Former intl peace envoy welcomes use of Bonn powers as a ‘new important step’

NEWS 14.04.2022 11:38
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Wolfgang Petritsch
Source: Wolfgang Petritsch (N1)

Use of Bonn powers by High Representative Christian Schmidt is a “new important step” towards the restoring of the international community and dynamics in Bosnia and Herzegovina, former international peace envoy Wolfgang Petritsch told N1, commenting on the special competencies that Schmidt used to suspend a law in Bosnia's Republika Srpska entity.

Petritsch served as the international community's High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1999-2002 period, the post introduced following the end of the war in 1995 to oversee the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

Commenting on the fact that Serb member of Bosnia's three-member Presidency Milorad Dodik, who was elected in Republika Srpska, ignores Schmidt's decision and says the law in question – the Law on Immovable Property would come into effect, Petrisch said this is happening because of the fact that many “red lines” have been overstepped and never sanctioned.

However, this was a turning point and Schmidt has the full legitimacy, regardless of Russia not recognising Schmidt as the High Representative.

What Schmidt has done, Petritsch stressed, might be the first step for Bosnia and Herzegovina and hte Western Balkans towards the European Union and the USA.

Speaking about the potential effects of the Ukraine war on Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said this depends on the international factors.

As one of the examples he mentioned the elections in France, noting that presidential candidate Marine Le Pen announced stronger ties with Russia which would, according to Petritsch, be dangerous for Bosnia and the Western Balkans.

On the other hand, he continued, there is also Hungary's Viktor Orban, who won the elections and will still be a “negative factor” of the Europe's policy in the Balkans.

He stressed that the important moment of Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for the EU membershio must be used.

Commenting on the announced meeting between High Representative Schmidt and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on Thursday, Petritsch said this was a sign for Dodik that Vucic “indirectly” recognises Schmidt as the High Representative.

This is a positive signal, Vucic is accepting a new reality, said former high Representative, calling the meeting a symbolic step.

Asked if Bosnia and Herzegovina is entering a new crisis after Schmidt's latest decision, Petritsch replied that the main political leaders including Milorad Dodik, Dragan Covic and Bakir Izetbegovic, depend on crisis situations and would not be able to survive as political figures in normal circumstances.

He compared this situation with a behaviour of a drug addict, who “asks for one more doze to move on.”

We must be smarter, especially when it comes to Dodik, he added.

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