UK will not allow malicious actors to divide country or reverse progress made in last 26 years, says Matthew Field.
British ambassador to Sarajevo said the United Kingdom will not allow the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina and will protect its territorial integrity.
“I will speak for the UK, although I think this applies to all other like-minded people, partners, and friends of this country. We cannot and will not allow malicious actors to divide this country or reverse the progress made in the last 26 years,” Matthew Field told Dnevni Avaz newspaper.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is currently embroiled in a political conflict between Bosniaks and Serbs living in the country.
Field said sanctions are not a magic wand, referring to the US sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, and three others, for allegedly partaking in widespread destabilizing and corrupt activities.
“For those who believe that they can go unpunished after radical actions, it may be a useful step to strengthen the enforcement mechanism,” said Field.
Field emphasized that they will continue to work with their international partners to ensure that everyone who commits negative actions suffers the consequences.
“The path followed by the heads of the Serb Republic Entity increases tension and insecurity, harms the development of the economy and foreign investments. Citizens bear the burden of these actions as well. Citizens are in fear, I can understand this. Attacks on state institutions, especially the Armed Forces, are a deliberate way someone uses to cover up their failure and divert attention,” said Field.
Political dispute in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The country is currently embroiled in a political conflict between Bosniaks and Serbs, with some Serb leaders pushing for separatism.
The dispute erupted after Valentin Inzko, former high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, amended the criminal code last July to ban the denial of genocide and the glorification of war criminals.
In response, Bosnian Serb lawmakers said that they would boycott the country’s institutions.
A Serb member of Bosnia’s joint Presidency, Milorad Dodik, denounced the amendments. “We will not live in a country where someone can impose a law by simply publishing it on his website,” he said.
Dodik, who has rejected all legal changes enacted by the Office of the High Representative (OHR), said he would take radical steps in the army, judiciary, and tax systems if the essence of the Dayton Agreement that ended the war is not restored.
One of the major current issues in the country is a bill that Dodik recently pushed through the assembly of Republika Srpska that transfers powers of the nationally authorized Bosnia and Herzegovina Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment Agency to a new institution to be established in the region that critics say seeks to undermine the national government.
Also, on Jan. 9, in defiance of Bosnia’s top court verdict, Bosnian Serbs celebrated the anniversary of the foundation of Republika Srpska.
Many cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina witnessed provocative actions, including insults towards Bosniak and non-Serb citizens.
Sindikat, a supporter group in Brcko, used smoke torches to block city streets and vandalized memorials to the victims of the Srebrenica genocide, which claimed nearly 8,400 victims.
Songs inciting ethnic hatred and intolerance, as well as insulting Muslims, were played over loudspeakers in the city of Gacko.
In July 1995, Srebrenica was besieged by Serb troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Serb forces occupied the area, killing 2,000 men and boys in a single day on July 11.
About 15,000 Srebrenicans fled to the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 more people.