Ker-Lindsay: Zagreb is responsible for growing tension

Zagreb is to blame for the deterioration of the relations with Belgrade, and the referendum in the Republic of Srpska is the proof of how dysfunctional Bosnia and Herzegovina is – says James Ker-Lindsay, the British expert for the Balkan affairs.

The current relations between Serbia and Croatia have seem to hit the lowest point in the last 20 years, and many have attributed the animosity that is coming from the official Zagreb as a part of the aggressive election campaign – James Ker-Lindsay, a professor from the London School of Economics says and adds that the tension will continue to grow.

“I am very disappointed and worried about the relations between Serbia and Croatia in the last year and a half because, for a while, it seemed that the two countries were building a positive future together. I think that the blame lies with Zagreb. Ever since Croatia joined the EU, there has been a significant increase in nationalism in the country. The fact that Zagreb is now trying to impede Serbia’s accession to the EU is a particularly unfortunate development. Sadly, the European Union will do very little about this because it is riddled with internal problems at the moment”, Ker-Lindsay adds.

When asked how could the planned referendum in the Republic of Srpska affect the relations between Belgrade and Banja Luka, and the attitude of both the West and the East towards this part of Europe, Ker-Lindsay says that Milorad Dodik now has an excellent opportunity to score some additional points.

“The referendum crisis is just one more proof of how deeply divided Bosnia is. Nobody should have ever let such issue becoming a source of future tension between the communities (in Bosnia). Of course, I can see why a lot of Bosniaks think that celebrating the Republic Day would be a ceremony and a celebration in bad taste. Still, was it really wise to insist on this issue when there are much bigger problems at hand here? Looking back, I am not sure how can this be resolved. Dodik seems very resolute about conducting the referendum”, Ker-Lindsay says.

He goes on to say that, despite everything, the noise surrounding the referendum shows that Bosnia is still a highly dysfunctional country, and it seems that none of the three communities have a real desire to fix this situation.

Commenting on the statements given by Bakir Izetbegović about the attack on Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić in Srebrenica last year, Ker-Lindsay says that “that is not unusual”.

“The claims of this sorts usually come after such incidents, but I would not like to comment on it without tangible evidence”, he adds.

Kosovo as a new source of instability

The situation in Kosovo is another source of instability for the Balkans.

“Several years ago, it seemed that Serbia and Kosovo were making tangible progress in normalizing their relations. Now, there is serious concern of where everything is heading. Many of the agreements have not been implemented”, professor Ker-Lindsay concludes.

(Blic, 05.09.2016)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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