Bosnian Serbs Block Bosnia’s Decision-Making Process

Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic said that all representatives of RS would stop participating in the decision-making process of state institutions and added that this decision will be in force until the foreign judges form the Constitutional Court are removed.

Cvijanovic made this statement following a meeting in Banja Luka that gathered the RS officials and representatives of the political parties represented in the Serbian entity. The only topic discussed in the meeting was a recent decision of the Constitutional Court (CC) of BiH, which assessed that Article 53 of the public land law proposition in the Serbian entity, as well as Article 3 and 4 of the RS Inland Navigation Act were unconstitutional.

“The participants agreed that the RS representatives in the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina will halt their work in the decision-making process on any matter that falls under jurisdiction of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s bodies, until adoption of new Law on the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which wouldn’t have foreign judges in its composition”, said the RS president.

Cvijanovic added that this matter requires an urgent session of the RS parliament, which would discuss the CC’s decisions that have “deeply interfered with the identity of RS” and now even its “territorial and property matters”.

BiH’s CC acted upon the motion filed by seven Bosniak delegates to the RS Council of Peoples and ruled that Article 53 of the draft RS public land law was unconstitutional, sparking intense reactions from RS representatives.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik says “either political leaders will reach a new agreement on what the Constitutional Court should look like or BiH will seize to exist” and insisted that all foreign judges be removed from CC. The court consists of nine judges – two Bosniaks, two Serbs, two Croats and three foreign judges. Dodik accuses the foreign judges of often collaborating with Bosniak judges and working against the interests of Bosnian Serbs.

In an interview for TV N1 Dodik said that a solution to the current political crisis that erupted in Bosnia on 12.02 is for the Bosnian Serb-majority region, Republika Srpska, to secede.

“The solution will be for the RS to go its own path, form its independent state bodies which will function on RS territory. It has all the elements of a state, its institutions, its people”, he said, explaining that Bosnia’s 1995 peace agreement, which contains the Constitution, has already been breached repeatedly by international officials.

“We might adopt a decision to form an RS Army. The US Embassy, which keeps preaching to us, is not going to be the one who tends to our rights. Enough of that, you can’t keep doing this”. “You have struck wherever the Serb people live. What do you want? Who are you? Nobody in the RS will respect any decisions of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) anymore”, he said, referring to the OHR, the foreign diplomat overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement.

Dodik went on to say that the High Representative, currently Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, “is an international criminal who had breached the Constitution and the Dayton Agreement”.

He also stressed that Bosnia is a state that was imposed upon Serbs who did not want it and that it has proven to be a bad place for them.

“We will secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina one day. We don’t want anybody to destroy our freedom”, he said.

“The Bosniaks think that the US Embassy will solve their problems – well let’s see how they will do that”, he added.

Dodik argued that he entered the Bosnian Presidency with the best of intentions to initiate processes to improve Bosnia’s economy but that his Bosniak and Croat colleagues in the institution always first ask the US Embassy about everything.

He predicted Bosnia’s future scenario, also accusing Bosniaks of overvoting the less numerous Croats in Bosnia’s other entity, the Federation (FBiH), and arguing that the Croat-majority area in the country should secede as well.

“The RS will be a state, Herzeg-Bosnia the other one and Bosnia will be the place where Bosniaks live”, Dodik said.

Meanwhile, Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic said that no lower level of government can question Bosnia’s state institutions, after the RS entity leaders said they would boycott the country’s decision-making process because they did not like the Constitutional Court’s decisions regarding several RS laws.

“The rule of law is a fundamental part of the European civilisation. No lower-level of government can question Bosnia’s institutions”, Komsic said responding to his Serb colleague’s announcement that RS entity’s parliament will ask all Serb judges in the State Constitutional Court to leave this institution. If not, the RS parliament will pass a decision to pull them out from this Court, as this is the institution that proposes judges from this part of the country to serve at the State Court.

Komsic said that announcements of denial of Court decisions would be considered an act of rebellion and placing oneself above the law.

“The more state institutions are questioned, the more we’ll defend them. Any unconstitutional action is unacceptable and no yelling and cursing will change the decisions made by BiH’s state institutions and the Constitutional Court”, Croat Presidency member said.

The Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic said that disrespecting the Constitutional Court’s decision violates the Dayton Peace agreement and questions peace in BiH.

“The Constitutional Court and the foreign judges in it are part of the Dayton Peace Agreement, as are two Bosnian entities”, Dzaferovic said. “All those blocking the work of state institutions must be aware that they are threatening the Dayton Peace Agreement. They are thus questioning Bosnia’s peace and stability and leading into the termination of the Dayton Peace Agreement”.

He warned it is high time that Bosnia’s judicial institutions react to such threats, as well as for the international community to protect the Dayton Peace Agreement more resolutely.

All moves that would lead to a paralysis of Bosnian institutions and prevent their work would be a massive step in the wrong direction, said the High Representative for BiH Valentin Inzko, commenting on the announcement of RS officials that they would not partake in the decision-making process on state level. “We expect all political parties to respect the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to make sure that they are able to make decisions that would lead Bosnia to EU accession”, the Office of the High Representative said.

“Ignoring the specific decision of the Constitutional Court, which we have not yet seen, we want to recall that the Constitutional Court is the cornerstone on which the constitutional framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina rests. In accordance with the Constitution, the entities are obliged to fully respect the decisions of BiH’s institutions, including those of the Constitutional Court, which are final and binding”, the OHR added.

The presence of international judges in the Constitutional Court is provided for by BiH’s Constitution. Attacks on the CC or any of its members constitute unacceptable interference with the work of the judiciary, the OHR concluded.

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