EU reportedly preparing to cut aid to Bosnia’s Republika Srpska

EU reportedly preparing to cut aid to Bosnia’s Republika Srpska
Some EU officials are reportedly considering ways to continue supporting the Muslim-Croat Federation but exclude Republika Srpska. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews September 14, 2023

Bosnia & Herzegovina’s state-level Foreign Minister Elmedin Konakovic said on September 14 that some EU officials are considering ways to continue supporting the Muslim-Croat Federation but cut out Republika Srpska due to its divisive politics, N1 reported on September 14.

Bosnia comprises two autonomous entities – the Federation and Republika Srpska. Each of them has its own institutions and there are also state-level bodies.

“Some officials in Europe are thinking about ways to support only the FBiH entity in the future, which is a controversial topic, but if the authorities in the RS continue on this path, I think they will force some serious officials on the European stage to do just this,” Konakovic said as quoted by N`1.

He added that the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will soon visit the Western Balkans and will announce a large support package for the region, but Bosnia could be excluded due to Republika Srpska’s actions.

“For example, it is unacceptable for [Republika Srpska’s President Milorad] Dodik to say – I do not recognise the [Bosnian constitutional] court's decisions. This is where we run into a serious problem, we are in a pre-conflict situation,” Konakovic said.

He added that this could lead to strengthening of the EUFOR forces in the country due to Dodik’s policy.

“In Strasbourg and Brussels, they are talking about opportunities, developments, but also threats. The latest developments in Republika Srpska are something that worries European officials. If there was no such thing, everything would go much faster,” Konakovic said.

Meanwhile, the international community’s high representative Christian Schmidt said that if he and the foreign judges in the state-level constitutional court leave the country, Bosnia faces the risk of conflict and disintegration.

“Until Dayton [Peace Agreement] is fully implemented, the OHR and foreign judges must remain in the country. It will remain this way for years to come – until Bosnia is a fully democratic society because there is a threat of conflict and disintegration of BiH,” Schmidt said in an interview with N1.

He also said that Dodik is facing interesting times ahead and that the Serb-dominated entity should not underestimate the international community.

“[In] the coming period, it will be a very awkward situation for Dodik because he is attacking Dayton. Let's be calm and composed, I will not get involved in every stupid game and childishness. What should I say to Dodik? Maybe he understands ‘Do not underestimate the international community because you will have to answer for your behaviour’,” Schmidt said.

He added that, although using his special Bonn powers intensely since taking office, Schmidt has not yet applied them to the extent of his predecessor Paddy Ashdown.

“We are still very far from the rule of law and you will understand that I will not show you all the cards, but all the options are on the table and the one that Dodik once experienced when he took power because his predecessor was removed from power by my predecessor,” Schmidt said.

“One has to be calm and composed. This is not a football game, it's about the future of the country, and that is why you have to act very thoughtfully, and I am doing that. I did not get the impression that Dodik considered what he was doing and then it is simply not okay to say something stupid and then have a chance to look back on it. I wonder what he really wants; he wants to lock me up, arrest me and then leave it all to the people with tomatoes and eggs? Tomatoes are Dodik's argument? Yes, yes, interesting,” said Schmidt.

Dodik said earlier in September that he will issue a decree ordering the arrest of Schmidt if he enters Republika Srpska’s territory. Dodik and his ruling SNSD party do not recognise the authority of Schmidt, claiming he was not appointed properly. That claim has been repeatedly denied by the international community.