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State-Building Method of Bosnian Serbs

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The Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina started an investigation on the withdrawal of the Serbian Republic from Bosnia and Herzegovina state institutions due to violation of constitutional order.[1] Summons were established for the representatives of opposition parties in the Serbian Republic, and the declarations are almost tone. The press briefing of Serbian politicians after the declaration in the Prosecutor’s Office showed that their views on the secession of the Serbian Republic from Bosnia and Herzegovina are on the same line with Milorad Dodik, who was a supranationalist. Dodik is not accepting Bosnians national identity and gets the support of Russia and Serbia, and other sections that identify them as Muslims.

On December 11, 2021, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia held an extraordinary meeting in Banja Luka, where is the administrative center of the Serbian Republic, to make voting on leaving Bosnia and Herzegovinan state institutions.[2] At the session, it was decided by 49 deputies to draft a new constitution within six months, proposing the creation of legislation and regulations governing the security, defense, tax administration, and judicial system of the government of the Serbian Republic, and also proposing that Banja Luka be the capital of Serbian Republic.

Mirko Sarovic, who is the leader of Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) in the opposition, and was the President of the Serbian Republic in 2000-2002, and was the Serbian member of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential Council, testified on the session of Serbian Parliament, without opening the discussion on the invitation to the Prosecutor’s Office. Mirko Sarovic is the biggest rival of Dodik. Sarovic and his party remained partly abstained on the session of December 10, 2021. Sarovic claimed that since they were not prepared for the process, they preferred not to vote. Sarovic openly claims that they have the right to separate from the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina; however, they are not thinking in the same way with Dodik on method.[3] He says that he was against delegation of authority to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2005, 2006, and 2010, and still keeping the same attitude.[4] In summary, he believes that authority should go definitely to the Serbian Republic; however, firstly, the consensus in the Serbian Republic should be provided.

After testifying as a witness within the scope of the same investigation, Serbian Socialist Party Chairman Goran Selak stated that they did not participate in the voting on the return of powers as a party, that they thought that it was necessary to talk about which powers were transferred unconstitutionally and by which procedure he can return to the Serbian Republic.[5] Selak explained to the Prosecutor’s Office that Serbian Republic’s institutions must be developed to more stable Serbian existence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[6] Selak also believes that the timing and the method should be discussed, and he thinks that the elections are not a violation of constitutional order.[7]

President of the National Assembly of Serbian Republic, Nedeljko Čubrilović, announced that he had not received an invitation from the Bosnia and Herzegovina Prosecutor’s Office for a hearing regarding the alleged attack on the constitutional order; He added that it was confident that the Serbian Republic did not go beyond the constitutional framework and powers.[8] Čubrilović also participated in the meeting at the National Assembly on December 21, 2021, organized by the Faculty of Political Sciences of Banja Luka University on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Serbian Parliament. In the meeting, Čubrilović highlighted the importance of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia on the survival of the Serbian people, self-determination, and scramble to establish the Serbian Republic as a state-building community.[9]

Counselor of Dodik, Radovan Kovacevic, evaluated the call for investigation of opposition representatives as a misfortune. According to Kovacevic, the investigation of persons representing the will of the citizens of the Serbian Republic proves that the Office of the Prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina was used as a political tool to settle accounts with the Serbian Republic and its founding people, the Serbs. He expressed that the rights of the Serbian Republic should be given back to them according to Dayton Agreement.[10] Dodik previously claimed that “Bosnia and Herzegovina’s High Council of Judiciary and Prosecution is an unconstitutional body” and claimed that the High Representative created the institution based on anti-Dayton behavior.[11] He stated that they were actually defending the constitution regarding the relevant investigation. He also continued by saying, “Leave the story of the Muslim judges; we are consistent in our plan and cannot be stopped by outside objections.”[12] He criticized the political parties that did not participate in the voting and said that the biggest betrayal was to oppose the Serbian Republic regaining its powers.[13]

The statements of Bosnian Serb politicians show that Milorad Dodik, who is described as a “cheeky nationalist” in the Western media, is not alone in his ideas about the independence of the Serbian Republic. In any way, the replacement of Dodik by another Serbian politician will not change Serbian Republic’s demands for secession. Unanimity on some issues means imposing the country’s reality on the West. Because the Western institutions’ search for solutions to problems other than Cyprus takes place by the actual situation in the field. The Serbian Republic was designed to join a federation with the Dayton Agreement as a separate state.

