Kosovo’s independence to be monitored by Bosnia-Herzegovina

February 17th, 2008 - 10:53 am ICT by admin  

By Zdravko Ljubas
Sarajevo/Banja Luka, Feb 17 (DPA) The pending independence of the breakaway Serb province of Kosovo should not have a significant influence on the security situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but political consequences may become visible later. Bosnia-Herzegovina, a country divided into two ethnic entities by the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the country’s 1992-1995 war, probably won’t react immediately to developments in Kosovo, but will closely monitor the situation.

Emotions about the possible outcome in Kosovo remain split between Bosnian Muslims and Croats on one side, who do not take the issue too emotionally, and Bosnian Serbs on the other, who consider the issue of Kosovo another attack on Serbs.

While Bosnian Muslim and Croat officials said the case of Kosovo should not reflect on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, some Bosnian Serb organizations announced massive protests across the Bosnian Serb entity, the Srpska Republic, if Kosovo becomes independent.

Some students’ association called for peaceful demonstrations in Srpska, while the association of several war veterans’ organisations, SPONA, called on Bosnian Serbs to remain calm, but said they would demand Bosnian Serb authorities to consider the issue of Srpska’s independence in case of the independence of Kosovo.

Bosnian Serbs, who make some 37 percent of the four million population of Bosnia-Herzegovina and who live mostly in the Srpska Republic, are, according to Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, nervous because of Kosovo, but they should remain calm.

“Not only media, but citizens too ask what we will do and my answer is that we have to stay calm,” said Dodik.

The Bosnian Serb police, according to Police Director Uros Pena, are ready to act in case of any serious unrest that may occur following the developments in Kosovo.

“We know that certain reactions may happen in the Srpska Republic and that something will happen for sure,” Pena told reporters in Banja Luka.

Some 2,500 international troops in Bosnia-Herzegovina would also be ready to act if needed, although they also expect the issue of Kosovo will not harm the security situation in Bosnia.

Kosovo and Bosnia, according to Major David Fielder, a spokesman for the European Union Force (EUFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, are separate issues.

“In both areas we see a safe and secure environment, but we have contingency plans for both Bosnia and Kosovo and if necessary we can carry out those contingency plans,” said Fielder.

“At the moment we are very relaxed,” he said.

As to the political aspect of Kosovo’s looming independence, Bosnia-Herzegovina, according to some of the reactions of its officials so far, will try to keep a neutral position due to a complex domestic political scene and numerous unsolved political and economic issues in the country.

Bosnia-Herzegovina, according to the country’s Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj, would probably be one of the last countries to recognize an independent Kosovo.

Any unilateral recognition of Kosovo’s independence, according to Bosnian Serb President Rajko Kuzmanovic, “is an act of violation of the principles of the international laws” and may cause separatist and secessionist movements in other countries in the region.

“Bosnia-Herzegovina will not give its support to the recognition of Kosovo, especially the Srpska Republic. There is only one solution that we (Bosnian Serbs) can accept - continuation of negotiations about Kosovo and the full consent of both sides (Serbs and Albanians),” said Kuzmanovic in an interview with a local newspaper.

Only such a solution, he said, could guarantee long-lasting stability in Serbia and Kosovo, but also in the entire region.

“The Srpska Republic will not recognize Kosovo and Bosnian Serb representatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s joint institutions will not vote for Kosovo’s recognition,” Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said.

He also said that a unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence might encourage similar ideas by others in the region, echoing his earlier suggestion of a possible referendum on the independence of the Bosnian Serb entity.

However, according to the international administrator to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak, “any artificial attempt to link the future of Kosovo with Bosnia-Herzegovina must be rejected.”

“Kosovo will have an impact on the atmosphere on a psychological level, not only in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but in the entire region. But there is not a single issue related to Bosnia-Herzegovina’s future that depends on Kosovo,” Lajcak told Bosnian media.

“Bosnia-Herzegovina is not a hostage of Kosovo,” he said.

Commenting on possible new demands by Bosnian Serbs for independence in response to Kosovo’s independence, Lajcak warned that those who threaten the peace and stability of Bosnia-Herzegovina must be prepared to face the consequences.

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