The United States is ready to confront the attempts to tear up Bosnia
Sarajevo The United States is paying close attention to the political crisis in Bosnia and has tools it can use against the divisive national leaders of the war-frightened, multi-ethnic Balkan nation who will try to “rip it apart,” a senior US official said Tuesday.
“Our appeal to the leaders (in Bosnia) … is to go beyond their self-interest and try to consider the broader interest of their country,” State Department adviser Derek Chollet told The Associated Press in an interview.
“If leaders continue down the path of division, disintegration, and withdrawal from central institutions, there are tools we have to punish this type of behavior,” he added, referring to possible sanctions.
Chollet, who is an advisor to the US secretary of state, arrived in Bosnia on Monday for three days of meetings with its top political leaders amid the worst political crisis in the Balkan country since a US-brokered peace deal ended more than 3 1/2. Years of Bloodshed 1995.
The Bosnian War began in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs backed by Belgrade attempted to create an ethnically pure region with the aim of joining neighboring Serbia by expelling the country’s Croats and Bosniaks, most of whom were Muslims. More than 100,000 people were killed and over 2 million, or more than half of the country’s population, driven from their homes before a peace agreement was reached in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995.
The agreement divided Bosnia into two regions – the Serb-administered Republika Srpska and the Bosnian-Croat Federation – which were granted extensive autonomy but are still linked by some common institutions including a multi-ethnic presidency, parliament, army, supreme judiciary and tax administration.
The Serbs have called for years to separate their mini-state from the rest of Bosnia. But their hard-line leader, Milorad Dodik, who had tacit support from Russia and Serbia, recently escalated the campaign by pledging that, by the end of November, the Bosnian Serb region would establish its own army and judiciary.
Dodik, the Serbian member of the multi-ethnic Bosnia Presidency, threatened to seize the Bosnian Army barracks in the Serbian half of the country once the BSA was formed. He said that if the West tried to intervene, he would call his “friends” of Bosnian Serbs for help.
“We are very concerned,” Chollet said. “There is a lot of interest in Washington about the situation here, a lot of concerns about the course that Bosnia is going and it fears, for the first time in 26 years, that Dayton (the peace agreement) is at its most dangerous moment.”
However, Chollet said the United States still believed that Bosnia “has not crossed the point of no return.”
“We still believe there is an opportunity to stop all of this…and it’s not just the United States, it’s our partners in Europe,” he added.
He said it would take efforts to strengthen Bosnia’s democratic institutions and steer the country toward the goal of eventual accession to the European Union.
“There will be a lot of difficult decisions to make, but the United States is committed to doing everything in its power to try to prevent the worst from happening and, what’s more, to try to achieve a better outcome ‘by getting Bosnia’ back on track to its Euro-Atlantic destination,” he said. .
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