on your blog, I was mentioning the possibility that international engagement in Bosnia will end up in embarrassment – i guess Lajcak’s lay-of is a part of the upcoming end of OHR period and a beginning of “strenghtened EUSR period”, that will again (as usual) end in impasse in Bosnia (or so I assume knowing efficiency of EU, inclinations on the inside and so on). Given that territories in Bosnia are ethnically demarcated and that is not about to subside anytime soon, and knowing position of Serbian and Croatian politicians in Bosnia, don’t you thing it would be a high time that Bosnians concede to reality and start making a canton or entity of their own (not the Federation or whatever?) That might as well be the best solution for the time being, given that prospects for unifying Bosnia (official policy so far) has failed.

    • fbieber says:

      I don’t think that Lajcak was laid-off, his departure appears to have taken most by surprise. But regarding your question, the idea of ‘Bosniak’ unit appears to materialize in light of the recent agreement between Tihic, Covic and Dodik, which would see Bosnia having four units–RS, Brcko, a Croat region and presumbly the rest would be the “Bosniak” region. I remain sceptical whether or not this is the best solution, and whether the three will agree on the borders (besides the troubling rolling out the maps part)

  2. Dany says:

    Hm, interesting that you say Lajcak was not laid-off or that his departure was a surprise – that was a part of what I was alluding at in my last post here (some 2 months ago) when I mentioned “the embarasment” of IC. I guess Lajcak’s “dead horse” statements later on are kind of embarrassing. But anyway, he is not relevant. About new “maps” and the latest “show agreement” – incidentally, I think it will be a kind of pleasant surprise to many, but lets wait since dices are still rolling.

  3. Dany says:

    from EarthTimes
    “Premier of Bosnia’s Serb republic charged for abuse of power
    The Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) raised criminal charges against the prime minister of Bosnia’s Serb Republic, Milorad Dodik, and several other ministers for abuse of power, local media reported Thursday. SIPA investigated several building projects in Serb Republic (RS) and determined that the government of RS and certain other institutions did “several criminal acts of organized crime, money laundering and abuse of power” damaging the budgets of both RS and Bosnia by 145 million Bosnian marks (93.2 million dollars).

    Beta news agency reports that charges were raised against 11 other people who “collaborated in criminal organization led by Milorad Dodik.”

    Bosnia is made up of two autonomous entities, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic. ”

    My comment: following Lajcak’s “sudden” departure, things started unfolding faster even I expected – this includes the choice of new HR, too.

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