Serb member of the BiH Presidency Milorad Dodik demanded from Council of Ministers to dismiss the Defence Minister Sifet Podžić because he “broke the Constitution of BiH” with the decision to postpone military exercise between BiH Armed Forces and the Army of The Republic of Serbia.
The exercise was supposed to be held in the first half of October on the military training ground Manjača near Banja Luka but Podžić, without consent of the BiH Presidency as supreme commander, postponed the event.
“Podžić neither addressed nor consulted with the BiH Presidency. He obviously consulted with Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić, as I cannot believe he would dare to do something like this alone,” Dodik told to Srna Agency.
The Serb member of the BiH Presidency announced criminal charges against Podžić, who, he says, does not deserve and will not enjoy any trust regarding any decision the Ministry of Defence will propose to the BiH Presidency.
“I think this was motivated exclusively by his hatred of the Serbian people and Serbia, and that this is the only reason for them to make such a decision,” Dodik said.
The Serb member of the BiH Presidency has pointed out that this is an attack on Republika Srpska interests.
“It only shows that we were right when we claimed that our consent should be withdrawn from the reform of the Armed Forces, that we should return the jurisdiction to Republika Srpska and that Srpska can decide on that independently because this is stipulated by the Dayton Accords and the Constitution,” Dodik said.
But, Podžić denied the political background of the postponement. Podžić explained that the reasons are the worsened epidemiological situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic in both countries.
“An insufficient number of soldiers have been vaccinated, which is why I do not want to take the risk that the soldiers will become infected. As soon as the epidemiological situation improves, the exercise will be scheduled again because there is no other reason not to organize it,” Podžić underlined.
The Council of Ministers Chairman, Zoran Tegeltija, who is a member of the Dodik SNSD Party, invited Podžić to withdraw the decision. Tegeltija pointed out that the reasons for postponing the implementation of the military exercise “Manjača 21” have no basis. Tegeltija stated that if Minister Podžić does not act in the accordance with this invitation, he will be forced to act in accordance with the powers of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
“Considering the epidemiological situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we know that during this year several military exercises and other activities of the AFBiH were held with partner countries and organizations at various locations in BiH where all epidemiological measures prescribed by the competent authorities in BiH were respected. In terms of financial resources, you know that the Council of Ministers of BiH adopted the Decision on temporary financing of BiH institutions and international obligations of BiH, which enabled the AFBiH to function smoothly and perform legally prescribed and defined tasks within its competence and that the Republic of Serbia bears all the costs of holding a military exercise for members of the Army of the Republic of Serbia, except for the costs of food,” Tegeltija states in the letter.
Tegeltija added that having in mind all the above, he believes “that unilateral adoption of such a decision by the Minister of Defence is a violation of the Law on Defence of BiH, that it is also unjustified and represents a non-diplomatic move regarding the Republic of Serbia.”