There is a special kind of politician whose moves constantly cause confusion, astonishment, shock and disbelief among their opponents and the democratic public, despite the fact that they always behave logically and consistently. A typical example of this enigmatic phenomenon is the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, and the member of the Presidency of BiH, Milorad Dodik. The two of them are constantly pursuing the same harmful policy, which is disastrous for the citizens they represent, as well as for all others who have the misfortune to find themselves near them, and yet every more radical statement or act of theirs is astonishing. This provokes numerous comments and various interpretations, strong efforts of the critical public to understand what Vučić and Dodik are actually planning and to what extent they are ready to go in destruction. The essence is simple and always the same - while the two of them have any political power, neither BiH nor Serbia can hope for anything good. What would the prophet Isaiah say: "In their ways is desolation and destruction."
When they came to power, with the selfless support of the Western allies, they had before them two roads. One was the European one: the democratization of society, approaching European standards, economic progress, strengthening institutions, freeing the media from the influence of the government, insisting on the rule of law, in general - organizing society and likening to Western models. A difficult and arduous journey that requires serious reforms, enormous work and commitment to the well-being of its own citizens. The second road was the old, well-known one: the capture of the state, autocratic rule, additional criminalization of society, endless corruption, nationalist savagery, production of a permanent state of emergency, in general - our thing that was always there. (proverb)
Human lives as currency for undercutting
At the beginning of Vučić's reign, it seemed that he would turn the radical party upside down and lead Serbia in the direction of Europe, going at least one step at a time. Negotiations with Kosovo were renewed, the Brussels Agreement was signed, tensions with Montenegro were calmed down and a distance was made towards Milorad Dodik. This lasted for a short time, until Vučić strengthened his position, took absolute power into his own hands and started to systematically capture the state, implement autocracy and actually give up European integration. It turned out that Vučić's European mask was a transparent maneuver, as soon as there was no need to pretend, he returned to the radical factory settings. Dodik started as a moderate and ends (or at least I hope he ends) as a radical secessionist and a threat to peace and stability in BiH and the entire region.
In the latest episode of the horror soap opera, Dodik switched from words to crimes. After many years of announcements of secessionism, he took concrete steps, the President of Republika Srpska signed the decision to repeal Inzko's law, and the law on the establishment of the entity Agency for Medicines was passed. These are the first blows to the constitutional order of BiH, and Dodik announced a number of others, including the formation of an entity army with the same name under which it committed mass crimes and genocide in Srebrenica. This is no longer a joke, the international community is upset, not to mention the people of BiH. Anxiety, fear and turmoil are more than justified, because people like Dodik and Vučić do not give up on anything, all for the sake of reign, money and power. We saw how much the lives of citizens mean to them during the pandemic, and even during the 1990s, when Vučić was part of a joint criminal enterprise, for them, human lives are a currency.
Hegemonic and imperial aspirations of Serbia
In the midst of the secessionist campaign, Dodik arrived in Belgrade for a meeting with Vučić. After the meeting, Vučić talked about how he conveyed several important messages from the European Union and the world to Dodik, called for dialogue, and Dodik sang the anthem of peace "which still has no price or alternative". It is as if two old hippies met, so they remember their youthful days when they fought for world peace. Who knows how many times Vučić performs a play for the naive, building himself as a peacemaker, a moderate and a factor of stability. To find out what Aleksandar Vučić's policy really is, we should not listen to his mass appealing statements, but to what his hawks like Aleksandar Vulin say, who has been trumpeting for years about the creation of the "Serbian world" and the political unification of all Serbs in the region led by this generation of Serbian politicians with the great leader, Vučić.
