by MONITOR
THE international community's High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, aka Paddy Ashdown, stepped down from his four year stint in the Balkans this week. He was appointed in 2001 to represent the UN and the EU in drawing together the Serb and Muslim Croat communities created by the Dayton peace accord of 1995 into a single Bosnian state. Given all the terrible and often unforgivable things that had gone on before in the former Yugoslavia it was not an enviable assignment. But before his departure, reviewing the progress made in the past four years, Lord Ashdown obviously felt that something worthwhile has been achieved. The Bosnia he inherited was divided into two entitities, the Serb Republic and the Muslim Croat Federation, each with its own army, parliament, police and tax regulations.. Lord Ashcroft's task has been to reduce the power of the two separate organisations while giving the central state more authority. The carrot to persuade reluctant politicans and officials to give up their responsibilities has been the prospect of ultimate membership of the European Union. One of the two remaining tasks to be achieved by Lord Ashdown's successor, a former German minister, is to get agreement on a new constitution. The other is to succeed where Lord Ashdown has failed in bringing the former Bosnian Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, responsible for some of Europe's worst atrocities since Nazi days, to justice. Naturally, there has been speculation about whether the timing of Paddy Ashdown's return to Britain might enable him to enter the frayed campaign for leadership of the Liberal Democratic party which he led with distinction from 1988 to 1999. He rules this out, saying, “Bosnia is the last big job I'll do.” His career has thus ended on a positive note but it remains a criticism of the British policial system that better use was never made of Paddy Ashdown's qualities.