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News 21 Nov 17

Serbian Presidency Rejects Any Takeover of Bosnian Serb Land

Serbian officials have delivered another political blow to Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, explicitly rejecting his "dreams" that Serbia could one day annexe Republika Srpska, Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity.

Srecko Latal, Filip Rudic
BIRN
Sarajevo, Belgrade
Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: Beta/Damir Sagolj

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's office told Serbian media Tuesday that the country "does not want" to annexe Republika Srpska, RS, in one of its most explicit rejections of Bosnian Serb separatist dreams so far. 

Serbia's Danas magazine, citing Vucic's office, reported that Serbia was "the only obstacle" to RS seceding from the rest of Bosnia. Diplomatic sources confirmed the veracity of this statement to BIRN.

The declaration came in response to a controversial TV interview released by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) on Monday, in which Milorad Dodik, the RS president and leader of its main party, the Alliance of Independent Social democrats, started redrawing the map of the Balkans, adding RS and the predominantly Serb-populated northern part of Kosovo to Serbia's mainland.

In the interview Dodik reiterated his well-known position that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a "failed state".

However, he also said the lack of consensus among people and politicians means that an eventual referendum on the secession of RS from Bosnia, "is not on the agenda."

Dodik added that the lack of support for such move in Serbia is the main obstacle to the independence of RS.

"Bosnia will fall apart by itself," he also said towards the end of the interview.

The journalists produced a map, and it was at this point that Dodik redrew the region's borders by splitting Bosnia and Kosovo, adding RS and northern Kosovo to Serbia.

In a previous interview with DW TV, a Bosniak member of Bosnia's presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, said that any attempt to break Bosnia apart would be defeated, by political or military means. His statement sparked a strong reaction from Bosnian Serbs and Serbian officials. 

Boban Stojanovic, a teaching associate at the Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences, called the statement from Vucic's office "reasonable" as well as a "slap in the face" to Dodik, adding that he was surprised at how blunt it was.

"I believe Dodik expected a different statement, probably a less explicit one ... But Vucic probably did not want to come into conflict with his Western partners," Stojanovic told BIRN.

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