Serbian political representatives often tend to compare Kosovo and the entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Republika Srpska (RS) when they want to emphasize the right to self-determination. But, there are few key reasons why the RS has not and cannot use the same path as Kosovo.
It is interesting that so far, Kosovo and RS have been publicly compared mainly by Milorad Dodik and Zeljka Cvijanovic, and from Serbia by Aleksandar Vulin or Ivica Dacic. Until now, the most powerful man in Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic, has mostly avoided bringing those categories to the same level.
However, when he addressed the Serbian Parliament last week, he brought this question to the surface for the first time: How is it possible for Kosovo to declare independence and RS cannot do the same…
It is hard to believe that a politician such as Vucic, with numerous advisers, is not aware of what international law says on this issue. Therefore, Vucic’s drawing of a parallel between Kosovo and RS is, to say the least, a symptomatic move.
Why are Kosovo and RS not the same?
Croatian academic and professor of international law, Vladimir Ibler, pointed out the essence and basis of the concept of self-determination and the right to self-determination on this issue.
The self-determination of a people primarily abolishes the colonial rule that someone has over that people, but that does not imply or automatically mean the secession of a people from the existing state.
If a nation enjoys a certain degree of autonomy, participates in representative bodies, authorities, is not oppressed, and has all the freedoms, thus the right to self-determination has already been realized and there is no basis in international law for a nation to withdraw from a sovereign state.
In the case of RS in BiH, all this has been achieved. The most numerous people in the RS entity are authority, they participate in the state government of BiH, have guaranteed rights, and do not even allow all rights, such as language to Bosniaks, in that entity.
Kosovo, on the other hand, was an autonomous province in the former Yugoslavia, where they had representatives in government institutions, but then Serbia violated the rights of Albanians in Kosovo for years, and the Milosevic regime committed crimes against Albanians. Proof of that is a large number of dislodged people, as well as mass graves that were found even in Batajnica near Belgrade, which proves that the former state regime of Serbia was responsible for the crimes against the Albanians of Kosovo. According to international law, oppressed people have the right to self-determination.
On the other hand, RS did not exist in Yugoslavia, nor in BiH until 1995, when it was recognized by the Dayton Agreement. And the political and military leadership of this entity are behind many crimes, including the genocide in Srebrenica. Ultimately, the RS is an entity of three constituent peoples, as defined by the RS Constitution.
How are Kosovo and RS connected?
In this case, the only thing that connects Kosovo and RS are the crimes of the Milosevic regime, which were committed in BiH through Karadzic and Mladic.
Not only that Serbs in BiH are not threatened with national rights, but they exercise them in full capacity, and in the territory where they completely rule (RS), unfortunately, they endanger the rights of others. If a nation has all the listed rights and is not endangered, then the protection of the sovereignty of a state is above the right of a nation to self-determination, Klix.ba writes.