News 09 May 13

Bosnian Serbs’ Independence Rhetoric Worries Inzko

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s High Representative Valentin Inzko has expressed concern about repeated statements from Bosnian Serb politicians advocating the dissolution of the state.

Denis Dzidic

In his latest report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Inzko – the highest international authority in Bosnia and Herzegovina – warned of continuing challenges to the country’s sovereignty from politicians in the Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska.

Inzko explained that the past six months have seen continued provocative rhetoric from some top-level Republika Srpska officials including President Milorad Dodik.

Some of their statements have predicted and advocated the dissolution of the state and challenged its ability to function, he warned.

“The RS [Republika Srpska] president continues to be the most frequent and vocal – although certainly not the sole – exponent of state dissolution,” Inzko said in his report.

“I am also concerned by continued assertions from senior RS leaders — contrary to the constitution of BiH — that the entities are states,” he continued.

Inzko also expressed concern about a claim by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic that Republika Srpska was a “state”.

However, Inzko praised the Nikolic for the interview he gave to Bosnian State television last month in which he retracted this statement and asked for forgiveness for war crimes in Srebrenica.

“For the record, I wish to state that I wholeheartedly commend and welcome President Nikolic’s courageous and historic statement and its undeniable contribution to reconciliation in the region,” said Inzko.

In contrast, Inzko criticised the continuing rhetoric from senior Republika Srpska officials who have insisted that genocide was not committed in Srebrenica in 1995 “despite rulings by both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia”.

Speaking about the situation today in Srebrenica, Inzko described as “regrettable” the decision to resume construction works on a Serbian Orthodox church close to the Potocari memorial centre, where thousands of the victims of the massacres are buried.

“While the construction of a church in itself is not contentious, the choice of this particular site has been seen as a provocation,” he said.

His report also raised questions about Bosnian attempts to prosecute the country’s remaining 1,200 war crime cases.

Inzko said that “the aims laid out in the [Bosnian state war crimes] strategy - to have the most complex cases dealt with by 2015, and the less complex by 2023 - are unlikely to be met”.

“While there is satisfaction with the rate of transfer of war crimes cases from state to entity jurisdictions, there needs to be an improvement in the processing of these cases by the entity jurisdictions,” he concluded.

Inzko’s report covers the period from October 2012 to April this year and is his ninth since taking office as High Representative in 2009.

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