Crisis eases in Bosnia as Dodik says Serbs to return to state institutions

Crisis eases in Bosnia as Dodik says Serbs to return to state institutions
By Eldar Dizdarevic in Sarajevo January 17, 2022

Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb leader and member of Bosnia & Herzegovina's three-member presidency, said he would soon hold talks with all government and opposition partners on the return of Serbs to Bosnian state institutions.

The return of Serbs to joint institutions would end the months-long crisis in Bosnia, that had raised fears of a potential breakup of the country or new outbreak of war. The crisis began with Dodik's announcement at the end of last year about the withdrawal of Serbs from the joint army, tax system and judicial system, that was backed by the Republika Srpska National Assembly. 

Dodik made the remarks after meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade. Vucic asked Dodik and all political forces in Republika Srpska to return and participate in the work of Bosnian joint institutions.

"Having in mind the weight of the position of the entire Serbian people, and especially the inappropriate and unjust pressures against RS [Republika Srpska] and its leadership, President Vucic asked Dodik and all political forces in RS to participate in the work of joint institutions in Bosnia and protect in the best way the interests of the Serbian people and the RS,” the statement said after the meeting.

Dodik announced that the return of Serbs to the joint institutions of Bosnia will be considered in February in the Republika Srpska National Assembly.

If the Bosnian crisis were to calm down in this way, it would be considered in the international community as a great positive move by Vucic. However, political analyst from Sarajevo, Enver Kazaz, says that nothing will change, that Vucic's "request" is just a game because he does not want to be marked as the culprit in the whole process, local media reported.

Christian Schmidt, the high representative in Bosnia, told Face TV that Dodik had promised to return Serbs to state institutions, and if that did not happen then he would be in a difficult situation.

"Dodik has made the decision to return to the institutions. If Dodik does not keep what he promised Vucic, he will be in a difficult situation. The Bonn powers are still in the drawer. They are not just to remove someone from office and Dodik knows that. If the decisions of the National Assembly of the RS are not withdrawn, then I can expect certain decisions. But we will see who will make those decisions and what they will be like. We will follow a path that Dodik did not imagine," Schmidt said.

"We must work to ensure that the future in Bosnia takes place without Dodik. Dodik should no longer be counted on," he added.