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Lessons from Bosnia — Part 8
I’ll have to start by defining the word. Not because we don’t know it, but because we don’t use it half as much as we should.
Accountability is being accountable or responsible. While accountable means required or expected to justify actions or decisions, and able to be explained or understood.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look into accountability, some of the different types of accountability, and why accountability is before the article about the Rule of Law.
I’ve already mentioned that OHR, Mr Christian Schmidt, had suspended our constitution for 24 hours to make changes that he knew were against our constitution. However, the change he made was NOT for 24 hours. Which means, now that our constitution has been reinstated, that change he imposed is against our constitution. By the way, it also means that we did not have a constitution for those 24 hours. The level of stupidity here is beyond any justification. So, if we’re to look for accountability, where do we begin?
Obviously, not with the international community. They’ve crossed all levels of reason and dived deep into some odd state that I don’t even know how to describe. However, should they be accountable? If so, to whom? Have they turned Bosnia into an experiment of how far they could go with zero accountability, depending on nothing but reinventing the narrative?
And now that I’ve mentioned narrative, well that needs to be looked into. It is important on all levels. From personal to international, and the higher up we go, the more important it gets.
The narrative can be based on lies. Pure and simple lies. Complete opposite of what is true. For example, group A is murdering people from group B, the narrative is that group B is killing people from group A.
On the other hand, we have truth presented in a context that gives it a whole new meaning. This is about catching the moment. For example, talking about how many people group X saved. Presenting the statistics of how many innocent people were killed at that time gives the impression that group X killed them. In other words, failing to save people becomes equivalent to killing them in that context. The greatest danger of this is that those who use this method are often the ones who did the killing. They strive to get away with it by putting the blame on those who should have prevented the killing. It is shocking how often this works.
And then we have: presenting one small part of the truth. For example, 8,000 people killed versus 8 people killed, if we hear more about the 8 than about the 8,000, yes, the narrative is being twisted. This is usually done by those who have a lot to hide. It’s very similar to ‘create disorder in one room so you can get away with murder in another’. I.e. you create noise with one part of the truth so that no one would pay attention to the whole truth, because the whole truth is… no good. Not something that works for the narrative.
All of these methods are a way to avoid accountability. Avoiding accountability is the first step to committing atrocities and all sorts of crimes.
Let’s look at the Bosnian government sector. I’ve already mentioned that we have 14 governments: 1 national, 2 entities, 1 district, and 10 cantons. Each level has ministers for everything, except the only level that should: the national level. This is fascinating since on the world level only countries count. Every country of the world has a system that is based on geographic regions. But many people in the world would not be able to name the regions in their own country, let alone another country. I.e the world pays attention only to what happens on the national level. If the national level is just for show, all other levels can get away with anything. And in Bosnia, they do. In fact, over time various government officials, with the help of the international community, made sure they have more and more room behind this curtain called the national level.
The funny thing is, they claim that local levels are simpler because they are closer to the people. That’s not true. It just makes it so that people know exactly what’s going on. And we do. Oh boy, we seriously know all that our government officials get up to. There’s just nothing we can do about it. If we had the national level as we should, then we could do all sorts of stuff, but on the local level, we can complain, and we can feel very, very angry at everything we know.
Hence, when the US Embassy in Bosnia announced that they want to fight corruption with strategies and nothing else, we laughed. Some people thought that Americans are completely naïve, while others thought that Americans need to sound like they are fair and just, and only want what’s best. People (myself included) do not believe we can fight corruption unless we work on accountability first. It’s just the way it is. Every strategy has holes, especially those that are imposed by outsiders who do not pay attention to details. Like most problems in the world, first you have to look at the cause of the problem, remove that, and then hope to solve the problem. As long as the cause of the problem is present, the problem will persist.
Lack of accountability from the international level and government level has trickled down all over Bosnia. It’s become the norm. Both of these (international and national governance) have shown a lack of professional, as well as moral accountability. There is also no trace of personal accountability or accountability to the community. I don’t know what their parents would say about their behavior, but parental accountability is very important. Let’s face it, many of us have not done something bad (or good) because it would mean having to explain it to our parents.
I’ve already given examples of a lack of accountability on the international level. I’ll just give a few examples of the lack of accountability of the domestic government. Let’s start with 3 former presidents. One denies Bosnia and the genocide openly, the other was in court for corruption but the case was dropped, and the third lied to the people about filing a case against Serbia while telling the Serbian president the truth that no case shall be filed.
None of them have faced even legal accountability, and there are laws against what they did. In fact, the one that was in court and the case was just dropped, he is the reason that Christian Schmidt suspended our constitution. Mr Schmidt did it to give that man and his political party power.
Murders have been covered up.
