Bosnian Serbs are trying to ‘break away’

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Bosnia’s top international official warned Wednesday that Bosnian Serbs are trying to “divide” and undermine the country’s sovereignty, urging the international community to uphold the rights of all people and uphold the ended peace deal in Bosnia. 1992-95 war.

High Representative Christian Schmidt told the UN Security Council that 26 years after the Dayton peace accords, Bosnia was “at a crossroads” and what happened and the international response “will resonate across the western Balkans”.

The war, which killed more than 100,000 people, still left the country “traumatized,” he said, and “everyone who has lived through this war is still wounded in some way.”

The Dayton Accord, brokered by the United States, created two separate entities in Bosnia – one run by Bosnian Serbs called Republika Srpska, and the other dominated by the country’s Bosnians (mostly Muslims) and Croats . The two entities are linked by a joint central authority, and all important decisions must be supported by both parties.

Schmidt said that since last year, “the citizens of the country and even the international media have been speculating about the possibility of another war.”

He said he saw Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and others “desire to keep the peace”, but the younger generation, born during or after the war, “unfortunately, in the face of continued instability, they are making a A record number of people leave the country.”

In a report circulated to the Security Council on Tuesday, Schmidt warned that Bosnia “has a very real possibility of becoming a security crisis”.

He said he thanked EUFOR-ALTHEA for implementing the military aspects of the Dayton Accords “as a confidence-building measure and a necessary tool for maintaining peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Schmidt gave his first briefing to the council for the first time, despite protests from Russia and China that he was not a legitimate senior representative because his appointment was not endorsed by the 15 members of the council.

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, raised procedural issues when U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the current chair of the Security Council, invited Schmidt to speak, saying his presence ” undermining the authority of the Security Council and the entire United Nations.” At the same time, he said, the committee does allow individuals to brief members “in their personal capacity,” which is how Russia will view Schmidt’s presence on Wednesday.

Dai Bing, China’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said the role of the Security Council in appointing high-level representatives was “indispensable” under the 1995 Dayton Accords. Since Schmidt was not endorsed by the council, he said it was “inappropriate” for him to brief members as a senior representative.

Last July, the Security Council vetoed a resolution proposed by Russia and China that would immediately strip the international high-level representative who oversees the implementation of the peace deal, and remove the post entirely within a year.

Schmidt was formally appointed as the next High Representative on 27 May 2021 by the 10-member Steering Committee of the 55-member Peace Implementation Council, the international body that guides the Bosnian peace process. Russia has suspended its participation on the board.

Thomas Greenfield, who insisted Schmidt was a legitimate appointee, and many other council members welcomed his participation.

Schmidt warned the council that the leaders of Bosnian Serb-dominated entities are systematically challenging the terms of the 1995 agreement and intensifying their activities aimed at usurping powers granted to the federal government.

In December, the Republika Srpska legislature directed its government to withdraw from agreements that included defense, indirect taxation and the judiciary, Schmidt said.

“If implemented, it would at least mean the withdrawal of Republika Srpska from the Unified Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina – one of the most important reforms of the Dayton era, and one of the most important. Recent years have seen positive development – and possibly forming its own army,” he said.

So far, the international community can block such attempts, Schmidt said.

But he said Republika Srpska authorities were trying to withdraw from Bosnia’s constitutional framework and assume its responsibilities through these “de facto divisions” of the unilateral withdrawal of Bosnian Serb entities.

“They have no right to break away,” Schmidt said, telling council members that under the peace deal, the responsibility of the international community “is to uphold the rights of all three constituent peoples and others, so all citizens can live without anyone Express your identity.” Dominate the other. “

Thomas-Greenfield stressed that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina are paramount and unquestionable”, citing measures taken by Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik and the Republika Srpska to block the work of state institutions The measures are “undemocratic”, “escalating” and inconsistent with the spirit of the Dayton Accords.

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