"West must find ways to stop Dodik"

"Influential U.S. magazine Foreign Policy is looking at the possible consequences of a referendum in the Serb Republic," writes Croatia's daily Jutarnji List.

Source: Jutarnji List, Foreign Policy
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The article, which the magazine ran on its website under the headline, "Is war about to break out in the Balkans?," is authored by James Lyon - a former member of the International Crisis Group NGO, and of the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Lyon writes that the proposed referendum in the Serb entity (Republika Srpska, RS) on the work of the court and prosecution of Bosnia-Herzegovina is "a move that many see as a thinly veiled independence referendum."

"The only person with the legal authority to call off Dodik’s referendum, current High Representative Valentin Inzko, has sat on the sidelines at the insistence of both Washington and Brussels. In response to Dodik’s latest provocations, the EU has yet to formulate a response that would persuade him to cancel the referendum," the article said, and added:

"Some international officials think it is merely a bargaining chip and hope to deal with it, post facto, via the very judicial institutions Dodik plans to flout. Others hope Belgrade can be called upon to rein in Dodik, ignoring that Serbia’s deep state regards Republika Srpska as its greatest foreign-policy success. Indeed, Belgrade’s officialdom openly supports Dodik and hopes to receive Republika Srpska in return for giving up on Kosovo."

According to the Croatian daily, Dodik is described as "a nationalist who dedicated his whole career to tearing down the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (Muslim-Croat entity), blocking reforms and strengthening RS's constitutional rights, for which he has the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin."

"The Russian ambassador to Bosnia, Pyotr Ivantsov, has stated that the referendum is an internal matter for the country and has expressed his sympathy toward Republika Srpska complaints over the state judiciary," said the article on the Foreign Policy website, and added that in July, "Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have described the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Bosniaks at the hands of Bosnian Serbs as 'genocide'.”

"By backing Dodik, Putin is able to create substantial problems for the West without needing to invest resources or diplomatic energy," Lyon writes, adding that "this pattern should be familiar from Abkhazia in Georgia to Transnistria in Moldova to most recently Crimea and eastern Ukraine."

"The West must now prevent Russia from using Dodik’s nationalist agenda to destabilize the Balkans and create yet another proxy conflict," the article said.

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