Zagreb, 25 November 2021 (Hina/MIA) – The leaders of the ruling Croat and Serb parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday strongly criticized the activity of the international community’s High Representative Valentin Inzko, but the most important Western states strongly supported both his mandate and his work.
HDZ BiH president Dragan Covic and SNSD president Milorad Dodik criticized Inzko in an online debate which the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, organized on the occasion of the Dayton peace agreement’s 25 anniversary. The participants were representatives of Security Council member states.
The president of the Bosniak SDA party, Bakir Izetbegovic, refused an invitation, saying in a letter to Nebenzya that the members of the BiH Presidency should participate in such a debate, not party leaders.
Nebenzya regretted Izetbegovic’s rejection, saying the idea was to hear the representatives of the three big parties which represent the three peoples in BiH. He insisted that it is necessary to keep the Dayton agreement as it is, saying that any other approach would undermine peace and stability in the Balkans.
Inzko said during the debate that Dayton must be honoured in its entirety and that this meant a clear commitment to preserving BiH’s territorial integrity.
He said the country’s Serb entity of Republika Srpska (RS) pursued a policy contrary to that and that it still glorified convicted war criminals like Radovan Karadzic.
Covic said Inzko’s reports to the UN Security Council were “incomplete and superficial”, and that they did not reflect the real state of affairs in BiH.
He said the reports did not mention issues which the HDZ BiH considered contentious such as the election of the BiH Presidency’s Croat member.
“There is no real understanding of the problem and this results in a lack of an adequate approach to democratic maturity and a self-sustaining perspective,” Covic said, adding that the most important issue in BiH was changing the Election Act.
“Reforming the Election Act is imperative so that the 2022 election can be held properly, and that’s what we will work on in the next six months.”
Dodik described Inzko as “a monster who hates Serbs.”
“Stop this monster who is trying to impose on us decisions which weren’t envisaged in the Dayton agreement… He is taking revenge on Serbs and Croats in BiH,” he said, adding that RS “will consider beginning integration with the mother country Serbia” if Inzko continued to act the way he did.
Dodik said Croatia, Serbia, RS and part of the Croat-Bosniak Federation entity wanted the Office of the High Representative to be closed as soon as possible.
Germany’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Guenter Sautter, said that instead of a dialogue, all he heard were monologues full of personal attacks on Inzko.
We thank Inzko for his work on keeping the peace and reconciliation in different segments of society. We continue to support you and your office. We welcome the work of the BiH Constitutional Court and (its) international judges. Their experience is key for establishing a judiciary in line with Dayton, and the verbal attacks and inappropriate language against the court cannot be tolerated, he said.
Representatives of the US, France, and the UK also supported Inzko, condemning Dodik’s attack on him.
BiH needs Inzko for keeping the peace and making essential decisions. We strongly support the existence of the Office of the High Representative, said US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Richard Mills.