Representatives of Serb ethnic parties in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity condemned the request of the international administrator in the country who asked the RS National Assembly to annul the charters it issued to honour convicted war criminals within the next three months, saying the request will not be met.
Bosnia’s High Representative who is tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, Valentin Inzko, sent the letter to the parliament of the Serb-majority semi-autonomous RS entity on Wednesday.
He pointed out that in 2016, the organizing committee which was established to mark the 25th anniversary of the existence and work of the RS National Assembly awarded special charters and recognitions to “numerous institutions, organizations and individuals.”
“Among those who received them were all former speakers of the National Assembly and members of the First Presidency of the RS, including Radovan Karadzic, Momcilo Krajisnik and Biljana Plavsic, whose actions shocked the world during the armed conflict [in Bosnia] and caused unimaginable human suffering. As you know, Karadzic, Krajisnik and Plavsic were convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia,” reads Inzko’s letter.
The Austrian diplomat stressed that “the glorification of war criminals, including glorification in the form in which we witnessed on October 24, 2016, directly hurts and provokes those who suffered the consequences of the war and damages the memory of the victims” and that it “destabilizes the region and threatens the prospects for reconciliation in BiH.”
He urged the RS Assembly to “show political maturity, moral responsibility and moderation towards the future, by revoking the charters with decorations awarded to convicted war criminals Karadzic, Krajisnik and Plavsic.”
“I am giving you and the RS National Assembly a period of three months, until the end of April 2021 [to do so],” Inzko stated in a letter addressed to RS National Assembly Speaker, Nedjeljko Cubrilovic.
According to RS Assembly MP from the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Snjezana Novakovic Bursac, the High Representative “wrote one of perhaps the gravest qualifications after the war, where he qualified the entire Serb people as responsible for events in the past war.”
“This is an unprecedented practice,” said, adding that it is “deeply shocking” for every Serb.
She said she expects a response to come soon from the RS, especially from her party.
“I would like to draw attention to what is happening and I can guess what it is leading up to. The High Representative has the authority to assist in the implementation of the civilian aspect of the Dayton Agreement. What happened in the past has led to great dysfunction and mistrust, and we think that this is now in the past,” she said.
She argued that the letter represents an attempt by the High Representative to set a foundation for “some ideas in which direction he has been acting for a number of years.”
RS opposition leaders also reacted to the letter.
According to the leader of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), Mirko Sarovic, there is no reason for the High Representative to be discussing this issue because it is “exclusively within the competencies” of the RS National Assembly.
“Inzko has been sleeping until now and now he has woken up, this is all superfluous, the RS National Assembly will, of course, not accept what he is requesting. Some will applaud about it, some will not. But when you come to RS, it’s clear what the attitude regarding this is there,” Sarovic said.
The leader of the Party for Democratic Progress (PDP), Borislav Borenovic, said that the High Representative “remembered to do something after four years” and that it represents his “attempt to justify his stay in this country.”
“This is a specific relationship between the High Representative and the ruling coalition in the RS. I will not interfere in their relations, they complement each other, and that is an attempt to fool the public,” Borenovic said.