Serb nationalist calls on EU to grant Bosnia candidate status

Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia's autonomous Serb region, speaks at a press conference in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 18 January 2017. [ EPA/VLADIMIR STOJKOVIC]

The new Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite inter-ethnic presidency called on the European Union on Monday (19 November) to grant the Balkan country candidate status and said it was time for foreign judges and peace envoy to leave.

Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik, an outspoken supporter of Russia, was speaking as he was sworn in at the parliament of Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic, one day before his official inauguration in Sarajevo along with the Croat and Bosniak members of the presidency.

“I call on the European Union to immediately grant to Bosnia candidate status for membership,” Dodik said, adding that the gesture would show a constructive approach from the EU instead of supporting foreign interventions in the divided country.

Bosnia applied for EU membership in 2016 but the reforms needed to pursue its bid have stalled.

Croatia to coach Bosnians on how to join the EU

Croatia, the European Union’s newest member, has pledged to help its neighbour, Bosnia and Herzegovina, follow in its footsteps and join the bloc as soon as possible.

Dodik will be the first of the three presidency members to preside over the body that directs Bosnia’s foreign policy, in which they rotate each six months. He said he would insist on the departure of the international peace envoy and foreign judges from Bosnia.

They were installed as the part of the US-brokered Dayton peace accords that ended the 1992-95 war in which more than 100,000 died and about 2 million were forced from their homes.

Dodik, who was last year blacklisted by the United States over violations of the Dayton accords, said Russia is “our natural and powerful ally”, and that he will work to resume cooperation with Russia, China and the United States, “on the basis of mutual respect”.

He also said Bosnia should be demilitarised and its military budget drastically cut, echoing his repeated opposition to integrating Bosnia into NATO.

“Bosnia will be militarily neutral because any alignment with any military alliance does not have support of Serbs,” he said.

Dodik’s remarks imply it will be difficult to balance his policies with those of the Bosniak and Croat presidency members, Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić, who both favour NATO integration and cooperation with international representatives.

The Brief, powered by EFPIA – Europe's moral downfall, part one

Once again, this Brief will stay away from the goings-on in the far far away kingdom that’s desperately trying to leave the EU. Instead, let’s look at another country that walked away from a different union 27 years earlier, resulting in chaos and bloodshed that caught Europe unawares and exposed it as a paper tiger unable to deal with conflict on its soil.

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