Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said on Wednesday that he told the Croatian President Zoran Milanovic that foreigners in charge of overseeing the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement are breaching it and promoting a citizen-oriented concept in a country with a political system based on the ‘constitutionality’ of its three ethnic groups.
Dodik said that the Dayton Peace Agreement has brought peace and set up the political system in Bosnia and Herzegovina but that international officials, namely the international administrators tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the agreement, are working on centralizing the state which is in the interest of Bosniaks.
The principle of ‘constitutionality’ is what was damaged the most by such interventions by the High Representatives, he said.
Dodik said that Bosniaks are trying to “politically marginalise” Croats and Serbs, as well as Bosnia’s Serb-majority semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity in the country.
He mentioned a declaration which the main Bosniak party, the Party for Democratic Action (SDA), passed last year which includes, among other things, the establishment of a ‘Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina’ and the affirmation of a ‘Bosnian language’ as the ‘common identity of all of Bosnia’s citizens’.
Dodik argued that this declaration does not envisage the country having semi-autonomous entities or constituent peoples as defined by the Dayton Agreement but that it advocates for a civic setup which he said was “exclusively in the interest of the Bosniak political elite.”
“Croatia has an important role in this regard, it’s a member of the EU and it’s important that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is understood,” Dodik said.
“It must be ensured that constitutional peoples have the full capacity of their rights as stated in the Constitution. This can contribute to the sustainability of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it implies changes to the Election Law to protect constitutional peoples and their legitimate representatives,” he said.
Dodik argued that it is a well-known fact that RS representatives have a good cooperation with representatives of Bosnian Croats and that “this does not damage Bosniaks.”
The Bosnian Serb leader commented on questions raised by Bosniak political leaders about the goal of his visit and in which capacity he was going to Zagreb - as the leader of the Bosnian Serbs or as a member of the country’s tripartite presidency. He dismissed them as “politicising.”
“I have not come here to slander anybody, but within my capacity as a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina to familiarise my interlocutors about my view of the situation in Bosnia and about the way we can cooperate,” he said.
Dodik noted that Croats and Serb people had a difficult history but “remain the most important peoples in this region who must find a model of cooperation in the future in order to keep the peace.”
He argued that every member of the Presidency has the possibility to organise any visit and that he, as the Serb Presidency member and the representative of citizens of Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity, also had the right to do so.
Dodik said that his Bosnian Croat colleague in the Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, visited North Macedonia recently within the same capacity and that Bosniak Presidency member Sefik Dzaferovic visited Turkey as well “and nobody made a problem out of it.”
“There was no need for such words which we could hear and this only shows the true face of Bosnia and Herzegovina and political Sarajevo,” he said.
Dodik told the media that right now “there are two Bosniak and one Serb member in the Presidency” in the country, alluding to his colleague Zeljko Komsic.
According to Bosnia’s Constitution, the Bosniak and Bosnian Croat members of the tripartite Presidency are elected from the Federation entity (FBiH), while the Bosnian Serb member is elected from the other entity, Republika Srpska.
Many of the numerically superior Bosniaks in FBiH abandoned the principle of voting along ethnic lines and gave their vote to Komsic, a Bosnian Croat who advocates a citizen-oriented society rather than an ethnicity-based.
In this way, Komisic’s voters effectively kicked the leader of the main Bosnian Croat party, Dragan Covic, out of the three-member presidency.
Covic had won most of the votes in Croat-majority areas within the entity but that was not enough.
The Bosnian Serb leader also pointed out that he was the one who stopped Bosnia from suing Croatia over the construction of the Peljesac Bridge, which is being built across Bosnian waters, in order to avoid a conflict between the two countries.