Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic urged on Saturday the Serbs in Bosnia to solve their problems at home through state institutions but Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said that that a referendum will decide on whether Bosnia’s Serb-majority region will secede.
Vucic had organised a meeting with Serb leaders from Bosnia and Montenegro in Belgrade, where he said he was concerned with the situation in Bosnia after the latest ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is composed of two semi-autonomous entities - the Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS), and the Federation (FBiH), shared mostly between Bosniaks and Croats. The regions have their own governments and parliaments but are linked into one state by joint institutions, distributed among representatives of all three groups.
The Constitutional Court recently declared that an RS law, according to which agricultural land located in the entity formerly owned by Yugoslavia is the ownership of Republika Srpska, is unconstitutional.
Such land must belong to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Court said.
RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic, a member of Dodik’s party, announced that RS representatives in state institutions will block all decision-making processes until a law that would remove the foreign judges from the Constitutional Court is passed.
Dodik, who is the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, argued that the Court works against the interests of Serbs as the foreign judges too often side with the Bosniaks.
This has created a dangerous political crisis in Bosnia, which Vucic argued should be handled with care.
He asked Dodik to use Bosnia’s institutions to solve the problems.
“I asked him that whatever they may do, they should do it legally, democratically, institutionally, without causing any destabilisation for the entire region,” Vucic said.
But Dodik stated he has had enough and that, as far as Serbs in Bosnia are concerned, “the red line was crossed” with the Constitutional Court’s ruling.
“The people will decide,” he declared after the meeting.
Dodik, who has been advocating for Republika Srpska to secede and possibly join Serbia for years, said he heard Vucic’s arguments for maintaining peace but stressed that “we will ask for the status of Republika Srpska to be determined through a referendum.”
Vucic’s arguments are fine but the moment has come when Serbs can not afford to be double-crossed, he argued.
“We support Serbia and its policy but we have our own, authentic policy,” he said.
The final decision that could block Bosnia’s state institutions will be officially discussed in the RS National Assembly next week.
Dodik said that he informed Vucic about the details of the ruling and the fact that it is ruining Republika Srpska as it is taking land and other property away from it.
Western countries, he said, are supporting the Court’s decision and insist it has to be implemented but he stressed that this is impossible, having in mind Bosnia’s configuration.
He said that Bosnia’s Constitutional Court is a mechanism for the abolishment of Republika Srpska but that the Bosnian Serbs are not planning to do anything that could destabilise the situation.
Vucic stated that Serbia supports Bosnia’s peace agreement.