The political leader of the Bosnian Serbs has sparked new confrontations in the Balkans. As a result, the German Foreign Minister's visit was imperative.

Balkan map
[Balkan Map]

Europe isn't in need of another Balkan conflict right now. However, this is exactly what is being cautioned against. The Republic of Bosnian Serbs has been openly seeking independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina since at least October 2021. His motivation comes from Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik.

He believes he has the backing of Russian President Putin and some of Serbia's political elite. Fear of conflict has already begun to grip the Muslim populace, and separatists are pounding their drums in the streets.

To now, Brussels and Berlin have shown little resistance, and the West has ignored the Western Balkans. It's time for a high-ranking trip like that of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to go on a diplomatic preventative mission. "Peace, freedom, democracy and wealth" were Baerbock's rallying cry when the Ukraine was being debated at Versailles. Those who agree with these principles can no longer "duck away".

There are political tensions in each of these tourist locations. There is, nevertheless, an increasing desire to be a part of the European Union around the world. The semi-secret formula in Serbia, which has been negotiating EU admission since 2014, is: EU yes, NATO no.. Brussels finances are welcome, as is Moscow's close vicinity. Bitterly remembered is the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999 to safeguard the Albanian-speaking people from Serbian rule.

This was a no-no since Russia and Serbia do not recognise Kosovo's independence. In addition, it makes financial contributions to the Serbian economy.

To Serbia's nationalists, the loss of Kosovo is producing phantom pangs, as if their little brother, the Serb Republic, were to break away and join Serbia. Similar to Putin's desire for "Greater Russia," which includes Ukraine, the idea of a "Greater Serbia" is still a burning one. As long as he seeks to appease both the East and the West abroad and the older hardliners and the younger reformers in Serbia, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic finds himself in a pickle.

Serbia surprised the UN General Assembly by voting to condemn Russia's invasion on Ukraine during a special session in New York in early March. Vucic, on the other hand, does not favour EU sanctions. On Friday, Vucic told reporters in Belgrade that Germany was his country's "most important economic partner" and that he "understood their viewpoints very well". That does ring a bell of caution, I get that. "We will not abandon this area in the heart of Europe to the influence of Moscow," Baerbock said before she departed.

When she visited Belgrade, she was able to distinguish between the cultural ties to Russia and the need for a break from the Kremlin's more assertive political agendas. Attracting investment and employment opportunities, she showed support for "unique size" people like Serbia who "change their direction 180 degrees," like the UN vote.

Violent border shifts in the Balkans 

Even more importantly for Dodik, the message that "resistance" is required of Serbia "against unacceptable acts" in Bosnia-Herzegovina was made very apparent at this meeting. After Serbia's April 3 elections, Baerbock's call that Serbia begin discussion with Kosovo is also essential. As a result, you will be granted full EU membership.

Many things must alter before that time. Definitely. The Orthodox Christian cousin was lauded as a major visitor during Vladimir Putin's 2019 visit to Belgrade. A mural in Belgrade depicting a large-scale picture of Vladimir Putin is accompanied by two Serbian tricolours, one broad and the other small, which symbolise Serbia and the Bosnian Serb Republic. Brother, the word "brat" is written in Cyrillic script.

The poisonous concept of the two regions combining persists in such popular tableaux. The word "ubica," quickly painted on the wall, means "murderer" in Latin. Even in Bosnia's Serb republic, the Republika Srpska, demonstrations against Russia's customary enthusiasm are rare.

Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be stable without fundamental constitutional changes, as seen by their erratic behaviour. As though stuck together from scraps, the Yugoslav state was born in 1995 when the Dayton Agreement brought an end to the wars of disintegration. The Croatian-Bosniak Federation makes up the majority, while the Republika Srpska constitutes the minority. State president and three badly working ministers administer this still ethnically divided nation.

Dayton has been honoured since 1995 according to the Office of the High Representative of the International Community (OHR) in Sarajevo. Every year, the EUFOR mission's mandate is extended. Russia paid for the UN's acceptance of this by relinquishing some of its authority to the Organization for Human Rights.

Having his own army and police force is a top priority for Milorad Dodik. Srebrenica, a town in his Serb Republic, was intended to be "cleansed" of its Muslim inhabitants during the Bosnian conflict, yet less than a year ago he rejected the genocide. Christian Schwarz-Schilling and Valentin Inzko, two former EU and NATO High Representatives, warned the EU and NATO at the beginning of March that the Ukraine conflict may be extended to the Western Balkans.

A second Russian-backed front in the Balkans appears implausible at the time, given the state of Russian military operations in Ukraine. A diversionary tactic might be used in the Republic of Srpska because of the country's tense attitude. Because of this, the need for EUFOR reinforcements in Bosnia and Herzegovina is both urgent and logical.

Rightly, the Foreign Minister points out that investments on the route to the EU are tied to adherence to democracy and the rule of law, and to the observance of international accords and treaties. At the same time, Dayton's shortfalls must be brought to the public's attention." As one of Europe's most important places for promoting peace, Bosnia is a major player in this effort.
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