Milorad Dodik, Bosnian Serb leader and currently the State Presidency Chairman, said on Tuesday that he would like to remind those who claim Bosnia cannot fall apart that some claimed the same for ex-Yugoslavia, “and you had a chance to see how it looked like.”
“They put Bosnia and Herzegovina at risk of not functioning, and I would say that they put Bosnia and Herzegovina at risk of not existing at all,” Dodik told a press conference in Istocno Sarajevo, commenting on a stalemate in the formation of the state-level government after the last October's election.
Dodik's Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) won the largest number of votes in Bosnia's Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) region, which qualified it to represent the entity in the state institutions. Pursuant to the rotation principle, according to which three major ethnic groups are appointed, a Serb candidate would be appointed this time at the helm of the state government, formally called the Council of Ministers. Due to the election victory, it is supposed to be the SNSD's candidate.
But, the appointment is in a deadlock because of a demand of election winners in Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity, which is dominated by other two major groups, the Bosniaks and the Croats. The main parties of this entity, primarily the Bosniak's Party of Democratic Action (SDA), requests adoption of the Annual National Programme (ANP), which would strengthen the country's partnership with the NATO.
Bosniak and Bosnian Croat politicians want Bosnia to be a member of the alliance but most Bosnian Serb politicians are against it.
According to Bosnia's political system, representatives of the three major ethnic groups in the country must reach a consensus in order for any decision to be made.
The differing stances between them are also the main reason why Bosnia has still not formed its government following the 2018 General Election.
“Let me say it again, Izetbegovic (SDA leader) is not my coalition or my partner. RS made a decision and it won't join the NATO, you are speaking in vain. I don't understand why is it in the interest of Bosniaks to join now. It won't. It can't because the Serb people don't want that. Decisions cannot be made in Bosnia and Herzegovina in that way,” said Dodik.
The ruling party in RS follows the stance of neighbouring Serbia on military neutrality, which means they have no intention to join the military alliance. As long as Serbia stays out of it, the Bosnian Serbs will do the same.
“Nobody will play with the Serb national interests at the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They will be represented in full capacity or they won't be represented at all,” stressed the Serb leader, reiterating that SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic is not SNSD's partner but simply the election winner among its own people.
“We make decisions at the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina and I know what belongs to us,” said Dodik.
The government formation also blocks the state budget adoption, which led to temporary financing that expires by the end of this week. The Presidency Chairman warned that this might mean the state officials and civil servants won't get their salaries on Monday.
“I am sorry because of the budget (adoption). I won't be getting salary as of Monday either if the decision on temporary financing is not adopted,” he added.