If the name of Bosnia's Serb-dominated semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity is challenged at the Constitutional Court, it will be an initiative to dissolve Bosnia and Herzegovina and the RS will not wait for the verdict as it does not trust the judges, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said on Wednesday.
“If they send a formal appeal to the Constitutional Court, it will mean an initiative to dissolve Bosnia and Herzegovina. The RS will not wait for the outcome of this process because we have no trust in the Constitutional Court,” Dodik said following the Democratic Action Party’s (SDA) announcement of legal proceedings challenging the name of the RS.
“It’s quite clear that Bosniaks don’t want anyone else in the country. Outvoting the Croats in the election for the Croat Presidency member, rejecting the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, rejecting the ‘RS Day,’ and now this challenging of the RS’ name tells us we have nothing to look for in Bosnia,” said Dodik, who is also the leader of the strongest RS party, the nationalist Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).
Bosnia’s Constitutional Court has, for years, been the subject of the Justice Reform discussion initiated by the local and foreign officials to change the system and to find a solution for a number of international judges who are also serving in the Constitutional Court. Their presence there was introduced to ensure that no national group could be outvoted or discriminated against as the Court must have a proportionate number of judges from each of the three major peoples in Bosnia.
The main Bosniak ethnic-oriented party in the country, the Party for Democratic Action (SDA), said on Wednesday it would appeal to Bosnia’s Constitutional Court on the name of the RS, citing discrimination against non-Serbs in that part of the country. Namely, it claimed that the name is used in a way that it only points out the Serb people as if the entity solely belongs to them when in reality the Constitution stipulates that it is a multi-ethnic entity.
Bosnia’s Constitution stipulates that the country consists of two semi-autonomous entities and three constituent peoples – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) shared by Bosniaks and Croats and the Serb-dominated RS.
Since the Constitution was originally written in English, the name of the RS entity was written in its local form “Republika Srpska,” thus avoiding the possibility of its name meaning that it belongs only to the Serb people.
In practice, the RS media and Serb officials often use the shortened name for the entity “Srpska” meaning Serb’ which was often pointed out by non-Serb politicians as discriminatory against other peoples living there.
Dodik noted that the RS was internationally and Constitutionally recognised and according to the Venice Commission, the entity is a factor of international law.
According to him, the late US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who is mostly seen as the creator of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, was against the RS being a territorial unit within Bosnia but the first President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic, said it should exist as such.
“I will ask for a session of the RS National Assembly (RSNA) where we will propose adequate countermeasures. If the initiative gets sent to the Constitutional Court by anyone from the SDA, I will cease all cooperation with them. I will not cooperate with the people disrespecting the RS,” he concluded.
RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic, who is also a member of Dodik’s party, said the SDA is dangerously playing with Bosnia an Herzegovina.
This is yet another proof of hostility against the RS and the lack of tolerance, which is nothing new for the SDA and the ‘political Sarajevo’,” Cvijanovic said. “This will only serve as additional motivation for the RS to defend itself from such attacks.”
There are a million other things which need dealing with, politically and economically, but the SDA decided to raise tensions and additionally divide Bosnia internally and to spread mistrust among peoples, she added.
The RS National Assembly (RSNA) Speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic said this was a nothing but a provocation and that it represents an anti-Constitutional act.
“The SDA’s claims are disgusting and laughable at the same time because they are the ones who refuse to implement the Constitutional Court’s decision issued 12 years ago, stipulating that Serbs must be equally represented in the FBiH,” Cubrilovic said.
The names of the FBiH and RS were made in 1995 in Dayton, and the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement marked the agreement of all parties to Bosnia’s internal structure and the name of Republika Srpska which are thus verified by the State Constitution, Cubrilovic added.
“Initiating a Constitutional Court discussion on the name of the RS would mark the end of the project called Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Cubrilovic noted.
The ethnic-oriented Serb Democratic Party (SDS) leader Vukota Govedarica, on the other hand, told N1 he thinks this is all part of a political game.
“After yesterday’s meeting between the SDA and SNSD delegations, I think it’s just another political game. ‘Let’s solve a small problem by creating a much larger one’,” Govedarica said. “the SDA is probably trying to divert the attention of their voters from the fact that they’re making a coalition with the SNSD and Milorad Dodik.”
He added that the RS has its position in the Constitution which talks of its territory, institutions and the people living there. “The State Constitution defines it,” Govedarica concluded.
On Tuesday, the SDA and SNSD high officials met after the October general election to discuss the formation of the government at the State level. Both sides said there is a readiness to implement election results but noted that talks would continue. They jointly concluded that State institutions should be formed by the winning parties.
Also speaking to N1, the leader of the centrist Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) Branislav Borenovic said his message to the SDA is the RS is a permanent category, in line with the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Constitution which means it can never be threatened.
“This is an extremely harmful and irresponsible move by the SDA which will block all the State institutions and the formation of the government, but also the future of this country.”