EU says “there is no place in Europe for a divided Bosnia-Herzegovina” and that “those working in this direction are dead wrong”.
The European Union (EU) is prepared to limit financial assistance and even impose sanctions on Bosnia and Herzegovina to prevent possible separation in the ethnically divided Balkan country, the head of European diplomacy announced on Monday.
“There is no place in Europe for a divided Bosnia and Herzegovina. And those who work in this direction are seriously wrong,” said Josep Borrell, in remarks at the end of a meeting of foreign ministers from the 27 member states.
The peace agreement, negotiated more than 25 years ago, has been falling apart, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday.
The United States in January imposed financial sanctions on the political leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Milorad Dodik, accused of “corrupt activities” that “threaten the stability” of the Balkans and jeopardize the Dayton peace agreement, brokered by Washington.
Dodik has argued for years that the Serb part of Bosnia should leave the rest of the country and join neighboring Serbia.
According to Borrell, Europeans are “ready to use all available instruments if the situation requires it”.
The diplomat added that these measures could involve cutting “financial assistance and restrictive measures”, but noted that they would be used as a last resort.
After the signing of the Dayton Agreement in late 1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina was fractured into two entities, united by a fragile central state whose powers have been strengthened in recent years.
In practice, and more than 25 years after the end of the civil war, the Balkan country of 3.3 million people remains an international protectorate, with strong decision-making powers attributed to the High Representative who oversees and coordinates the implementation of the civil aspects of the Agreement. Dayton.
The president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zeljko Komsic, is part of the tripartite collegiate presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a Serb and a Bosniak (Muslim) representative, and where decisions must be taken by consensus.
Most EU countries also want to hit Dodik with sanctions, but Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia are opposed to them.
The political leader of the Bosnian Serbs also has the support of Russia.
Dodik on Monday rejected any threat of pressure from the EU and stressed that neither he nor his ruling party Republika Srpska (RS, the Serbian entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina) would “accept” any sanctions, adding that the entity he runs will block all “development projects” at the federal level in Bosnia if [sanctions] were applied.
“If they want to stop all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we are at their service,” said Dodik.
The Austrian Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, had already criticized the announcements by Dodik and RS, considering them “extremely dangerous and that play with the integrity of the state”.
The official warned that Bosnia and the Balkans must not become “a ‘playground’ for actors outside Europe”.
The EU is also demanding that electoral reform be passed ahead of elections in Bosnia later this year.
Source: with agencies