Bosnia is falling into a crisis, but that will pass and there is no reason for any serious concerns about the future of the country, the leader of the strongest Bosniak party in BiH, Bakir Izetbegovic, told N1 on Thursday, adding that the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency is “a problem” and will have to leave at some point “one way or the other.”
Izetbegovic spoke about the situation in the country following the ban on genocide and war crimes denial the international administrator in BiH, tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, imposed last week.
The outgoing High Representative, Valentin Inzko, used his special powers on Friday to impose amendments to the BiH’s Criminal Code which sanction the glorification of war criminals convicted by final and binding judgments, as well as the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Dodik, who is also the leader of the ruling party in Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity, said the move represents the “last nail in the coffin” of BiH and that the decision would not be accepted in the RS.
Party leaders in the entity meanwhile discussed a “joint response” to Inzko's law and decided that officials from the RS will not participate in the work of BiH institutions until the matter is resolved.
The BiH House of Peoples Speaker and leader of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) said that Bosnia is falling into a crisis, arguing that “it had to come to this sooner or later.”
He said that Dodik’s policy is “aggressive” and noted that the Bosnian Serb political leader often insults representatives of the international community and Bosniaks.
Izetbegovic stressed that there is no way anything similar to what is happening in Republika Srpska could happen in the other semi-autonomous entity, the Federation (FBiH).
He said he has been “letting this calm down.”
“Let a month pass by, we would be on vacation anyway,” he said, referring to the month of August, when most officials in BiH are on vacation, adding that “we'll talk in September.”
A special closed session of the RS National Assembly is to take place on Friday, July 30, where RS lawmakers will discuss how to respond to the genocide denial ban. It will also include a discussion on new laws in the entity – one of which would make calling Republika Srpska a “genocidal creation” an offence punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
“You can't forbid people to say that genocide happened, that ethnic cleansing, demolition of mosques and churches created that entity, that is correct. You can't forbid researchers to write that, politicians to tell the truth. We all have the right to tell the truth in this country,” Izetbegovic said.
“But we have no right to insult anyone. We cannot call the people and the entity genocidal. We cannot do that, nor will we,” he explained.
The SDA leader said he expects some “childish responses” to Inzko’s decision from the upcoming session.
He argued that those in power and the opposition in the RS united on the issue thanks to the influence of neighbouring Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic.
The SDA leader expressed his belief that Dodik is afraid of the new High Representative.
“After all, he is afraid of what will happen to the entity that was created the way it was created. He is afraid of the truth. They know what happened. RS is completely ethnically cleansed of Catholics and Muslims,” he said.
“Then they get 49 percent of the territory where Srebrenica is located as well. They are afraid that someone will at some point, when the balance of power in the world changes, ask why this was done. They are afraid of that, that is why they are afraid of the truth,” he added.
Izetbegovic noted that many of Dodik’s threats never became reality in the past and that he repeatedly backed down from his aggressive policy.
“Throughout a year there was talk that BiH would be stopped on its NATO path. Then the NATO path continued. Dodik seemed aggressive, only to abruptly give in and take down the plaque at Pale,” Izetbegovic said, referring to the plaque dedicated to convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, which was removed from a dormitory in Pale.
“He made a U-turn,” he said, arguing that this was the result of Dodik’s “insolent attack” on the ambassadors during a Security Council session last year.
“If he had not behaved the way he did, if he had not insulted Inzko (…) he would not have gotten these new laws,” he argued.
Dodik is “a problem” and will “have to leave, one way or the other,” Izetbegovic said.
Izetbegovic is confident that Bosnia will survive this and said that there is no reason for serious concern.
“After a severe earthquake, you have small earthquakes, to calm the soil. We had a severe earthquake in the 1990s. It takes time for everyone to see how far everyone can go with attempts at domination, to give up on anti-civilization policies. Crises are inevitable, they will pass and we will be wiser after them,” he concluded.