Bosnian-Serb MPs vote to abandon national military, taxation system and courts
Republika Srpska’s decision defies warnings from the international community and ignored an opposition boycott.
Forty-nine MPs from the ruling coalition in the 83-seat Banja Luka lower chamber voted to take control of taxation, justice and defence from the Sarajevo institutions.
A heated argument led to opposition MPs leaving the proceedings in protest.
The three Bosnian institutions represent key pillars of joint security, rule of law and the economic system in the former Yugoslav republic.
The Bosnian-Serb vote was a non-binding agreement and a final decision to abandon the central institutions will need to pass through the upper chamber.
The nationalist Milorad Dodik, who leads the SNDS party and is the Serb representative of the three-member presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, has masterminded the demands the “independence” from Sarajevo.
In parliament, he quoted David Cameron and compared himself to the former British Conservative prime minister ahead of the 2016 Brexit vote.
“This is the moment of conquering the freedom for Republika Srpska,” Dodik told parliamentarians. “Bosnia is an experiment … I don’t believe it can survive because it does not have an internal capacity to survive.”
Dodik has been arguing for years that the Bosnian state institutions were established by the international peace process in 1995 and were never enshrined in the constitution.
He told parliamentarians on Friday that
Bosnia-Herzegovina was “a paper republic”, promising legislation to form ethnically Serb institutions within six months.
The 1995 Dayton peace agreement split Bosnia-Herzegovina roughly evenly between a Bosnian Serbs entity and a Muslim-Croat federation, bound by federal institutions, including an armed forces.
Mirko Sarovic, who leads the opposition Serb Democratic Party, told parliament: “The path you have chosen is dangerous for Republika Srpska and we cannot follow you.”
A joint statement from the US, German, French, Italian, UK and EU diplomatic missions said the vote was “a further escalatory step”.
“Members of the governing coalition RS [Republika Srpska] must be aware that continuing this dead-end path of challenging the Dayton framework is damaging the economic prospects of the entity, threatening the stability of the country and the entire region and jeopardising Bosnia’s future with the EU,” the statement said.
Milorad Dodik. Picture credit: Wikimedia