BRUSSELS – The Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, Romeo Franz, and Standing Rapporteur for BiH, Paulo Rangel, warned in a joint statement that “several red lines have been crossed” in BiH and it is “high time for the international community to move beyond verbal statements and take targeted action”.
The statement was prompted by the recent celebration of the “Day of Republika Srpska” on 9 January, which was declared unconstitutional by BiH’s Constitutional Court.
“On 9 January the Republika Srpska entity leadership once again celebrated the ‘Day of Republika Srpska’ in defiance of longstanding rulings of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Constitutional Court which declared both the self-proclaimed holiday and the 2016 referendum unconstitutional. Ignoring these rulings constitutes a criminal offence”, Rangel and Franz assessed.
They noted that the celebration was preceded and followed by so-called ceremonial academies in Banja Luka and Brčko District on 8 and 10 January.
“We consider the choice of East Sarajevo as the venue for this year’s 9 January celebrations as an additional and particularly cynical provocative act. We also unreservedly condemn the attendance of these unlawful events by several Serbian ministers, the Speaker of the Serbian parliament and – for the first time – two ministers of Montenegro’s technical government,” they wrote.
Rangel and Franz stressed that “there is no place in Europe for the denial of genocide and the glorification of convicted war criminals, which are incompatible with the notions of truth, justice and dignity for victims and survivors” and “thwart any attempts at reconciliation and risk perpetuating dangerous divisions within the country.”
“Against the background of Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine the awarding of Republika Srpska’s highest distinction to Vladimir Putin on the occasion of this year’s ‘Day of Republika Srpska’ speaks volumes about the ‘sense of belonging’ of the leadership of Republika Srpska and its contempt for core European values. So does the participation of the Nightwolves in the 9 January parade. This Russia-based and Kremlin-sponsored nationalist motorcycle club was added to the EU list of sanctioned entities in July 2022 and its leaders are banned from entering Bosnia and Herzegovina,” they underlined.
“Several red lines have been crossed, and it is high time for the international community to move beyond strong verbal statements and take specific, targeted action against those who continue to deliberately and systematically undermine Bosnia and Herzegovina’s constitutional and territorial order in words and deeds,” they stressed, arguing that RS President, Milorad Dodik, has through his actions “de facto disavowed the 12 June 2022 political agreement that he subscribed to.”
They reiterated the European Parliament’s call in its resolution of 6 July 2022 on the EU, its Member States and the international community ‘to follow the example set by the United States and the United Kingdom and use all available tools, namely targeted sanctions and the suspension of funds, against destabilising actors in the country, including those threatening the territorial order of BiH, notably Milorad Dodik’ and urge swift, tangible and credible punitive action.