High Representative: I will use the Bonn powers when the time is right

NEWS 15.05.2019 19:09
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Source: N1

Bosnia’s international administrator told N1 on Wednesday he will make use of the special powers that enable him to sanction politicians who breach their obligations “when the moment is right” and that there was a shift in the international community's position regarding the events in the country.

The High Representative who was named to oversee the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) which ended Bosnia’s war, Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, responded to criticism over refraining from using ‘the Bonn powers’ against Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik.

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Dodik, who is currently the Chairman of the tripartite Presidency, spoke at an event organised to honour the now-defunct Army of Republika Srpska (RS) and the Third Infantry Regiment in the northwestern city of Banja Luka on Sunday. In his speech, he urged the Regiment, which is formally part of Bosnia’s Armed Forces, to wear the uniforms of the Army of the RS at the ceremony next year.

The Army of Republika Srpska is the wartime army of the Serb-dominated part of the country which fought against Bosniak and Croat forces. It disappeared when Bosnia’s leaders decided to melt all armed forces in Bosnia into one in 2005.

The Croat member of the Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, sued Dodik over his statement on the uniforms on Wednesday for trying to incite a rebellion within the Armed Forces.

The so-called ‘Bonn powers’ enable Inzko to impose or annul laws and fire public officials as high as presidents who violate the Peace Agreement, which also contains Bosnia’s Constitution.

Inzko said that “the Bonn powers weren't mentioned for years” until a recent meeting of the Peace Implementation Council's (PIC) Steering Board where “it was talked about more than ever.” He added that this means “something has changed in Bosnia.”

PIC is an international body composed of representatives from countries which oversee the implementation of the DPA and support the peace process in the country.

Inzko said that when he presented his latest report on Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN Security Council, he garnered more support for his powers than ever before.

“Four (UN Security Council) members spoke about the Bonn powers. In ten years it was the first time that such a debate took place,” he said.

“There have been some misunderstandings. The Bonn powers were always there, but they were only activated in 1997 when (the international community) realised that (the former High Representative) Carl Bildt was unable to work faster,” he pointed out, adding that he “will not use the powers today.”

“We will see what the day tomorrow will bring,” he said.

The High Representative explained that the international community would first wait for local authorities – courts and prosecutors – to react before considering further steps.

“The people saying that Inzko should make a move never went to the Constitutional Court or the Prosecution. Instead, they're immediately calling for Inzko to react. They should first exhaust all the domestic resources, and then come to me,” he told N1's Zvonko Komsic.

When asked how much longer he will scold Dodik, Inzko said: “until he crosses the line.”

“He might have crossed it already in some ways, but I'm in close contact with the PIC which has 12 members, and it's not that easy to reach a consensus among them,” he said.

N1’s Komsic pointed out that Dodik said many times before that he was not afraid of Inzko or the Bonn powers, to which the High Representative responded: “If he's not afraid, why is he mentioning them?”

“I think Dodik is playing with fire,” Inzko said referring to the Bosnian Serb leader’s recent moves and decisions of the parliament of the Republika Srpska where Dodik’s nationalist Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) has the majority.

The RS National Assembly (parliament) recently adopted decisions to buy 2,500 additional rifles to arm their entity police and a draft law establishing an auxiliary police unit that would consist of some 1,000 members.