Paddy Ashdown, who served as international peace envoy to Bosnia from 2002 to 2006, urged Europe and the United States to quench separatist tendencies in the B&H, which is still deeply split along ethnic lines, reports Reuters.
It adds that Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, which is majority ethnic Russian, has again stirred dispute over the principle of sovereignty, last tested when the West supported Kosovo’s secession from Bosnia neighbor Serbia in 2008 over Russian objections.
Some Bosnian politicians are playing the Moscow card, even, most dangerously of all, the Slav card, in support of policies of separation, Ashdown told a NATO seminar on southeast Europe in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. He added that they hope that an illegal referendum in Crimea will make one here more likely.
Ashdown said it would be a “tragedy” if Bosnia was drawn into “the backwash of international dispute on Ukraine.”
Ashdowns assertions come after the President of Srpska, Milorad Dodik, met with the Russian ambassador to Bosnia, Aleksandar Bocan-Harcenko, and showed his support to the referendum, saying that it is as “legitimate and democratic”, in accordance with international law and the U.N.-guaranteed right to self-determination.
Ashdown noted an offer by Russia of a loan to Bosnia’s Serb Republic to compensate for a freeze in funding to both of Bosnia’s entities by the International Monetary Fund over stalled economic measures, reports Reuters.
“The actions of offering an alternative loan … to one of the (Bosnian) entities, the action of withdrawing support for a project to join Europe, it cannot have any other outcome but to encourage those who wish to see secessionism,” Ashdown told reporters.
In response to Ashdown’s claims, Dodik said that Ashdown is a violator of international law. He added that the relations between Russia and Srpska were never focused on encouraging independence.
“The story that Russia is suggesting or encouraging the secession of Srpska, is being told by the former High Representative who is cashing in every word related to B&H”, Dodik told reporters.