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Is another conflict looming in the Balkans?

As Milorad Dodik, the RS leader, talks about breaking away from Bosnia and Herzegovina, we discuss the region's future.
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2013 11:55

When in the 1990s Bosnian Serbs and Croats took up arms against Muslims to prevent Bosnia breaking away from Yugoslavia, the international community hesitated as tens of thousands of civilians were killed. Eventually the US stepped in; Washington sent troops and got the parties to sign a peace agreement in Dayton Ohio at the end of 1995.

The deal created one country with two entities. Muslims and Croats formed the Federation; Bosnian Serbs formed Republika Srpska or RS. But the deal balanced power so carefully any community can block the will of everyone else.

So to break the deadlock which was sure to come, the international community also created a 'High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina' in 1995. He was given ultimate authority and the so-called 'Bonn' powers to impose decisions to keep the state running. That regularly upsets Bosnian Serb leaders who never wanted to share a state with Muslims in the first place.

Milorad Dodik, the RS leader, now talks about breaking away and has made moves which are worrying Valentin Inzko, the High Representative.

Dodik says the current government structure is not working, and in October, he asked the RS parliament to discuss the abolition of Bosnia's army. The same parliament earlier tried to assume state powers by giving RS authorities the right to take over property of the former Yugoslavia. In November, Inzko wrote to the UN Secretary General warning that Dodik is trying to unravel the country. A move he says would lead to conflict.

So, is Dodik a threat to Bosnia? Is Inzko bullying Bosnian Serbs? And is the region heading back to war? On Talk to Al Jazeera we will talk to several leaders in the region; today: Milorad Dodik and Valentin Inzko.

Dodik says: "If Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to ignore the status of Republika Srpska and keep creating further problems we will opt for the referendum. A peace where we would coexist, some sort of internal agreement without the interference of foreigners, this is of course my preferred path. But if that path is not possible, I don't want Republika Srpska to be trapped in a non-viable version of Bosnia, to be collateral damage incapable of setting up a sort of normal way of life in an experiment conducted by foreigners."

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430; Sunday: 0830, 1930; and Monday: 1430.

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