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News 25 Apr 13

Kosovo Deal Stokes Bosnian Serb Independence Fever

Serbian's recent deal with Kosovo is fuelling demands in the Republika Srpska for it to separate from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

"Srpska heads into independence" was the headline on April 25 on the cover of Banja-Luka based newspapers Press, one of most read papers in the mainly Serbian entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It referred to a statement by the Serbian member of Bosnia's tripartite State Presidency, Nebojsa Radmanovic, who in an interview with Anadolu news agency published on Tuesday, said that if half the UN member states recognized Kosovo's independence, the Bosnian Serb entity would consider that it had a right to separate from Bosnia.

Radmanovic noted an existing declaration by the National Assembly of Republika Srpska on independence, which he said could be activated in that case.

Radmanovic recalled the Republika Srpska's 2008 resolution, which condemned Kosovo's independence but said that when half the UN members recognize Kosovo, the international system will have changed and Republika Srpska will consider it also has a right to separate.

Radmanovic added that Serbs had always wanted some kind of independence and that the idea had never been dropped.

He added that any changes should come about as a result of talks between all the ethnic groups in Bosnia and not as a result of fights.

Many analysts say the idea is backed by international law, which supports the rights of nations to secede, Press reported.

Cedomir Antic, of the Institute for Balkan Studies, told the paper that the issue of secession by Republika Srpska had imposed itself after Serbia gave de facto legitimisation to the independence of Kosovo in the recent EU-led deal.

Serbia and Kosovo adopted a 15-point draft agreement on April 19 in Brussels, giving extensive rights to Serbs and their municipalities in Kosovo. But hardline Serbian nationalists have slated the plan as a sell-out.

Antic added that from the international legal viewpoint, there are no obstacles preventing the Republika Srpska from declaring independence soon.

“There cannot be talk about a fair peace until the Serbian people gets the same rights as the rest of the other peoples of Yugoslavia did,” Antic said, referring to the other nations that have obtaineed independence since the break-up of Yugoslavia.

He recalled the July 2010 ruling of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, in the case that Serbia brought against the independence of Kosovo, which said that such declarations are not against international law.

Antic added the Serbs in Republika Srpska had more right to claim independence than Kosovo Albanians.

The opposition mainly Muslim Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, SBiH, criticized Radmanovic's statement, saying that there was no parallel between Kosovo and Republika Srpska.

The SBiH said that compensation for Serbia's loss of Kosovo cannot be sought in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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