Selim Ibraimi- The president of the Bosnian Serbs, Milorad Dodik, in an extraordinary speech in the Parliament of Republika Srpska, has openly threatened to secede from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). He has denied the Srebrenica massacre, demanded the expulsion of Western diplomats, and many other threats that make the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina unclear. It is not the first time that the Serbian leader has directed criticism and threats to dissolve BiH. In an interview with the Associated Press (AP) in December 2023, Milorad Dodik vowed to weaken the Bosnian state to the point of dismembering it. The Serbian reactions came after the Office of the High Representative for BiH Kristian Shmitd presented a new legal package to reform the Electoral Code. Politicians of Republika Srpska have declared that they are ready to issue their electoral law. Dodik’s speech to the National Parliament of Republika Srpska suggested that High Representative Cristian Schmidt’s decisions be reversed within seven days to calm the situation. Dodiku requested that in the session of the House of Representatives of the Serbian Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Electoral Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina be approved with all technical improvements, which will be implemented immediately. He called the CEC a para-state organization serving foreigners. He has pledged that the Serbian Parliament will make a statement confirming the territorial integrity of BiH and the political system provided by the Constitution, if, in the same session, the American Ambassador Michael Murphy, the British Ambassador Julian Relly, Christian Schmidt, and the German Ambassador Tomas Fitschen should be declared enemies of BiH. According to Dodik, ambassadors should be expelled from Bosnia and Herzegovina. A day after the speech, Milorad Dodik, in a post on the X network, accused the Bosnian leadership of being frivolous. “Among the Bosniaks, there is no serious leader who is ready to get rid of the subjugation and interference of foreigners…” “This is the essence of all the problems in the functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosniaks must understand that the only way BiH can progress is through dialogue with Serbs and Croats. Everything else is a permanent crisis for BiH, from which there is no way out”. “Republika Srpska knows its way. We are ready to preserve Dayton, and the BiH Constitution, but we don’t have to. The independence of Republika Srpska is becoming more and more possible, because the Muslims overthrew Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dayton, and left the constitutional framework. “The coming months will be decisive” – wrote Milorad Dodik in X. As is known, the foreign ambassadors will not leave, and it will not be easy for the High Representative Kristian Shmitd to change the proposed legal package.
Dodik’s actions are not surprising, as they are in line with the latest plans of Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church for the unification of positions around “the challenges of the Serbian people”. According to Dodik, if this does not happen, (the removal of foreign diplomats and the various changes in the Electoral Code), Serbia will insist that a statement be made at the Easter Assembly announcing that the Bosniaks have violated the Dayton Agreement (1995) and that Serbia can no longer stand behind it”. Since Milorad Dodik came to power in 2010, the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been called into question. Dodik has visited Moscow several times, where he was recently decorated with a high medal by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February of this year. Despite international sanctions against the Kremlin, high-ranking Russian and Republika Srpska officials have continued to cooperate openly. Republika Srpska and the Russian Federation have close relations. Since 1991, the Serbs have enjoyed great support from Russia. Finally, the government of Republika Srpska has signed an agreement with Gazprom to supply gas to the Serbs until 2025. Meanwhile, official Sarajevo has previously leveled several accusations against Serbian leader Dodik who had allowed Russian paramilitary training in the Republika. Srpska. Dodik’s speech has undoubtedly raised concerns in the EU and the US that Bosnia and Herzegovina may disintegrate. In particular, the foreign enemies of the Bosnian Federation such as Serbia and Russia with other non-state actors have already been involved in subversive actions to undermine peace and security. Dodik’s recent actions could trigger unexpected events between Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, and Croats. Unfortunately, apart from sanctions that have little effect, the international community has no other means to alleviate the situation. As separation becomes inevitable, friction could lead to isolated conflicts becoming another hot spot in Europe, especially in the Balkans. In the context of threats and propaganda for war being made by some political actors who are currently in the election phase, and have exploited (misused) the probability of Russian implications and potential for raising conflicts in the Balkan region, the threat that the Serbian political elite and the Serbs poses for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is real. The situation in BH should not be placed in the context of parliamentary and presidential elections (of Russian influence) in several countries of the Balkan region. We must carefully assess the developments in BH, as a separate case, and of course, developments should be put on a broader perspective with other Balkan issues. The US and UK have put several high-ranking Serbian representatives on the sanctions list, including Dodik, but without concrete results in (BH) policy-making.

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