Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has said that ethnic Serbs favor abolishing the Office of the High Representative (OHR) for Bosnia-Herzegovina and holding a referendum on the status of the country’s predominantly Serbian entity if their views are not respected.
Dodik, the Serbian member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency and its current chairman, was speaking on March 10 at a special session of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska.
Dodik said it was unacceptable that foreigners decide the fate of the Balkan country and that “people in Bosnia are treated as objects” rather than “subjects in international relations.”
Valentin Inzko, the current high representative, confirmed in December he would leave the position and that German politician Christian Schmidt was a candidate to succeed him.
Inzko has held the position since 2009. He served as Austria’s ambassador to Sarajevo for three years beginning in 1996, the year after the signing of the Dayton agreement, which put an end to the 1992-95 Bosnian civil war and created the Republika Srpska as one of two constituent states within Bosnia.
Dodik said that the OHR had interpreted the Dayton agreement “by punishing politicians or ordering the National Assembly of Republika Srpska what to do.”
In light of the possible selection of a new high representative, it is extremely important for Republika Srpska to get acquainted with all aspects of extending the representative’s mandate “and to take a stand and adopt conclusions on how to address this issue,” he said.
The high representative is appointed by the UN Security Council. The OHR’s duties include overseeing and coordinating the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton agreement.
The Republika Srpska has no hidden intentions, Dodik insisted, adding that its actions are primarily focused on respecting the Dayton agreement and building peace and stability.
The Bosnian Serb leader, who has repeatedly threatened to try and secure independence for the Republika Srpska, also said he would propose a referendum on the status of the entity in a year or two.
“I really don’t care what anyone says,” he said.
European Union foreign-policy chief Peter Stano told RFE/RL that the EU’s position on how Bosnia works had not changed.
“The position of the EU is not in line with the views of one or another politician but is in line with international law and is based on EU values and principles,” Stano said in response to Dodik’s statements.
Stano also confirmed that EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell would meet with Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic on March 10, and that “all current issues are likely to be discussed, including and the initiative to close the OHR.”