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Germany calls for sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader

December 13, 2021

Germany's new Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wants the EU to put more pressure on Bosnian Serb separatist Milorad Dodik, who is pushing for Serb-dominated areas to break away from Bosnia.

Bosnian Serb member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia Milorad Dodik speaks during a press conference
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has called Milorad Dodik's efforts to break away 'unacceptable'Image: AP Photo/picture alliance

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday called for the EU to slap sanctions on Bosnian-Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who wants wants Serb-majority areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina to break away.

Speaking following a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, Baerbock said Dodik should be put under more pressure by the EU, and described the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as "worrying."

"Efforts to break away are unacceptable, and this means, too — and I have lobbied for this here — that the existing sanctions regime should also be used against Mr. Dodik now," Baerbock said.

Foreign minister Baerbock's call for sanctions on Dodik echo similar comments from her predecessor, Heiko Maas, in November. At the time, Maas warned the EU could not be "indifferent" to that Dodik's incitement of instability in the Balkan country. 

What does Dodik want in Bosnia?

Dodik serves as the Serb member of Bosnia's inter-ethnic presidency, and wants to pull his predominantly ethnic-Serb region out of Bosnia's military, judicial and tax system.

Dodik, a former Western protege turned nationalist, has been threatening for years to separate Bosnian Serb entity, the Serb Republic, from the Bosnian state.

Bosnia was ravaged by a war started by Serbia from 1992 to 1995 The Dayton Agreement laid the foundations for today's Bosnian state, which consists of the Bosnian-Croat Federation (FBiH) and the Serb Republic. Dodik's plan would throw that structure into disarray. 

On Friday, the parliament of the Serb Republic in Bosnia-Herzegovinavoted to transfer powers away from the country's central institutions. The approval comes in spite of warnings against such a move from the international community and an opposition boycott.

MPs voted to strip the Bosnian state of competencies in the areas of taxation, justice, and security and defense for the Serb Republic.

The three institutions represent key pillars of joint security, the rule of law and the economic system in Bosnia implemented by the Dayton Agreement.  

Nationalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

kb/wmr (AP, dpa)