The Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BAACBH) supports any constructive dialogue which will positively influence the current political stalemate in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B-H). Consequently, BAACBH is alarmed by the passage of a law in the Parliament of B-H’s smaller entity, Republika Srpska (RS), permitting it to unilaterally hold referenda on questions concerning the future of B-H. Under this law, the entity of RS claims it has the authority to hold a referendum on vital questions to the state such as the entity’s secession from B-H, a clear and direct violation of the Dayton Peace Accords. The RS leadership has also said that it may use the referendum to bypass decisions made by the Office of High Representative (OHR). Such steps by the Parliament of the B-H entity of RS have the potential to seriously undermine B-H’s development and path towards Euro-Atlantic institutions.
BAACBH, as well as key Western diplomats, consider the passage of the law to be a warning sign of the RS entity’s leadership’s attempts to violate the Dayton Peace Accords. In the past year the Prime Minister of the entity of RS, Milorad Dodik, has repeatedly threatened to hold such a referendum in order to overthrow several key decisions made by OHR, as well as to attempt secession of the entity of RS from B-H.
In Annex 4 of the Dayton Peace Accords as well as in the Constitution of B-H, the responsibilities of both the central government and the entities are clearly defined. Any measure taken by the entities, such as a referendum designed to gain more autonomy from the central government is a breach of the Dayton Peace Accords. The Dayton Peace Accords also state that the main mission of the OHR is to “monitor the implementation of the peace settlement.” In order to fulfill its mission, the OHR have exercised its available powers. A referendum overturning any of the decisions made by the OHR is also a violation of the Dayton Peace Accords.
Any attempt to undermine the core structure of the Dayton Peace Accords threatens the stability not only of B-H, but of the region as a whole. BAACBH calls on the representatives of B-H and the international community to immediately and seriously re-engage in constructive dialogue in order to steer B-H back on the path toward democracy and Euro-Atlantic integration.