Money is regularly being passed under the table — I already mentioned something we call IMT — ima’l mene tu = where’s my cut. This is as common as it can get.
Cars and helicopters are being purchased.
Political parties will decide who will manage public firms and institutions. Even courts of law — well, they have to, otherwise, they might find themselves legally accountable, and they do not want any accountability.
Yet IMF (International Monetary Fund) keeps giving these people money. Money that we citizens have to pay back.
It’s not that we do not have normal, honest people in the government, but our government is so big, that compared to the size of the population in Bosnia, it is unreasonable to expect us to have enough individuals who’d be prepared to lose everything just to do their job. Plus, over the years, the good people have either left because they couldn’t handle it anymore, or they were pushed out. So, now, there are even fewer good people in our government.
In short, we have a huge government sector where there’s a curtain (the national level), combined with the transfer of blame even when they are called to account (there are so many of them, they just point fingers at each other), then we have parts of the government that are against Bosnia (and these parts are often supported by the international community), and years of crime that would land many of our officials in prison. And that’s just the government sector.
As I mentioned, this all trickles down to the people. On the one side, before the war, we had a system where citizens had no say or responsibility. Hence, they are not aware of any accountability they might have now.
On the other hand, professional accountability is practically non-existent. I’ll mention just a few of the key professions.
Judges and other legal professionals. We have a huge issue with the members of the group that has most victims during the war being persecuted for war crimes, some multiple times. Yes, we have people who fought in the war on the side of Bosnia, being in court, accused of war crimes. After years of torment, these people prove themselves innocent. At the same time, there are people who were in the war, killing civilians, who have never been to court. We know they did it because the evidence is public. However, the courts have no time to persecute those individuals.
This alone, if there was nothing else (and there is plenty more), is enough for decent people to wonder how such legal professionals could ever be fair and just. Yet, it seems we should not pay attention to this. It seems that their accountability begins and ends with what they say, and what those politicians who placed them into those positions say. These are the kind of legal professionals that the International Community trusts to do their job right. I don’t know why. My guess is they’re very good at writing fancy reports. However, that’s not their job. So, as far as professional accountability is concerned, these people have failed miserably.
Let me mention an issue that many people in the world might relate to: The environment. So, apparently, it took us many decades of pollution to discover that our ecosystem is in fact a system, one system. We’ve been abusing this system for a while now, and it’s reached the point of ‘OMG’. In this state of panic, we’re blaming everything. Everyone seems to be accountable for the damage that our ecosystem is suffering. We’ve gone as far as to blame the cows.
I come from one of the most polluted cities in Bosnia. As a child, I had various health issues. Most people don’t even know what ‘chik-chak’ is, but I had that every winter. It’s basically a little tube that a doctor puts inside your nose and it sucks out phlegm. It doesn’t hurt, it’s not invasive, it doesn’t go deep into your nose, but I had to have it every winter. I had pneumonia multiple times, once very serious. Bronchitis, again multiple times. All kinds of infections. All of those disappeared when I started living in the UK. The steel factory works to this day. Pollution is not as bad as it used to be, but the factory isn’t working as it used to. We know that the steel factory is polluting, though they’ll blame it on people who heat their homes by making a fire. No one burns metal to heat their home. We know the way it smells when metal is being burned compared to wood, or even plastic.
This factory has been fined for the pollution. But the fines are so small, that they don’t mind paying them. Now, after everything I’ve said about the level of accountability in our government and the legal sector, is anyone having trouble seeing what is happening here? Let me know in the comments.
I went to speak to the people at Kemal Kapetanovic Institute about the pollution in Zenica. Long story short, they are being prevented from putting in better equipment to measure the pollution, as well as putting it where it matters. Apparently, what we have now, is bad equipment, placed where it would show the least amount of pollution.
Like everywhere else in the world, we were told that pollution is the necessary price of ‘progress’. Progress to what? Let’s ask a question: If those who pollute could make money without us buying their products, do you think they would deny us their products? Or if they could make money without people working for them, do you think they would employ anyone? They usually try to employ as few as possible, so… Plus, finding jobs is easy. I could find jobs for anyone in the world. Payment for those jobs is where I’m stuck. So payment is the real issue.
Now we have to ask more about the ‘progress’, right? Because if we don’t ask, how can we expect any accountability? Well, on the one side, we have loss of health, life, and our environment causing pain rather than pleasure. Those seem to be very high-value things. What kind of progress is equivalent to this value?
