Is Bosnia and Herzegovina facing division?

The international High Representative in Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, has sounded the alarm in a report to the UN Security Council in which he says the country is facing an 'existential threat' because Milorad Dodik, a member of the country's three-person presidency and a Serbian nationalist, is seeking to establish an army of his own and to undermine the Dayton Agreement. Some commentators agree while others see less cause for concern.

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Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

History must not be repeated

The Frankfurter Rundschau hopes that Schmidt's warning will be heard:

“The borders in the Balkans must not be redrawn by force again. The EU and the US must act swiftly. There must be no more concessions to nationalists like Dodik. A clear message is needed. The history of collective sleepwalking towards war and genocide must not be repeated.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Let him talk as long as he sticks to Dayton

It would be a mistake to react to Dodik's politically motivated provocations, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung explains:

“Nationalist rhetoric is common in this multi-ethnic country - it is used not only by the Serbian but also the Bosniak (Muslim) and Croat elites. They try to stir up xenophobia among their followers in order to increase their control over their 'own' ethnic group. ... Dodik's reputation as a strong man is fuelled by his separatist provocations, to which his opponents reliably react indignantly. It would be a great help if his statements were no longer commented on in public. Only if he actually violates the Dayton Agreement should we intervene. But then with harsh sanctions.”

Der Standard (AT) /

EU leaving the field to Russia

Der Standard explains why the West must urgently take action:

“Molorad Dodik is pursuing an identitarian ideology and is already taking concrete steps towards the secession of the part of the country called the Republika Srpska. Moscow is supporting him, and neither the US nor the EU are stopping him. Russia is currently the most successful player there. To Moscow, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a wonderful playground for showing its game. But that is possible only thanks to the weakness of the others. ... At the same time, the Bosnians know that they cannot rely on the EU and NATO in an emergency. They learned that lesson painfully during the three and a half years of war from 1992 to 1995. And now, too, they feel betrayed once more by the West.”

Népszava (HU) /

Playing with fire again

The leader of the Bosnian Serbs seems to have learned little from the past, criticises Népszava:

“Hearing Dodik talk, one could even get the impression that peace on the Balkans has not been in such great danger since 1995. ... One would think that the fate of the previously Yugoslav, later Serbian President Slobodan Milošević would be a warning to all politicians on the Balkans. Unfortunately, there are those who, in order to retain their power, would risk a political firestorm in this region, which in any case is not peaceful.”