Such a legal basis was given to the Bosnian Serbs in 1995. Opposition Serbian political leaders do not see the holding of parliamentary sessions and voting on secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina as an attack on the constitutional order. In this case, they must be thinking that the right to secede is regulated in the constitution. However, there is no such regulation. However, in establishing state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the authorities were transferred to the central state by voting in the Parliament of the Serbian Republic. Decisions on the transfer of authority, which were on paper with the parliamentary votes of October 30, 2003, December 5, 2003, February 25, 2004, March 11, 2004, and August 30, 2005, were withdrawn on December 11, 2021.

Opposition politicians only argue that the timing and method should be determined together. Here, the reflection of the separatist structure of the Serbian society can also be seen. Because even if the politicians find it suitable to remain a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they know that if they express this, they will lose votes. Dodik, too, was a politician who collaborated with Western institutions in his early days and handed over more war criminals than was requested. Realizing that he increased his votes when using separatist rhetoric, he formed his political line based on separatism. Moreover, a Serb community that has reached today’s conditions cannot be expected to show loyalty to the idea of Bosnianness. Since the conjuncture makes it possible for groups that feel different from each other to become a state, a Bosnian Serb politician has no reason to defend a contrary position. It should be noted that the “prior law” is always the determining factor in political formations. Bosnian Serbs established today’s “prior law” in 1995. Here, too, they received the most excellent support from the West. It is possible to see this in the testimonies of Milosevic, Karadzic, and Mladic.

On the other hand, Bosnian Serbs receive support from some European countries under the influence of Islamophobia, apart from Russia, which wants to draw the area of conflict with the West from the former Soviet geography to the Balkans, and China, which prefers to distract the attention in the Asia-Pacific with the turmoil in the Balkans. There is also the support of some other countries that plan to benefit from the map renewals triggered by the possible border change in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even if the USA, the UK, and a few EU members announce sanctions against Dodik and Serbian Republic, Dodik has a promise of support in his pocket that can double the losses that will arise from this.

Politicians who are part of the Serbian administration will resist the option of war as much as possible. For this reason, it can be predicted that the news of Muslim aggressors will increase in the Serbian press. On the other hand, the Serbian administration will try to develop its current gains and walk towards independence by forcing law and diplomacy. The fact that Dodik makes all his statements with the emphasis that they act in accordance with the Dayton Agreement and the constitution shows that he wants to walk his plans on a legal basis. The Serbian administration rejects any new situation that has arisen with the implementation of the Dayton Agreement. Nevertheless, he wants the gains of the Dayton Agreement. Deputy Prosecutor Oleg Čavka also expresses this request.[14]  From this, it is understood that the Serbs wanted to return their legal status to the date of December 14, 1995, when the Dayton Agreement was signed. While there was no Serbian Republic, such a legal entity came to life with the Dayton Agreement. While only the republics of Yugoslavia and the declarations of independence with the existing borders were allowed;[15]  The Dayton Agreement created a side road to this rule by uniting the Serbian Republic, which it had created, with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina under one state. In summary, Bosnian Serb politicians see themselves in the last stage of progress to an independent state through legal gains.

The world, which remained silent in the face of the genocide and massacres, owes Bosnians a homeland to live in peace. However, those who allowed the lands taken by the Serbs through genocide and ethnic cleansing to remain with them, and those who created a republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the agreement, now seem to be “desperate” against Dodik…


[1] According to the laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the penalty for attacking the constitutional order is five years in prison.

[2] For voted items, see “Zaključcı Na Vıše Nıvoa: Skupština Republike Srpske usvojila odluku o vraćanju nadležnosti”, Novosti, https://www.novosti.rs/republika-srpska/vesti/1064990/skupstina-usvojila-odluku-vracanju-nadleznosti, (Date of Accession: 10.12.2021).

