The goal of challenging the name of Republika Srpska, the Serb-majority entity, is to stop discrimination against non-Serbs in that part of the country, the leader of the party behind the initiative which caused tensions in Bosnia, Bakir Izetbegovic, said in a press conference on Thursday.
The country’s main Bosniak party, the Party for Democratic Action (SDA), announced last week it would challenge the name in the Constitutional Court, arguing that it discriminates against the other major ethnic groups living there, the Bosniaks and the Croats.
The move sparked outrage among Bosnian Serb parties and prompted Russia to ask for a meeting of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), a body composed of foreign ambassadors overseeing the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement and the Constitution it contains.
“We will wait for six months to pass, then we will see what we will do and who will submit the appeal for the Republika Srpska name change and when,” Izetbegovic told Bosnia’s public broadcaster.
The SDA leader explained that the goal of the initiative was to “prompt certain forces” which could help stop the discrimination against Bosniaks and Croats in the RS. If it fails, there is no alternative other than appealing to the Constitutional Court and the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg and requesting for the names of the other two constitutional peoples to be included, he said.
He also spoke about Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency who has frequently been at odds with western diplomats and has advocated for the RS to secede.
“Mr Dodik is a robust, capable, audacious and courageous politician who is checking how far he can go, insulting the OHR, the US Ambassador, honouring war criminals, calling upon Serbia to support the secession of Republika Srpska,” Izetbegovic said.
“Those are unthinkable things that everyone is slowly getting used to. Now Mr Dodik expects us to support a man who will be his instrument in the Council of Ministers and who openly says he will not work in accordance to the Constitution and the law,” he added.
Bosnia’s Presidency is composed of three members, and the Bosniak and Croat members did not yet give support to the candidate for the next Chairman of the Council of Ministers from Dodik’s party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrat (SNSD).
The two said they will only support the candidate, Zoran Tegeltija, if he respects previous decisions the country made that lead toward Bosnia becoming a NATO member.
The SNSD is opposed to Bosnia’s NATO membership.
Izetbegovic said it was time to “draw the line”, saying that “everyone will make a compromise” and that the SDA expects “from the Serb side nothing more or less than respecting Bosnia’s Constitution and the law.”“
If the SNSD respects the Constitution and the laws, we will have a new Council of Ministers within 15 days. It is up to them,” he said, adding that Bosnia’s path toward EU membership will stagnate unless the Government is formed.