AP, November 21, 2007
Serbia's Prime Minister Kostunica blasts Western policies in Bosnia
BELGRADE, Serbia: Serbia's prime minister, in an editorial to mark the 12th anniversary of the end of Bosnia's war, accused the West of serious policy missteps in the Balkans in the years since.
The latest miscalculation, Vojislav Kostunica wrote in an article published Wednesday, is their challenge to Bosnia's postwar division into ethnic ministates — one for Serbs, the other for Bosnian Muslims and Croats.
Reforms proposed by Bosnia's international administrator seek to strengthen the country's weak central institutions. Bosnian Serbs feel those changes would come at the expense of their ministate and signal an ultimate aim of ending the country's division altogether.
Such a prospect, they warn, could lead to the outbreak of new instability in the still fragile Balkans. The dispute over the reform proposal by Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak has led to the worst political turmoil in Bosnia since the end of the 1992-95 war.
"Bosnia obviously is in crisis, so it is obvious that these measures were wrong," Kostunica wrote in the article published in the Vecernje Novosti daily.
Lajcak's reforms would change the way a quorum is calculated in Bosnia's national legislature, making it more difficult for lawmakers to block decisions by not attending votes, a tactic that Serb politicians have often used.
Bosnian Serbs fiercely guard the powers held by their separate Serb Republic. The two ministates were set up by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war.
The Serbs also oppose a European Union request that Bosnia unify the separate police forces that operate in the two halves of the country.
Reflecting Serbia's continued interest in retaining strong influence among the Bosnian Serbs, Kostunica traveled to their administrative capital, Banja Luka, on Wednesday to attend a ceremony there.
The Serbian premier called for Lajcak's measures to either be withdrawn or changed.
"Unfortunately it is not the first time that the international community had bad judgment while making decisions in the Balkans, and such decisions have led to numerous crises," Kostunica said.
International officials involved in Bosnia have rejected Serb opposition to the measures, pledging to move forward with the reforms.
The Serbs have threatened to walk out of the joint institutions in protest. Earlier this month, Bosnian State Prime Minister Nikola Spiric became the first Bosnian Serb politician to stand down.