PIC Steering Board takes position against the referendum

PIC Steering Board takes position against the referendum

Banja Luka, August 30, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

The Peace Implementation Council Steering Board in BiH held a session in order to take position on the referendum in the RS that will be held January 9, regarding the Day of RS.

The session was scheduled earlier but the ambassadors of member states failed to reach an agreement on the issue. On Tuesday there also was no unambiguous decision since Russia didn’t agree with the text of the announcement which urged the RS authorities not to hold the referendum.

“The BiH Constitution states unambiguously that decisions of the BiH Constitutional Court are final and binding, and that the entities are bound to comply with the decisions of BiH institutions.  In this context, the proposed referendum in the Republika Srpska (RS), by asking voters to declare themselves on a matter already decided by the BiH Constitutional Court, is destabilizing, and is creating political tensions, which are an unhelpful distraction from the very serious economic and social challenges facing BiH”, announced the PIC SB.

Ambassadors of the PIC SB note the RS Government’s assertion that the referendum is intended as “a step towards implementing the BiH Constitutional Court’s decision”. But the PIC SB also notes that the RS President and the RS National Assembly have repeatedly challenged the authority of the state level judicial institutions in BiH.  Such statements, as they concluded, run counter to the General Framework Agreement for Peace and the rule of law, and are simply unacceptable.

“The PIC SB encourages the institutions of BiH to resolve this issue through the established legal processes and the existing constitutional framework, and through constructive dialogue. In this context, we note that there are pending proceedings in front of the BiH Constitutional Court initiated by members of state-level institutions to assess the constitutionality of the RSNA decision on the referendum, as well as a request for review of the Decision of the BiH Constitutional Court concerning the RS Law on Holidays submitted by the RSNA. The PIC SB understands that the President of the BiH Constitutional Court has indicated that a session could be held before the referendum”, stated the ambassadors in the press release.

The end of the statement contains a slightly stronger language and warns the participants that the map of BiH will stay as it is now.

“The PIC SB further calls upon all parties in BiH to refrain from reactive measures and divisive rhetoric, which only further contribute to a negative political atmosphere. In this context, the PIC SB deplores the use of secessionist rhetoric from all sides, and reaffirms its unequivocal commitment to the territorial integrity and fundamental structure of BiH as a single, sovereign state comprising two entities, which have no right to secede. We will not tolerate any violation of the GFAP, including but not limited to attempts at secession.  There will be no redrawing of the map of BiH”.

Russian Ambassador to BiH, Peter Ivancov, said after a meeting that the state which he represents did not support the text of the statement adopted on the session. Ivancov added that Russia has a dissenting opinion because, as he said, PIC always demands that RS makes some concessions.

“We don’t support the text of the joint statement since it contains only threatens and condemns. I believe that the solutions of the problems can be reached primarily through dialogue”, said the Russian Ambassador to BiH after the session of PIC.

He added that the need for a dialogue exists since November 2015 when BiH Constitutional Court was announced. Ivancov said that Russia believe that the participants of this process had to be a little more calm and that, in that time, they were supposed to agree on a balanced decision, but they only asked for concessions from the RS. The Russian Ambassador believes that in some way others should also help out in finding solutions in the process, noting that he has no right to interfere in the decisions of the Constitutional Court.

“I think that the Constitutional Court should be a little more careful, not just concerning the law but also of the overall situation in BiH”, Ivancov said.

The RS National Assembly adopted on July 15 a decision on a referendum about the Day of RS which is supposed to be held on September 25 on the entire RS territory.