Republika Srpska Intends to Reject Bonn Powers Granted to the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnian Serb leader and member of Bosnia and Herzegovina Tripartite Presidency Milorad Dodik said on 28.10.2019 that Republika Srpskaentity would reject the authority of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) for B&H and the High Representative himself, enshrined in the conclusions of the Bonn summit in 1997, as in his view these powers were given in violation of the 1995 Dayton Agreement, which ended the nearly four-year war in the country. According to Dodik, the OHR institution is an illegal instrument for the international monitoring of the civilian implementation of the Dayton Agreement. Dodik considers that all decisions of the High Representative for B&H based on the Bonn Powers should be annulled.

The Peace Implementation Council in B&H agreed at the meeting in Bonn in December 1997 to delegate its rights to the OHR for B&H with the aim to prevent nationalist leaders from delaying or hindering the implementation of the Dayton Agreement. By virtue of these rights conferred by the Peace Implementation Council, the OHR is authorized to act in the event that local parties are incapable or unwilling to act, including in regard of dismissing from public functions local officials who do not comply with the legal provisions of the Dayton Agreement.

According to the allegations of Dodik, the High Representative in B&H is “trying to shape the political system through fraud and Republika Srpska strongly rejects such an approach and model.” Milorad Dodik resents the latest decision by the OHR, part of the RS’s jurisdiction, to be transferred to B&H, which he says does not exist in the B&H Constitution.

He believes this is “a serious problem and Republika Srpska will not allow endangerment of its Constitutional positioning” as well as “to change the political system due to the behavior and lawlessness of the High Representative for B&H”, which equals to committing an international crime “intended to impose the Bonn Powers against Republika Srpska in violation of the Dayton Agreement.”

Dodik announced the convening of an extraordinary session of the parliament of Republika Srpska on November 5th this year, at which an answer should be given to a number of recent challenges, including to the Declaration of the ruling in B&H Bosniak Party of Democratic Action.

Results of a Poll Conducted by the Bureau for Social Research in Serbia

A study by the Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI), conducted in the periods April 22-25 and May 2-5, 2019, showed that 45.5% of Serbian citizens see Serbia’s EU membership as the country’s most acceptable foreign policy, while 17.6% believe Serbia should join the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Data released as late as October 21, 2019 shows that only 2% of citizens support Serbia’s NATO and EU membership, at the same time.

Serbia’s EU membership is a priority for most high school graduates, while the majority of citizens with higher education have stated that Serbia should stay away from any kind of “Eastern” or “Western” integration.

The results also showed that citizens living in Eastern and Southern Serbia, especially in the areas bordering Bulgaria and Romania, are most supportive of EU membership. At the same time, the support for Serbia’s government neutrality policy in these areas is significantly less than in other areas.

Belgrade citizens overwhelmingly support neutrality policy, but do not support Serbia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union.

Those citizens, who mainly watch the national RTS television, are more supportive of EU membership. The same result was obtained among viewers of Happy and Prva TVs (both nationally broadcast), while viewers of pro-government Pink TV, to a much lesser extent, support Serbia’s EU membership, but are also against membership in the Eurasian Economic Union.

Supporters of the ruling coalition between the Serbian Progressive Party and the Socialist Party of Serbia have given the following support: 45.1% are for Serbia’s EU membership, 29% are for neutrality and 25% are for the country’s membership of the Eurasian Economic Union.

Supporters of the opposition Alliance for Serbia have given the following support: 53.5% are in favor of Serbia’s EU membership, while 38.6% are in favor of neutrality.

European Council Meeting on 17-18 October 2019

The event, which has generated widespread resonance among Western Balkan countries and the EU, was the failure of the EU summit to agree on a date for the start of accession talks with Republic of North Macedonia and Albania.

France and the Netherlands have urged Skopje and Tirana to meet almost all conditions for opening negotiations, although most member states have declared themselves in favor of starting talks with both sides.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has warned that postponing the start of negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania risks further expanding the influence of Russia, China and Turkey in the Western Balkans.

The inability to reach consensus met the sharp but understandable statement of the Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev, who also underlined that he was ready to even resign. Zaev insists on holding snap parliamentary elections in the Republic of North Macedonia as a matter of urgency, with the aim of finding support among the broad part of the electorate for the country’s current SDSM policy.

Senior representatives of the outgoing EC issued clear warnings against delaying the start of negotiations, which would slow the pace of integration processes in the Western Balkans.

EC President Jean-Claude Juncker called the EU decision “a serious historical mistake”, while MEP Tanja Fajon accused Paris of “playing a dirty game”. EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said he was disappointed with the decision to postpone negotiations with the two Balkan countries. The President of the European Council Donald Tusk also thinks it is a mistake to postpone the start of accession talks, as most EU countries were in favor of such a step. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also gave strong support for the start of EU-North Macedonia-Albania talks, calling the settlement of the 27-year-old dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav republic, a historic move.

Results of the Kosovo Snap Elections

Kosovo Central Election Commission (CEC) announced on Tuesday October 8th  the preliminary results of the snap parliamentary elections after counting 100% of the votes cast on the territory of Kosovo.

Two opposition parties received the most support from Albanian voters. Albin Kurti’s Self-Determination Party is leading among the political forces with 25.48% (202968 votes), followed by Isa Mustafa’s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) with 24.82% (197702 votes).

Kurti perceives Isa Mustafa as his coalition partner and if the two parties reach a coalition agreement, they have the potential to form an independent government, without seeking support from other political forces. Isa Mustafa, the leader of the oldest Kosovo party – LDK, underlined that his party has no intention of re-entering coalition relations with the Democratic Party of Kosovo. He extrapolates that the priority of the new government should be to improve the economic situation, which he believes is the main reason for the massive emigration of young Albanians to Western Europe.

Hashim Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which has ruled during the last 12 years, remained in third place with 21.24%, while the coalition between the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) of the former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and Shpend Ahmeti’s Social Democratic Party of Kosovo (PSD) occupies the fourth position with 11.57% (92149 votes).

The election results show a significant decline in the electoral support for Ramush Haradinaj’s AAK, although prior to the elections he entered in a coalition with PSD of Shpend Ahmeti, a former member of the leadership of Self-Determination Party. This coalition was backed by the businessman Florin Krasniqi, a former Self-Determination MP who returned from the United States specifically to participate in the election campaign.

Serb List receives 6.61% support (52620 votes), mainly from Northern Kosovo voters, which will allow them to have 10 seats in the future Kosovo parliament.

Self-Determination Party leader Albin Kurti, who could be nominated for Prime Minister, said after the election that his party would not be coalitioned with the Serb List, and underlined his firm position that tariffs on Serbian goods in Kosovo would not be abolished. Kurti has repeatedly stated that his party supports a unification between Kosovo and Albania even before full membership in the EU is achieved.

 The turnout was 43.2%, which represents 796380 out of the 1937868 voters. In the context of the increased turnout in Northern Kosovo, the rest of the electorate, especially the Kosovo Albanians, have demonstrated their disappointment with the current political reality in the country.