[3] “Шаровић саслушан у Тужилаштву БиХ; Враћање надлежности Српској није спорно већ припрема сједнице НСРС”, RTRS, https://www.rtrs.tv/vijesti/vijest.php?id=457426 (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021); “Počeo Pravosudnı Progon Lıdera RS! U Tužilaštvu BiH formiran predmet o posebnoj sednici NSRS o vraćanju nadležnosti”, Novosti, https://www.novosti.rs/republika-srpska/vesti/1068146/poceo-pravosudni-progon-lidera-tuzilastvu-bih-formiran-predmet-posebnoj-sednici-nsrs-vracanju-nadleznosti, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[4] “Šarović saslušan u Tužilaštvu BiH zbog sjednice NSRS-a: Mislim da to nije bio napad na Ustav”, Klix, https://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/sarovic-saslusan-u-tuzilastvu-bih-zbog-sjednice-nsrs-a-mislim-da-to-nije-bio-napad-na-ustav/211221044, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021); Oylamadan önceki gün katıldığı BN televizyonunun bir yayınında da Šarović, partilerinin devredilen yetkiler konusundaki görüşlerini kamunun bilmesini istedikleri için oturuma katılacaklarını açıklamıştır. Konu hakkında detaylı bilgi için bkz. “Šarović o sutrašnjoj sjednici NSRS-a: Srljamo grlom u jagode, nisu svjesni opasnosti u koju nas vode”, Klix, https://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/sarovic-o-sutrasnjoj-sjednici-nsrs-a-srljamo-grlom-u-jagode-nisu-svjesni-opasnosti-u-koju-nas-vode/211209148, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[5] “Zbog napada na ustavni poredak osumnjičena Željka Cvijanović te predsjednici partija iz vlasti u RS-u”, Klix, 21 Aralık 2021, https://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/zbog-napada-na-ustavni-poredak-osumnjicena-zeljka-cvijanovic-te-predsjednici-partija-iz-vlasti/211220050, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[6] “Селак саслушан у својству свједока у Тужилаштву БиХ”, RTRS, https://www.rtrs.tv/vijesti/vijest.php?id=457309, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[7] People’s Democratic Alliance (DNS) President Nenad Nesic and Democratic Progress Party (PDP) President Branislav Borenovic and Serbian Republic Interior Minister Dragan Lukac confirmed that they had been summoned and announced that they would make a statement later. The Prime Minister of the Serbian Republic, Radovan Višković, declared that he did not receive an invitation from the Prosecutor’s Office. For detailed information see “Вишковић: Нисам добио позив Тужилаштва; Уколико позив дође одазваћу се”, RTRS, https://www.rtrs.tv/vijesti/vijest.php?id=457452, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021); “Лукач добио позив Тужилаштва; Потврдићу чињенице већ познате јавности”, RTRS, https://www.rtrs.tv/vijesti/vijest.php?id=457450, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[8] “Чубриловић: Нисам добио позив Тужилаштва БиХ”, RTRS, https://www.rtrs.tv/vijesti/vijest.php?id=457429, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[9] “Округли сто поводом 30 година постојања Парламента”, RTRS, https://www.rtrs.tv/vijesti/vijest.php?id=457430, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[10] “Ковачевић: Тужилаштво БиХ поново потврдило да је средство за обрачун са Српском”, RTRS, https://www.rtrs.tv/vijesti/vijest.php?id=457382, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[11] “Dodik najavio usvajanje zakona o VSTV-u RS-a do kraja godine, Schmidtove poruke nazvao fašističkim”, Klix, https://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/dodik-najavio-usvajanje-zakona-o-vstv-u-rs-a-do-kraja-godine-schmidtove-poruke-nazvao-fasistickim/211217109, (Date of Accession:: 21.12.2021).

[12] “Dodik: Mi branimo Ustav, ne urušavamo ustavni poredak”, Novosti, https://www.novosti.rs/republika-srpska/vesti/1067332/milorad-dodik-republika-srpska-bosna-hercegovina, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[13] “Dodik Poručio: Vreme će pokazati ko brani, a ko izdaje!”, Novosti, https://www.novosti.rs/republika-srpska/vesti/1065215/dodik-porucio-vreme-pokazati-brani-izdaje, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[14] “Селак саслушан у својству свједока у Тужилаштву БиХ”, RTRS, https://www.rtrs.tv/vijesti/vijest.php?id=457309, (Date of Accession: 21.12.2021).

[15] Peter Radan, The Badinter Arbitration Commission and the Partition of Yugoslavia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2018; Alain Pellet, “The Opinions of the Badinter Arbitration Committee a Second Breath for the Self-Determination of Peoples,” Ejil, http://ejil.org/pdfs/3/1/1175.pdf, (Date of Accession:: 20.12.2021).  

Gözde KILIÇ YAŞIN
Gözde KILIÇ YAŞIN
Gözde Kılıç Yaşın, 1998'de Ankara Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi'nden mezun oldu. Yüksek lisans ve Doktora çalışmalarını aynı üniversitede Genel Kamu Hukuku alanında gerçekleştirdi. Uluslararası hukuk, soykırım suçu, savaş suçları, uluslararası göç, iltica, Ortodoks dünyası özelinde teostrateji, terör, su sorunları, enerji kaynakları ve enerji nakil hatları alanlarında çalışmakta; Balkan ülkeleri, Kıbrıs, Doğu Akdeniz özelinde siyasi, ticari, hukuki ve toplumsal gelişmeleri takip ederek politik öngörüler ışığında gelecek tasarımı çalışmaları gerçekleştirmektedir.