Bosnian Serb lawmakers have passed a nonbinding resolution insisting on the "military neutrality" of Bosnia-Herzegovina's ethnic Serb-dominated entity, as part of an effort to oppose the country's potential membership in NATO.
Republika Srpska's legislative body in Banja Luka, the 83-member National Assembly, approved early on October 18 the text that also states that Bosnian Serbs will coordinate all future decisions on the issue with Serbia.
Opposition lawmakers were prevented from attending the session because they were protesting over unrelated issues.
The text was initiated by Republika Srpska's nationalist leader, President Milorad Dodik, who has championed Russian interests, voicing opposition to NATO, the EU, and U.S. influence in the Balkans.
Ahead of the vote, Dodik said, "They want to take the barracks without asking anyone in Banja Luka whether they want NATO troops in the Kozara barracks so they can show that there is no need for Republika Srpska to decide about anything."
"And then all of the sudden you have NATO here," he added. "The people do not want that and that's why my position is as it is and why I won't change it."
Since the Bosnian war ended in 1995, Bosnia has been split into two entities -- Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosniaks and Croats.
The two entities are linked by joint state-level institutions, including a tripartite presidency that must reach consensus before decisions can be made.
Pro-Russia Serbs in Bosnia are opposed to NATO membership, while Bosniaks and Croats who account for over 65 percent of Bosnia's population are generally in favor.
The 1995 NATO bombing of Bosnia targeted the Bosnian Serb Army and together with international pressure led to the signing of the U.S.-brokered Dayton accords that ended the Bosnian war. The Western military alliance has led multinational forces deployed to Bosnia after the war.
In 2006, the country joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program and engaged in a dialogue with the alliance on its membership aspirations and related reforms in 2008, but the process has since stalled.
With reporting by AP