Exiting Croat leader says he’d attack Bosnian Serbs

RIJEKA, BANJA LUKA -- Outgoing Croatian President Stjepan Mesić said that he would send the military to cripple RS if it called a secession referendum.

Stjepan Mesić (FoNet, file)
Stjepan Mesić (FoNet, file)

The Croatian military, according to Mesić, would incapacitate the Republic of Srpska (RS) in case there was a referendum on independence in this Bosnian entity, that would violate the Dayton accord.

The peace deal ended the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and organized the coutnry into two entities: the Serb RS, and the Muslim-Croat Federation.

Mesić said, according to Rijeka daily Novi List, that if Republic of Srpska (RS) Prime Minister Milorad Dodik was to call a referendum for toppling the Dayton Agreement, he would send the Croatian military immediately, which would cripple the RS, “which would then have to disappear”, by closing the corridor by near the northern town of Brčko.

At Tuesday’s informal meeting with journalists, Mesić said that Croatia is a Dayton Agreement guarantor, and that if he were the president at the time that such a referendum was announced, he would use the military against RS in the corridor near the Sava River .

“It is unbelievable how much Dodik is fooling the international community,” Mesić said, adding that the RS prime minister “thinks that the world will grow tired of Bosnia-Herzegovina and that a referendum for secession will be announced”.

“Someone will protest for a few days, and then everything will die down and Greater Serbia will be realized,” Mesić was quoted as saying, adding that he will be interested in seeing how the newly-elected Croatian President Ivo Josipović would react to the situation.

Mesić gave the same opinion to international officials, “but in a less heated manner”, the daily stated.

The corridor he mentioned is 15 kilometers wide and connects the eastern and western part of RS, sitting 30 kilometers from the Croatian border.

Fierce military, but also political battles were fought over the corridor during the 1992-95 war, since the survival of the town of Banja Luka and RS depends on it, said the report.

Using up his last moments in office, Mesić did not miss a chance to stir controversy once again, one month ahead Croatian President-elect Ivo Josipović’s inauguration.

Previously, he strained relations in the region by visiting Kosovo and pardoning a Croat war criminal found guilty of killing Serbs.

The Rijeka-based newspaper that carried Mesić’s statements threatening that Croatia would invade RS, said in an editorial that “such belligerent language has not been heard in the region for the past 15 years”.

Mesić himself reacted today by saying that he was “misinterpreted”, but adding that “nobody must touch Bosnia’s integrity”.

“We are a guarantor of the Dayton Agreement, and the Dayton Agreement guarantees the survival of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And in any case, Croatia cannot accept the break-up of Bosnia. That is quite clear, and I don’t believe that anyone could embark on such an adventure. I don’t believe there is still someone who would try to break Bosnia up again,” said Mesić in his latest statement, reported this afternoon.

“Radical extremism”

Milorad Dodik (FoNet, file)
Milorad Dodik (FoNet, file)

RS Prime Minister Milorad Dodik believes that Mesić’s latest statements constitute for a disturbing threat by a man who “started his career with war and wants to end it with war”.

“Such radical extremist statements should never have been heard again in the region,” Dodik said.

“They are all the more dramatic calls for war as Mesić is still president of Croatia and commander in chief of its army, and Croatia is a NATO member,” Dodik added.

The RS premier also said he expects all politicians in the region, international community representatives, NATO officials and all peace-loving people in Croatia and other countries to condemn “war threats of the false peacekeeper Mesić aimed at the Serb people and RS”.

“It is well known that Mesić used the language of hate and threats to create an atmosphere for mass crimes against Serbs and for their expulsion from Croatia in the last war,” Dodik said.