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Bosnian Serbs Change Law to Defy International Envoy’s Decisions

The National Assembly in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska Entity adopted amendments to the Law on Publishing Laws and Other Regulations on Wednesday evening to stop publishing decisions by the Office of the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the entity’s Official Gazette, which would render them invalid.

Republika Srpska leaders claim the current international envoy, German diplomat Christian Schmidt, is illegitimate because his appointment in 2021 was not confirmed by the United Nations Security Council. However, the Security Council has already accepted two reports from Schmidt during his tenure, indicating that his legitimacy is not under question at the UN.

The High Representative oversees the civilian implementation of the peace deal that ended the Bosnian war and has certain powers to impose decisions. In fewer than two years of his mandate in Bosnia, Schmidt used these so-called ‘Bonn powers’ on a number of occasions.

“Since the last High Representative failed to be appointed by the Security Council, we have made appropriate decisions at this National Assembly regarding the non-recognition of the High Representative,” Nenad Stevandic, the president of the assembly, said during the discussion.

Stevandic added during the discussion that Republika Srpska needs “to protect itself” from future harmful decisions by the High Representative.

Fifty-four out of 62 assembly members voted for the amendments.

During his mandate, Schmidt has made several interventions that are opposed by the Republika Srpska entity’s president Milorad Dodik, who has repeatedly stated that he wants to secede from Bosnia.

Schmidt has suspended two versions of Republika Srpska’s Law on Immovable Property, which states that properties used by Republika Srpska institutions including agricultural land, forests and rivers, are the sole property of the entity, not the Bosnian state.

The state-level Constitutional Court ruled last year that such properties are solely under state jurisdiction and not owned by either of the country’s two entities.

In order to resolve the issue, Schmidt has established what he called a “pool of experts” to work on a solution.

This caused Dodik to instigate the amendments intended to allow Republika Srpska to render Schmidt’s decisions invalid. The amendments were then adopted by the Republika Srpska National Assembly using an urgent procedure.

Source: Balkan Insight