Schmidt tells N1 he sees no threat of war, but instability looms in Bosnia

NEWS 29.12.2021 20:59
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Source: Christian Schmidt (N1)

Bosnian Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik and his associates are backing themselves into a dead-end with all the plans for the abolition of state institutions and over 140 laws passed by the High Representative in BiH, Christian Schmidt, the incumbent High Representative told N1, Wednesday, adding that he cannot exclude the use of the so-called Bonn Powers if the crisis persists and that he sees no threat of war on the country.

According to Schmidt, all the announced transfers of power from the state to the Bosnian Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity, such as the abolition of the state-level judiciary, special police, intelligence agency, taxation authority and the army, were adopted earlier in the state parliament with the votes from the RS, which is something that must be talked about.

“I am convinced that even when it comes to the RS National Assembly, a lot of things will develop in a completely different direction. You yourself mentioned that the ruling coalition had a very tight majority during the vote, which means that consciousness is changing, that they are pushing themselves to a dead end and I think that many are already aware of that and that is why this six-month story is being introduced,” Schmidt said, pointing to the deadline Dodik gave to the RS Government between the adoption of laws on the transfer of powers and their implementation.

Bonn powers not excluded

“The Bonn powers are not only used for dismissing politicians, as my predecessor showed, they can also be used for passing laws. I do not want BiH to only deal with the question of when these powers will be applied. There are other activities in democratic behaviour, such as the Constitutional Court. I see an attack on the independence of the judiciary and it is very important that this is resolved together. The international community has very clearly rejected the idea that foreign judges should not be part of the Constitutional Court. We will make sure they remain part of the Court, and the advantage is that no one around BiH is interested in the conflict escalating and the state disintegrating,” the High Representative said, adding that he had been in all major capitals, but Moscow and Tokyo, and they all supported him.

Asked about the “red line” and what would it take for him to use the Bonn Powers, Schmidt said the problem is that he does not understand what is the point of the crisis.

On the one hand, people talk about a peaceful dissolution, and then they talk about the original Dayton, and then someone mentioned there that someone is outvoting someone else,” the German diplomat noted.

Schmidt then said that Bosnia and Herzegovina is not very known internationally, and many still think the situation is still the same as in the ’90s, which is something he is trying to change.

“I don’t think the situation is the same, I don’t think we’re in danger of another war. There is, however a threat of instability, but the threat is Bosnia’s own fault since it didn’t come from the outside but from within the BiH,” the High Representative told N1.

No break up of BiH Armed Forces

Milorad Dodik also announced the RS’ withdrawal from the Agreement on the formation of Bosnia’s Armed Forces, noting that the entity would reinstate its wartime army. According to Schmidt, there is no possibility of this as the Agreement does not provide for such a possibility.

“I am grateful to the international community that we managed to put these ideas from Banja Luka aside for a while. Two, three armies, that cannot be. The Agreement on the transfer of competencies exists and it must be preserved, one joint army – BiH Armed Forces must remain. The NATO and EUFOR are there for stabilization and I am grateful that NATO and EUFOR have become a bit more perceptive of the potential instability in the country. Honestly, I am not counting on some additional battalions coming to BiH, but on a stable presence within the present framework,” High Representative Schmidt pointed out.

When asked if he would meet with Moscow officials or Dodik, Schmidt said that he would not yet go to Moscow, as the conditions for his departure there have not yet been met. When it comes to Dodik, he noted that he had already said he would meet with him even in Fiji if need be, but that Dodik would not receive any special treatment as a negotiating partner.

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