The statement from Nebojsa Radmanovic, a senior leader of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, sparked a heated debate in Bosnian media over the weekend, with opponents claiming that it could unsettle the ethnically-divided country’s stability.
“The resolution that was anounced directly threatens peace and stability in our country,” said a statement from an opposition Social Democratic Party, SDP.
The SDP called upon “all pro-Bosnian forces to jointly and clearly stand on the path of such politics”.
Sejfudin Tokic, the president of the Bosniak Movement for the Equality of People in Republika Srpska, urged the international community to act to stop Serb separatist movements developing.
If such movements do emerge, Tokic said, then Bosniaks “in the name of their own protection and the protection of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, gain the legitimate right to undertake all available measures and activities towards the abolition of Republika Srpska”.
The row erupted after Radmanovic, a senior leader of the SNSD and one if its deputies in the state House of Peoples, told Bosnian Serb daily Press RS that the party leadership will adopt a resolution about a “free and independent Republika Srpska” at its congress scheduled for April 25.
Radmanovic declined to provide significant details until the text of the declaration is finalised, but said that it came in reaction to what he described as the growing practice of other ethnic groups deciding about Bosnian Serb representatives in key institutions.
His statement is a part of the growing tensions between ruling coalitions on the state level and in Republika Srpska, after Bosniak and Croat parties established a ruling coalition on the state level with the block of Bosnian Serb opposition parties and kicked out the SNSD, which however remains in power in Republika Srpska.
Concerned about weakening of its position both at the state level and in Republika Srpska, the SNSD has been blocking the work of the state House of Representatives since the beginning of the year and boycotting sessions of the state House of Peoples for the past few weeks.
The SNSD’s planned resolution has also raised concerns among international representatives in the country.
The US embassy in Sarajevo said in a statement to local media that Bosnia’s status “was not an issue of an opinion but the fact established by the international law”.
“Territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina are guaranteed by the Dayton peace accord,” the embassy said, adding that neither the Dayton accord nor Bosnia’s constitution envisage the possibility of any of its entities breaking away from the rest of the country.
“Any activitiy aimed towards the dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina represents violation of the Dayton peace accord,” the statement said.
The Office of the High Representative and the EU delegation in Bosnia stressed in their statements that the SNSD leadership has pledged its allegiance to Bosnia's territorial integrity in a recent declaration that was signed by the party’s leaders and the other 13 main Bosnian parties.
After the signing of this declaration, the EU leadership gave the green light to the activation of Bosnia's Stabilisation and Association Agreement and the continuation of its EU accession process.