Russia is “deeply outraged” by the “illegal” decision of Bosnia’s outgoing international administrator to impose a law banning genocide denial in the country, said the Director of the Press Department of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Maria Zakharova, adding that it represents a flagrant abuse of power.
Days before his term in Bosnia is ending, High Representative Valentin Inzko used his special set of powers – the Bonn Powers – to introduce amendments to the Criminal Code of Bosnia-Herzegovina sanctioning the glorification of war criminals convicted by final and binding judgments, as well as the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“We are deeply outraged by the rude and absolutely unacceptable interference of the outgoing High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, in the internal affairs of this sovereign and independent European state. His so-called ‘decision’ to amend the BiH Criminal Code in the part criminalising ‘denial’ of crimes of certain categories is nothing but a flagrant abuse of power in terms of the 1995 General Framework (Dayton) Peace Agreement in BiH and a direct violation of the policy approved by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council to transfer all responsibility to local parties,” Zakharova said, arguing that Inzko’s actions contradict his mandate according to the Dayton Agreement as an impartial and objective mediator.
The Russian Federation, as a guarantor of the Dayton Peace Agreement and a member of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board, sees Inzko’s move as “an open attack on the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina, its constitutional order and the powers of its authorities,” she said. “We are convinced that changes in legislation in a democratic and legal state, which, without a doubt, Bosnia and Herzegovina is, are made through the established parliamentary procedure, and not with the stroke of the pen of a foreign citizen.”
Inzko’s “irresponsible arbitrary action” provokes an “internal political crisis of unprecedented scale,” she said, adding that the interethnic dialogue in BiH and all the achievements of the post-conflict period are endangered.
She argued that Inzko, unfortunately, did not learn a lesson from his “scandalous attempt to push through a draft resolution in the UN Security Council that would put full responsibility for the tragic events in BiH during the armed conflict only one of the sides” she said, referring to the proposed draft resolution condemning the Srebrenica genocide which was proposed to the UN Security Council in 2015 but was not adopted due to Russia’s veto.
Inzko’s decision can not produce legal repercussions, Zakharova argued.
“No one and nothing can belittle, replace or ignore the role of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the legislative process. The fate of BiH is exclusively in the hands of its peoples. And the High Representative has completely and irrevocably discredited himself,” she said.
“This incident clearly confirms the justification of Russia's consistent position in favour of abolishing the institution of external guardianship over BiH, which only creates problems and undermines peace and stability in the country,” the Russian official concluded.