Republic of Srpska National Assembly votes in favour of military neutrality

Republic of Srpska National Assembly votes in favour of military neutrality

Despite the protest of opposition parties in RS National Assembly (RS NA) the ruling coalition in this entity of BiH held the parliamentary session and voted for several, very important issues, including the controversial “Resolution on protection of constitutional order and proclamation of military neutrality of RS.”  The last one, triggered many reactions in local and international institutions.

The Resolution defines the neutrality of RS regarding the existing military alliances, and emphasises that the territory of RS cannot be alienated besides the Constitution and the law, nor can it be defined and registered as another property.

“Any attempt to deny the sovereign rights over the territory of RS will be considered a violation of constitutional order and international law and will not produce a legal effect,” states the Resolution.

According to the document, RS is committed to coordinating any future status with Serbia as a signatory to the Dayton Peace Agreement. It also means that the RS NA has decided to declare the military neutrality of the entity in relation to the existing military alliances until a possible referendum in RS is called, in which a final decision on this issue would be made.

In this regard, RS NA obliges the governing bodies and institutions of RS to implement the Resolution, applying the constitutional competences of Republic of Srpska. As it was decided, any different treatment will be sanctioned in accordance with the law.

The National Assembly obliges all representatives from RS in BiH’s  joint institutions to respect the Resolution, since they were elected in this entity, which, according to the Constitution and law, is an electoral unit. The obligation also applies to representatives from this entity in international organisations and fora.

The Resolution states that RS has been permanently committed to respecting the constitutional order of BiH created by an international treaty with the guarantees of great powers, along with Serbia and Croatia’s signatures.

As it was expected, the first reaction on the “military neutrality” of the BiH entity came from Bosniak representatives. RS vice president, Ramiz Salkic, said that the Resolution is another “stroke on BiH’s Constitution” and called on relevant institutions to arrest RS president, Milorad Dodik, who is the leader of the biggest Serb party, the Alliance of independent social democrats (SNSD).

Salkić believes that Dodik leads the entire state into uncertainty and that his goal is to destabilize, not only BiH, but also the wider region. He considers that the Resolution means the  direct involvement in the competence of the BiH Presidency.

“RS NA, in some way, annul the decisions made by the BiH institutions in relation to foreign policy. This Resolution has brought under question BiH Constitutional Court’s decisions on the registering of military property as the state property, and the BiH Law on Defense which also clearly specified the direction of the development of the Armed Forces of BiH,” said Salkic.

Party of Democratic Action (SDA) said that the Resolution is a hard violation of the Dayton Peace Agreement and that the BiH Presidency, agreed about membership in NATO, a long time ago. Therefore, the BiH Presidency signed all agreements with this Alliance and expect that the plan for approach of BiH will be activated soon. International Community High Representative in BiH, Valentin Inzko, also commented on the Resolution, saying that RS NA has no jurisdiction to make decisions on joining international organizations.

As the final interpreter of the civilian aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace, which is the official name for Dayton Peace Agreement, Inzko clarified that the Peace Agreement, and therefore the BiH Constitution, have the primacy over any act adopted by the RS NA.

“The RS NA  has no legal power to interpret this Agreement in a way that imposes obligations of state-level officials. I want to emphasise, once again that, in accordance with the Dayton Peace Agreement, foreign policy is in the exclusive competence of state institutions and, accordingly, decisions on joining international organisations must be brought by the competent authorities at that level and that they must be respected,” said Inzko to media.

NATO HQ in Sarajevo announced that the Alliance will continue the cooperation with BiH institutions on state level.

“As it is the case for any other country, it is up to BiH to decide on its future. NATO doesn’t push anyone to join the Alliance and we consider it as the the sovereign decision of sovereign states,” announced the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo.

They point out that, at the request of the BiH authorities, the NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo support the reform of the country’s defense system since its establishment in late 2004, and they provide experts advices. NATO also provide assistance to BiH in its efforts in the context of the defense reform and the Partnership for Peace programme.

“We are aware of the different attitudes in BiH regarding membership. NATO will continue to work with the BiH institutions, supporting its long-term foreign policy goal of full Euro-Atlantic integration,” concluded the NATO HQ in Sarajevo.

Many in the country believe that the decision of RS NA majority, led by Dodik’s SNSD, is the reflex of wider attempts of some foreign forces to prevent the entry of countries in the region into NATO. The fact is that, since the defence system reform years ago, RS does not have the independent armed force because all the previous armies are now included in the BiH Armed Forces. One regiment in these Forces is called the “Serb regiment”, but without any kind of national or regional competences. So, the real question is – why Milorad Dodik is getting closer to the “red line”? If he crosses it, the international community’s answer will be sharp and instant. But, Dodik already knows that…/IBNA