NewsRepublika Srpska's secession bid stirs tension in Bosnia

Republika Srpska's secession bid stirs tension in Bosnia

Vladimir Putin with Milorad Dodik
Vladimir Putin with Milorad Dodik
Images source: © Licensor | Sergei Bobylev, TASS
9:27 AM EDT, March 20, 2024

The authorities of an autonomous unit of the Republika Srpska aim to separate from the rest of the country. Its president, Milan Dodik, is a staunch ally of Vladimir Putin. While the European Commission is keen to initiate accession talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina, certain members of the Community are hesitant, given the country's tense internal dynamics.

The Balkan cauldron - a term that fittingly describes the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a nation fraught with national conflicts. Bosnia is a cultural mosaic, blending Serbian, Croatian, and even Turkish influences, much like a significant portion of the Balkans.

Yugoslavia's existence once quelled these conflicts. However, its dissolution sparked a disintegration process, culminating in a bloody war from 1992 to 1995. The Dayton Agreement, which ended the conflict in Bosnia, partitioned the state into three administrative units: the two main ones being the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, with the small Brčko District lying between them.

Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska and a Serbian nationalist, aspires to secede the part of Bosnia he governs and merge it with Serbia. This ambition is backed by Russia, which has hosted Dodik numerous times.

In February, Putin honored him with Russia's most prestigious award, the Order of Alexander Nevsky, for fostering cooperation between the Russian Federation and Bosnia and Herzegovina and fortifying ties with Republika Srpska. Russia's support underscores its strategy to destabilize the Balkans, aiming to deter the region's nations from joining EU or NATO alliances.

Bosnia's EU Ambition Faces Opposition

Despite internal challenges, Bosnia and Herzegovina is eager to join the European Union. The nation applied for membership in February 2016 and was designated a candidate country in December 2022.

As per, the European Commission advocates for the EU summit this week (March 21-22) to commence accession discussions. Ursula von der Leyen argued for proactive engagement with the Western Balkans beyond merely leaving the door ajar.

Nonetheless, the proposal hasn't won universal approval. Reportedly, a few countries have voiced concerns, including Denmark and the Netherlands. The unequivocally positive assessment of Bosnia's progress towards EU membership has puzzled some EU members.

Meanwhile, Dodik relentlessly exhibits his defiance against the central government. He endeavors to establish institutions in Republika Srpska that function independently from Sarajevo, blatantly ignoring the decisions made by the international community's high representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt.

In a dispute with the Constitutional Court, Serbs in Republika Srpska have legislated that the court's rulings do not apply within their region. Dodik openly expresses his desire for Republika Srpska's independence, aiming to achieve this before the end of Joe Biden's presidency, anticipating Donald Trump's return. Such aspirations could potentially ignite another conflict in the Balkans.

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