Politicians in Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska seem to have drafted an "action plan for secession", the international community’s high representative Christian Schmidt said on May 10 in a speech to the UN Security Council while presenting his regular report.
Bosnia consists of two autonomous entities – the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska. Each has its own institutions and there are also state-level bodies. Politicians in Republika Srpska have repeatedly challenged state-level institutions, and some have called for the entity to secede.
"I am particularly worried about a joint statement signed by the ruling parties in Republika Srpska on April 24. The statement appears to be an action plan for secession," Schmidt said.
In April, political parties in Republika Srpska signed a joint statement saying that the two entities – not the state – own state property exclusively. They also rejected the authority of the state-level constitutional court.
“The signatories oblige RS [Republika Srpska] representatives in the country’s institutions to suspend decision-making at the state level until the Republika Srpska government and parliament approve their decisions,” Schmidt noted.
Republika Srpska also decided to set up a police unit to conduct so-called “border monitoring” between the entities.
“None of these measures can be reconciled with the Dayton Agreement. They clearly endanger the state institutions and the country’s unity,” Schmidt said.
He pointed out that Milorad Dodik, the secessionist president of Republika Srpska, is openly calling for the entity’s independence and has repeatedly said that Republika Srpska will join Serbia.
In a separate report, Zeljka Cvijanovic, the Serb member of Bosnia’s state-level tripartite presidency, disagreed with Schmidt, claiming that the Dayton peace agreement encourages the decentralisation of powers.
“In the decades after the signing of the Dayton Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina was turned into a much more centralised system thanks to foreign interventions, not through legal democratic means,” Cvijanovic said as quoted by N1.
She also claimed that the security situation in Bosnia is stable.
“BiH is not the powder keg it is portrayed to be by those who demand greater foreign intervention. It is true that it is in a state of political tension, but this is also the case in other democratic countries. The threats do not come from harsh political statements but from inconsistent monitoring of the Dayton Agreement. If the Dayton Agreement is not respected, there is no hope that BiH will succeed,” Cvijanovic said.
She claimed the high representative's role was “modified from a mediator to an autocrat with unlimited, despotic powers.”
Cvijanovic went even further, accusing Schmidt of threatening her.
“Immediately before my arrival here, Schmidt, whose appointment was not approved by the Security Council, threatened that if I dared to question his legitimacy before this Council, I would receive an answer that I would not like. The attitude that Schmidt shows towards BiH officials is a typical attitude of foreign officials passing through my country. Reckless interference by OHR more often creates problems than solves them,” Cvijanovic said.