Milorad Dodik’s comments concerned the United States, especially as Bosnia is still recovering from a 1990s war that killed more than 100,000 people.
The Bosnian Serb separatist leader has vowed to continue weakening the war-torn country to the point of tearing it apart, despite Washington’s pledge to prevent such an outcome.
“I’m not irrational, I know the American response will be to use force… but I have no reason to be scared by that and sacrifice (Serbian) national interests,” Milorad Dodik said , president of the Bosnian Serb side, to the Associated. Press in a new interview.
He said any attempt to use international intervention to further strengthen Bosnia’s common, multi-ethnic institutions would be met with a decision by Bosnian Serbs to abandon them altogether and return the country to a state of disunity and dysfunction. in which he found himself at the end of his brutal war. inter-ethnic war in the 1990s.
Western democracies will not find this acceptable, he added, saying that “in the next step we will be forced by their reaction to declare full independence” of the Serb-controlled areas of Bosnia.
The Bosnian War began in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs, supported by Belgrade, attempted to create an “ethnically pure” region with the aim of joining neighboring Serbia by killing and expelling the country’s Croats and Bosnians, who are mostly Muslims.
More than 100,000 people were killed and more than 2 million – more than half the country’s population – were driven from their homes before a peace deal was reached in Dayton, Ohio, in the end of 1995.
The agreement divided Bosnia into two entities – the Serb-led Republika Srpska and the Bosnian-Croat Federation – which enjoyed broad autonomy but remained linked by common, multi-ethnic institutions.
He also established the Office of the High Representative, an international body charged with overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement and given broad powers to impose laws or fire officials who compromised the fragile post-war ethnic balance. , including judges, officials and members. of parliament.
Over the years, OHR has pressured conflicting Bosnian ethnic leaders to build common statewide institutions, including the military, intelligence and security agencies, the most high judiciary and tax administration.
However, further strengthening of existing institutions and the creation of new ones are necessary if Bosnia is to achieve its stated goal of membership in the European Union.
Dodik appeared unfazed by the statement posted Thursday on X – formerly Twitter – by James O’Brien, the US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
He wrote that Washington would act if anyone tried to change the “fundamental element” of the 1995 peace agreement for Bosnia and that there was “no right to secession.”
“Among Serbs, one thing is clear and definitive: it is a growing awareness that the years and decades that lie ahead are those of Serbian national unification,” Dodik responded.
“Brussels is using the promise of EU membership as a tool to unitize Bosnia,” added the staunchly pro-Russian Dodik, continuing: “In principle, our policy is always that we want to join (the EU), but we don’t.” we no longer see this as our only alternative.
The EU, he said, “showed itself capable of acting against its own interests” by siding with Washington against Moscow when Russia launched its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Dodik, who has called for the separation of the Serbian entity from the rest of Bosnia for more than a decade, has faced British and American sanctions for his policies, but has benefited from the support of Russia.
There are widespread fears that Russia is trying to destabilize Bosnia and the rest of the region in order to divert at least some global attention from its war in Ukraine.
“Whether the United States and Britain like it or not, we will transform the administrative border between the two Bosnian entities into our national border,” Dodik said.
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