“Since war tore the Balkans apart in the 1990s, Bosnia-Herzegovina has lived under an uneasy peace. But now, with a political vacuum in Europe, the Republic of Srpska, a Serb mini-state is hoping Moscow will step in to help it break away. Mark MacKinnon reports from Sarajevo
For 23 years, peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been monitored by the United Nations, via a High Representative who embodies the international community’s desire to keep this multiethnic country from backsliding into violence.
But Valentin Inzko, the seventh person to hold the High Representative’s post, worries that the carefully constructed peace here is starting to unravel. He told The Globe and Mail that stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina is now on a “downward trajectory,” with the slide accelerating significantly over the past 12 months.
Part of Mr. Inzko’s concern is that institutions such as NATO and the European Union that were supposed to help guard the peace have shifted their focus to internal problems as well as to crises in Korea, the Middle East and elsewhere. Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey have significantly increased their involvement in this fragile country.
Mr. Inzko, whose post comes with viceroy powers that allow him to dismiss governments, puts most of the blame on Milorad Dodik, the president of the Republic of Srpska, a Bosnian Serb mini-state that sits awkwardly inside Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mr. Dodik − who has repeatedly hailed Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic as “heroes” despite their status as convicted war criminals − raised tensions earlier this year by buying 2,500 automatic rifles for his police force.
‘They’re not even trying to hide it. President Dodik is openly speaking about an army for the Republic of Srpska,’ Mr. Inzko said in an interview at the UN office in Sarajevo, a city where many buildings still bear the scars of the 44-month siege it endured as Bosnian Serb militias encircled the city and pounded it with artillery fire. ‘He wants to have 6,000 [automatic rifles] for his 6,000 policemen. To put that in context, Slovenia, a sovereign state, has only 5,000 soldiers.'” (Full Article at The Globe and Mail)