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Secession Not On Agenda, But Dodik Wants 'More Autonomy' For Bosnian Serbs

Milorad Dodik (file photo)
Milorad Dodik (file photo)

SARAJEVO -- Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb member of Bosnia's multiethnic presidency, says Bosnian Serbs are ready to preserve the integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state, but only if they get ''more autonomy.''

In a telephone interview with RFE/RL on April 23, Dodik said that it was ''difficult'' for Serbs to ''understand that we are part of Bosnia-Herzegovina."

But he insisted that secession was not on the agenda of Republika Srpska, Bosnia's predominantly ethnic Serb-populated entity, adding that the issue only arose as a possibility in the ''distant future'' if the views of Bosnian Serbs are not respected.

''We are ready to...preserve Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state in its present territory. But at the same time, we need to have more autonomy than we have today," Dodik said.

Bosnia remains deeply divided along ethnic lines. The country emerged from the 1992-95 Bosnian War as two autonomous regions -- the mainly Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Republika Srpska -- united under a weak central government.

Dodik has repeatedly called for a referendum on the status of the Serb-led entity, saying Bosnian Serbs had a right to decide their own future.

Tensions have flared in the Balkan country since the Constitutional Court in February ruled that unclaimed agricultural land became automatically the property of the central Bosnian state rather than Republika Srpska -- contradicting Bosnian Serb law.

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