High Representative: Threats of dissolution are nonsense; BiH, RS not in danger

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Christian Schmidt
Source: Christian Schmidt (N1)

Hours after Dodik reiterated his claims regarding the independence of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity and confirmed that in case of possible sanctions against the entity or him, they would immediately declare independence, N1’s Boris Brezo had an exclusive interview with the international community’s High Representative in the country Christian Schmidt who said he wanted to send a message that BiH and its stability are not in danger.

“If there are certain things that need to be discussed and even if we have different views, as is usual in a democracy, then we will do just that. I’m actually looking for where the problems lie and I must be quite frank, everything I’ve seen in recent days, especially today, makes me wonder what’s the point of it all,” Schmidt said.

He further pointed out that the international community and the majority in BiH do not want to give up the state that was created 26 years ago from a very bitter period.

“They are not giving up on creating reasonable and fair living conditions in both entities. If someone is afraid that the RS will become independent – that entity has the right to exist just like the Federation of BiH (FBiH) entity. I don't know where those debates are coming from, whether they come from the public or politicians. Institutions actually need to do their job and I am baffled by these discussions regarding [Bosnia’s] statehood. What we need to be interested in is why so many young people are leaving [the country]. When talking about who should act – it’s the responsible people in the country [who need to act] and you can’t expect only me to act. At the same time, you can’t want to be independent and not make decisions. So, I really call for making and respecting the decisions of BiH institutions,” he added.

N1’s Boris Brezo also asked him whether he would use his Bonn powers, giving him the ability to impose laws and sanction BiH politicians?

“Such powers are best left in a drawer, unused. But they are in a drawer. When it comes to Dodik's announcements, in this case, BiH institutions and decision-makers should react first. And at this point, I see no legal basis as to why and how these notions and statements could become a reality. Likewise, these decisions, if we are talking about some kind of transfer [of powers], are decisions that everyone must make together, that is, adopt a common solution,” Schmidt pointed out.

He pointed out that if a new Constitution is desired, the BiH Parliament must pass it, respecting the existing rules.

“Then it’s not the task of the High Representative but of parliamentary bodies. I think it's the position of both me and the Peace Implementation Council that the Bonn powers remain in the drawer. Out of respect for the citizens of BiH, we want to see that [political] decisions are made here, and that is, among other things, the preparation for the EU accession,” he said.

Asked to comment on Dodik’s Thursday statement that the EU will not bring any sanctions against him, but that it is possible for Germany to do so, Schmidt said that this is nonsense.

“I’m ready for a discussion, however, there is no place for such fantasies. We need to talk about specific topics and they are all connected and I will insist on that during my mandate as prescribed by the Dayton Peace Agreement which envisages me to be more in the background and for citizens to make more decisions independently. Such big statements may sound good, but they are not a substitute for politics. Also, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country is not in question and it will not be called into question,” Schmidt stressed.

Speaking about the ban on genocide denial imposed by his predecessor Valentin Inzko, Schmidt reiterated that the Law is not directed against anyone but that it is a European standard and the citizens must realize that.

“As a German, I know what I’m talking about and I know that this is implied in Germany if anyone were to ask us whether we’d like to have such a law. Therefore, it is not an attack on people who had nothing to do with that (genocide) regardless of their ethnicity,” the newly elected High Representative said.

Asked to comment on claims from Russia and the RS that his legitimacy as a High Representative is questionable, Schmidt said that “any further discussion is pointless because the international community decided this way and he is here to complete his tasks.”

He mentioned he travels a lot and during this time he had the opportunity to meet many regional officials with whom he talked about many things. In these talks he said he recognized that some kind of ‘peaceful dissolution’ is something everyone rejected, saying it would lead to a new crisis.

“In all my travels, I never met anyone who said they would abolish the RS. Had they said that I would object to that because the RS’ existence is unquestionable. I will always defend the right of the RS, the FBiH and BiH to exist and I will support anyone who thinks that way,” Schmidt concluded.

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