Novus Ordo Imperorum
Ahmet Davutoglu Visits Bosnia
This commentary by Amila Kahrovic Posavljak was originally published at http://tacno.net/sarajevo/novus-ordo-imperorum/. The Latin title translates to “New Imperial Order.”
All of the foreign and local reactions to the Bosnian protests can be paraphrased with the following: shock and disbelief. For years the democratic bourgeoisie has been repeating to us like parrots that we have only ourselves to blame for everything because we lack a democratic consciousness. Now that we’ve awakened, everyone is shocked. At first they wondered why we were silent, now they wonder why we’ve awakened.
Because of this, everyone [in the region] has sent their representatives to visit the ethnic elites in BiH. As usual, Milanović visited the Croats, in order to remind them, in these times of crisis and social awakening, that they are Croats first, and only then people. The same goes for Vučić, who met with Dodik. Only the Bosniaks thus remained on thin ice.
And then everything turned around. After drinking a coffee in Tunisia, the Turkish minister of foreign affairs, Ahmet Davutoglu, told his pilot to turn towards Sarajevo instead of Ankara. In Ankara all is orderly and peaceful (except for the situation that borders on a coup d’etat because of corruption scandals), but in Bosnia they are once again rebelling, and they must be calmed down. Flying into Sarajevo, Davutoglu visited the grave of Alija Izetbegović, drank a coffee, and greeted Bosniak political and religious leaders. “It’s like this,” he said. “We must calm down these young ones who are demonstrating. There will be no calamity. Mother Turkey is with you.” “But,” piped up Bakir Izetbegović… “No buts!” responded Davutoglu. “We must calm them down. How can you allow people their moment of social awakening? Do you want to return to that abomination of communism? What’s wrong with you? If you don’t calm them down, then destroy them, run tanks down the street like we did in Gezi park. Democracy must be built on strong foundations.” “But we don’t have any tanks,” said Bakir. “What are you taking about brother, what do you mean you don’t have any? Where did all our investments go all these years?,” said Davutoglu.” “To Serbia,” said Bakir. Davutoglu glared at him in the eye. Bakir corrected himself “for us you just print religious books.” This confused Davutoglu, and he concluded that he’d have to talk with all sides. Therefore, for the public, he issued the following:
“If anyone comes to talk with only one side, this creates the possibility of a dangerous polarization. In Brussels I also said that starting an official visit to BiH in Sarajevo is an expression of respect for its integrity and political unity. Serbia and Croatia have a much more significant and more important connection with Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in this regard they can contribute to peace and stability in BiH. Turkey also has very good relations with these countries. At the same time, we have developed a mechanism for three-part meetings between these countries [Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia] at the highest level.”
Following on his own maxim that one must meet and discuss with all sides (which itself postulates that there exists different sides), Davutoglu met with Zeljko Komšić, Bakir Izetbegović and Husein Kavazović. For Turkey therefore, those are all the sides that exist. This very strongly resembles the policies of Tommy Undertaker* (Tomislav Nikolić), who declares that it is essential to meet with all sides, and then holds a multi-hour meeting with Dodik behind closed doors, while not even addressing the other “sides.”
The paradox of these protests was unique in that Bosniak leaders continually insisted that the situation was engineered from outside. At the same time, they awaited with open arms the visit of the Turkish minister of foreign affairs to come solve their problems. Once again they connected the Bosniaks with their arch-identity in Turkey, which has been flourishing for years. This move was to say the very least hypocritical, and revealed all the weaknesses of the Bosniak politicians.
In this regard it is a mystery which scenario of Davutoglu’s visit is worse. One is the awful possibility that the Bosniak politicians themselves called on him to visit (which resembles Dodik and Bosić’s footwork in meeting with Vučić). The second is the degrading possibility that Davutoglu wanted to return here to lecture us and read us a sermon. Both scenarios are terrible, regardless of the refinement of the diplomatic protocol.
The critical public in Sarajevo has not really turned a critical eye to all this, out of fear that criticizing Bosniak-Turkish co-operation will play into the hands of Greater Serbian rhetoric. And this is another possible thesis. Greater Serbian rhetoric, as a dialectical counterpart, requires exactly such paternalistic alliances.
Davutoglu insisted that the causes of the uprising in BiH must be uncovered. This statement reveals exactly the degree of social insensibility of the ruling class everywhere in the world. The very fact that Davutoglu came to meet with political elites, who have for years kept citizens (in this case Bosniaks) in extreme poverty, shows that officials in Ankara are not friends of the people of BiH, but rather friends of the ruling elite against whom the people rebelled. And elites want to rescue other elites, here there is nothing new.
This surprise visit allows Bosniak elites to show that they have a horse to run on. As for the Turkish wannabe emperors, who are hallucinating that they rule over the Ottoman empire and not a country shaken by terrible corruption affairs, which this past summer was on the verge of civil war, this visit gives them the illusion that they have the duty to settle rebellions in their renegade provinces. Because behind the friendly relationship with BiH are hidden the same values and paternalistic relationships that have existed for centuries, and which even neighbouring countries have accepted: the relationship of a centre to its renegade provinces. And for ethnic and clerical elites, who for 20 years have been riding on the backs of ordinary citizens, visits from various centres are very welcome. Even if these centres do not succeed in their intentions to convince rebelling workers that they are first national, and then individual subjects, at least the elites will have somewhere to run to when the going gets tough.
All joking aside, politicians in BiH are only proving what is a notorious truth, about which they have been silent for 20 years: politics in BiH does not exist. There exists only its surrogate, which always, thanks to the support of national-patrons from various near or distant centres, is promoted as some kind of state-building or entity-building. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny.
*Translators note: this is an awkward translation of a nickname (Toma Grobar) for Tomislav Nikolić, president of Serbia, who once managed a funeral home in Kragujevac. Thanks to Eric Gordy for the info.