SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AP) – Members of Bosnia’s collective presidency have pledged that there will be no repeat of ethnic clashes in a war-torn country, a senior US diplomat said Monday, despite deep tensions over Bosnian Serb separatists. …
“The most important thing that we agreed with all the interlocutors with whom we met today is that we all agree that there will be no war, and this is the most important message,” said US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar after the meeting. c Members of the presidency of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.
“And this is not only the message that you will hear from all the leaders I met with today, but you will also hear it from the regional leaders,” he added.
The Bosnian War began in 1992, when the Bosnian Serbs, with the help of the Yugoslav army, tried to create ethnically clean territories with the aim of joining neighboring Serbia. More than 100,000 people were killed and millions were left homeless during the bloodshed in Europe after World War II.
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The 1992-1995 war pitted Bosnians, who are mostly Muslim, Serbs and Croats, against each other and ended in a US-backed peace agreement that created two regions – the Republika Srpska and the Bosnian-Croatian Federation. The two regions were given broad autonomy, but some joint institutions survived, including the army, the highest judiciary, and the tax administration.
Escobar’s visit will come a week after the chief international representative in Bosnia, German diplomat Christian Schmidt, warned that the 1995 peace agreement that ended the bloody civil war could collapse. Schmidt also warned that the Balkan nation could disintegrate if the international community does not stop threats of separatist action from the Bosnian Serb leader and presidential member Milorad Dodik.
Dodik, who is tacitly backed by Russia and Serbia, recently stepped up his campaign, promising that the Bosnian Serb parliament would draft laws by the end of November to authorize the creation of its own army, tax authorities and judicial system.
After separate talks with Dodik and two other members of the president – Croat Zeljko Komsic and Bosniak Safik Dzaferovic – Escobar said that “we wanted to make sure that Bosnia remains independent, sovereign and territorially integral.”
A US official said Bosnia needed political stability to help integrate the Balkans economically and prepare them for eventual European Union membership.
Escobar said he had “a productive meeting with Mr. Dodik, in which he was ready to discuss the abolition of all legislation that would weaken the central institutions.”
But Dodik said on Monday that the Bosnian Serb parliament will continue drafting laws to remove support for a unified army, judicial system and tax collection.