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news 13 Nov 12

Dodik Seeks Serb Autonomy in Bosnian Federation

Following the announced reconstruction of government in Bosnia's Federation entity, Bosnian Serb leader demands autonomy for four mainly Serbian municipalities.

Elvira M. Jukic

Milorad Dodik, president of Republika Srpska, the Serbian entity in Bosnia, and head of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, said that following the expected reorganisation of the Federation entity, the four Serb-majority municipalities should be granted special autonomy.

Referring to the municipalities of Drvar, Glamoc, Grahovo and Petrovac, Dodik said on November 12 that Serbs were marginalised inside the mainly Bosniak [Musim] and Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“No one can exclude us from our interests in the Federation,” Dodik said. “Our interests in that area have to be visible so that those are not oppressed places.”

He told the daily newspaper Blic that he was not suggesting that the four municipalities unite with Republika Srpska, as that would violate the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords.

Calls to reorganise and simplify the running of the Federation entity have won backing from the influential US embassy, which said that it would encourage such a development.

The embassy told Balkan Insight last month that the ambassador Patrick Moon was encouraging individuals, political leaders and NGOs to start debating constitutional reforms in the Federation.

“The United States has already said it is necessary that the Federation entity, like all other levels of the government in Bosnia, become more functional and efficient,” the embassy said at the time.

According to local media, the reforms are expected to be completed by the first half of next year, reducing the administrative complexity of the entity and improving the economy.

The entity is currently divided into ten cantons, each with its own government, which is seen as excessively bureaucratic.

The Social Democratic Party, SDP, the main governing party in the entity, has said that it is ready to talk about reforms that increase functionality and cuts the costs of administration.

But the SDP has appeared to rule out any special arrangements for Serbs.

“Any other kinds of intentions, such as ethnic groupings of certain cantons or municipalities, leading to 'ethnically clean units', will not be supported by us and we will fights against them,” the SDP said on Monday.

The SDP added that it expected much speculation on the process of reconstruction of the Federation entity, as no one yet had a clear picture of how it might end up.

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