Milorad Dodik has pushed Republika Srpska (RS), the Serb-majority half of the country, into NATO and sold out Serb interests, Bosnian Serb opposition leaders said after the three members of the country’s Presidency agreed on Tuesday on forming a government and sending a ‘document’ to NATO - which could finally end the political crisis.
After about a year without a new government formed, the Bosniak and Croat Presidency members finally expressed support for Zoran Tegeltija, the candidate coming from the party of their Serb colleague, to take over the post of Chairman of the Council of Ministers - effectively the Prime Minister position.
They refused to do so until now because Dodik’s party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), did not agree to sending the Annual National Programme (ANP) to NATO - which would activate the country’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) and would represent the next step toward Bosnia becoming a member of the alliance.
After a special Presidency session, held with the ambassadors of the United States, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia, the Croat and Bosniak Presidency members said they will approve Tegeltija for the post and that, a day later, Bosnia will send a “document” containing a set of reforms to NATO.
However, they never said the “document” is the ANP - which Bosnian Serb opposition leaders say is the case.
Dodik has “activated the Membership Action Plan (MAP) and sold out Republika Srpska,” said the leader of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) and one of Dodik’s strongest rivals in the RS, Mirko Sarovic.
NATO remains unpopular with Serbs in both Serbia and in Bosnia's Serb-majority semi-autonomous entity of Republika Srpska (RS) since the alliance launched airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs during the 1992-95 Bosnian war and against the Serbian military in 1999 during the conflict between Belgrade and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Although it agreed to Bosnia joining NATO about a decade ago, Dodik’s SNSD changed its mind in recent years and refused to let the country make any step toward membership.
In line with neighbouring Serbia, Republika Srpska adopted a Resolution on Military Neutrality in 2017 which means it opposes membership in any military alliances.
Sarovic said that Dodik has paid for his party member becoming Council of Ministers Chairman with “Republika Srpska entering NATO.”
“Whatever he calls this document now, and he will surely justify it by saying that this it not it (the ANP), it is clear that Dodik has breached the Resolution of Republika Srpska on Military Neutrality. With that he has put himself on a shameful place among people who have brought one of the key decisions which are detrimental to the interests and goals of Republika Srpska,” he said.
In an interview with N1 last week, Sarovic said that his SDS cannot support sending the ANP because it would “open the doors for Milorad Dodik.”
“It would not be wise politically to make such a move. This would happen: we adopt the ANP and Dodik then says ‘look at these traitors, those are the biggest traitors ever born in this country, but what can we do? They signed off on the ANP,” Sarovic said in N1's 'Pressing' programme last Wednesday.
The leader of the Bosnian Serb opposition Party of Democratic Progress (PDP), Borislav Borenovic, commented on the new development on Tuesday as well, saying that Dodik betrayed Bosnian Serbs.
“With this he trampled on the Republika Srpska National Assembly (the entity’s parliament) not once, but ten times, especially when he would mention and boast about the Resolution on protecting the (RS) constitutional setup and declaring military neutrality. That Resolution is only a blank piece of paper from today onward,” Borenovic said.
Dodik made a decision according to which Republika Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina are “going toward NATO with strong, large steps,” he said, arguing that the Bosnian Serb Presidency member caved in before the demands of his Bosniak colleague.
Dodik said that he informed the President of neighbouring Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, about the details of the Tuesday session.
“I congratulate President Dodik on the compromise which was reached with the partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We had an excellent meeting in Belgrade,” the Serbian President posted on Instagram later the same day.