Instead of calming the situation down, the US sanctions to RS president, Milorad Dodik, push BiH’s political scene further on the edge and cause new divisions between Serb parties but also between Bosniaks and Serbs in the entire country.
The difficult situation, caused by Dodik’s refusal to respect the Constitutional court’s decision on RS Day as unconstitutional holiday – a day after the official confirmation of the sanctions – became even more chaotic since every party or politician gave more than three sentences of comment, expressed some new opinion. The problem is that there is no unified attitude of Bosniak or Serb parties and all of them are trying to reap the benefits for themselves or the parties they represent.
The party of democratic action (SDA), the biggest Bosniak party, claims that sanctions are expected and that those who disrespect the Dayton Peace Agreement must suffer the consequences. At the same time however, they forgot to mention that this party initiated several reforms which are not in accordance with the Dayton Agreement and all of them were accepted with the help of the US or the EU. One of them is the reform in the military sector or several reforms in the judiciary sector. What’s more, BiH and RS are now in a rare situation that RS vice president, SDA member Ramiz Salkic is demanding punishment for Dodik in the BiH justice system. Other Bosniak parties are trying to remove Dodik from his position which would be a great success for parties which see him as the biggest obstacle for the country’s path to the EU. Also, his removal would open the door for the strengthening of the centralization of power in BiH.
On the other side, Serb opposition parties in RS are trying to find some way to stay neutral but it is impossible since they are in a ruling coalition on the state level. Serb Democratic Party (SDS) claimed that Dodik was happy when, a decade ago, members of this party were sanctioned in a similar way. However, SDS high officials claimed that they are not happy and that sanctions on anybody in BiH are not good for the entire country. They decided to stay on the sidelines as much possible for now.
In a speech full of anger, Dodik said on Wednesday that he is not hurt so much by the sanctions since he have no assets in the US or any other country except in Serbia, which he doesn’t consider a foreign country. On the sanctions he said that they are a “desperate move of the incumbent US administration” and personal retribution of US Ambassador to BiH, Maureen Cormack.
“I do not see this as a punishment, but as a proof that I was not ready to trade with RS interests. I am proud of the fact that, despite the various pressures, I did not accept to ‘surrender’ RS to those who want that”, Dodik said at the press conference in Banja Luka.
He added that these are not US sanctions, but the sanctions by those who were defeated in the US elections, whose policy has experienced a complete breakdown.
The office of the High Representative explained that the sanctions are aimed Dodik and not the entire RS and ordinary citizens. From his office was announced that aim of the sanctions is to show the determination of international community that all those who are working contrary to interest of country and turn citizens to divisions and instability, must suffer the consequences./ΙΒΝΑ