Interview With Outgoing High Representative to Bosnia US Was Getting 'Increasingly Impatient'

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, 76, has been the international community's High Representative in Bosnia since 2006. His task was to supervise the country's transition to democracy. Last week he surprised everyone by announcing he will resign on June 30. SPIEGEL spoke to him about his decision.


Like this building in Mostar, Bosnia still needs to recover from the 1999 war in Yugoslavia.
AP

Like this building in Mostar, Bosnia still needs to recover from the 1999 war in Yugoslavia.

SPIEGEL: Why are you resigning?

Schwarz-Schilling: It was and continues to be my principle to give Bosnian politicians greater personal responsibility. That's why I was strongly criticized by some politicians in Bosnia, but also within the international community, and why I was constantly called on to intervene more extensively.

SPIEGEL: You even have the right to sack politicians. Why did you refrain from using this right?

Schwarz-Schilling: That's a right for emergency situations. Of course I'm aware that so far it's only been possible to push through important decisions in this country by threatening to take corresponding measures. But that was usually sufficient.

SPIEGEL: Was it the governments in Washington and London that demanded you take tougher action?

Schwarz-Schilling: The United States was the main factor, they have become increasingly concerned and impatient about the situation in Kosovo and the logjam in Bosnian institutions.

SPIEGEL: The mission in Bosnia ends officially on June 30, 2007. Will it be extended?

Schwarz-Schilling: Yes, that's what it looks like at the moment. It's the majority will of the international community. Washington was originally opposed and wanted to enable reforms by the end of June through a policy of stronger intervention. Now the United States seems in favor of my strategy of extending the mission while preserving the international special powers.

SPIEGEL: Can you understand the impatience in the West given that Bosnia's politicians still show no desire for unity 11 years after the end of the war while billions in international financial aid seep away without having any effect?

Schwarz-Schilling: That's an excuse used by the international community, which prefers to spend its money on military measures rather than on peaceful post-war policy. But reconciliation among the former enemies is also being made more difficult by the negative influence of some neighboring countries from outside.

SPIEGEL: You're thinking mainly of Belgrade?

Schwarz-Schilling: Of course. When the decision on the future status of Kosovo is taken during the coming weeks, we will see how Serbian party leaders -- but also the leaders of the Serbian-dominated Republika Srpska -- react.

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