UN Resolution on Srebrenica Sparks Controversy and Threat of Secession in Bosnia and Herzegovina

At the UN General Assembly, a resolution recognizing the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian War in July 1995 as genocide was approved.

The vote saw 84 countries in favor, 19 against, and 68 abstentions, with some nations choosing not to participate. This resolution has sparked a wave of diplomatic and political responses, particularly from Serbian and Bosnian Serbs’ leaders. Both Belgrade and Banja Luka have recognized the shootings in Srebrenica in July 1995 but vehemently oppose the term “genocide,” arguing that international recognition of such undermines the Serbian nation’s reputation and leads to undesirable political consequences.

Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Serb-majority entity), criticized the resolution, claiming it failed to achieve a majority support among UN member states. He argued that the resolution pushes Bosnia and Herzegovina towards confrontation rather than fostering reconciliation, as he considers it categorizes the Serbs as a “genocidal people”. In response to the resolution, Dodik announced that within 30 days, an agreement proposal for the peaceful demarcation of the Republika Srpska will be presented to Sarajevo, effectively proposing the peaceful dissolution of the country due to the resolution’s implications.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, also opposed to the resolution, expressed his gratitude to Russia, China, and other countries for their votes against the resolution. He also acknowledged abstentionists and extended thanks to various countries from Asia, Africa, and Latin America for their support. Vucic emphasized that Serbia would not forget the backing it received against the resolution, viewing it as crucial for Serbia’s international relations and national dignity.

The voting dynamics on the resolution underscore the international alliances supporting Republika Srpska, Serbia, and Russia. Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya expressed concerns that the resolution might destabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the wider region, indirectly aligning with Dodik’s secessionist rhetoric by suggesting that the resolution threatens regional peace and security.

In reaction to the unfolding situation, Zukan Helez, the Defense Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, during an interview on Face TV, described Dodik as peaceful but warned that if Dodik’s intentions to separate are realized, he would propose the dissolution of Republika Srpska. Helez made these remarks from Brussels, where he met with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana. Geoana reaffirmed NATO’s strong commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as its ongoing partnership. He also emphasized the importance of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s security for the stability of the Western Balkans and the broader Euro-Atlantic area, highlighting NATO’s interest for the region.

For a deeper explanation of Bosnia’s history and internal divisions, please read our dedicated article.

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