Bosnia: the dangerous game of Serbian nationalists

Editorial of the “World”. Fire is smoldering again in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The reasons for the political crisis have been known for thirty years: independent since 1992 like the other former Yugoslav republics, this country has fallen prey to its two powerful neighbors, Serbia and Croatia, who have not given up on dividing its territory in the name of ethnic homogeneity. If Bosnia were made up of only Serbs and Croat nationalists, the issue would probably be settled long ago; but it also has a large community of Muslim Bosnians and, moreover, a number of citizens from all communities, such as in Sarajevo, who still believe in a multi-ethnic country.

The Serbian project behind the current crisis looks like a terrible repetition of what Bosnia experienced three decades ago. The Serb elected to the tripartite presidency of the country, Milorad Dodik, strong man of the Serbian Republic (RS) – one of the two “entities” of the country, with the Croatian-Bosnian Federation -, had the adoption on December 10 by the Parliament of Banja Luka of the resolutions which would imply an exit of the Bosnian institutions within six months, on June 10th. He threatens to recreate parallel Bosnian Serb institutions, including an army.

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Mr. Dodik’s separatist project is not much different from what his distant predecessor, Radovan Karadzic, achieved in the early 1990s by creating the RS, with the support of Serbia. At the time, this had brought Bosnia four years of war, the siege of Sarajevo, 100,000 dead and two million refugees. Mr. Dodik defends himself by asserting that his project is peaceful.

The Bosnian-Serb leader, however, used, on Sunday January 9, the anniversary of the creation of the Serbian Republic – a celebration itself “unconstitutional” in Bosnia – to parade armed men through the streets of Banja Luka.

Strong tension

The sad revisionist party, which takes place every year, turned into a paramilitary parade with, in addition to the Bosnian-Serbian “police forces” with a militarized appearance, the remarkable presence of a Russian militia from the Night Wolves. , the Kremlin master’s favorite biker club. In addition, everywhere in RS and as far as neighboring Serbia, ultranationalist parades took place and demonstrations of Islamophobia set ablaze some towns.

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The tension is high. Milorad Dodik has, in addition to the support of Serbia, the support of Croatia, which sees in it an opportunity to put an end to the other “entity” of the country, the Croatian-Bosnian Federation, and therefore also with Bosnia. -Herzegovina as a state. It also enjoys the strong support of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, China and, within the European Union (EU), nationalist leaders such as those of Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.

There are five months left to avoid a new conflict. The United States, sponsors of the 1995 peace treaty, adopted sanctions against Mr. Dodik, who did not care. The EU, now responsible for monitoring the peace agreement, is strangely absent for the moment. Neither Brussels nor Paris – which holds the presidency of the EU until the end of June – seem to seek to influence the crisis, except to rely on Belgrade and Zagreb in search of a vain “stability”. The countdown is however on. And, in Bosnia, there is fear that at any moment a violent incident will reignite the deadly fire.

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Bosnia: the dangerous game of Serbian nationalists