Bosnian Serb Parties Boycott State Institutions Over Ban On Genocide Denial

Bosnian Serb political representatives have announced a boycott of all major institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina over a decision last week by the outgoing UN high representative for Bosnia to ban genocide denial.

Branislav Borenovic, one of the opposition leaders in Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb entity in the country, announced the boycott at a press conference on July 26, saying it would take effect on July 27 and would effect Bosnia’s joint presidency, the parliament, and the government.

Nedeljko Cubrilovic, president of National Assembly of Republika Srpska, said the representatives of the parties will not participate in the work of the institutions or make decisions until the matter is resolved, according to RFE/RL’s Balkan Service.

Under the 1995 Dayton agreement that ended Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, two entities — a Muslim-Croat federation and the predominantly Serbian Republika Srpska — are held together by the joint central institutions.

The Serb politicians’ move comes in reaction to amendments to Bosnia’s Criminal Code imposed on July 23 by the top international envoy overseeing implementation of the peace agreement, High Representative for Bosnia Valentin Inzko.

The amendments prohibit the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes and introduce prison sentences of up to five years for genocide deniers and for any glorification of war criminals.

Inzko, who has the authority to impose decisions or dismiss officials, explained the move in an open letter saying that “there is no reconciliation without the recognition of crimes and without responsibility.”

The decision immediately drew an angry reaction from Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia’s joint presidency, and on July 26 he reiterated his opposition to the decision.

“We will not live in a country where someone can impose a law by simply publishing it on his website,” Dodik said.

Dodik said over the weekend that Inzko’s decision should serve as a final push for secession of Bosnian Serb lands from the rest of the country.

Dodik also reiterated his claim that the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in which some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces “did not take place.”

The massacre has been deemed genocide by various verdicts of both the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Inzko’s decision came only a week before the end of his term. After 12 years in office Inzko is prepared to hand over to Christian Schmidt, a German, on August 1.

Russia and China are challenging Schmidt’s appointment at the UN.

With reporting by AP and AFP