journeys at home and abroad
Today everything shifted gear. We (now warmly welcomed as a delegation) met the Mayor of Tuzla, a large town in the north of the Federation entity of Bosnia (Bosniac majority), which was traditionally a salt mining town (tuz means salt). Local TV cameras and photojournalists were busy. We had heard from the Defence Attache at the UK Embassy that the Bosnian administrative apparatus was so large that it was debilitating for the economy. It was interesting to hear a local politician explain things from his point of view. He said the Dayton agreement ended the war and everyone is thankful for that. However, the huge government apparatus (based on two entities and many cantons in each entity) was now a burden and that the constitution needs to be revised to suit the needs of the country today. There are 14 Prime Ministers, 200 Ministers and 500 MPs for a country with a relatively small population. He joked that in Britain you can live and die without meeting a government minister, whereas in Bosnia every other person is a minister or about to become one. These individuals are reluctant to advocate a slimming down of the system because they would lose their status and generous salary.
This week is a key time for Bosnia because the EU and USA are meeting members of the Bosnian government to discuss possible amendments to the consitution. The Mayor was unhappy that no hint of the proposals had been released prior to this important meeting.