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RTS: Borders in the Balkans – between drawing and erasing

By   /  11/01/2019  /  Comments Off on RTS: Borders in the Balkans – between drawing and erasing

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On Easter Day, Serbs from the region proposed abolition of borders between Serbia, the Republic of Srpska and Montenegro in talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

The proposal is in line with the idea of EU integration, consider connoisseurs of international law. However, it is unlikely that the same proposal would be acceptable to Sarajevo, as well as the authorities and the opposition in Podgorica.

If the Drina (river) as a border could be in a glass, Dodik would drink it. But since it is “a beautiful river, the Serbian river”, then “let it flow”. Until recently the President of the RS and now a member of the tripartite presidency of BiH, Milorad Dodik said this on the occasion of the Day of the Republika Srpska, and therefore caused divided reactions.

”What Dodik said, that’s what most Serbs think and I do not see anything scandalous about it,” said a analyst from Banja Luka, Vojislav Savic.

In Sarajevo, however, this move by Milorad Dodik caused more anger than the one few months ago when, on the occasion of the 22nd anniversary of the Dayton Accord, he drew a new Balkan map.

One of the proposers of the abolishment of borders, Andrija Mandic, a member of the opposition Democratic Front in the Parliament of Montenegro, say that “this initiative arrived earlier from the other addresses, to abolish the borders, to ensure the smooth flow of goods and services and this idea is European.”

That the borders should be opened, is the message and from Banja Luka. Serbia and Republika Srpska already have an agreement on special and parallel links.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic believes that relations between Serbia and the RS are beyond the scope of administrative co-operation, and Zeljka Cvijanovic, the RS President, said earlier that, following the latest move by Tirana and Pristina, the border between Serbia and RS should be abolished.

Professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, Milos Hrnjak, said that such a thing should have been in the form of bilateral or multilateral agreements, and that the institutions of the states would have to agree with that agreement, not the institutions of entities.

He believes that if in the context of EU integration, and with the assumption that the region should enter the EU, then in long-term period these border controls should be phased out. However, he believes that such thing is not realistic at the moment.

In Banja Luka also think that this is unlikely. “Banja Luka cannot do anything without Sarajevo, we depend on them, and I do not believe that they will show good will on this,” says Vojislav Savic.

Hrnjaz says that the announcements on the elimination of borders, especially those coming from Pristina’s politicians, are overemphasized.

“This is not actually about deleting the borders, it is a technical matter where two checkpoints are replaced by one, and in the perspective it goes towards what exists in the Schengen zone, it is important to emphasize this. The same time, from the standpoint of Serbia, the agreement between Kosovo and Metohija, which according to the Constitution is part of Serbia, and Albania is a controversial issue and it is necessary to respond to it,” he explained.

It must be acted on every move of the Albanians, whether in Kosovo or in Albania, whether those are overemphasized announcements or not, say the representatives of the Serbs in the region.

Mandic explains that the initiative to abolish the borders is the “self-defending policy of the Serbian people,” because it should not be allowed only to Albanian people to integrate.

The representatives of the Serbs in BiH also assess that the same is not applied to all nations, and that what is tolerated to Albanians, is not allowed to Serbs.

“I would refer to the case of lynching of a BHRT journalist who, on her Twitter account, congratulated the Day of RS, and was attacked by all Bosniak media by calling for a lynch – it shows in what atmosphere we live and that everything Serbian, ‘by default’ is attacked,” says Savic.

Although it is not yet clear what the initiators imply under the idea of open borders, this idea is still interesting, especially in the context of the latest developments in relation to Kosovo and current developments in the European Union. Of course, as the case with the Balkans always is, at least this decision depends on the people in the Balkans.

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