The Republika Srpska ruling party's talk of independence during the election campaign is meant to stir up sentiments.
By Mladen Dragojlovic for Southeast European Times in Banja Luka -- 02/10/12
Analysts said that talk about RS independence is a campaign tactic, not a viable possibility. [Reuters]
Republika Srpska's (RS) ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) has increased independence rhetoric in the heat of the current campaign for the October 7th local elections.
Tanja Topic, political analyst at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Banja Luka, told SETimes that RS independence talk was an obvious SNSD policy over the last several years. She said the party talks about it more often before every election in an effort to win votes.
"It is a formula for voters and SNSD, repeating it so much, to consider independence a realistic option. [RS President Milorad] Dodik recently said that he would separate RS from BiH long ago if it were possible, but it was not. He knows well that independence is not an option now, but still talks about it," said Topic.
She emphasised that, along the idea of independence, Dodik said that BiH cannot exist as it is now. In effect, he was suggesting that BiH would disintegrate, and RS would gain independence.
Branislav Borenovic, vice president of the Party for Democratic Progress (PDP), also said that SNSD has repeated the rhetoric for the last few election years.
"RS citizens have been listening to these ideas for years. If SNSD really wants to lead RS to independence, they will do something more than repeat empty phrases. In this case it is just another election trick to attract more votes. Nobody is taking them seriously," Borenovic told SETimes, adding that PDP considers Dayton Agreement terms good for everybody in the country.
Darko Guslov, a Banja Luka resident, is a Serb that wants RS independence, but knows that the EU will not allow another change of borders.
"RS independence could be good for us, but [it's] impossible for now. We would have more economic advantages … economic stability would attract investors," Guslov told SETimes.
But Igor Radojicic, SNSD vice president, said that the Dayton Agreement parameters have changed.
"Changes ended in 2006, mostly to the detriment of RS, raising the pressure in RS. We know that Dayton is a compromise, but it must be respected by all. The idea of RS independence is not new; many parties in the past had this [independence] in their programmes …We know that independence is the wish of the majority in RS," Radojicic told SETimes.
He said that the Federation of BiH parties is accusing SNSD of anti-Dayton rhetoric, but, he said, a unified BiH without entities is not in line with Dayton either.
The idea of an independent RS as a state of Serbs in BiH was originally a Serb Democratic Party (SDS) idea and a political motto of Radovan Karadzic.
Amir Zukic, Democratic Action Party (SDA) secretary general, told SETimes that other parties in FBiH are more radical in criticising the independence idea. He reminded that the first attempt at independence brought the destruction of BiH, and ended in a high number of deaths and material destruction.
"There will be no separation of entities or unification in this country. We have problems, but nobody should present them as lack of functionality. We must work together to solve these problems," Zukic said.
He also said statements about BiH disintegration and RS separation are not in line with Dayton, and that the international community had to react and sanction those who were talking about it.
Borenovic said that RS must try to find advantages of the agreement, and said that it is a shame that SNSD is using the idea in an attempt to win the elections.
"We are living in BiH and, instead of being in confrontation with other nations, Serbs must co-operate with them. Why is it impossible to co-operate with FBiH, Croats and Bosniaks? If we do, I think, we will have a chance to get the most from Turkey's support, which prevails in FBiH, and Russian support for Republika of Srpska," Borenovic said.
Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic recently emphasised that his country is a guarantor of the Dayton agreement. Therefore, he added, Serbia supports BiH as a united state, and any changes must be agreed upon by its all three constitutional nations.
"[Rejecting the] Dayton Peace Agreement would be dangerous for Serbs in BiH. Leaders of other opposition parties hold a similar opinion," Mladen Bosic, SDS president, said.