Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity said it has cut all ties with Bosnia’s UK and US embassies following the US decision to add a leading RS official to its list of sanctioned individuals.
The government of Republika Srpska, one of two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said it would “end cooperation” with US and UK embassies in the country from Thursday, in reaction to recently imposed US sanctions on the director of the Administration for Geodetic and Property Affairs of Republika Srpska, RUGIPP, Dragan Stankovic.
“The government of the Republika Srpska states that the Republika Srpska is forced to end cooperation with the diplomats of both embassies,” the entity government said, accusing both countries of “interfering with internal affairs in Bosnia”.
“It asks the institutions of the Republika Srpska, representatives of the Republika Srpska in joint institutions at Bosnian level, local government bodies in the Republika Srpska, as well as other public authorities not to cooperate with the US and UK embassies,” the decision added.
Stankovic headed up the first Law on Immovable Property in the RS, which was declared unconstitutional at state level in September last year. By doing so, the US said Stankovic had “undermined the 1995 Dayton peace accords”, which ended the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.
Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska and leader of the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, which has a majority in the Republika Srpska assembly, as well as in the RS government, announced the move after Stankovic was sanctioned.
Kurt Bassuener, co-founder and senior associate at the Berlin-based Democratisation Policy Council, DPC, said it remains to see what this decision means in practice.
“Dodik can’t order House of Representatives deputies to not talk to American or British officials, though one might expect SNSD members to adhere. But it also remains unclear whether he’ll even have full party adherence,” Bassuener told BIRN.
The RS decision came after the assembly adopted much-criticized draft amendments to the criminal code making defamation a crime punishable by up to 50,000 euros.
“Tightening the social and media space in the RS could constitute a reflection of his [Dodik’s] sense of absolute impunity vis-a-vis the international community, while also demonstrating a certain amount of uncertainty and weakness regarding his future in the RS. It seems to me that he fears his own people more than he fears the international community,” Bassuener added.
The US embassy to Bosnia called Dodik’s latest decision “one more step down the dangerous path that he has chosen – a path of isolation and authoritarian rule.”
“Dodik’s increasing rejection of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s long-standing partners and embrace of authoritarian leaders is damaging Republika Srpska. Dodik’s desperate moves are mortgaging away his own residents’ futures to support his regime and corrupt interests.”
The UK ambassador to Bosnia, Julian Reilly, said the move would only damage the people of Republika Srpska and Dodik could not act on behalf of Bosnia.
“Only the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina has the authority to make decisions on the country’s diplomatic relations. The British embassy will continue to work for the benefit of all citizens of this country,” Reilly said.
The OSCE and the Peace Implementations Council’s Steering Board member countries, which guarantee the implementation of the Dayton accords, all condemned the move. But, according to Bassuener, the damage is already done.
“This development – particularly the [defamation] law – of course, further damages BiH, as well as the West’s credibility as the guarantors/enforcers of Dayton,” he said.
Source: Balkan Insight