Bosnia’s Serb-majority part will pass a rule that will make any decisions which are not strictly in accordance with the 1995 Constitution invalid should the state government not be formed soon as per an agreement Bosnia’s leaders signed eight days ago, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said on Tuesday.
This would mean that even the reforms that have been so far successful and moved the country closer to the EU and NATO standards, such as forming a state court and police agency, will be annulled.
The Agreement was signed by the leaders of the three strongest national parties that won the election - Bosniak Bakir Izetbegovic, from the Party for Democratic Action (SDA), Serb Milorad Dodik, from the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) and Croat Dragan Covic, from the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ).
It was supposed to end the months-long blockade that prevents the country from forming a new government after the October elections. Bosnia’s path toward NATO membership is at the core of the political bickering.
Although they initially supported Bosnia’s joining the alliance, Bosnian Serbs have changed their minds a few years ago and now refuse to let the country make any further steps toward membership, while Bosniaks insist on it.
Dodik argued that Republika Srpska (RS), the Serb-dominated semi-autonomous entity within Bosnia, has adopted in 2017 a Resolution on Military Neutrality in line with neighbouring Serbia, which means it opposes membership in any military alliances.
The swords are being crossed now over the next step on that path - sending the country’s Annual National Programme (ANP) to NATO.
The Agreement addresses the issue in one of its 12 principles but with such vague wording that nobody can say for sure what it means.
“I am prepared to respect this agreement, that we form the Council of Ministers, that we work on European integration, that we cooperate with NATO regarding some issues, that we maintain peace,” he said.
“If they (NATO) ask for 50 people to go to Afghanistan, and we say that there are some who want to make five thousand US Dollars a month, they should go (...) But they will not be able to come to our schools anymore and talk about how NATO membership has no alternative,” Dodik told Tanjug, according to the Srna news agency.
The ANP will not be sent to Brussels, he said, as Republika Srpska opposes Bosnia’s membership in the alliance and does not want a higher level of cooperation with NATO than neighbouring Serbia has.
“There is no path toward NATO. We are tied to Serbia regarding that matter. If Serbia joins NATO in 100 years, so will we. If Serbia does not join it in 300 years, neither will we, as long as I and my political option have a say in the matter,” he said.
Dodik said he will only agree to Bosnia having an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO, as Serbia does.
The ANP is nowhere mentioned in the Agreement, he argued, adding that any interpretation that it implies the Programme will be sent is false. It does state a commitment to accelerate the reform process in regard to membership in the European Union, but not NATO, he said.
It states that the Constitution and the law will be respected, but also the position of all levels of government, he argued.
“That means that the National Assembly of Republika Srpska and its Resolution on Military Neutrality, which is very clear, will be respected as well and that there will be no predictions regarding NATO membership,” he stressed.
Dodik said that he told Izetbegovic and Covic directly that he will not allow for the ANP to be sent.
He also commented on a statement by Zeljko Komsic, the Croat Presidency member, who said he will not greenlight the nomination for prime minister unless the ANP is sent.
“We will see, obstructions are possible. This Agreement is not binding for any of the signatories,” he said, but expressed optimism that the government will be formed soon.
“I am not sure, but in some way, I don’t care. I think that it was necessary to reach this agreement and show that those who dispute it will bear the political responsibility,” he said, arguing that Bosnian Croats also want the government to be formed.
“They are in favour of NATO membership, but they don’t insist on it because there is no consensus. NATO is a made-up story by the Bosniaks,” he said. Dodik and Covic have before the election formed a political alliance.