Reactions on Slovenian Non-Paper Redrawing Borders on Balkans

According to the Chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency and leader of the strongest Bosnian Serb party in the country, Milorad Dodik, the “only option” for Bosnia in the future is the peaceful secession of its Republika Srpska (RS) entity. 

Dodik made the statement in light of a controversial document that was published on Thursday (15.04) by the Slovenian news portal – an alleged non-paper that proposes redrawing borders in the Western Balkans. 

The document presents the options of Kosovo joining Albania and including parts Bosnia’s Serb-dominated RS entity into Serbia while the country’s mostly Croat-populated parts would be annexed to Croatia. 

While the Bosniak and Bosnian Croat members of the tripartite Presidency condemned the document, Dodik argued that a “peaceful separation” is being discussed. 

“This is the only option and it will certainly, be realized in some coming period”, he said. 

He arguing that there is no other option in a situation where the main Bosniak party in the country, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), and its leader, Bakir Izetbegovic, are working towards Bosnia becoming a unitary state without semi-autonomous entities. 

Dodik said that the separation line between Bosnia’s two entities, which he called a “border”, is something that will not be changed under any circumstances as it internationally recognized in the Dayton Peace Agreement. 

“Izetbegovic wants to realize the concepts of his father (late BiH President Alija Izetbegovic) to create a Muslim state. Muslims would then rule there and decide on everything. Serb would be punished forever. Of course, this will not happen”, he said. 

After some Slovenian media outlets reported on the content of a non-paper document that contains the ideas about the change of borders in the Western Balkans, there is a perception that some circles in the European Union work to jeopardize the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosniak member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic wrote to European Council President Charles Michel who, according to media, was a recipient of the document. 

“These developments have led to a serious destabilization and disturbance in our country, considering that the secessionist political forces, which have been threatening for some time with the secession of the Republika Srpska entity, are interpreting these allegations as proof of support to their secessionist plans within the European Union”, said Dzaferovic, adding that the EU is one of the witnesses of the Dayton Peace Agreement – the international document that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which confirmed the continuity of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina in its internationally recognized borders. 

The Presidency member said the EU has been for the past 25 years the main stability factor in BiH along with the USA and that thanks to the Union’s positive influence the country has made achievements in its post-war recovery and reform development. 

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Saturday (17.04) blasted an alleged document on changing the borders in the Balkans, saying he hoped it did not come from Slovenia. 

In the past few days, the public in the region has been focusing on an alleged non-paper on changing the borders of the Balkan states and reorganizing them along ethnic lines. According to the media, the authors are Slovenia’s highest officials, which they have denied. 

“Regarding a peaceful break-up in Bosnia and Herzegovina – that’s such a flippant and dangerous topic that it shouldn’t be put even in a non-paper, regardless of who did that”, Milanovic told the press. 

“Any peaceful break-up, Croatia all the way to the Drina River, Belgrade to the Una River – that’s out of the question”, Milanovic said 

Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, said on Saturday (17.04) that he never saw the alleged unofficial non-paper on redrawing borders in the Western Balkans and that Serbia has nothing to do with it. 

The Serbian President stressed that he never saw such a map and that “the fact that some want to blame Serbia for it only speaks about them”, referring to “certain groups in Montenegro, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and Zagreb.” 

“I cannot agree to the unification of Kosovo and Albania, I must respect the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Vucic said. 

He said he advocates for the “existing borders of Serbia, with Kosovo and Metohija included” and the border with “Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Republika Srpska included.” 

“Peace and complete stability are the most important thing for us”, Vucic said. 

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s statement that the breakup of Yugoslavia is not over yet and the idea of Greater Albania is unacceptable and very harmful, provocations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a Friday (16.04) press conference in Russia, after a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic.  

Dismissing the idea of redrawing new borders in the former Yugoslavia territory, Lavrov said that the “Greater Albania”, as a form of a solution to the Kosovo issue, was unacceptable. He also called Janez Jansa’s statement that the breakup of Yugoslavia was not over, unacceptable and very harmful provocations. 

“Talks of Greater Albania are nothing new. We’ve always called on our EU and NATO partners to dismiss such plans and not allow the spread of such rhetoric,” the Russian Foreign Minister said. “It’s a very dangerous game. The UN Resolution 1244 still exists and it has never been repealed. The responsible politicians, especially the heads of governments of European countries, have no right presenting ideas that undermine the very concept set out in Resolution 1244.” 

He recalled that the Resolution respects Serbia’s sovereignty and that the status of Kosovo should be found in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina. “As President Putin said, we will support any solution that suits Serbia”, Lavrov said.

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