he “flag dispute” between the newly elected members of the BiH Presidency appears to have come to an end, as Serb member of this tripartite institution, Milorad Dodik, found the “solomonic solution” to back down without much damage.
The issue was raised by Dodik, right after the elections, as he demanded the Republika Srpska flag in the front of his office in Sarajevo and in the room where the Presidency sessions are held. His explanation was that he was elected with the voices of the Serb people from Republika Srpska and that this entity must be visible as the one of two entities in BiH. The other two Presidency members, Bosniak Šefik Džaferović and Croat Željko Komšić, strongly condemned Dodik’s demand and said that it is not in accordance with the Law on Flag. Dodik went so far as to leave the meeting of the Presidency members with members of the Peace Implementation Council, saying that he does not want to be in the room where the flag of his entity is not visible. Also, when the Presidency members were supposed to hold consultation with leaders of the main parties in BiH about the composition of the new Council of Ministers, Dodik, as Presidency Chairman, cancelled the meetings – because of “flag dispute”.
But it seems that he realised that he went too far and started seeking an “exit strategy”. He suddenly stated that one of the flags in the Presidency meeting room represents Federation BiH and another is there to represent BiH as a state. To be clear, it is the same flag without any difference between them. His explanation was that Bosinaks, as the majority in Federation BiH, identify themselves with BiH as a state and that one of the blue and yellow flags with stars is their symbol!
The next step was a complete surprise for everybody as one of the flags was removed and the problem was solved. The Presidency held the first session on Wednesday as it was scheduled, nobody said that Dodik does not respect BiH as a state and its symbols and Dodik was able to say that he was right.
On Thursday, Dodik said that he is not happy with a “half-baked” solution and that amendments and supplements to the Law on Flag will be proposed. The changes would include the display of the Republika Srpska flag.
“After the establishment of the BiH House of Peoples, we will ask for these amendments so that the law would include the display of the Republika Srpska flag”, Dodik told reporters in Banja Luka.
The session of the BiH Presidency without the Republika Srpska flag in the room, as Dodik earlier demanded, triggered a joke from the BiH Minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Crnadak, who said that he will give 1 000 BAM (500 Euro) to anybody who spots the Republika Srpska flag in the room. Dodik on the press conference in Banja Luka said that there was one on his suit lapel.
“Since the flag is clearly visible on my suit lapel, I ask Crnadak to pay the award to the Humanitarian fund, “To the Brave Hearts with Love” instead of to me”, Dodik said./IBNA