Serbia Stands Against West in Bosnia

resizer73Serbian President Boris Tadic has issued a strong statement of support for the Bosnian Serb leadership in a joint condemnation of Bosnia’s top western envoy, who has moved to abolish a Bosnian Serb declaration challenging his powers.

Bosnian Serb leaders continue to contemplate their response to Bosnia’s High Representative Valentin Inzko’s decision to abolish Republika Srpska Assembly declaration against the powers of the international community’s Office of the High Representative and the transfer of powers from the entity to the state government. 

Their decision is likely to come in the next couple of days, after Republika Srpska President Rajko Kuzmanovic returns from his visit to Russia, said Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik.

“Serbia does not accept any policy of imposing solutions. Anybody who wants stability in the area of the western Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina wants to avoid the situation in which a legitimate decision of citizens’ representatives are abolished,” said Tadic, who on Monday afternoon travelled to Banja Luka, in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska, where he met with top Bosnian Serb leaders.

Tadic’s support was reflected in the terse statement which Bosnian Serb strongman Dodik gave after the meeting.

“This is the last time that Bonn [OHR governing] powers will be used,” Dodik said in what is being viewed as a flagrant challenge to the international community.
Over the weekend, Inzko – who previously appeared to have been abandoned by the EU – managed to scramble up western support and used his broad governing powers to abolish the disputed Republika Srpska Assembly conclusions from May 14.

This declaration calls for the OHR to cease using its powers and to undo its past decisions. It was seen as a violation of Bosnia’s constitution and a challenge to the OHR’s authority.

The clash between the OHR and Bosnian Serbs officials has occupied the Bosnian public for the past few weeks. It has threatened to escalate further the worst post-war political crisis that has shaken the country for the past three years.

Many western countries were hoping that Serbia and Tadic, largely viewed as a moderate force, would work to soften the Bosnian Serb position – a hope clearly expressed by US Vice President Joseph Biden during his visit to Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo last month.

As such, Tadic’s support for the Bosnian Serb leadership on Monday afternoon was a disappointment for the international community.

While standing by Bosnian Serb condemnations of Inzko’s decision, Tadic apparently also tried to calm the situation, saying that the Bosnian Serb leadership had “to find their response to this situation” but added that it should not be something that “causes new confusion and generates tensions”.

“Serbia will not do anything that will bring into question the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, like it will never accept any decision which is not a result of the democratic dialogue and an agreement of legitimate representatives of the three peoples or two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Tadic said in a interview for Republika Srpska Television, RTRS, on Monday night.

Bosnian Serb officials said consultations among the main Bosnian Serb political parties would continue until they agreed on how to respond to Inzko.
Most Bosnian Serb opposition leaders have said that further escalation of tensions would not be in anyone’s interest.
In the meantime, many Bosniak officials have condemned Tadic’s visit and statements in Banja Luka

Bosniak member of the Bosnian presidency, Haris Silajdzic, said Tadic’s comments were “a rude violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“According to the Dayton agreement Serbia has only obligations, no rights towards Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Silajdzic said in his statement to media later on Tuesday. He underlined that throughout the past two decades Serbia was the aggressor on Bosnia, not a factor of its stability as Tadic suggested.

One of Bosnia’s opposition parties, the Social Democratic Party, SDP, also criticized tadic’s comments. SDP said that by supporting disputed Republika Srpska Assembly conclusions while criticizing Inzko’s decision, Serbian president Tadic does not support but violate Bosnia’s integrity and constitution.

“Republika Srpska is not Serbia’s colony, to which its president can come however and whenever he likes and discriminate against whomever he likes,” the Bosniak deputy chairman of the RS Assembly, Sefket Hafizovic, told local media.

Hafizovic and other Bosnian officials protested against Tadic’s visit, which they view as interfering with Bosnian internal issues.

Ramiz Salkic, Bosniak deputy in the RS Assembly, told local media that it was only because of Tadic’s blessing that the disputed Assembly conclusions were adopted in the first place.

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