24 August 2006

Bosnia Serbs Told To Take It or Leave It.


Sarajevo, 24 August (AKI) - Bosnian Muslim leader Sulejman Tihic has told local Serbs to stop talking about a possible referendum on independence, because Bosnia was indivisible and those who don’t like it should leave the country. Tihic, who currently chairs Bosnia’s three-man rotating state presidency, has been an outspoken advocate of Muslim demands for the abolition of Bosnia’s Serb entity, Republika Srpska (RS). Local Serbs for their part have threatened to hold a referendum on independence. The quarrel prompted the high representative of the international community in Bosnia, Christian Schwarz Schilling, to intervene last week demanding that politicians on both sides should stop “inflammatory rhetoric” ahead of the 1 October general election, adding that calls for abolition of RS and threats of a referendum were equally damaging. But Tihic said in a written statement on Wednesday, indirectly addressed to foreign minister Mladen Ivanic and RS Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, to "stop entertaining the public and deceiving RS citizens that a referendum on secession was possible". According to the Dayton peace accord, that ended Bosnian civil war in 1995, the country was divided into two entities, a Muslim-Croat federation and RS, with all state attributes, including their own parliament, government, army and police.But the international community, which safeguards peace in Bosnia, has been stripping entities of state prerogatives in an effort to strengthen central government. Bosnian Serbs, the second biggest ethnic group, have resisted changes, fearing domination by majority Muslims.Tihic said that RS secession was legally impossible, because there were no such provisions in the constitution. In the ongoing bickering, which is seen as part of campaign for 1 October parliamentary elections, Tihic said that partitioning of Bosnia was “particularly impossible now, when balance of forces has changed in Bosnia and in the region”. “Those who don’t like it, who are still dreaming of a failed project of Greater Serbia, or some Serbian state in Bosnia, can go somewhere else, but they can’t take with them an inch of Bosnian territory,” said Tihic. Instead of heeding Schwarz-Schilling's appeal for calm, political analysts say such bickering is likely to increase, with politicians on both sides appealing to nationalistic passions prior to the October elections.
Aug-24-06 13:10