Will "Putin's Friend" Dodik risk destroying Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Tuesday, 18 June 2024 —

Last month, Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska (a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina), announced a plan to secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He even promised to present a real "roadmap" for exiting Republika Srpska (RS) within a month.

Read more on how Dodik's plans are being received in the Balkans and the chances of their implementation in the article by Volodymyr Tsybulnyk, the interim Chargé d'Affaires of Ukraine in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2018) – Dodik's Serbian choice: will Putin's ally risk exiting Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Milorad Dodik couldn't attend the "international" economic forum in St. Petersburg without "gifts" for Putin, meeting with him on the sidelines. And he brought them.

First, on 30 May, a working group was established to prepare a draft agreement on the peaceful separation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Second, an action plan was drawn up, designed for years. The Russian President was likely pleased to hear the statement about RS President's desire to join BRICS.


Inspired by his handshake with Putin, Dodik declared that the 21st century would be "the century of the Serb unification." So RS will not only exit Bosnia and Herzegovina but also join Serbia.

A week ago, about 7,000 Serbs gathered at the All-Serb Assembly in Belgrade – locals and those from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

This high assembly, led by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik, with the participation of governments, clergy, scientists and cultural figures, aimed to find an answer on how to "protect" Serbs, their language and culture and ensure their survival.

It didn't clarify though who exactly Serbs needed protection from.

The assembly's organisers linked it to discussions at the UN General Assembly.

For more than a month, "defenders" of the Serbs, preparing for the assembly, spread false claims that the General Assembly resolution "brands" Serbs as a "genocidal" nation (there are no hints of this in the resolution), its approval will "destroy" RS (Dayton Peace Agreement deniers refute this), Serbian culture and language are "threatened" (again, blatant lies).

This celebration of Greater Serbian nationalism ended with the approval of the Declaration on the Protection of National and Political Rights and the Common Future of the Serbian People with 49 objectives.

The document turned out to be strange, contradictory and, most importantly, dangerous.

It seems that all participants were satisfied since the Serbian world was almost formalised, or rather, it has began.

But not Milorad Dodik.

After all, neither in the Declaration nor in the speeches was there a place not only for calls for RS's secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina and joining Serbia but also for any support for this.

Yes, the Declaration is dangerous in its intentions to bring Serbia and RS closer together, but these are just intentions for now. They have been condemned by the international community, which warned that it would not allow blatant disregard for the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for which it has appropriate mechanisms and forces.

Dodik was once again reminded that the entities are part of Bosnia and Herzegovina (by the way, this is also fixed in the Declaration) and do not have the right to unilaterally change the constitutional structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina, expand their jurisdiction and competence...

That is why Dodik is disappointed. He did not find support for his separatism, and his support in Republika Srpska is becoming weaker.

Most likely, within a week or two, he will indeed present a plan for the peaceful separation from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but designed for the long term to avoid accusations of breaking promises.

However, in practice, he will most likely focus on trying to expand the powers of the entity, seeking to gain fairly broad autonomy.

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