The Future of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Context of Republika Srpska’s Policies

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Bosnia and Herzegovina had a very complex political structure with the Dayton Agreement, which was signed on 14 December 1995 and ended the Bosnian War. According to the relevant agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina basically consists of two entities, the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is administratively divided into 10 cantons.[1] Also, these two entities are excluded from the country; there is also a self-governing special district called Brcko.

In particular, Republika Srpska and its President Milorad Dodik come to the fore with their different policies. For example, memberships of the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which represent the West against Russia, have been determined as important foreign policy targets by the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, Dodik stands out with his closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In this sense, it is possible to say that there is a serious difference between the general state attitude and the views of the Republika Srpska. The situation in question also shows itself in the recent decisions taken by the Republika Srpska. Moreover, it can be said that the decisions taken are of the kind that will create differences in the functioning of the exceptional structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the future.

The Law on Immovable Property, which the Republika Srpska was determined to enact, received a great reaction both from Bosniak parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina and internationally. It can be said that this law is at the center of the reactions because it is perceived as a step towards deterioration in the integrity of the state. Because the law allows the transfer of state-owned immovables used in the functioning of public institutions to the Republika Srpska. The general view is to the contrary and argues that the immovables belong to the state.

In addition to all these, Republika Srpska adopted a draft law on 23 March 2023 that requires non-profit organizations financed from abroad and operating in Republika Srpska to register and report their work.[2] It can be said that this step was taken with the suspicion that an obstacle was created in front of the decisions taken by the Republika Srpska. The decision of the Republika Srpska to terminate its cooperation with the United States of America (USA) and British Embassies after a short while, citing various activities,[3] also confirms this situation.

Recent developments indicate that Republika Srpska’s good relations with Russia will continue. Because the non-governmental organizations in Republika Srpska are of the opinion that the relevant draft law, which was adopted on March 23, 2023, has similar aspects with the Russian laws.[4] In this context, the decision to terminate the cooperation with the USA and British Embassies also symbolizes a break. The same decision took the tension between Republika Srpska leader Milorad Dodik and Western actors to the next level.

Also, responding to the comparison made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken between Dodik and Putin, Dodik expressed that he was pleased to be seen as such a wonderful person to be compared to Putin.[5]

All these developments show that Republika Srpska is rapidly moving away from the basic political structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is clear that Dodik, who did not hide his close relationship with Putin, took decisions in this direction and followed a policy parallel to Russia. The general attitude of the Republika Srpska, especially the Law on Immovable Property, also reveals the discontents with the basic order that created Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a matter of fact, this law and similar decisions, suspended twice by the High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt, cause an increase in concerns in Sarajevo.

Considering the last step of Republika Srpska towards Western actors, it is obvious that the difficulties in front of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s NATO membership goal will continue. Because Serbs, one of the three ethnic groups, have the right to have a say in the main institutions of the country, such as the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential Council. Moreover, Republika Srpska’s ongoing closeness with Russia and its recent decision on the USA and British Embassies run counter to the interests of the West in the Balkans. For the West, which aims to stabilize the Balkans and weaken the Russian influence, the existence of practices similar to Russia’s policies is the last thing to be desired.

[1] “Government and society”, Britannica,, (Date of Accession: 30.03.2023).

[2] “Bosnian Serbs Approve Measure On ‘Foreign Agents’ Mirroring Controversial Russian Law”, Radio Free Europe,, (Date of Accession: 31.03.2023).

[3] “RS has decided to Terminate the Cooperation with the Embassies of the UK and US”, Sarajevo Times,, (Date of Accession: 31.03.2023).

[4] “Bosnian Serbs…”

[5] “Dodik replied to Blinken: I am glad that he is talking about me and comparing me to Putin”, Sarajevo Times,, (Date of Accession: 31.03.2023).

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