Highway route creates problems

Highway route creates problems

When, a few months ago, Turkish authorities announced that this state will finance the construction of the Sarajevo – Belgrade highway, they did not know that this would cause a fresh dispute between political parties in BiH.

The problem is in the route, simply. On one hand, the federation of BiH representatives want to use the route Sarajevo-Zenica-Tuzla-Brcko-Bijeljina and the exit from BiH would be at or near the border crossing Raca.

On the other hand, the Republic of Srpska representatives want a route from Sarajevo over Sokolac and Foca to Visegrad, with an exit in or nearby Visegrad.

The intentions are clear – While the Federation of BiH suggested a route which would connect more cities in this entity, RS proposed the creation of a route which would pass just a few kilometres through the Federation of BiH with its longest distance being inside RS.

Additionally, according to an earlier announcement by the RS president,Milorad dodik, the highway From Bijeljina over Brcko and Doboj to Banja Luka is one of the strategic plans of this entity for the future. It means that RS wishes to get a loan for this route construction, mostly passing through flat land, or let Turkey finance it but, in that case it would be built on a very challenging countryside ground.

Representatives of the entities’ governments along with representatives of the BiH Council of Ministers have already held several rounds of negotiations, but without being able to reach an agreement.

The RS side was further angered on Thursday, when their representative in the BiH Parliament and present Chairman of the House of Representatives, Mladen Bosic, supported the suggestion of the FBiH about the route. It is important to note that Bosic is a member of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), belonging to Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) opposition. RS’s Ministry of Transport quickly issued an announcement to explain that,  according to the Dayton Peace Agreement, traffic infrastructure is a responsibility of the entities.

“The declaration on a route of a highway between Sarajevo and Belgrade, which was sponsored by the Chairman of the BiH House of Representatives, Mladen Bosic, does not have a foundation in the Constitution and is unacceptable for RS. The RS Government condemns the actions of RS’s representatives in joint BiH institutions for their repeated attempt to violate constitutional competences of BiH, undermine and derogate from RS institutions and misinform citizens and businessmen in BiH”, stated the Ministry in a press release.

According to the competent ministry, Bosic proposed that a declaration on a route of a highway between Sarajevo and Belgrade be included in the agenda of BiH’s Parliament. But, as the ministry stressed, the act proposed by Bosic is unacceptable for this entity.

“Respecting the interests of local self-governance units and all RS citizens, RS planned the construction of a network of highways through RS in its strategic documents and the Spatial Plan and demand all government levels in BiH to respect these proposals enacted by the RS Parliament”, a press release reads.

The ministry emphasized that the RS Government is committed to connecting Istocno Sarajevo with Visegrad by this highway, while a highway from Brcko to Bijeljina and the border with the Republic of Serbia, that will be built, will connect this part of RS with Serbia. According to an official announcement by the ministry, the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has stressed on several occasions Serbia’s readiness to help connect RS with his country through this way.

It is very interesting that the route is now the political issue and that experts on the field of transport, communications and constructions of highways participated in the negotiations at the beginning. Now nobody is calling them to explain what the professionals in the field have to say about the proposed routes. It is probably true that Turkey’s authorities would never suggest to finance the highway if they knew that it will further alienate entities in BiH…/IBNA