The Minister of the Republika Srpska entity of the BiH, Alen Šeranić has stated that Covid-19 virus is still present and will be present in the fall. He appealed to citizens to follow the pandemic instructions but he did not mentioned anything on returning of the measures that were introduced in March, April and May.
A day before, Bosniak-Croat Federation Prime Minister, Fadil Novalić has announced that restrictive measures such as economic blockade and curfews will not be introduced in the case of second wave of coronavirus pandemic. All in all, after three months of curfews, ban of the freedom of movement for children and older people, strict measures regarding economic and social activities, and other measures which created the atmosphere of psychosis and silent panic, which have devastated economy, it seems that the virus is still there, and all the Bosnian institutions can do is the so-called Swedish model, without any strong formal restrictions and playing on the card of the citizens responsibility.
„Citizens have proven to be responsible and disciplined during the first wave“ was said by Prime Minister Novalić, deeply compromised in the scandal around Chinese respirators paid several times more than their real price and imported through dubious agricultural company. Republika Srpska were not shy of using the pandemic for criminal acts, taking into account that RS opposition is presenting evidence on obtaining respirators for even more expensive prices, and topping the extent of the respiratory crime in the Federation.
Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been thus placed in the situation to be praised during the first wave of coronavirus by the government, at the same time being left with no other choice but stay at home traumatized and fear from pandemic but also life to be - knowing the economic burden of the crisis will be carried solely on their shoulders. It is not that these praises are undeserved - citizens have really respected the measures and it is only because of them that the first wave of pandemic in BiH went relatively went. If it is over, at all.
Currently, the average number of new cases of Covid-19 in the last seven days is 48 cases per a day. In the second week of May there were 26 per a day, and in the second week of April it was 40 newly infected cases. If we add that at this moment there are 772 active cases in the whole BiH and there are 164 coronavirus related deaths, it gives around 75% of closed cases for the amount of 3,076 Covid-19 infected.
To compare, states like Austria and Germany, that are considered to go through the first wave have the 97,5 and 96,7 percentages of closed cases respectively - even Italy that was taken as the example of bad management of the crisis has 89% of closed cases. Similar parameters as in BiH can be found in Spain (76,7%), showing that the epidemic situation in Bosnia is not better than in April or May, showing the tendency to worse, which is attributed to behavior of individuals and “import” of the new cases from abroad.
It is clear that the restrictive measures that were introduced and canceled without any plan were only protecting the unprepared and uncoordinated system from completely collapsing. It is for that reason that the police curfew was introduced - and even those who made this decision later acknowledged this was about security and not epidemic. Completely meaningless measure was also introduced - children and older people were completely banned from leaving their homes, which was later established as the violation of human rights by the Constitutional Court of BiH.
It is interesting that the same measure for children under 18 was valid only in the FBiH entity, while Republika Srpska did not have this limitation, which brought us to many paradoxic and outrageous situations - certain parts of Sarajevo divided by the entities lines neighboring streets have completely different measures of allowed behavior! By the way, this kind of measure was introduced only in Azerbaijan, based on some ancient law from Soviet Union, so the question remains - who was the example for BiH authorities in fighting the pandemic?
Neighboring Croatia had completely different approach, with limited and temporary limitations introduced according to the plan and systematically where the infection would reach its peak. Countries with largest numbers of Bosnian diaspora such as Slovenia, Austria and Germany also opted for less strict restrictions and it is therefore reasonable to ask why did Bosnia and Herzegovina followed these examples in fighting the pandemic, taking into account demographic reasons and economic ties? Did the authorities in BiH think just for a second about the period of opening that would inevitably come after the pandemic and would made the BH citizens travel impossible to Austria for example, at least without quarantine and an expensive test?
BiH has not followed the example of countries that have dealt with the crisis more successfully and now is in the situation where economy has been devastated with three months paralysis, opening of the country and adjusting to neighbors measures is difficult, epidemiological situation is no better than during pervious months and all the authorities can afford in continuance of the pandemic is the famous Swedish model, and they say it openly, without any shame or regret for all the bad decisions made in the last three or four months.
Maybe the worst of all are public reactions where citizens are blamed for escalation of newly infected cases and their “irresponsible behavior”, as well as “unnecessary movement”. Blaming the citizens for all the problems in the country has long have been a typical public discourse, but it does need an additional audacity to blame people who have been locked down for three months for using their freedom, when they have shown more responsibility than those whose job is to look after citizens.
Based on reactions on social media, citizens themselves have started blaming each other for worsening of the situation, saying “that is who we are, you give us a little bit of freedom and we immediately make a mess” or “we are not normal people”, thus creating an alibi for authorities for all their mistakes and an excuse for bad decisions in the future. Stockholm syndrome is already widespread here, let us hope that Swedish model will not be too difficult either.
*Data collected from: https://www.worldometers.info
In cooperation of two web portals, Remarker and Sbunker, a series of analysis will be published in the upcoming period in order to promote a critical debate on the current situation in the region of the Western Balkans.
After last messages received from one of the most influential members of the EU, France, the region has faced one of the greatest challenges in the last 30 years, when countries in the Western Balkans began their difficult path, first into conflicts and then in the process of democratization and european integration.
The goal of Remarker and Sbunker is to support better understanding of the current trends in the countries of the Western Balkans and raise the awareness on necessity of european integration process, straightening the process of democratization and the rule of law as necessary preconditions for permanent peace and stability in the region.
You may find the Albanian version here and the Serbian version here.