January 18, 2017 – Washington, D.C. – The Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBH) applauds the United States government for enacting financial sanctions against Milorad Dodik, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) entity Republika Srpska (RS). In a press release issued on January 17th, the U.S. Department of the Treasury stated that the designation was made pursuant to Executive Order 13304, which was signed by President George W. Bush in 2003, and which authorizes sanctions against individuals and entities who have actively obstructed, or who pose a significant risk of actively obstructing the Dayton Peace Accords.
“ACBH has long advocated for the sanctioning of Milorad Dodik and we are thankful to the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of the Treasury and all relevant U.S. government agencies on their leadership and for their unwavering and longstanding support of BiH’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” stated ACBH President, Mirzeta Hadzikadic.
The sanctions against Mr. Dodik were enacted after a series of aggressive moves that fundamentally violated the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace, otherwise known as the Dayton Accords, which brought the 1992-1995 war of aggression against BiH to an end and became the basis for the country’s constitution. Despite multiple warnings by the United States and the international community, the authorities in Republika Srpska blatantly disregarded the Constitutional Court of BiH by holding an illegal referendum on September 25, 2016. The referendum specifically defied the court’s ruling that the Bosnian Serbs’ celebration of January 9th as the “National Day of Republika Srpska” was unconstitutional because it discriminates against the non-Serb residents of the RS.
“The response by the United States government to Milorad Dodik’s reckless and dangerous acts is a signal to obstructionist politicians in BiH, and sends a loud and clear message to the entire Southeast Europe region that no one is above the law,” stated ACBH Executive Director, Ajla Delkic.
ACBH would like to remind friends of BiH that:
1). Republika Srpska is an entity of BiH and comprises 49% of BiH’s territory. It is not a sovereign nation-state nor is it an actual Republic. Bosnia and Herzegovina is comprised of two entities – the Federation and Republika Srpska. Together, the two entities make up the sovereign nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the capital city being Sarajevo.
2). Republika Srpska was officially recognized into existence through the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in Paris, France on December 14, 1995 – not on January 9, 1992.
3). Republika Srpska is a direct product of violent ethnic cleansing and genocide, and its political leadership has exhausted a considerable amount of taxpayer money on the denial of genocide of its non-Serb population. During the war of aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serb forces ethnically cleansed the overwhelming majority of the non-Serb population from what is now Republika Srpska at the command of Radovan Karadzic – former President of Republika Srpska. On March 24, 2016, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia convicted Karadzic of genocide and crimes against humanity against BiH’s non-Serb civilians. Further, the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 199 and House Resolution 310 affirming “the aggression and ethnic cleansing committed by Serb forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina meet the terms defining genocide according to the 1949 Genocide Convention.”
Republika Srpska Office for Cooperation, Trade and Investment in Washington, D.C., which lobbies the U.S. government on behalf of Republika Srpska, in its recent invitation for the celebration of what they referred to as “The Day of the Republic” excluded any mention of Bosnia and Herzegovina and omitted the official flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In short, referring to Republika Srpska as “The Republic of Srpska” or “Serb Republic” is incorrect and discriminatory. The Dayton Peace Accords, which were written in English and serve as Bosnia and Herzegovina’s constitution never refer to Republika Srpska as “the Republic of Srpska” or “Serb Republic.” In fact, throughout the Dayton Accords, RS is referred to simply and intentionally as “Republika Srpska.” Lastly, RS is not exclusively a Serb entity, but also one that belongs to the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Croats (Bosnian Catholics) and all others who are living in it.
On behalf of the Bosnian American diaspora in the United States, ACBH stands by the U.S. and EU policy of a united, multi-ethnic and democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina and strongly condemns any distortion of what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992-1995. ACBH is grateful to the United States of America for upholding the rule of law and countering the endangerment of peace and stability within Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Southeast Europe region.
ACBH is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of Bosnian Americans and works to improve relations between the United States and BiH. ACBH advocates for a united, democratic, multiethnic, and indivisible BiH with a primary goal of advancing the integration of BiH into the EU and NATO.