Coordinator in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, Michael Gahler, said that the “most burning and urgent issue” that must be addressed in Bosnia is the actions of BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik, which he said lead to the “secession” of the country’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity and represent an attempt to “to form something separate.”
“I think our clear message, not only of the European Union but the international community, should be that this must be stopped, that he should refrain from that,” said Gahler, a member of the European People's Party (EPP).
Gahler spoke to media amid a major political crisis in Bosnia over the initiative by Dodik, who is also the leader of the ruling party in the Serb-majority RS entity, to roll back reforms which led to the post-war establishment of numerous state institutions, including the army, indirect taxation authority and judicial institutions.
Dodik announced that the RS will unilaterally withdraw from those institutions and form its own, separate ones.
“I think it is necessary to call on him to stop and to clearly revert all steps of disintegration that have already been taken. I am clearly of the opinion that we as the European Union must on one hand threaten with personal sanctions against him and his entourage, but also we must credibly make it clear that we have other means at our disposal,” Gahler said.
One of the ways to stop Dodik would be the use of the “Bonn Powers” by the High Representative – the international official overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement.
The Bonn Powers allow the High Representative in BiH to, among other things, impose laws and fire officials.
Gahler also said that “we should also already now think of sending additional troops within the Althea (EUFOR) mission, to make it very clear that it is about Dayton, Althea is about Dayton and the Bonn Powers are there to preserve the Dayton Agreement.”
“There should not be any error from the side of Mr. Dodik that we say what we mean,” he stressed.
“In this regard, I have to say, I would wish for clearer statements from the side of the European Union and I am confident that the High Representative, Christian Schmidt, is very actively preparing and thinking which appropriate steps to take,” he said.