Bosnian Serb leader calls for dissolution of Bosnia

U.S. & World

Serb member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik, right, gestures during a parade marking the 28th anniversary of the Republic of Srpska in Banja Luka, Bosnia, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Bosnia’s Serbs celebrated on Thursday their self-declared holiday that has been disputed as discriminatory by the country’s other ethnic groups and its top court. (AP Photo/Radivoje Pavicic)

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The Bosnian Serb leader on Thursday renewed calls for Bosnia’s dissolution and pledged to block decision-making in the country’s institutions, a move slammed by Western envoys as a challenge to the U.S.-sponsored peace agreement that ended Bosnia’s civil war.

Milorad Dodik said after a meeting of the Bosnian Serb leaders in a Sarajevo suburb that the crisis in Bosnia “will disappear only when Bosnia disappears.”

The U.S.-brokered Dayton peace agreement has divided Bosnia into two entities, the Serb republic and the Muslim-Croat federation. All the decisions on the state level have to be reached by consensus of the three ethnic groups, and if one votes against, the decisions are blocked.

Tensions increased in Bosnia earlier this month when the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that unclaimed agricultural land is the property of the central Bosnian state rather than the Serb mini state, contradicting a Bosnian Serb law.

Lawmakers in the Bosnian Serb mini-statehave given a 60-day deadline for the court to revoke its decision and reform itself by kicking out three foreign judges that the Serbs claim are biased against them.

The pro-Russian Bosnian Serb leader has reiterated his calls for secession of the Bosnian Serb lands so they could join neighboring Serbia — the plan by Serb nationalists that triggered the 1992-95 war that left at least 100,000 dead and millions homeless.

“Goodbye Bosnia, welcome (Bosnian Serb) exit,” Dodik, who is also the Serb member of Bosnia’s joint presidency, said earlier this week.

A tweet issued by the U.S. Embassy after a meeting Wednesday between Ambassador Eric Nelson and Dodik said the U.S. “expects nothing less than full respect of the Dayton Accords and the territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Bosnia.

Dodik, who has been under U.S. travel and property sanctions because of his secessionist stands, accused the U.S. of “leading anti-Serb policies.”

“I’m not threatening anyone,” he said Thursday. “We are just demanding our rights and no one has the right to impose any solutions, not even Americans.”

The U.S., the European Union and four Western European countries have denounced the Bosnian Serb blockade.

“Unilateral withdrawal from institutions, or blockages of decision-making within them, are unacceptable and counterproductive from any side and would only undermine the very improvements and progress that citizens wish to see,” a joint statement said.

“Decisions of the (Bosnian) Constitutional Court, as decisions of any Constitutional Court in any country, are final and binding, and must be implemented,” the statement said.

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Associated Press writer Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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