Dodik once again threatens to declare independence of Republika Srpska

Dodik once again threatens to declare independence of Republika Srpska

Milorad Dodik stated that Republika Srpska would not be in a situation to turn out unprepared and that could immediately declare independence without firing a shot. According to the President of Republika Srpska, if High Representative Christian Schmidt, whom Dodik labeled as illegitimate, tries to impose a law on state property, the RS will immediately declare independence. He stated that he had held a large preparatory meeting to prepare for such a contingency after receiving a tip that the HR would introduce the law as early as January. Dodik assumes that, should Schmidt announced the law at 7pm on any given day, he should be aware that the RS parliament will convene at 23:00 on the same day to declare independence. And this would imply independence in everything – a new financial system and territory under the RS control. Dodik stated that Republika Srpska does not intend to build a Chinese wall, nor to complicate border crossings with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, unless forced to do so. He does not expect that anyone from FBIH will dare attack Republika Srpska because amid such developments, all parties will be evaluating the situation in terms of the actions that could possibly be taken. Dodik said he expected EUFOR to toe the line between the two entities and prevent undesirable contacts. Dodik is aware that “the Americans will be outraged and will try to seek intervention”, but he believes that the Russian friends will not allow this to happen. He also stated that he is available for both local and international justice because he believes he is doing a right thing. Asked if his actions might lead to his removal, Dodik said he would continue to be president of Republika Srpska and that neither the Americans nor HR Schmidt could remove him from office. He added that he is not interested in engaging with US Ambassador Murphy, whom he says other ambassadors, already disappointed in everything, never see in Sarajevo. He also alleged that “Schmidt does certain things because he listens to that guy Murphy.” Therefore, Dodik asked himself a rhetorical question: “Because of this and because of their caprice, do I have to lose both my people and my country?” He immediately answered this question by defying such an option, adding that he has no intentions to explain his actions to anyone. “We know that this fake guy Schmidt traveled around European countries, in some of which he got consent for imposing the law on state property, and in others he didn’t. He was told not to do this before the New Year because they have a meeting of the European Council soon, so don’t create such an atmosphere,” said Dodik. If “the price of my participation is to pay personally in one way or another, I will pay. But the main thing for me is that people here realized that they survived in this place, that they have their Republika Srpska. If you did not give us our rights guaranteed by the Constitution, then the only way is to fight in our own way,” Dodik concluded.

The US Embassy in Sarajevo reacted to Dodik’s repeated threats to declare the independence of Republika Srpska, saying Dodik is wrong in thinking Washington will stand aside while he pushes Bosnia and Herzegovina into conflict. The US Embassy recalled that Republika Srpska is an entity within the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as it is a subject of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an integral part of the state, therefore neither Republika Srpska nor the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina exist outside the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not provide for the right of secession for these subjects, or for any other unit of the lower state level. In addition, Jim O’Brien, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, also addressed the issue. He recalled that when the parties spoke in Dayton, everyone understood that there is no right to secession. He added that the US will act if anyone tries to alter the fundamental element of the Dayton Accord. 

The Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nermin Nikšić, issued a statement in response to Dodik’s threats: “Let Dodik not get carried away, if he launches secession, Republika Srpska will lose the most. I mostly try not to react to the daily threats and blackmail we see on our political scene. I am sure that such disposable statements are designed to provoke a reaction because only then do they become important and meaningful.” He added: “Of course, Dodik’s ability to create problems for the state of BiH and all its citizens and peoples should not be underestimated. After a BiH court launched criminal proceedings against him, Dodik apparently sees the further escalation of relations as a solution to his problems over openly violating the law.”

RS parliament member Ramiz Salkić, responding to the RS president’s statement, said that Dodik had issued an open and clear threat to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which requires an immediate response from the prosecutor’s office and a high representative. Salkić said Dodik and his followers should be reminded again and again that RS independence is not possible without destroying the Dayton Peace Agreement. This is why the separatist policies promoted and pursued by Dodik are most damaging to the Bosnian Serbs because history has repeatedly proven that anyone who tried to divide BiH ultimately failed, as would Dodik and his separatist followers.

Historian Hrvoje Klasić commented on Dodik’s latest threats, comparing the situation of Serbia and that of Russia. “This is not just about a crazy or schizophrenic politician, but about someone who, despite all the undemocratic governing methods and despite media censorship, retains large base of followers. Had it not been the case, we would have already seen some major protests.” Asked if Dodik’s secession threats a sign that it was time to review the Dayton Accord, Klasić said the Accord had brought an end to the war in BiH and that now key political players should sit down and see what can be done next.

Thus, Dodik’s repeated threats regarding the secession of Republika Srpska saw a strong response from the USA and many politicians and public figures within Bosnia and Herzegovina. Everyone was stunned by Dodik’s conviction that in case the parliament in Banja Luka declared RS independence, EUFOR would occupy the demarcation line between RS and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to prevent provocations. It would actually be the RS parliament’s decision that EUFOR would consider a provocation so the forces would react in accordance with the instructions from Brussels and definitely not stand on the administrative line between the RS and the Federation of BiH. It is also possible that EUFOR will arrest Dodik and his closest political allies for committing provocations to undermube the BiH state system. No less strange are Dodik’s reasoning that his European friends would help prevent military intervention. For some reason, Dodik said the word “friends” using plural, although he has only one friend who was recommended to him by the Kremlin – and that is Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. It has long been known that all Kremlin friends are on good terms among themselves, too, because this is precisely the point of Moscow’s policy of creating a strong pro-Russian lobby. But Orbán will definitely not dare openly help Dodik in the case of a separatist stunt. Orbán has already been black-listed as Moscow’s asset so he himself does not feel too confident among Europeans, although he desperately tries not to show it. Turkish President Erdogan is also Dodik’s tactical friend. But if the unity of Bosnia and Herzegovina is destroyed, he will choose to support Sarajevo rather than side with Dodik. Therefore, Dodik’s only trump card is Orbán, who is now being ostracized by Europe, so it is useless to rely on him too much. In reality, Dodik relies on Belgrade and Moscow the most. The latter will definitely welcome such separatist moves and start to provide maximum possible assistance. However, Moscow is quite far away so it will be too difficult, if not impossible, to ensure actual military assistance. Serbia’s Vučić will rather choose not to stand up for Dodik, seeing the serious determination on the part of Washington, Brussels, Paris, and Berlin to put him in place. Vučić is a realist and will not go for his endeavour without securing the support of some other world powers. First of all, this is about China. But it is unlikely that Beijing will support his separatist efforts. Therefore, Russia remains Dodik’s only actual ally. Obviously, he will flee to Moscow despite claiming he is not afraid of national or international justice. After all, Dodik loves himself too much and is naturally more enthusiastic to live in luxury than be held in prison. Even the relative comfort of The Hague detention center would be too much for Dodik. Most likely, he will sneak out to Moscow via Belgrade as soon as he feels the floor under his feet is about to turn into lava. At the same time, he will harbor hope that one day he returns home as people’s idol.

But history proves that disgraced fugitives are often forgotten, although if Dodik actually gets detained in The Hague, his public rating may actually increase. He should also be aware, however, that the ticket to The Hague is usually one-way.