L'arrivo dell'euro nella Republika Srpska, entità della Bosnia-Erzegovina, ha avuto come reazione lo scetticismo della gente abituata al marco tedesco, ma anche la possibilità di un lavaggio del denaro sporco (testo in inglese).
The arrival of the Euro in the countries of the European Union and in Bosnia and Herzegovina probably wouldn't have been noticed if it hadn't brought big consequences for people. During the time when Europe spoke about forming a big economic zone, which would represent one of the biggest economic zones in the world, the citizens of BIH were worried about the leaving of their "only security", the deutsche mark.
The DEM became in the last few days the dearest and the only one. According to unofficial sources, BIH citizens saved between half a billion and one billion deutsche marks, which would have to see daylight because of the change of the deutsche mark into the Euro. No matter how difficult the situation, there was almost no family that didn't keep a few hundred marks "for bad days". Just these small house stocks made up an important part in the total amount of DEM. The trust in the DEM was so strong that some individuals thought the Euro would last one month, and then be forgotten afterwards.
The governor of the Central Bank (CBBIH) BIH Peter Nicholl tried to explain to frightened citizens that the course of the convertible mark has already been connected with the Euro. KM according to the Central Bank BIH law has been connected to the DEM , and the DEM according to the law of the EU has been connected to the Euro. So, we have been connected to the Euro by the same course as the DEM. The exchange rate from KM/ Euro is 1 KM = 0,51129 Euro, that is 1 Euro = 1,95583 KM. That is a unique exchange expressed in two different ways. What the Euro means for BIH is that the value of convertible mark has been fixed in relation with the currency of 12 European countries, not only Germany. In the countries with which we have fixed exchanges there lives about 380 million people. When you add the countries of our region, which adopted the Euro or were bonded to the Euro through the currency board arrangements, the region with which BIH has a stable exchange is very important. It should be the main profit for exporters and importers.
According to the Peter Nicholl each of the Euro countries brought a decision about how long the national values could be changed in commercial banks. These deadlines vary, and for BIH the most important one concerns the DEM. "That is a two month period, until February 28th , 2002". In the last few years we sent around 3 billion marks back to Germany. The procedures we use function without problems and they are cheap. We can use them until the February, 2002 deadline. The date we have determined as a final date for the reception DEM or other currencies is 15th February, 2002, and we set that date so that we can transport bank-notes until 28th February. After February 28t, the Bundesbank will give us the equivalent value for the bank-notes and coins. They would have to be sent to Germany on the base of gathering . That process would last longer, and it would include certain risks. So, our wish is to finish the transport of the remaining DEM from BIH to Germany until the end of the February 2002", said Nicholl.
The citizens have four choices about what to do with their DEM money:
They could replace them for KM, which would make the people from the Central bank BIH happy. They could place it into BIH commercial banks in KM or Euro. It is already possible to replace DEM for Euro. That process should result in the increase of bank deposits, that is to place DEM into banks. Banks should encourage citizens to do this more often. Some of the people who will bring the DEM to the banks will enter in the bank maybe for the first time in their life, or the first time in a long while. This is a chance for banks to gain new clients.
From the Central bank it was declared that the people could keep their DEM if they really wanted, but they wouldn't be able to use it as a means of paying after January 1st , 2002, and to replace it after the 28th February they would have to bring it to the Bundesbank.
After 1st January, the citizens would have the fifth option- replacing it into Euro. The banks would then have Euro, so the supply of commercial banks with the Euro would be possible. According to Peter Nicholl, banks and their clients would have to realize that the Euro is foreign currency and that the CBBIH has no obligation to provide appropriate quantities of foreign values so that the commercial banks would have enough for their aims. That is the responsibility of commercial bank.
The most important message that the Central bank tried to give to other companies and BIH citizens about the Euro exchange was that the most important elements of BIH currency board and the convertible mark would remain the same after January 1st, 2002.
KM will continue to exist as a unique "means of payment" in BIH . It has to be accepted according to the exchange, which was established by the Act about CBBIH;
The exchange would be fixed in the same relation as it was, but towards the Euro instead of the DEM;
CBBIH would have to provide 100% coverage in convertible foreign value for our KM sources;
Convertible mark will remain completely convertible , but towards Euro instead of DEM, which will stop existing;
The people could use Euro for cash payments in BIH but on the condition that both sides in transaction agree. They would determine which currency to use.
Based on experiences with domestic values in the last decades, most of the citizens are hardly determined to replace DEM into domestic convertible marks, though in the last few years KM could be changed in DEM , thanks to the Central bank BIH.
No value is like the Deutsche mark. Maybe it is because some individuals have more than "a few hundred", and they are not sure how got it. The question of the origin of the money is the problem that those with higher amounts of savings in DEM will have to face. According to the valid law, the banks are obliged to report every financial transaction higher than 30 000 DEM to the Financial police, together with basic information about this owner. This decree has been applied even in the case of smaller amounts, if the same person in three days changes 10 000 marks every day in the next 48 hours the bank can stop the transaction if the Financial police are suspicious about the origin of the money. If their suspicions are with reason, than the subject goes to Supreme persecution. In the Republic of Srpska there doesn't exist a special law which could stop "money laundering", but the attempt to "launder" according to the Crime law is a crime. In the other BIH entity, FBIH, there is a law about money laundering, but the attempt to "money launder" is not treated as a criminal deed . The explanation of the Financial police is that the money came from evasion of taxes or some other shape of criminal act, which has been determined in the law. All of them in BIH couldn't prove that the DEM they have are gained in decent way so don't have to worry a lot because Serbia is not far away, and the new democratic head declared that it wouldn't ask "unnecessary" questions.
Nor would the news from the European police (Europol) help to Balkans to accept the Euro. Deputy of Europol, Wily Brugeman, declared a few days ago that Europe was ready to reprimand Balkan criminals who prepared the use of false Euros and to use it in different ways, to buy diamonds and real estate all around the Europe at the beginning of a next year. Brugeman in an interview for Reuters declared that the criminals could maintain the net for distribution of false Euros into countries of the EU. "The biggest traps for us are identified in the Balkans. There is an indication that the first forgery is of very good quality"-said Burgeon.
According to all of this, 2002 will represent a turning point in the life and habits of the people of BIH. The trust in banks will hardly be returned. The high percentage of citizens will decide to use USD of Swiss franc. But that percentage is not big at all, because BIH is in economic crisis. The most interesting question is the one that will probably remain without an answer: What to do with the marks of the small percentage of citizens who were called by people "war profiters"?