Bosnian Serb lawmakers voted to separate key institutions in Republika Srpska, one of the two entities that make up Bosnia, promoting hardline leader Milorad Dodik’s plan to secede from Sarajevo.
Friday night’s vote has alarmed Bosnia’s Western allies, who fear disintegration could lead to ethnic violence, crime and corruption and destabilize the wider region, preventing its integration into the European Economic and Military Alliance.
As the upper house of the region did not support the resolution, it is not binding.
The embassies of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the EU said in a joint statement that the move was a “further escalation step”.
“Continuing this impasse. . . harms the economic outlook [Serb Republic] entities, threatening the stability of the country and the entire region and threatening Bosnia’s future with the EU, “the countries said.
The West and Russia are increasingly seeking influence in the region, and Moscow has long supported Dodik’s policies as it tries to prevent Bosnia from joining Western alliances, especially NATO.
Russia and China have also opposed maintaining the Office of the High Representative, the main channel of the international community that helps maintain stability in the country.
Dodik, a former center-left Democrat who has since become increasingly nationalistic, first came to power in the Bosnian Serb capital, Banja Luka, shortly after the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, a complex agreement that ended Europe’s worst armed conflict since World War II. world war, but locked within ethnic boundaries.
Representatives of the Serb entity, which together with the Bosniak-Croat Federation forms the state of Bosnia, on Friday assessed the separation of tax authorities, judiciary and armed forces, and decided late in the evening to call on the Republika Srpska government to continue plans and draft relevant new laws.
“This is the moment of winning freedom for Republika Srpska,” Dodik said before the vote in the Republika Srpska Assembly. “Bosnia is an experiment. . . I don’t believe he can survive because he doesn’t have the inner capacity to survive. “
Domestic opposition politicians have said Dodik’s latest secessionist move is a lure to dominate the debate ahead of the October 2022 election, when he is expected to face a tough power struggle after recent stable opposition gains in key cities including the federal capital Sarajevo and the capital of the Serbian Republic of Banja Luka.
“Dodik is a good bluffer,” Branislav Borenovic, president of the center-right opposition party in Republika Srpska, the Party of Democratic Progress, told the Financial Times. “She is trying to keep the crisis on the agenda. That is his only way to stay in power. He has no real answers to economic challenges, pandemics, corruption. . . So he likes to have a crisis. ”
In addition to political destabilization, the country’s economy could suffer greatly if Republika Srpska withdraws from the joint Independent Tax Administration, one of the country’s most successful post-Dayton institutions, the IMF mission chief told the Financial Times.
“If Republika Srpska moves forward and withdraws from the ITA, it could jeopardize the country’s ongoing recovery and long-term prospects, reversing years of progress at a time when the economy is not advancing very fast,” Alina Iancu of the IMF said.