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'There will be no peace!' Fresh fears for Balkans as Putin now threatens crisis in Bosnia


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Republika Srpska is one of two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and was formed in 1992 at the outset of the Bosnian War. The three-year war, with a death toll over 100,000, saw a majority of Croats and Bosniaks expelled from the republic’s claimed territory. It achieved international recognition as an entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina after the Dayton Agreement of 1995.

Complaining they are marginalised by Bosniaks, Republika Srpska has began calls to run its own affairs and raise its own army.

Politician Vojin Pavlovic claimed the legacy of the Bosnian War was the creation, and expansion, of Republika Srpska.

He was quoted in a report which noted a genocide of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995, led by Ratko Mladić.

Mladić was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war in November 2017.

However, Mr Pavlovic described the genocide as simply a “crime”, and grimly said: “I believe that Ratko Mladic is a hero and that he is not guilty of what he was accused and convicted of. There was no genocide in Srebrenica.”

Complaining they are marginalised by Bosniaks, Republika Srpska has began calls to run its own affairs and raise its own army.

Politician Vojin Pavlovic claimed the legacy of the Bosnian War was the creation, and expansion, of Republika Srpska.

He was quoted in a report which noted a genocide of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995, led by Ratko Mladić.

Mladić was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war in November 2017.

However, Mr Pavlovic described the genocide as simply a “crime”, and grimly said: “I believe that Ratko Mladic is a hero and that he is not guilty of what he was accused and convicted of. There was no genocide in Srebrenica.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Serb state has lashed out at Muslims and supported Vladimir Putin

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Serb state has lashed out at Muslims and supported Vladimir Putin (Image: GETTY)

Protesters hold a flag of Ratko Mladic in centre of Banja Luka on April 20, 2022 during a rally to ‘defend Republika Srpska'

Republika Srpska politicians complaied they are marginalised by Bosniaks (Image: GETTY )

A view of the Potocari Memorial Cemetery in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina on July 11, 2022

Vojin Pavlovic dismissed the Srebrenica genocide as just a ‘crime’ (Image: GETTY)

Mr Pavlovic then told Sky News: “There will be no peace in this area as long as the international community represents and defends and protects only one side. That one side is the side of Muslims.”

Ljubisa Cosic, mayor of East Sarajevo, also told Sky News: “The dissolution of Bosnia Herzegovina will happen if this state continues like this.

“Bosniaks are always trying to have a centralised state. They want more and more. It’s not possible. We had a war because of that.”

He then added: “Personally, I love Russians more than Americans.

“We have a very, very strong historic relationship with the Russians and we believe in Russia.”

Mr Pavlovic added: “NATO is a criminal organisation, which can only be compared with the Third Reich as a fascist organisation.”

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Bosnian Serbs, supporting Milorad Dodik, gather in Banja Luka on April 20, 2022, to support Bosnian-Serb leadership

Ljubisa Cosic said ‘Bosniaks are always trying to have a centralised state … It’s not possible’ (Image: GETTY)

In July, Andi Hoxhaj, fellow in European Union Law, University of Warwick, wrote for The Conversation that Russia’s influence in the Balkans “is growing just as the region’s fragile peace is threatened”.

He noted Moscow “has long been an influential force in the western Balkans”, citing Russian companies gaining controlling stakes in Balkan energy firms.

According to a 2019 report called ‘Russia’s Toolkit in the Balkans’, Russia’s energy investments into Bosnia are channelled through Republika Srpska, and Moscow is the fifth-largest investor in Bosnia.

Mr Hoxhaj, referencing Bosnia’s three-member presidency based on ethnic groups, added Serb President Milorad Dodik plans to establish a new Serb army, and aligns with a separatist movement which could see Republika Srpska declare independence.

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Pro-Russian Bosnian-Serb hardline leader Milorad Dodik in Banja Luka on April 20, 2022

Milorad Dodik plans to establish a new Serb army, and aligns with a separatist movement (Image: GETTY)

Bosnian Serbs, supporting Milorad Dodik, in Northern-Bosnian town Banja Luka on April 20, 2022

Pavlovic said ‘there will be no peace’ as the West back ‘the side of Muslims’ (Image: GETTY)

Mr Hoxhaj also warned the EU’s focus on Ukraine and delay on ascending Balkan countries to membership could leave them vulnerable.

Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for EU membership in February 2016, after being identified as a potential candidate for EU membership during the Thessaloniki European Council summit in June 2003.

Mr Hoxhaj said: “Analysts are worried that Dodik’s movement could threaten the uneasy peace created after the Balkan war, which ended in 1999.

“But despite this, EU officials did not even participate in the press conference scheduled with the leaders of the western Balkans after the recent two-day summit between the two groups.

“The most obvious explanation for the impasse is that another priority always takes precedence – currently Ukraine. But this approach has been taken as a snub, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia.

“The EU is creating further resentment by taking a different approach with Ukraine to the one that has been set out for the western Balkans.”

Natural gas landing station of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea Pipeline on August 04, 2022

A 2019 report said Russia’s Bosnian energy are channelled through Republika Srpska (Image: GETTY)

According to the Institute of Statistics of Republika Srpska’s 2013 census, Serbs, who are predominately Orthodox Christians, made up 83 percent of Republika Srpska’s population with 970,857, compared to just 148,477 or 12.7 percent Bosniaks.

In comparison, data from the 2013 census published by the Agency for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina sees Bosniaks, predominately muslim, constitute 50.11 percent of the population.

Croats, predominately catholic, make up 2.3 percent of Republika Srpska and 15.4 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It comes as a vehicle accompanying Željka Cvijanović, the President of the Republika Srpska, was attacked according to reports.

According to the police report, the attack took place on the M-17 highway in Bisce polje, during which an unknown person with a Hyundai vehicle blocked the road and tore off the rotating light from the official vehicle, and then threw it out of the way.



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