Dayton for Ukraine

Dayton for Ukraine

With all the agreements reached, the talks in Minsk have left a lot of unsolved problems. The main one is defining the territorial status of what some call separate areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions while others view them as the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics. I believe that the experience of the Dayton 1995 accords could be useful here. Obviously the Dayton (Bosnian) model is relevant in the case of Ukraine. 

First, unlike in other cases of crisis management, in Bosnia the belligerents were effectively separated while a constitutional basis was created for the new state. In other words the territorial separation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was done according to a newly introduced constitutional reconfiguration. In line with the Dayton Accords, Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided into two equal entities - Republika Srpska and Muslim-Croatian Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, each with its own president, parliament and government and a common superstructure - the presidium made up for three persons: a Bosniak, a Croat and a Serb. The decisions are taken by consensus. 

Then Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov emphasized that the main achievement of the Dayton-agreed system was bringing all the conflicting sides together to make them hold a direct dialogue. For the first time a whole package of accords was introduced instead of a number of fragmented decisions. 

The Dayton-created Bosnia and Herzegovina has little in common with the former Yugoslav republic with the same name or any other European state. The model is adapted for local realities while enabling a potential transformation either in the direction of unification or peaceful partition. 

As a result of the Dayton Accords, the civilian peace implementation is supervised by the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina selected by the Peace Implementation Council. The High Representative has many governmental and legislative powers (the so called Bonn powers) allowing him to control the situation and guarantee that the initial agreements remain intact with no changes introduced to serve the interests of internal or outside groups. 

Second, the Dayton model envisions the deployment of large peacekeeping forces (a few dozens of thousands initially deployed as IFOR, the international peacekeeping force, and then as SFOR, the stabilization force) not along the division line only but throughout the whole territory of the state. It enables to rapidly respond in case one of the sides starts to regroup forces and open new fronts. Unlike in Kosovo with all the forces under NATO, a real «non-aligned» international command was created to control the peacekeepers. It would be expedient to take this page out of Dayton Accords’ book as the list of «interested» countries is even longer in case of Ukraine than in the Balkans of the 1990s. 

Third, the Dayton Accords envision that the entities shall have the right to establish special parallel relationships with neighboring states consistent with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The term «confederate» was absent but the possibility of integration with neighboring states is not excluded, for instance with Serbia and Croatia. Talking about the war-torn Ukraine, the potential integration of the Donbass and Russia, Transcarpathia and Hungary, Bukovina and Romania is possible. Stated by a political settlement agreement, the pricky problem of territorial integrity could have a legal basis for peaceful solution instead of war, propaganda and meaningless declarations. 

Fourth, the Dayton model is broad and flexible, it could be adapted to Ukrainian realities, especially getting OSCE monitoring structures actively involved the same way it is done in the Caucasus. Here, a broad window of opportunities is open before Serbia as the OSCE chair.