Secessionist leader says Serbs will undo Bosnia state institutions

FILE PHOTO: Budapest Demographic Summit
FILE PHOTO: Member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Presidency Milorad Dodik gestures as he speaks during the Budapest Demographic Summit in Budapest, Hungary, September 23, 2021. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

October 14, 2021

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who advocates the secession of the Serb-dominated region from Bosnia, announced on Thursday that the Serb Republic leadership will soon take measures aimed at unravelling key institutions of the Bosnian state.

Dodik, who currently serves as the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite inter-ethnic presidency, has long complained about state institutions such as the judiciary and prosecutors, saying they were established based on decisions by international peace envoys and were not enshrined in the constitution.

Under the Dayton peace accords that ended its devastating war in the 1990s, Bosnia was split into two autonomous regions – the Serb Republic and the Federation dominated by Croats and Bosniaks, linked by a weak central government.

The country’s constitution is part of the peace deal.

But since the Balkan country was not functional after the war, representatives from the international community imposed rulings creating institutions upon which formation the three rival ethnic groups could not agree.

“I proclaim the end of this,” Dodik said at a news conference after meeting ambassadors from the European Union countries in Bosnia, adding that about 130 laws imposed by peace envoys will be annulled and authorities given back to the regional parliament.

He said last week that the Serb Republic would pull out of Bosnia’s armed forces, top judiciary body and tax administration, the three institutions representing key pillars of the state security, rule of law and the fiscal system.

Among the institutions he plans to unravel are also the State Investigation and Protection Agency), the Intelligence-Security Agency, state court and prosecution, as well as the constitutional court – in reality all institutions that enable the state functioning.

Dodik said he was not going for the secession of the Serb Republic but for its full autonomy within Bosnia, which would not affect the country’s territorial integrity.

“There is no war, there will be no war and there is no possibility for the war,” he said, adding the Serb leadership did not plan to take any military measures.

However Dodik, a staunch supporter of Russia, has earlier said that unidentified “friends” had promised help to the Serb Republic in case of “Western military intervention” against the region.

Also on Thursday, the Peace Implementation Council, the body grouping representatives of the countries and international organisations overseeing Bosnia’s peace, called on all Bosnian leaders to reject and cease “destabilising and divisive rhetoric”, including threats of secession.

“Attempting to undo 26 years of hard-won progress and peace is the opposite of what all political leaders have committed to and where Bosnia-Herzegovina needs to go,” the ambassadors said in a statement, with which Russia disagreed.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Alistair Bell)