Republika Srpska: “There is no point in splitting off”

Status: December 18, 2021 4:54 a.m.

Does the Serbian part of the country really want to split off from Bosnia-Herzegovina? Serbs and Bosniaks are annoyed and wave of it – and yet are afraid: The country they fought for could disappear.

By Eldina Jašarević and Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD-Studio Vienna

For Radenka Šljivić, 57, it is clear what she would do if Milorad Dodik succeeded in dividing the country: “I would hand the passports into the hands of the children. I would also take my passport and ask my husband: age , are you going with?” Your “old man”, Željko Šljivić, is also sitting at the table. Yes, then it would be time. He shakes his head anyway and asks: “Split? We live next to each other, we live together, we depend on each other. Split makes no sense.”

Wolfgang Vichtl
ARD studio Vienna

The Šljivić family lives in Pale, only 20 kilometers away from Sarajevo, the capital of the entire state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pale is located in the Republika Srspka part of the country and was the headquarters of the Bosnian-Serb war criminal Radovan Karadžić during the war. The Šljivić are Serbs, “but not nationalists”: What Milorad Dodik, who has been the strong man in Banja Luka for 16 years, is audibly annoying.

“Without Sarajevo we would be like Karlovic”

The recently announced laws, which Dodik initiated with his majority in the parliament in Banja Luka, which deny the central state authority – in the financial authorities, the judiciary, and in the joint army – are also suspicious to many Serbs. The further away they live from Banja Luka, the more. Radenka Šljivić explains it like this: “They can see it that way in Banja Luka. We are often in Sarajevo here, we meet with friends there. Without Sarajevo we would be like Karlovic.” – Karlovic? A synonym for: darkest province where the dog is buried.

20 kilometers further lies Prača – a village that has been cut up since the war by the border between the two parts of the country, Republika Srpska and the territory of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are just as few barriers as there are checkpoints – after all, everything is a common state. Four men are sitting in the village pub, they are all Muslim Bosniaks.

The 58-year-old Ramiz fought in the war against the Serbs. He’s not afraid of Dodik, he says. But before what Radenka Šljivić says: “I’m afraid that many will leave the country – because of these politics, the economic situation. The country we fought for could disappear like this.”

Fake news about self-arming

Next to him is 31-year-old Fahrudin. He was just two years old when the war broke out in Bosnia. The word “war” has been heard again recently. Everyone shakes their head. But what if someone goes nuts, spurred on by the nationalist din? Fake news about nationalists getting guns is already haunting social media channels – and the dangerous whispering is shared hundreds of times. What happened if?

“I would fight when things get serious,” says Fahrudin. He also says this because he doesn’t really think it could turn out like this: “I have to defend myself. I have nothing to lose. I have no family, no wife. I would go to war. But – as my colleague says : There will be no war. ” His “colleague” Avdo came back seriously injured from the last war. For the 48-year-old, the subject is settled: “I don’t see a war. What for? Who would fight? I was at war once. I’m not going to do it anymore.”

“Failed Srebrenica Exam”

What if Dodik continues to ignite? Because he is afraid of losing the spring elections and with it power, money and – the most important thing: protection from criminal prosecution for corruption?

Then the international community would have to intervene, thinks Ramiz, the war veteran. “The international community failed the Srebrenica exam,” he says, referring to the genocide of more than 8,000 Bosnian men. “Now is the chance to correct that and intervene in good time.”

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