Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency, said that Republika Srpska is prepared to defend itself in case of a potential armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and would ask its “friends” to protect them in such scenario.
“If that is necessary, we will defend ourselves with our own forces. If it happens that they say NATO will intervene, we will ask our friends – who told us clear and loud they never abandon their friends – to help us,” he told public broadcaster RTRS, without specifying who the friends are.
Dodik is the leader of the ruling SNSD party in Republika Srpska, Bosnia's Serb-majority region, where he was elected for the Presidency.
He earlier announced that the Republika Srpska entity parliament would pass laws by which the region would withdraw from a number of the state-level institutions such as the Armed Forces, the law enforcement agencies and judicial bodies.
Although he initially said this would mean “strengthening the autonomy of the RS within Bosnia and Herzegovina,” this time he noted the final goal is a “peaceful dissolution” and that he is convinced that the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina would not react.
“I know that not a single Serb in the Armed Forces would accept being military engaged against Republika Srpska. I believe that majority of the Croats wouldn't do it either,” he added.
Speaking to RTRS’ show ‘Telering’ Wednesday evening, Dodik also said that seven European Union member states support the independence of Republika Srpska.
“That's right but I won't say which countries,” he added.
Other two Presidency members, Bosniak Sefik Dzaferovic and Croat Zeljko Komsic – both elected in Bosniak-Croat shared Federation entity, earlier said that implementation of Dodik's secessionist plans would lead to a resolute response.
“If the international community fails to react, the state forces will and will do so no matter what, because dissolution is not an option. Secession of no inch of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be allowed. Banning the work of the state police which is being announced in the Republika Srpska entity would be a step that would cause consequences,” they said in a joint statement.