International envoy: Bosnian Serbs trying to break up Bosnia

SARAJEVO -- A chief international representative in Bosnia warns that the war-torn Balkan nation could be subject to the greatest "existential threat" of the post-war period if the international community fails to curb the threats from Bosnian Serbs.

International envoy: Bosnian Serbs trying to break up Bosnia

SARAJEVO -- A chief international representative in Bosnia warns that the war-torn Balkan nation could be subject to the greatest "existential threat" of the post-war period if the international community fails to curb the threats from Bosnian Serbs.

Christian Schmidt, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, was due to give the warning at a briefing to U.N. Security Council. However, the council stated that he was not able to attend because Russia was opposed to Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs.

According to excerpts from his prepared briefing, Bosnia's Klix.ba portal reported Schmidt. said "the prospects for further division and conflict were very real" if Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb leader, withdraws Serb troops of the Bosnian army and creates an independent Serb force.

Schmidt stated that these threats and moves, if they were carried out, would "ultimately undercut the state's capacity to function and fulfill its constitutional responsibilities."

Schmidt, a German diplomat of high standing, said Dodik's threats were "tantamount of secession without declaring it." Schmidt also stated that they "endanger not just the peace and stability in the country and region but - if the international community does not respond - could lead the UN to undo the 1995 agreement ending the Bosnian War.

Dodik dismissed Tuesday's report as "a propaganda leaflet" written to "favor Bosnian Muslims" and responded by dismissing it.

Dodik stated, "If we're separatists, he's an occupier," and added that Schmidt is not one.

Bosnian Serbs attempted to establish ethnically-pure territories with the Yugoslav army in 1992. They wanted to join Serbia, which was nearby, and the Bosnian War began. During the worst European bloodshed since World War II, more than 100,000 people were killed. Millions were homeless.

The conflict pitted Bosniaks (mostly Muslims), Serbs, Croats and Croats against one another and ended with the U.S.-sponsored Peace Agreement that created two regions, Republika Serpska and Bosniak-Croat Federation. Although the two regions were granted wide autonomy, they retained some common institutions such as the army and the top judiciary. A rotating three-member Bosnian presidency is also in place. It is made up of members from Bosnia, Serb, and Croat.

Dodik, a Bosnian Serb member in the presidency, has been advocating for the seperation of the Bosnian Serb min-state and its integration into Serbia for many years. This move would not win the support of the United States or much of the West.

Dodik, who has been receiving tacit support from Russia, Serbia and Serbia, has intensified his campaign by promising that the Bosnian Serb Parliament would, by November, declare the creation its own army, tax authority, and judiciary.

After the Bosnian Serb army is formed, he has threatened to seize control of the Bosnian Army Barracks in the Serb part of Bosnia. He stated that if the West tried to intervene, he would contact Bosnian Serb "friends", for assistance.

The U.N. Security Council session in which Schmidt was scheduled to present the report was originally scheduled Tuesday. However, it was moved to Wednesday afternoon in hopes of reaching an accord with Russia. Diplomats stated that this was impossible.

Schmidt was scheduled to speak at the council meeting to extend by one year the mandate of the EUFOR Bosnia peacekeeping mission. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity as consultations were private and said that the vote to extend the EUFOR mission by one year will be held on Wednesday afternoon, without briefing.

Russia threatened to veto any resolution that approved the extension without removing all references to the high representative of Bosnia -- an apparent attempt by Schmidt to undermine his authority as the observer to the 1995 peace agreement.

The Security Council rejected a resolution that Russia and China had proposed in July. It would have removed the power of the high representative immediately and made it unaccountable for the position within a year.

Dmitry Polyansky, Russia's deputy U.N. Ambassador, accused the high representative that he had become "almost postcolonial" in his powers and became a "czar". Since its inception, the Office of the High Representative (OHR) has fired many officials, including judges and civil servants. The Office of the High Representative was sharply criticised by Bosnian Serbs because it does not offer the option of appealing decisions.

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