Fierce debate in RSNA about the concstrunction of a bridge in another country

Fierce debate in RSNA about the concstrunction of a bridge in another country

Opposition delegates in the Republika Srpska National Assembly (RSNA) accused on Thursday’s session the Serb member and Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Mirolad Dodik, for the use of the state issue for private interest.

A few days ago, the BiH Presidency discussed the construction of the bridge on the Croatian coast that will close BiH’s free approach to the open sea. BiH has 24 kilometres of coast where the city of Neum is situated. The bridge is planned in such a manner that just only certain kind of bigger ships will be able to approach the Neum maritime zone. The Croatian side earlier, even before construction had begun, said that the bridge will be high enough for the ships to approach Neum. This was, and still is one of the points of dispute between BiH and Croatia.

During the discussion on the Presidency session, Bosniak and Croat members, Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić accepted the conclusion that the Presidency must demand the immediate discontinuation of the works. Serb member and Presidency Chairman, Milorad Dodik, was against this conclusion and triggered the “national interest protection” procedure. According to this procedure, two-thirds of RSNA MPs must agree that the national interest of the Serb people in BiH are jeopardized by the conclusion accepted by the two Presidency members. Dodik, in accordance with the procedure, demanded an RSNA special session on the issue.

But, the main problem was to convince MPs and citizens that a bridge situated in another country is an issue of national interest.

In the letter sent to MPs before the session, Dodik said that RS is against partial solutions in the relations with neighbours, “especially when state borders are converned”, regardless of whether it is a border on the land or the sea.

“Selecting only the issue of the construction of the Komarna-Pelješac bridge, which is located on the Croatian territory, and disregarding other issues such as the border near Kostajnica, as well as issues with the border with the Republic of Serbia, does not contribute to the development of good neighbourly relations and damages Bosnia and Herzegovina and its entities”, Dodik says in the letter.

He added that the conclusion the Presidency members demands the halting of an EU-funded project which is being built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation and that such a move represents a behaviour “that damages the reputation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its interests”.

But the opposition MPs in the RSNA were not convinced that “BiH and its entities reputation” is the only reason for Dodik’s disagreement with the Presidency’s conclusion. First of all, his friendship with former Croatian member of the BiH Presidency and leader of Croatian Democratic Union BiH, Dragan Čović is a well-known fact and many think that Dodik is making a favour to his friend. Moreover, the former Serb member of the BiH Presidency and high official of the Dodik’s party, Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, Nebojša Radmanović, more than ten years ago agreed with the other two members in opposing the construction of the bridge which Dodik now defends.

Moreover, the opposition accused Dodik that the construction company of his good friend, Slobodan Stanković, is likely to undertake the construction of the bridge approaching roads.

In a – at this moments – brutal and rude discussion, Dodik tried to defend his stance but many MPs were not convinced.

The session, which at first was supposed to be very short, has lasted until the evening and there is still no sign that it will be concluded today./ibna