Joint Press Release Regarding Republika Srpska Referendum Threats

The Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB), on behalf of Bosniaks living in the United States and Canada, and the Council of Bosnia and Herzegovinian Organizations in Australia (CBHOA), on behalf of Bosniaks in Australia, strongly condemn the recent threats by Republika Srpska representatives to hold a referendum on the recognition of Bosnian state institutions. These threats are clear attempts by Milorad Dodik to score political points and gain concessions from the European Union as part of their ongoing efforts to undermine Bosnia and Herzegovinian state institutions.

We support last week’s assessment of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) that the RS representatives are to blame for the instability,that the referendum law is a violation of the Dayton agreement and that corrective action should be taken to eliminate any threats to sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina guaranteed in that agreement. We are however, disappointed and dismayed with the decision by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton to hold unilateral talks with Milorad Dodik who had already refused to withdraw the referendum law after previous talks with the EU High Representative Valentin Inzko. This decision only furthers the agenda of Republika Srpska representative because it provides illegal legitimacy to their “concerns” about the Bosnian state institutions. It also further paralyzes the executive powers of the Office of High Representatives to ensure compliance with the Dayton agreement. Instead of enforcing the Dayton Agreement, the European Union chose to appease Milorad Dodik and provide him with a photo opportunity that treats him like a head of state by holding unilateral talks without presence of Bosnian state representatives.

We demand immediate action be taken to stop all unilateral talks and that urgent disciplinary action be taken to remove from power all those who continue to undermine the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina by denying allegiance to her state institutions. Furthermore, it is unacceptable for the Serbian president Boris Tadic to comment on the internal affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and certainly an insult that he congratulated Milorad Dodik for the agreement. It only serves as a reminder of the close relationship that Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic had while they orchestrated the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina and committed genocide against the Bosniak people. Now, Tadic and Dodik look to complete what was started by their predecessors by utilizing political levers to legitimize an aggression on a UN charter sovereign country of Bosnia and Herzegovina and legalize the ethnic cleansing and genocide campaigns against the Bosniak people that led to the creation of Republika Srpska entity.

CNAB and CBHOA are informing the public that we are taking specific steps to address a long term solution to the continued political stalemate that is instigated by Bosnian Serb representatives as part of their agenda to gain concessions from the European Union. The independence and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina are not a bargaining chip and should not be violated by anyone, and that includes the EU representatives, whose actions to hold unilateral talks with Milorad Dodik are a clear violation. The sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be a reality, and not degraded to the point of symbolism whereby the reality does not match what is guaranteed by the United Nations charter and the Dayton agreement. CNAB has recently sent a letter to the honorable members of the Congressional Caucus on Bosnia and Herzegovina in the United States Congress regarding the political stalemate. We have since taken action through appropriate channels in Washington to initiate a resolution condemning the violation of Bosnian sovereignty and the Dayton agreement, and calling for an international conference on Bosnia and Herzegovina that will address the long term democratic and constitutional reforms of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such reforms would focus on protection of Bosnian sovereignty, reformation of all state institutions based on democratic principles of government based on civil rights and not ethnic divisions, and ensure the viable enforcement mechanisms are in place to defend the agreement. We can no longer sit idly by while Milorad Dodik , Boris Tadic, and other Serb politicians continue to make a mockery of international law and violate the Dayton agreement.

We urge all Bosnian American and Bosnian Canadians to join us in these efforts and contact your congressional and parliamentary representatives to express grave concerns about the unacceptable violation of international law. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs us now more than any time after the war. We defended Bosnia then and we will defend her now.

Hamdija Custovic, Spokesperson
Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB)

Senada Softic-Telalovic, President
Council of Bosnia and Herzegovinian Organizations in Australia (CBHOA)