Bosnia: 'Sanctions if no progress on reform' warns top envoy's deputy

Sarajevo, 24 Sept. (AKI) – Top international official in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak's deputy has threatened to sack Bosnian politicians and punish parties that obstruct police and constitutional reforms deemed essential for Bosnia to join the European Union.

Raffi Gregorian, an American who just returned from consultations in Washington, told Sarajevo daily Dnevni avaz the international community was considering “soft” and “sharp” measures against politicians and parties hampering reforms.

Gregorian said Lajcak - a Slovak diplomat - had the full support of the United States “to do whatever is needed to save Bosnia-Herzegovina."

He accused the Muslim member of Bosnia's three-man rotating state presidency, Haris Silajdzic, of “destabilising rhetoric,” saying “he prevented constitutional changes and blocked police reforms."

“We also want to know what [Bosnian Serb president Milorad ] Dodik wants. Does he believe in Dayton or is he pushing the project of an independent Serb entity?” Gregorian asked.

The Dayton accord ended Bosnia's bloody 1992-1995 civil war and divided the country into a Serb entity and a Muslim-Croat federation. The international community has gradually stripped away many of the entities' powers in a bid to strengthen central government.

Dodik has repeatedly threatened to hold a referendum on independence if Muslims persist in their demands for the abolition of the Serb entity (RS), which they claim is a "creature born of genocide."

"The RS is trying to prevent the development of the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Gregorian said. “We will not stand by idly watching these activities,” he added.

Gregorian said Lajcak was ready to use the broad powers he possessed to sack politicians and punish parties perceived to be acting against Bosnia's national interests.

Dodik claims that the Dayton agreement has already been vastly eroded by the international community. The entities’ powers were fundamental to helping stop the war, and should be preserved, he argues.

“We want nothing else but what has been clearly determined by the Dayton agreement and that is that Bosnia-Herzegovina is a community with two entities and three peoples,” he added.

If Muslims - Bosnia's largest group - persisted in attempts to dominate Serbs and Croats, this "would lead to the disintegration of the country,” he warned.

He accused Muslim leaders of conducting “an ultranationalist policy of domination of one people which currently represents a relative majority.”

Bosnia's Muslims and Serbs have been deadlocked for more than a year over the issue of the Serb entity's police force. Muslims want the force to be abolished, but Dodik wants to retain it "under a federal umbrella."

Another issue of concern is constitutional reform.

Muslims have called for the abolition of the entities and the creation of unitary state. Serbs are opposed to such a move.

The Croats - the smallest of Bosnia's three groups - claim they are discriminated against in the Muslim-Croat federation and now say they want their own entity.


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