The decision of the Bosnian Serb member of the tripartite Presidency to block an initiative that could result in a lawsuit against Croatia was a result of a deal he made with Croatia’s President, Croat Presidency member Zeljko Komsic told local newspaper ‘Oslobodjenje’ on Friday.
Croatia is building the Peljesac Bridge, which is meant to connect the Croatian mainland and the Peljesac Peninsula, bypassing a 15 kilometre-long Bosnian strip of the coast around the city of Neum that is located in the bay of the peninsula.
But some political parties in Bosnia oppose the construction of the bridge, saying that Bosnia and Croatia never fully agreed on their border and that it might prevent large vessels from entering the country’s bay of Neum and threaten Bosnia’s access to the open sea.
When the Bosniak and Croat members of the country’s Presidency agreed to adopt a proposal that could lead to Bosnia suing Croatia over the issue, their Serb colleague, Milorad Dodik, said he would not approve the move.
He argued that such a lawsuit is detrimental to the vital interests of Republika Srpska (RS), the semi-autonomous entity he was elected from.
RS lawmakers expressed support for Dodik’s initiative, which means that, according to the Constitution, the Presidential decision was prevented from coming into force.
Komsic said that what Dodik did is “absurd.”
“Dodik promised Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic that he will stop that in the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Komsic said.
He dismissed Dodik’s statement that stopping the Peljesac Bridge would cause problems for another project, the construction of a bridge near Gradiska, and that it would create problems with the EU since the Union is financing the construction of the bridge.
“That was an unnecessary show by Dodik. I would like to warn that some decisions by the RS National Assembly can also be blocked through legal means,” he said.
There are many unresolved issues between Bosnia and Croatia, Komsic argued, but stressed that this is due to Croatia’s disinterest for resolving them. Partly it is also because of ministers from the main Croat party in the country, the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ), who are obstructing the process in their ministries, he said.
“We are willing to deal with them in the next period, we have the desire and good will. I recall that we were very correct and concrete in resolving the property of Croatian companies and private individuals in Bosnia and Herzegovina, even without requiring reciprocity, " Komsic said and added that the same process in Croatia was blocked.
Such behaviour on the part of Croatia led to numerous issues which were left unresolved, he argued.
He gave the example of the Bosnian property in Croatia, saying Croatia is treating it as if it were its own.
A law Croatia adopted last year allows the country to give out Bosnia’s property for concession or rent.
Dodik set a precedent, Komsic argued.
“Now I and the other Presidency member, Sefik Dzaferovic, can start blocking processes which are important for the RS or Milorad Dodik,” he said.
“That has nothing to do with the vital national interest of the RS, but he based it on an article which says that a consensus must be reached in the Presidency on decisions regarding foreign policy,” he explained.
Komsic also discussed Dodik’s opposition to Bosnia’s path toward NATO, which is the main reason for why the other two Presidency members haven not expressed support for the new Prime Minister, who is supposed to come from Dodik’s party.
That is why Bosnia has still not formed its government following the October 2018 election.
Komsic said that he can discuss business projects with Dodik, “but not major political topics, especially NATO.”
“I think that his debt to Russia is huge and that he cannot go back on it. Why Dodik put himself in that position, that is a different story, but it is obvious that there is no talking to him about these big issues as he simply does not have maneuvering space to act differently and go for a compromise,” he said.