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Small but Mighty: Republika Srpska Rises Against 'NATO's Tentacles'

© Wikipedia / Rade Nagraisalovic (Tonka)Banja Luka, the largest city of the Republika Srpska entity and second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the capital Sarajevo
Banja Luka, the largest city of the Republika Srpska entity and second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the capital Sarajevo - Sputnik International
Republika Srpska (RS), a constituting part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, wants to declare a military neutral status, but the West is trying to destabilize the situation in an bid to prevent the move, President Milorad Dodik told Sputnik. Bosnia and Herzegovina is involved in the NATO partnership program, but RS wants to keep away from the alliance.

Dodik commented on an incident that took place last week in the region’s parliament. A group of opposition lawmakers blocked the parliamentary session from being held. The president suggested that the possible consequent "turmoil in the parliament" risks undermining the expected decision. 

"We are on the verge of a serious step and I suppose some forces were involved to prompt the opposition to try to prevent this," Dodik said in an exclusive interview with Sputnik Serbia

The Serbian-majority Republika Srpska region is one of two largely autonomous entities constituting Bosnia and Herzegovina. The other one is the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina dominated by Bosniaks and Croats – as well as the Brcko district. The union state is governed by a three-member presidency.

The planned decision on a neutral status is expected to follow a similar move by Serbia back in 2007. At the time, the Serbian Parliament adopted a resolution to protect country’s territorial integrity and constitutional order, including declaring a neutral status towards the existing military alliances. The final decision on the issue is reserved to a referendum. 

"We took the Serbia’s decision and we will rewrite it. As a result, RS and Serbia will have a common political position on joining military blocs," Dodik said. 

Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska is pictured on an election poster calling for votes for a referendum on their Statehood Day in Prnjavor, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 21, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Discussions on Bosnia’s NATO membership have taken place since the mid-2000s. Bosnia and Herzegovina joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 2006. The country was expected to join NATO by 2011, but the plan hit a skid over the need to hand over more than 60 military facilities to the federal government. In August, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ruled to transfer the ownership of the Veliki Zep military facility to the state. According to Dodik, this was part of the attempts to drive Bosnia and Herzegovina into NATO. 

"They know that Serbs in Republika Srpska are against NATO. Now it’s time to say, ‘why would we need the alliance that dropped depleted uranium bombs on us in 1995?’" he underscored. 

Dodik emphasized that RS will follow Serbia’s policy towards NATO and will continue to stand against any attempts to drag the country into the military bloc. 

"NATO declares that a membership cannot be imposed, but in fact its tentacles are always ready to wrap around some new country and drag it in. We’re now witnessing the same regarding military property," the president concluded. 

In a separate interview with Sputnik in August, Dodik said that Republika Srpska was considering a referendum on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership of NATO. According to him, a vote against joining the bloc would send a clear signal that the country should not join NATO in the currently "polarized world, in which joining one side would mean losing Russia and other friends."

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