People of Bosnia are told to tolerate the government structure brought to us by the Dayton Peace Agreement because we get ‘peace’ in return? How many people in peaceful countries have to suffer injustice for the price of peace? It doesn’t even make any sense. Hence, though an explanation has been offered, it is not valid. This means that there is a lack of accountability in the way things are set. It’s like planting a stone and expecting it to act like a seed just because you’ve planted it. Nothing will grow out of the stone. Or you plant an apple tree, and you want chestnuts to grow. Chestnuts are NOT going to grow on an apple tree. You plant an apple tree, you get apples. That’s it. As simple as… We have a system of zero accountability, we have a country that is fast approaching zero accountability.
So lack of accountability is in the very ‘seed’ of our system. It should come as no surprise that this seed has grown into less and less accountability year in, year out. We’re now at zero accountability for those in power. This is the definition of mafia. This is how the mafia operates. Power + zero accountability = mafia.
Another profession that needs to be mentioned is professors. I’ve already said that you can buy diplomas. I.e. we have professors who will write you in retrospectively, and then sell you a diploma. This is needed (but not limited to) when our politicians want to put one of their family members or friends into a managerial position, but they need a degree, yet they’re not smart enough to earn one themselves. That kind of person will do a very bad job. We let this go on for too long, EVERYTHING is messed up. From official websites that are so badly done, a child could do better, to the way everything is organised and run.
But, such people get these high-value jobs, they walk around like they’ve won the lottery, and other people see this, and quickly conclude that that’s the best way forward. Before you know it, knowledge has no value.
So we have legal professionals who lack professional accountability, leading to the impression that justice is nothing. And then educational professionals who have removed the value of knowledge. In other words, the lack of professional accountability in just these two professions has led to a society that doesn’t believe in justice or knowledge.
How about doctors? They too are not immune to greed. Many of them will take a bribe to do their job. Yes, in Bosnia, if you find a doctor who keeps putting off a test, just offer them money and the test will be done. We might expect people to lose their value for life after such an experience. But I have not seen that. I’ve seen people lose respect for the medical profession. Many value their life even more after such an experience and will look for remedies themselves. My guess is that this is where personal accountability kicked in, finally.
Personal accountability is vital, but it is hugely dependent on awareness (already covered in a previous article). However, even without awareness, we all have some intrinsic values, and we are likely to stick to those. But what are they and can they be affected by outside factors?
Once, a guy came to fix a roof on our shed. I went to pay him. Seeing how he did the job, I asked him if he had ever done that before — he did the job in terms of ‘he fixed the roof’, but the nails he used looked like Arabic letters. It was completely unprofessional even to an amateur like me. It was a mess. He glowed with pride when he said, “You should see my roof, it’s perfect.”
In other words, he could do a better job, he just didn’t want to. In fact, I had a sense that if he had done a good job, he would have considered that an insult. I wondered if the payment was too low. It wasn’t. It was a fair price if he did a good job. For the way he did it, he got paid more than he deserved. And that was his aim: Get paid more than deserved. After all, that is what the ‘elite’ in Bosnia is striving for. That has become a guiding principle. With the lack of self-accountability, and taking pride in his own work, he had only one objective: get paid as much as possible for doing as little as possible. That was his definition of ‘Self Respect’, and hence he felt accountable to himself.
During the talk and in one of the ‘appendix’ articles I plan to write, I will give real-life examples of what ordinary people need to get anything even renew their ID cards.
I will also mention other professions. Media (and journalists) is a fascinating one.
In short, Lessons from Bosnia about accountability:
1. The importance of accountability cannot be overstated. It is the glue that keeps a society together. It is the air in the tires, the light in the sun, it is vital.
2. In nature accountability comes first. If we’re not accountable, anything we create can be negative, even dangerous.
3. There are many types of accountability: professional, personal, moral, legal, towards your community, family (especially your parents), and they might clash. Each one of these might be asking for something different from us. It is up to us to figure it out. And it helps that we do not lie, tell a truth out of context so that it changes the meaning, or focus on just one part of the truth because the whole truth is not what we want to see.
4. Accountability is as much cultural as it is ever-changing depending on our society and our environment.
5. Being responsible, i.e. accountable, is about maturity, for an individuals as well as for society. And while being a carefree adult, i.e. acting like a child, may seem attractive, it could lead to all kinds of problems.
6. Hiding, shifting the blame, using illogical explanations, are all signs of a lack of accountability as much as changing the narrative.
7. The first step to accountability is being aware, especially of the consequences of decisions and actions made. Selling diplomas for personal financial gain is one thing, destroying the value of knowledge in a society is something very different.
8. Owning up to mistakes is a sign of accountability. Hence, not owning your mistakes is a sign of a lack of maturity, responsibility, and (therefore) accountability.
9. Society could achieve better accountability by asking questions. It takes the right kind of question, but we get to the right question by asking as many as possible.
10. Lack of accountability at the government level will spread to the rest of society.