Bosnia risks losing chance for EU candidate status over Dodik’s diplomatic scandal

Bosnia risks losing chance for EU candidate status over Dodik’s diplomatic scandal
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia August 28, 2022

Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s tripartite presidency, a caused diplomatic scandal with Germany with his refusal to accept the credentials of the new ambassador of the country, Thomas Fitchen, forcing Berlin to give 48 hours to the country to explain his decision.

Dodik’s move could lead to a veto on the country’s EU candidate status by Germany.

Bosnia’s tripartite presidency consists of three members, one for each constituent peoples – the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. In most cases, they can only approve decisions if all three members vote unanimously for them.

The country also comprises two autonomous entities – the Muslim-Croat Federation (FBiH) and Republika Srpska.

During a session of the presidency earlier in August, Dodik refused to approve the diplomat, after announcing a blockade of all state-level decisions. The Serb leader has done that many times in the past as part of his strategy to gain more approval among the population, especially prior to elections. The country will hold a general election on October 2.

“In addition to projects for FBiH, nothing can pass through there. I can no longer support development projects in FBiH. I am not happy, but I have to work this way because of the pathological attitude of two members of the BiH Presidency towards development projects in the Republika Srpska entity,” Dodik said, N1 reported.

He claimed that the other two members of the presidency are constantly rejecting his proposals.

“The German side is unpleasantly surprised and disappointed by the information that the BiH Presidency did not give approval to H.E. Fitschen. They asked the BiH Presidency to give clear explanations about the reasons and background of such a decision within the next 48 hours. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable, especially for something like this to happen after 30 years of bilateral cooperation between the two countries,” a letter sent from Bosnia’s embassy to Germany reads, as quoted by N1.

If Bosnia fails to provide a clear explanation, Germany will reconsider its further behaviour and its support for Bosnia's foreign policy priorities, particularly in obtaining EU candidate status.

Dodik responded that he has already "sanctioned" himself and will not go to Germany to watch the Serbian national team play a basketball match.

He claimed that his entity, unlike the Federation, does not want to be occupied and guided by the international community.

Bosnia’s state-level Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic slammed Dodik for his decision to vote against the approval of Germany’s new ambassador, calling it an irresponsible and politically immature move.

Turkovic also accused Dodik of being responsible for blocking projects of the EU and Germany in Republika Srpska that are worth millions.

“Germany is one of the leading most important trade partners of Bosnia & Herzegovina, but also of numerous companies from Republika Srpska, which depend on the export to the Republic of Germany,” Turkovic said as quoted by N1.

Germany is among the top three trading partners of Republika Srpska along with Serbia and Italy.