Has Serbia’s policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) gone a step further than the former slogan ”all Serbs in one state”? Interviewees are not optimistic, because Serbian officials express opposite views.
Many in BiH believe that the Serbian policy towards this country is consistent in denying the statehood, sovereignty, and existence of BiH as an independent subjectivity. This is confirmed by the historian from Sarajevo Husnija Kamberovic, recalling that at the end of the last century, during the time of Slobodan Milosevic, this policy was conducted under the slogan ”all Serbs in one state”.
Kamberovic believes that the Serbian political elite has never come to terms with the fact that BiH is a sovereign and independent state. ”That’s why Serbia is constantly creating tensions in the region, trying to compensate for the ”loss” of Kosovo through the BiH entity Republika Srpska (RS),” she says, recalling Serbia’s continuous participation in the unconstitutional celebration of January 9th as ”RS Day”.
One nation, one state…
It was on January 9th that Milorad Dodik in Banja Luka called for the unification of all Serbs into one state. ”We should use this time to unite the Serbian people in our program and say what we want in this coming century. Why can some other nations have one state for one people, but the Serbs can’t,” said Dodik.
Unity of church and politics
Opinions on regional issues were also expressed by church officials. The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) Porfirije mentions border changes. ”We are not sure that the borders will not change in the future,” said the head of the SOC. ”The backbone of the united Serbian countries is already known and it is being reshaped, namely Serbia and Montenegro, then eastern Herzegovina, a good part of Bosnian Krajina, Serbian Krajina,” said the former Metropolitan of the Montenegrin-Literal Serbian Orthodox Church, Amfilohije Radovic.
Open Balkans, Serbian world, great Serbia
Speaking about Serbian policy towards BiH, the former vice president of the Serbian government, Zarko Korac expresses his belief that Serbian policy towards BiH has not changed significantly since the time of Slobodan Milosevic. ”Even today it is about the same policy of border relativization. Vucic does not say it openly, but ”Open Balkan” is another name for the ”Serbian world”, and ”Serbian world” is another name for the policy of Slobodan Milosevic, that is, the policy of “greater Serbia”. It is an attempt to politically divide BiH, to subjugate Montenegro politically to Serbia, while Kosovo would remain a permanent crisis hotspot,” says Korac.
Vucic’s spokesmen in BiH
Moreover, Zarko Korac claims that even today Vucic and his Serbian Progressive Party do not accept BiH as a complete, sovereign, and internationally recognized state and that Vucic is saying this through his ”spokesmen”. ”Milorad Dodik is actually Aleksandar Vucic’s spokesman. Vucic never condemns Dodik’s statements that the RS will become independent and join Serbia, while he ‘hypocritically’ claims to respect Dayton and the Dayton borders,” says Korac.
Political scientist Jasmin Mujanovic believes that the aforementioned ”Open Balkan” initiative, as part of Serbian regional policy, is controversial for many because of unresolved national issues in the region. He says that the essence of regional problems that manifests itself in BiH – the ambitions of a large country in the Balkans – has never been publicly the focus of regional processes such as the ”Open Balkan”.
”The autocratic regime in Belgrade leads a policy of confrontation with the countries of the region, especially with BiH, and then with Kosovo and Montenegro. That is why the ‘Open Balkan’ is perceived as a political threat in Sarajevo, Podgorica, and Pristina. For the majority of citizens in BiH, Kosovo, and Montenegro, ‘Open Balkan’ is just another name for what radical circles in Serbia call ‘Serbian world’,” Mujanovic stated.
Putin’s players on the wings of Western support
Journalist Sead Numanovic believes that Serbian policy towards regional states, especially BiH, has growing support from the West. ”It is becoming increasingly obvious that Joe Biden’s administration officials are trying to ‘pluck Serbia from the clutches of Russia’, so it is being indulged wherever possible. This policy is deeply wrong. Milorad Dodik is riding on that wave, more and more ruthlessly, saying that favorable international circumstances have been achieved for all Serbs to have one state,” says Numanovic.
Now, he points out, we have a paradoxical situation – that Washington is standing up to its enemies and trampling on its allies in the Balkans, from Macedonia to BiH. ”I am very concerned that the European Union (EU) is silent on everything and blindly follows the United States (U.S.) policy. And the region is not moving towards membership in the U.S., but towards the EU,” he reminds.
”It is absurd that Vladimir Putin’s most prominent political players in this part of Europe – Dodik, Vucic, and other protagonists of the ‘Serbian world’ – today ride on the wings of Western support,” concludes Sead Numanovic, DW reports.