DID YOU KNOW?  -- Three years before the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, Serbs torched Bosniak villages and killed at least 3,166 Bosniaks around Srebrenica. In 1993, the UN described the besieged situation in Srebrenica as a "slow-motion process of genocide." In July 1995, Serbs forcibly expelled 25,000 Bosniaks, brutally raped many women and girls, and systematically killed 8,000+ men and boys (DNA confirmed).

13 May, 2011


Bosnian Serb leader says referendum to challenge judicial system no longer needed

By Sabina Niksic (AP)

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (R)
shakes hands with Bosnia's Serb Republic President Milorad
Dodik before their meeting in Banja Luka
May 13, 2011.
Bosnia's Serb leader will ask a regional parliament to cancel a referendum on the country's judicial system after receiving assurances on Friday from EU's top foreign policy official that their concerns will be addressed in direct talks with the bloc.

"The referendum is no longer needed," Milorad Dodik said at a joint press conference with Catherine Ashton in Banja Luka — the home of the parliament of the Serb region of Bosnia.

The threat of referendum plunged Bosnia in one of the worst political crisis the country experienced since the end of the 1992-1995 war.

The vote was scheduled for mid-June and was to reflect Bosnian Serb disapproval of the federal war crimes court — which Dodik claims is biased against Serbs — and the actions the country's top international administrator who oversees the running of the country and the implementation of the peace agreement that ended the war.

Ashton arrived in the region unexpectedly late Thursday, demonstrating international concerns over the issue.

Following the talks with Dodik, Ashton said that the EU will open talks with Bosnia's Serbs to try and address some of their concerns regarding the work of courts.

"We consider that any legitimate issues deserve serious analysis and adequate responses," Ashton said Friday.

Bosnia was divided into ethnic Serb and Croat-Bosniak halves after the war.

Serbs are seeking more powers for their mini-state and also question the overall authority of top administrator, the Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko. The United States and the EU, meanwhile, insist on strengthening the central state institutions.

Inzko answers to the U.N. Security Council and has almost unlimited power over Bosnia's state institutions under the United States-brokered Bosnian peace treaty which allows him to annul or impose laws or even fire local politicians, including presidents.

In April the Bosnian Serb parliament said it will question the envoy's authority and the legality of every decision he has made since the war ended.

Both the Serbs and the EU want a judicial reform, but have opposite ideas of what it should look like.

"We consider that any legitimate issues deserve serious analysis and adequate responses," Ashton said Friday.

She added that EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuelle will travel to Banja Luka to chair the first meeting.

The United States, however, insisted that any talks with Bosnia's Serbs are held only after the threat of referendum and challenge to administrator's authority are removed.

"Once those steps are complete, we will see how the dialogue continues," Jonathan Moore, deputy U.S. ambassador to Bosnia told the Associated Press Friday.