It’s not a bad idea to look at what Vučić's media write and broadcast. The campaign against Bosnia and Herzegovina has been going on for years in all tabloids and other hate inducing media on national frequencies, the border on the Drina river is perceived as temporary and provisional, Republika Srpska is seen in the spirit of Dobrica Ćosić as the only victory of the Serbian people in the wars of the 1990s, and the unification of Serbia with Republika Srpska as a political goal that has no alternative. Other poisonous media contents, falsification of the past, denial of genocide and crimes, glorification of war criminals and open advocacy of Great Serbia ideology fit perfectly into this story.
In the end, it isn’t a bad idea to take a look at some official documents of the country of Serbia in which the official policy of this country is written. For example, we can take a look at the "National Security Strategy of the Republic of Serbia", which states that "the preservation of the Republika Srpska is one of the foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Serbia." The "Charter on the Serbian Cultural Space" signed by the Minister of Culture of Serbia and the Minister of Education and Culture of the Republika Srpska, in which the signatories express a "natural aspiration for a mutually consistent cultural and educational policy", is on the same track. The embodiment of this document is the joint Law on the Cyrillic alphabet passed by Serbia and RS, as well as the newly established holiday - the Day of Serbian Unity, Freedom and the National Flag, which is celebrated on September 15. Serbia's hegemonic and imperial aspirations towards BiH are not hidden at all, on the contrary, they are in the official state policy that is moving towards the creation of the "Serbian world".
Not at all random partners
Serbia's policy towards BiH is no exception, and other countries in the region have similar treatment. Montenegro has already been annexed to the "Serbian world" on the wave of lithium and the so-called defence of saints, and the north of Kosovo is an ideal zone for constant provocation of tension and pre-war situation. Shortly before the fear began that Dodik's separatist moves could provoke a war, possible war conflicts were speculated on two other occasions.
At the beginning of September, the citizens of Montenegro were in the same fear of war and bloodshed, on the occasion of the enthronement of Metropolitan Joanikije in Cetinje. For days, Vučić's media called for violence and propagated that the civil war in Montenegro was almost inevitable, but everything ended without casualties, with the poisoning of the people of Cetinje with surreal amounts of tear gas and a helicopter landing of church dignitaries. Then, in mid-October, a crisis broke out in northern Kosovo. Vučić visited military units, the army was put on alert, fighter planes flew over the border, and analysts on duty called for the entry of the Serbian army into northern Kosovo. Armed conflicts were avoided or, to be more precise, postponed until the next opportunity. And then Dodik started the action of destroying the legal order and the fear of a new war crept into the people again.
Vučić and Dodik are by no means accidental partners, they are united by the constant production of a state of emergency and "inducing insanity" as a method of rule. And there is the cultivation of extreme nationalism, the preservation of criminal heritage, and the accompanying corruption of surreal proportions. All under the watchful eye of the Kremlin, which is interested in destabilizing the region, keeping all available countries off the Euro-Atlantic course and preventing European integration. It is not difficult to see that Vučić and Dodik intended the fate of the Balkan version of Donetsk for Republika Srpska and that they are ready to go to the end for the sake of realizing their wrong plan.
In all this horror, the awakening of the international community is comforting, Gabriel Escobar announces sanctions against Dodik, German Foreign Minister Haiko Mas says that Germany will no longer direct money to Republika Srpska, which "works to destroy Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state", we hear similar statements and announcements every day, and I guess some concrete actions will follow soon. For a more lasting solution to the crisis, it is necessary to awaken all domestic democratic and civic forces, both in BiH and in Serbia, we cannot constantly rely on foreigners as saviours.
The overthrow of Vučić and Dodik would be only the first step towards stabilizing the region. However, there will be no real stability and good neighbourly relations until Serbia permanently renounces its aspirations towards a part of BiH territory, but also towards other countries in the region, that is, until it gives up the Great-Serbia idea, no matter what it is called at the moment. Since at least half of the Serbian opposition agrees with Vučić's policy towards Kosovo, Montenegro and BiH, I am afraid that day is still far away. Until Serbia sobers up from the intoxication of nationalism, there will be no peaceful sleep in the region.