Serb Party Boycott Deepens Bosnia's Paralysis

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
Mar 18 2015

Western powers may take sanctions against the Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, after his party, the Alliance of Social Democrats, SNSD, blocked the decision-making process in the country's state parliament, an EU official told Balkan Insight on Wednesday. 

Bosnia’s international overseeer, the High Representative, Valentin Inzko, in a press statement on Tuesday, condemned the withdrawal of the Serbian MPs.

“Any action that would paralyze the institutions... and prevent parliament from functioning is unconstructive and unacceptable. Such actions represent a significant step in the wrong direction,” he said.

“I appeal to the MPs to honour their mandates and enable the House of Peoples to work in a regular and uninterrupted fashion,” he added. 

The House of Peoples had to cancel its session on Tuesday owing to the lack of a quorum since the three Serbian MPs controlled by SNSD failed to show up.

Dodik announced the day before that SNSD would boycott the chamber following a disagreement over the distribution of positions in parliamentary commissions.

He said his party members should have been included in the commission that oversees the work of the Intelligence-Security Agency.

“We have a problem and we have to resolve it as soon as possible. If not, we will find ourselves in a problem that will overshadow all previous problems,” the Speaker of the House of Peoples, from the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, Barisa Colak, said. 

Colak’s Deputy Speaker, Safet Softic, from the [Bosniak] Party of Democratic Action, SDA, said the work of the state parliament was now completely blocked. 

“This move is the continuation of the SNSD’s campaign aimed at blocking the government at state level,” he said recalling that the party has boycotted the state parliament's House of Representatives since the beginning of this year.

Sarajevo-based analyst Almir Terzic told Balkan Insight that the international community should react forcefully to deliberate attempts to block the work of government institutions. 

“The international community shoud have reacted the very moment that the SNSD decided to leave a session,” he said.

Terzic noted that the international community had taken punitive measures in the past, banning politicians from active political life, for example.

“The SNSD has tested the limits,” he said, “Now they decided to completely block the institutions.”

The SNSD move has been criticized by Bosnian Serb opposition parties. The other Deputy Speaker of the House of Peoples, Ognjen Tadic, from the opposition Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, said that “there was not a single justified reason” for the absence of the three MPs controlled by the SNSD.  

He urged the MPs to inform the parliament about the real reasons for their absence as well as about when they plan to return to the House of Peoples. 

This new deadlock comes at a bad time, only a day after the EU decided to reopen Bosnia’s path to eventual membership by activating Bosnia’s Stabilization and Association Agreement, SAA. 

With the SAA activated, Bosnia is expected to carry out a series of difficult political, economic and social reforms in the coming months and years.  

Local and international officials expressed concerns that the new boycott was more then just another in a series of SNSD political games. 

The chair of the House of Peoples’ Constitutional-Legal Commission, Halid Genjac, said Dodik’s intentions were not only to block the process of formation of governments in Bosnia fiollowing last October's elections, but to show that Bosnia cannot function in the current constitutional and political framework. 

“Neither the international community nor the Office of the High Representative should be closing their eyes. The problem for Bosnia and Herzegovina resides in the cabinet of Mr Dodik," he said. "That problem should be called by its proper name and that problem should be resolved,” Genjac added.